Democratic presidential candidates campaigning on the road will beam in to address an annual pro-Israel conference in Washington, D.C., by video message next week despite calls by progressive groups to boycott the event.
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.) will address the AIPAC policy conference by video, the organization announced in a pair of tweets on Friday, amid campaigning ahead of Super Tuesday next week.
CONFIRMED ✔️: 47th Vice President of the United States and Democratic presidential candidate @JoeBiden will deliver a video message to #AIPAC2020. #AIPACProud https://t.co/aDo57IEibh pic.twitter.com/4qsf31YGAh
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 28, 2020
CONFIRMED : @amyklobuchar will deliver a video message to #AIPAC2020. #AIPACProud https://t.co/HmvBzGxib8 pic.twitter.com/peZP2S5FNB
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 28, 2020
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was the first Democratic presidential hopeful to announce he would be attending the pro-Israel confab in person. The event runs March 1-3.
Progressive groups have called on presidential candidates to boycott the conference, criticizing the organization as pushing for unconditional support of Israel that perpetuates the conflict with the Palestinians and alleging that the organization promotes the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s policies towards Israel.
Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) publicly committed to skipping the conference and criticized it for giving a platform to “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference.”
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) answered “Yeah” when asked if she would commit to skipping the AIPAC conference, in response to a question at a campaign event from an activist with the group IfNotNow, which calls on the U.S. to pressure Israel over its policies towards Palestinians.
The annual conference comes amid a busy period of campaigning for candidates seeking to shore up support in South Carolina ahead of that state’s primary on Saturday and before Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold voting in the Democratic race.
More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the conference and will lobby their representatives on Capitol Hill for continued U.S. support for Israel, including continuing to provide $3.3 billion in annual aid to the country.
AIPAC presents itself as committed to promoting bipartisan support of the U.S. and Israel relationship, but recently had to issue an apology and pull advertisements that attacked Democratic congress members as “radicals” that are “anti-Semitic”, “anti-Israel” and “maybe more sinister” than threats from ISIS, Hamas or Hezbollah.
“We offer our unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied,” the apology read.
The advertisements featured images of Democratic congresswomen who are critical of AIPAC and of U.S. support for Israel, including Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHow language is bringing down Donald Trump Defunding the police: Put it to a vote McEnany, Ocasio-Cortez tangle over ‘Biden adviser’ label MORE (D-Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHow language is bringing down Donald Trump Biden, Democrats seek to shut down calls to defund police McEnany, Ocasio-Cortez tangle over ‘Biden adviser’ label MORE (D-Minn.) and Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumLawmakers seek investigation of Park Police after clearing of White House protesters US Park Police say it was a mistake to say no tear gas was used in Lafayette Square Park Police asked to defend rationale behind clearing protesters MORE (D-Minn.).
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in 2018 tweeted that support for AIPAC is “all about the Benjamins” and drew criticism for employing an antisemitic trope connecting Jews with money. She was further condemned for invoking antisemitic charges of dual loyalty for saying that pro-Israel Americans push for loyalty to a foreign country.
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“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said during a panel at a Washington coffee shop in February 2019.
The House of Representatives condemned those remarks in a resolution rejecting antisemitism and all hate speech that passed in March 2019, but was criticized for not more forcefully calling out Omar’s comments themselves.
The Minnesota congresswoman was a feature at the 2019 AIPAC conference, where Republican members tried to paint the Democratic Party as antisemitic, while Democratic members like House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Health Care: US showing signs of retreat in battle against COVID-19 | Regeneron begins clinical trials of potential coronavirus antibody treatment | CMS warns nursing homes against seizing residents’ stimulus checks Hoyer: House will vote soon on bill to improve ObamaCare Hoyer: Infrastructure package to hit floor this month MORE (D-Md.) reaffirmed support for the U.S. and Israel relationship while distancing the party from Omar’s remarks.
Hoyer is expected to address this year’s conference.