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Sanders won’t attend AIPAC conference, says the group opposes ‘basic Palestinian rights’

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On Sunday, Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders confirmed that he would be skipping this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference and attacked the pro-Israel organization on his Twitter page.

“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference,” tweeted Sanders, “As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region.”

In response to the tweets, AIPAC put out a statement calling Sanders’ remarks “odious” and “shameful.”

This development comes just days after a coalition of progressive organizations launched an effort encouraging Democratic presidential candidates to skip the annual policy conference. One of those organizations is IfNotNow, the progressive Jewish group that has been confronting candidates over the subject of Palestine on the campaign trail.

“Insisting that human rights be at the center of American foreign policy is becoming the mainstream position of Democrats,” tweeted IfNotNow co-founder Simone Zimmerman in response to Sanders’ statement, “AIPAC’s hateful and dangerous policies are the past. Bernie Sanders humane and just vision, and the movement propelling it forward, are the future.”

Earlier this month, Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum called AIPAC a “hate group” after it ran a series of Facebook ads implying that the congresswoman was worse than ISIS for promoting the rights of Palestinian children. “AIPAC claims to be a bipartisan organization, but its use of hate speech actually makes it a hate group,” said McCollum, “By weaponizing anti-Semitism and hate to silence debate, AIPAC is taunting Democrats and mocking our core values. I hope Democrats understand what is at stake and take a stand because working to advance peace, human rights, and justice is not sinister – it is righteous.”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has also stated she will skip the conference and former vice president Joe Biden is the only current candidate who has indicated he will definitely attend the event.

Michael Arria

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

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24 Responses

  1. Misterioso on February 24, 2020, 10:51 am

    Bernie: We love you madly!! You’re a light in the darkness!! Bon chance!!

    • RoHa on February 25, 2020, 1:25 am

      That nice Mr. Tucker has an interesting comment on US politics.

    • echinococcus on February 25, 2020, 12:16 pm


      Exposing the irrationality at the root of your political persuasion for all to see is not conducive to following your Hopium addiction. While you’re free to fall blindly in love with a warmongering, Zionist Methuselah, that freedom does not extend to violating language: “chance” is feminine in French and an alternative wording in English is readily available.

      • Misterioso on February 25, 2020, 3:29 pm


        Good grief, please forgive me for not incuding an additional ‘n.’

        Sigh. More desperate bafflegab as is the rest of your posting. GROW UP!!

      • echinococcus on February 25, 2020, 4:06 pm

        Grown-ups examine in detail the record, especially if their attention has been drawn to it. There is a >40-year record of this mountebank’s warmongering. Also, grown-ups know that sometimes there is no hope where you want it and avoid joining the hopeful lemming line, pardon my mixing bad metaphors, behind the pied piper. Good luck anyway.

      • Misterioso on February 25, 2020, 4:47 pm

        More on Bernie, the complete article:

        “AIPAC Has Bigger Problems Than Sanders’ Snub – and It Could Define Its Future” By Amir Tibon, Haaretz, Feb. 25, 2020

        “A major clash between Sanders and AIPAC won’t just hurt the organization’s bipartisan bona fides in the short run. It could also come to define AIPAC for an entire generation of young American voters.”

        WASHINGTON – “Bernie Sanders’ announcement that he won’t attend this year’s AIPAC conference in Washington did not come as a surprise to anyone: In his three decades as an elected official in Washington, Sanders had never attended the gathering, and there was no reason to think this year would be his first time, especially in light of his recent statements regarding U.S. military aid to Israel.

        “But what did surprise the powerful pro-Israel lobby was Sanders’ decision to make a political statement out of not attending its policy conference. This year’s event, which is expected to attract as many as 18,000 people, will take place this weekend – just 48 hours before Super Tuesday, the most important day on the Democratic presidential primary calendar. Currently, it’s not clear if any of the party’s presidential contenders will choose to waste precious campaigning time ahead of that day at a conference in Washington.

        “Unlike the responses of other candidates, the declaration Sanders tweeted on Sunday – just one day after he won the Nevada Democratic caucus and entrenched his position as the front-runner in the Democratic race – wasn’t just about not attending the AIPAC confab: The Vermont senator gave political and ideological reasons for not doing so, unleashing a direct attack on the lobby.

