NEW YORK — Florida Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum delivered an in person welcome and message of encouragement to attendees at an event organized by the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that boasted as one of its main two agenda items support for the extremist Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.
Gillum’s participation in the CAIR-led event, which took place in 2016, seems at odds with statements over the past few days from associates of his campaign saying that Gillum opposes the BDS movement.
A CAIR-Florida press release from February 12, 2016, documents that Gillum delivered a “personal welcome” to attendees of that year’s annual Florida Muslim Capitol Day event, which was held at the Islamic Center of Tallahassee, the city where Gillum serves as mayor.
Florida Muslim Capitol Day is organized by CAIR. CAIR employees are listed as the contacts for the event on flyers and promotional material, and Florida Muslim Capital Day’s website is hosted by CAIR-Florida’s main website. The Facebook page for the event says it is hosted by CAIR-Florida.
The CAIR-Florida release relates Gillum’s personal welcome was “inspiring” to the group:
Attendees of the event were honored by a personal welcome from Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum on the Wednesday evening before the event at the Islamic Center of Tallahassee. The mayor’s words were inspiring as he applauded the Muslim community’s participation in this civic engagement event that stressed the importance of political involvement in a political climate that is, unfortunately, filled with xenophobic rhetoric.
The release documents that one of the two main agenda items for that year’s event was opposition to legislation that seeks to bar state funds from going to businesses that support the BDS movement against Israel. In other words, the event sought to galvanize opposition to anti-BDS legislation.
The release states:
Two main concerns of the Muslim community were addressed in face-to-face meetings between the participants and their legislators. CAIR-Florida remains troubled about the legislature’s willingness to support an anti-democratic bill, SB 86/HB 527, which would punish businesses for their constitutionally-protected free speech rights to boycott human rights concerns in Israel and Palestine.
This bill would set a very dangerous precedent that is not befitting a democracy. The second important issue, Representative Ray’s anti-refugee Bill, HB 1095/SB 1712, does not take into account that Syrian refugees are the most scrutinized individuals that enter the United States.
Wilfredo A. Ruiz, a spokesperson for CAIR-Florida, refused to comment to Breitbart Jerusalem when asked for more information on Gillum’s welcome speech at the event, including whether CAIR could provide Gillum’s specific quotes.
Gillum’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
In 2016, the Florida legislature nearly unanimously passed anti-BDS legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, who possesses the office that Gillum is currently seeking.
A campaign position paper was shared last week with Orlando Weekly outlining, as the publication put it, “endorsement of strong anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) policies that go as far as to include a bill preventing Florida ‘from investing in or doing business with’ companies that protest Israel.” The report came after news media outlets including Breitbart News spotlighted comments by Gillum that are critical toward Israel.
David Singer, a campaign adviser to Gillum, confirmed the authenticity of the platform document to Orlando Weekly and said that Gillum “came to the conclusion” that he doesn’t support BDS.
“This is an extremely nuanced issue, and through his own personal experience and his own ideals, he has come to the conclusion that he is not a supporter of the BDS movement,” Singer stated.
Gillum, however, has been associated with Dream Defenders, a radical movement aligned with Black Lives Matter that was part of a progressive coalition that reportedly committed $3.5 million to help Gillum win the Democratic primary against Gwen Graham. Dream Defenders strongly supports the BDS movement and refers to the entire state of Israel as the “continued settler colonial project.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported on a video of Gillum saying he is “pleased and proud” with the work of Dream Defenders.
Last week, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Gillum called Donald Trump’s historic decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem “unnecessary” and a “provocation” that has “incited more violence.”
In the same audio interview with an obscure website, Gillum also accused Israel of using Gaza terror rockets to “justify” purported “actions” against Palestinians.
In the audio, Gillum defined those purported “actions” as including alleged Israeli “outsized response” against Palestinian threats while claiming alleged Israeli disproportionate “firepower” and “pushback” are primary causes of regional instability.
Gillum’s Jerusalem remarks came during an interview with far-left podcast host, Jamarlin Martin, who repeatedly made anti-Israel statements during the exchanges. Gillum’s comments were recorded in Miami on June 27, according to Martin’s podcast on GHOGH (Go Hard or Go Home), which is hosted on Moguldom.com, the domain name for Nubai Ventures, a company founded by Martin that produces editorial and video content. GHOH describes itself as providing “programming content for a Black Economic Revolution.”
Gillum’s comments on Israel could become an issue for him in the Florida election where Jewish voters have long been a key component of the state’s electorate. Gillum, whose views on Israel are largely unknown, is running against staunch Israel supporter Ron DeSantis.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.