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Bloomberg is the only candidate who has announced that he’ll attend AIPAC conference

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After Tuesday night’s South Carolina debate, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar told the Jewish News Syndicate that she wouldn’t be attending next week’s AIPAC Policy Conference because it coincides with Super Tuesday. Today, a spokesperson for Pete Buttigieg told reporter Jacob Kornbluh that the former South Bend Mayor would also be skipping the conference.

Although former vice president Joe Biden has indicated that he will attend, he hasn’t officially announced it yet. This means that the only Democratic nominee definitely attending the conference is former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Shortly before the debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he was skipping the event and accused AIPAC of promoting bigotry.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren told an activist in New Hampshire that she wasn’t attending.

On Tuesday, activists shut down Joe Biden’s Philadelphia campaign headquarters, demanding that he also skip the conference. That action was part of a wider movement which was sparked by a coalition of progressive groups looking to pressure the Democratic nominees on the issue.

During the debate, Bloomberg’s Twitter account attacked Sanders over his AIPAC comments. “To characterize AIPAC as a racist platform is offensive, divisive, and dangerous to Israel – America’s most important ally in the Middle East – and to Jews,” the tweet read, “How can Bernie profess he’s the path to unity when he’s already managed to polarize a people and a party?”

It’s unclear at this time whether Klobuchar and Buttigieg will have no involvement in the conference at all, or whether they will send remarks to the event via video.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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4 Responses

  1. Misterioso on February 26, 2020, 7:42 pm

    https://www.juancole.com/2020/02/reactionary-netanyahu-bloomberg.html

    “Sanders calls out “reactionary racist Netanyahu” while Bloomberg charges Mideast with “age-old hatreds” by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, Feb.26/20

    “At Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina on CBS, Major Garrett, chief Washington correspondent for CBS News, asked Bernie Sanders a leading question. The question assumes that American Jews are a one-issue constituency who only care about Israel, and, indeed, it assumes that American Jews support the Netanyahu government. According to Gallup, about a quarter of America Jews say they are not emotionally connected to Israel, and only half think supporting Israel is essential to Jewish identity.

    “Moreover, even American Jews who care deeply about Israel are often worried about where the country’s far right is taking it. Some 42 percent of American Jews say Trump is too favorable to Israel, and more Jews feel that way than Christians. I suspect this means that they think Israeli prime minister Netanyahu needs to be reined in, and Trump is instead giving him so much rope he may hang the country. American Jews heavily vote democratic (78% supported Democrats in 2018), and are naturally torn by Netanyahu’s over-the-top support for Trump and the GOP.

    “Moreover, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the main Israel lobby, tilts heavily toward the Republicans, and even put out Facebook adds attacking Democrats.

    “Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), whose image AIPAC splashed all over Facebook with derogatory comments, pushed back, saying: ‘An AIPAC petition linked to their ads designed to mobilize supporters stated, ‘It’s critical that we protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and – maybe more sinister – right here in the U.S. Congress.’ This is not a call to action, it is incitement. Elected representatives in Congress ‘more sinister’ than ISIS? Last year, I met with AIPAC representatives from Minnesota in my office. Do forces ‘more sinister’ than ISIS sit down and meet with AIPAC’s advocates?”

    “Not only that, but Palestinian critics charge that AIPAC regularly lends its podiums to politicians like Netanyahu who deploy racist language against Palestinians. Garrett in his question ignored the organization’s comparison of some Democrats to ISIL, and the racism.

    “So here is the exchange:

    “’GARRETT: Senator Sanders — no, Senator Sanders, I have a question for you, sir. You’re the frontrunner in this race. You’re on the ballot in South Carolina. Mayor Bloomberg, you’ll understand that preamble in just a second.’

    “‘If elected, Senator Sanders, you would be America’s first Jewish president. You recently called a very prominent, well-known American Israel lobby a platform for, quote, ‘bigotry.’ What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you’re not, from their perspective, supportive enough of Israel? And specifically, sir, would you move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv?’

    SANDERS: ‘Let me just — the answer is, it’s something that we would take into consideration.’

    GARRETT: ‘Which would…’

    SANDERS: ‘But here — excuse me. But here is the point. I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months. But what I happen to believe is that, right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country.’

    (APPLAUSE)

    “‘And I happen to believe — I happen to believe that what our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about is absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel, but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people.’

    (APPLAUSE)

    “‘We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the Americans. And in answer to your question, that will come within the context of bringing nations together in the Mideast.’

    “Bernie Sanders is one of a very few US politicians who will call Binyamin Netanyahu what he is, a reactionary racist. And he is one of very few who will admit the suffering of the Palestinian people, whom Israel has kept stateless and without basic rights and either under blockade or under military rule for decades.

    “Sanders’ forthrightness and honesty can be contrasted with Mike Bloomberg:

    GARRETT: ‘Mayor Bloomberg, would you like to weigh in on that, please?’

    BLOOMBERG: ‘Well, the battle has been going on for a long time in the Middle East, whether it’s the Arabs versus the Persians, the Shias versus the Sunnis, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, it’s only gone on for 40 or 50 years.’

