Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination are skipping a major conference held by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which had been a must-stop on the presidential campaign trail.
At least eight candidates have said they will not attend this year’s conference: Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Bernie Sanders (VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren (MA), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, The Hill reported.
The move comes as the activist group MoveOn called for candidates to skip the conference over the group’s “anti-Muslim” rhetoric and its “undermining” of “diplomatic efforts.”
“The influx of progressive candidates confirming they will not attend –– even those who have gone in years past –– shows how the momentum is shifting,” MoveOn campaign director Iram Ali said in a statement. “AIPAC is clearly a partisan lobbying group that has undermined diplomatic efforts, and progressives want no part in it.”
"We have four main points as to why we think 2020 candidates should skip the AIPAC conference," Ali told CNN. "First and foremost is that AIPAC has become more and more partisan over the years."
Ali pointed to the group’s opposition of the Iran nuclear deal and said AIPAC has "become slightly an arm of the Republican Party" by condemning Rep. Ilhan Omar but not anti-Semitic statements by Republicans.
"AIPAC has been known to peddle anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while giving platforms to islamaphobes," Ali said.
AIPAC conference to feature indicted anti-Muslim Israeli PM:
Trump officials like Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As has been the case in recent years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak at the conference as he faces numerous corruption and bribery charges back home. His wife has already been indicted.
The charges come as Netanyahu struggles to stay in power, most recently allying himself with an incredibly racist anti-Arab party that the New York Times reported “was likened by one influential rabbi to Nazism.”
“The embattled Mr. Netanyahu, grasping for every potential vote, has turned to the extremist party Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, whose leaders have a long history of expressing support for violence against Palestinians, expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories, and a ban on intermarriage or sex between Jews and Arabs,” The Times reported.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu responded to a comment by Israeli actress Rotem Sela, who said that Israel is a country for all its citizens.
“An important correction,” Netanyahu tweeted. “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People - and them alone.”