Presidential candidate Cornel West and running mate blame Israel for Oct. 7 in bid to court pro-Palestinian voters

Independent presidential candidate Cornel West and his vice presidential choice defended their anti-Israel rhetoric on Thursday night in an effort to court Democratic pro-Palestinian voters.

West’s running mate, Melina Abdullah, said she supports a statement put out by the Black Lives Matter Grassroots on Tuesday, which claimed Israel was to blame for Hamas’s uprising, and claimed the attack on Oct. 7 was an “act of self-defense.” 

“I think it’s really important to understand where uprisings come from, even when we may disagree with tactics that are used,” Abdullah told CNN host Abby Phillips. “I find it really troubling that we are constantly asked to condemn Hamas. I’m not a member of Hamas. I find it even more troubling that an entire state has been built on the genocide of a people, and I think that we have to start with that first.”

West, who has called for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, also blamed Israel for the war between the Middle Eastern nation and the terrorist organization. He also defended Hamas’s actions as a “counterterrorist response.”

“I don’t believe in killing an innocent anybody,” West told Phillips. “But you don’t start with those voices without coming to terms with the vicious killings and occupations that’s been going on for 75 years, and then you get a counterterrorist response to that.”

West did not state whether he supports Hamas releasing the prisoners through the ceasefire agreement but claimed the responsibility fell on Israel to withdraw its forces from Palestinian territories. 

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“The IDF is not going to cease fire just for releasing. They themselves have to stop,” West said. “The Palestinian lives that are being lost, we’ve got to start there. The IDF has engaged in terrorizing the Palestinians, and terrorizing anybody is wrong, but the terrorism that they are doing, it reaches the point of the crime of genocide. So, for me, they have to stop. Hamas is not the culprit; it’s the IDF, and they’re terrorizing.”

The comments come as the Left battles for support from anti-Israel protesters, which has proven to be a weakness for President Joe Biden. Thousands of anti-Israel voters cast “protest votes” against Biden during the Democratic primaries, which did not go to any candidate but instead to “uncommitted.” 

The Washington Examiner has reached out to West’s campaign for comment.

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