    ‘Number one, you can’t move the embassy back. We should not have done it without getting something from the Israeli government. But it was done, and you’re going to have to leave it there.

    ‘Number two, only solution here is a two-state solution. The Palestinians have to be accommodated. The real problem here is you have two groups of people, both who think God gave them the same piece of land. And the answer is to obviously split it up, leave the Israeli borders where they are, try to push them to pull back some of those extra over the — on the other side of the wall, where they’ve built these new communities, which they should not have done that, pull it back.’

    GARRETT: ‘Mayor Bloomberg, thank you very much.’

    “Bloomberg’s answer makes a person’s head hurt. He began with the Orientalist canard about the Middle East being wracked by age-old hatreds. It is a form of ‘whataboutism’ to excuse Israeli colonization and brutality. He is saying the issues is not Israeli theft of land and resources or Apartheid, but flawed Middle Eastern character.

    “Shiites and Sunnis haven’t been fighting continuously for centuries. In fact, from the rise of the Qajar rule in Shiite Iran in 1789 until its fall in 1925, there was only one short war with the Sunni Ottoman Empire, in 1821-23. Otherwise you had about 130 years of peace. Likewise the Pahlevi dyanasty, 1926-1979, had excellent relations with Sunni-majority Turkey, and in the 1959 Iran joined Turkey, Pakistan, and the UK in the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) against Soviet influence. Turkey and Pakistan are Sunni majority, Iran is largely Shiite. They
    were actually military allies.

    “Even the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 is not properly seen as Sunnis versus Shiites. Although Iraq was Sunni-ruled it was actually ruled by secular Arab nationalists, and a big majority of the Iraqi Army was Shiite. Only 40,000 Iraqi Shiites defected to Iran during this war.

    “Sunni-Shiite struggles heated up when George W. Bush invaded Iraq and created power vacuums. But Bloomberg is just wrong about the history.

    “The struggle between Palestinians and European Jews intent on colonizing Palestine goes back to the late 1920s at least, with regard to the history of violence. Not sure how Bloomberg traces it back only to 1980 or 1970. That struggle is rooted in British and American colonialism and neo-colonialism and in the rise of a new sort of Jewish nationalism called Zionism.

    “Until the 1940s when the intentions of the Zionist movement became abundantly clear, Jewish communities had fair relations with Arab and Muslim neighbors. Baghdad was one third Jewish, and the Jewish community was generally well off and well regarded. Jews were among the first Iraqi writers of the short story. The Moroccan king under Vichy rule protested Nazi designs on his Jewish subjects, and a council of Algerian Muslim clerics likewise stood up for Algerian Jews against the Vichy. Relations between eastern Jews and their neighbors had their ups and downs, and it was no fun to be a minority, but it was only modern Zionism, the Israel project, and its alliance with British and US colonialism that led to pogroms and the expulsion of most Jews from most of the Arab world (Morocco and Tunisia still have small Jewish populations).

    “Bloomberg declares the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem irrevocable, when in fact the US can put its embassy where it wants and does not have to bless Netanyahu’s illegal annexation of the occupied Palestinian east of the city.

    “And then he says mealy-mouthed things about a fabulous unicorn of a two-state solution, which is no longer in the least plausible, and in the coffin of which Netanyahu is even now pounding the last nails.

    “It is clear that Bloomberg is more or less blessing Netanyahu’s annexationism and racist Apartheid, inasmuch as he won’t take an open stance against it.

    “It is clear, between the two, who the visionary is.”

  2. Misterioso on February 27, 2020, 9:40 am

    MUST READ!!

    https://forward.com/opinion/440469/bravo-bernie-for-skipping-aipac-its-a-platform-for-anti-muslim-bigotry/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%20RSS_Test&utm_maildate=02/27/2020

    “Bravo Bernie, for skipping AIPAC. It’s a platform for anti-Muslim bigotry” The Forward, By Joe Swanson, Feb. 26/20

    “There was a very Jewish moment at last night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina. Moderator Major Garrett asked Senator Bernie Sanders to defend his decision not to attend the AIPAC 2020 conference, and to reassure American Jews who might feel nervous or insulted.

    “In response, Sanders reminded the audience of his Jewish identity and of the historical nature of his candidacy, and also took the opportunity to repeat his previous description of Netanyahu as a racist. ‘I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months,’ Sanders declared at the debate. ‘But what I happen to believe is that, right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu you have a reactionary racist who is running that country.’

    “The audience erupted in applause – which is just one reason why Sanders is making the right decision.

    “Sanders announced his decision to skip this year’s AIPAC conference on Sunday, in a fiery statement denouncing ‘the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.’

    “AIPAC shot back with a statement calling Sanders’s decision ‘an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event.’

    “But the truth is, AIPAC hasn’t been bipartisan in a long time.

    “As early as the 2016 election, AIPAC apologized for the fact that its own supporters applauded then-candidate Donald Trump’s partisan attacks on President Obama, four years after they had to remind their delegates not to boo Obama himself.

    “And just weeks before insisting on their bipartisan bona fides, AIPAC likewise had to apologize for a partisan attack ad calling Democrats ‘radicals,’ the sort of statement they have never made about Republicans. (This even though a strong majority of American Jews identify as Democrats.)

    “Even former AIPAC staffers were outraged. Furthermore, AIPAC helped to fund a super PAC running attack ads against Sanders himself in Nevada. It takes some chutzpah to finance attack ads against a leading presidential candidate, then accuse that presidential candidate of being the one who started the feud when he refuses to speak to you.

    “If AIPAC is going to define itself as an increasingly partisan organization, with some of their leaders going so far as to bankroll attack ads against the Democratic frontrunner, they should not be shocked when Democrats respond in kind and skip AIPAC. After all, no one has ever criticized Republicans for skipping the J Street National Conference.

    “But there’s an even bigger argument against attending the AIPAC conference, and it has to do with which views we as a community are willing to legitimize by sharing a stage with them.

    “When Bernie Sanders says AIPAC hosts speakers ‘who express bigotry,’ he is undeniably correct. Here are some people who will be speaking at the AIPAC 2020 annual conference next week:

    “Sebastian Kurz, the chancellor of Austria, who brought an Austrian political party founded by a literal former Nazi into the Austrian government, the first time since the end of World War II that a political party with Nazi origins became part of a European governing coalition — a party that only recently proposed requiring Jews to obtain permits to purchase kosher meat.

    “Also sharing the stage will be Péter Sztáray, Hungarian State Secretary for Security Policy and Multilateral Diplomacy, who will come as the official representative of a Hungarian prime minister who has called George Soros ‘an enemy that… speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.’

    “Then there’s Aleksandar Vučić, president of Serbia, who gave a speech just days after the July 1995 Srebrenica genocide of 8,000 Bosniak Muslims, the deadliest act of ethnic violence on European soil since the end of World War II, in which he declared, ‘You kill one Serb and we will kill 100 Muslims.’ (Never again, indeed.)

    “The conference has in the past hosted such speakers as Steve Emerson, who absurdly claimed Muslims had taken over Birmingham, England. AIPAC likewise gave $60,000 to a group run by Frank Gaffney, who played a major role in convincing Trump to implement a Muslim ban, and whom the Reform Jewish movement called a purveyor of ‘anti-Muslim bigotry.’

    “And at least one major AIPAC donor has trafficked in traditional far-right anti-Semitism, sharing a classically anti-Semitic image of George Soros as a tentacled monster dominating the globe. How can we ask our leaders to share a stage with such people?

    “Jewish groups have denounced the leadership of the Women’s March, in large part because founding leader Tamika Mallory attended an event with Louis Farrakhan.

    “But if attending an event with Louis Farrakhan means endorsing all of his anti-Semitism, then what does attending an event at which an advocate of genocide is invited to speak mean?

    “How can we ask the world to say ‘Never again’ to the genocide of our people, then attend conferences alongside advocates for the genocide of others? How can we ask other communities to condemn anti-Semitism, then turn a blind eye to Islamophobia?

    “Of course, some will say that sharing a stage with someone does not mean endorsing their views. But Jewish groups such as the World Jewish Congress refuse to extend that latitude to those who shared a stage with Farrakhan.

    “Moreover, AIPAC themselves have portrayed the decision to go speak to them at all as a political position, a form of ‘support for the US-Israel relationship.’ According to AIPAC’s own statement, simply attending the conference means supporting their politics, at least to an extent. This renders demands that Bernie Sanders go to AIPAC in order to express dissent ring hollow.

    “It’s hard to effectively express dissent when your very presence at an organization would be portrayed as an endorsement of their positions.

    “The fact is, we’re at a critical moment in the history of the US-Israel relationship. As Israel contemplates full annexation of the West Bank without extending voting rights to the Palestinian people living there, making the apartheid comparisons impossible to ignore, AIPAC continues to blend anodyne calls for ‘bipartisanship’ with support for far-right plans for the region.

    “And as Israel moves increasingly toward illiberal policies, it is no wonder that support for Israel is increasingly coming from other illiberal regimes. That’s how we get AIPAC hosting a genocide advocate and an Austrian chancellor who allied with a party founded by actual Nazis.

    “We need something new. And AIPAC doesn’t offer it. But Bernie Sanders just might.

    “In a fight between the most successful Jewish candidate for US president and an increasingly partisan conference that is hosting anti-Muslim bigots, I know which side I’m on.”
    _______________________________________________________________________________
    Joel Swanson is a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago, studying modern Jewish intellectual history and the philosophy of religions. He has never attended an AIPAC conference and would never agree to do so. Find him on Twitter at @jh_swanson.

  3. genesto on February 27, 2020, 4:38 pm

    Mike, you’re sinking rapidly in the polls. All your billions can’t save you from the disinterest the public is showing towards your candidacy. And your embrace of the hate group, AIPAC, is just one more nail in the coffin of your candidacy. All the others have gotten the memo saying that, as a Democrat, it’s no longer OK to embrace racist agents of Israel.

    Time for you to step aside, Mike!

  4. Citizen on March 1, 2020, 1:15 pm

    Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar would send greetings to AIPAC attendees by video, along with former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who confirmed on Saturday night. Up until Friday, only Bloomberg had confirmed he would be speaking in person

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