        “More than the decision to give the event a miss, it was apparently Sander’s choice of words that surprised AIPAC most. He accused the organization of giving a platform ‘to leaders who express bigotry’ – likely a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is invited every year to speak before the conference, and is once again, in his current election campaign, making racist attacks against Israel’s Arab citizens and their representatives in the Knesset.

        “AIPAC’s response was swift and powerful: It released a statement rebuking Sanders, using words such as ‘shameful’ and ‘outrageous,’ which the lobby has never used before when criticizing a leading presidential candidate of either party. In the days that have passed since Sanders’ tweet, the lobby has used its social media accounts to highlight bipartisan support for its work, sharing posts on the subject from both Republican and Democratic members of Congress who, unlike Sanders, plan to attend the conference this weekend.

        “It was critical for the lobby to highlight such messages in the aftermath of Sanders’ statement not just because it prides itself on securing bipartisan support for Israel: Indeed, that is the main justification for AIPAC’s very existence. In the political reality of 2020, no one actually needs the lobby in order to ensure Republican support for right-wing Israeli policies. Such support is already being secured by powerful Evangelical Christian organizations and by major donors such as casino tycoon and billionaire Sheldon Adelson. But Israel’s official diplomatic approach is that the country needs bipartisan support in Washington, a city where power changes hands every few years between the two parties. AIPAC, for its part, presents itself to its donors and supporters as the organization most capable of providing “ironclad support” for Israel on both sides of the aisle.

        “Sanders’ attack on the lobby is a direct blow to its bipartisan talking points. If he does secure the Democratic nomination – a very likely scenario, at this point – AIPAC will face an extremely difficult challenge ahead of the November election, and its bipartisan reputation will be put to one of the toughest possible tests.

        “As far back as the 1990s, Democratic presidential candidates all had a cordial relationship with AIPAC. Hillary Clinton gave a speech at its 2016 policy conference, when she was running against Sanders in the primaries; Barack Obama spoke at AIPAC in 2008, during his first election campaign, and once again in 2012 when seeking re-election. Sanders is the first Democratic front-runner to level such harsh criticism at the lobby. If he is nominated, he will also be the first to boycott the organization’s most important annual gathering.

        “A Sanders-Trump election would be a nightmare for AIPAC, because of the vast and consequential differences between the two of them regarding Israel. Trump is preparing to give a green light to Israel to annexing each and every settlement (but not outposts) in the occupied West Bank – a move that will effectively shut the door on the option of creating a Palestinian state next to Israel. Sanders, meanwhile, calls to condition the billions of dollars in military aid Israel receives annually from U.S. taxpayers, and to use it as leverage to push the country to curtail expansion of settlements and to enter into serious negotiations with the Palestinians.

        “AIPAC – which officially supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – will find it very difficult to maintain its bipartisan approach in the event of a showdown between Sanders and Trump. Although the lobby has tried to maintain support among American liberals and progressives, should it condemn Sanders for his views, it will not be picking a fight with just any Democratic candidate, but rather with the party’s presidential nominee, whom many party members across the country will be rooting for as he takes on their nemesis, Trump. Such a situation will cause a major headache for AIPAC, which could be accused, for the first time, of taking sides in a general election, at great cost to its bipartisan reputation.

        “But Sanders is, in fact, just a short-term problem for the lobby, regardless of the results of the election. AIPAC’s larger, long-term problem is not confined to a specific politician, but is rather a generational phenomenon. Overall, Sanders is very popular among young Americans, as has been seen in the support he has received in the caucuses and primaries to date. Moreover, national public opinion polls show that voters under 35 overwhelmingly prefer him over Trump.

        “In general, Americans in that age bracket today tend to be more liberal and left-leaning politically than those belonging to the older generations, and the widespread support Sanders enjoys within these younger people is just one example of a broader trend. This also holds true within the U.S. Jewish community, with the exception of the more right-leaning Orthodox community. Even among Christian Evangelicals, those under the age of 35 seem to hold more progressive views and are less supportive of Trump and the Republican Party than their parents’ generation.

        “Therefore, a major clash between Sanders and AIPAC this election year won’t just hurt the lobby’s bipartisan bona fides in the short run: It could also come to define the organization among an entire generation of young American voters – which is, strategically, a much more serious problem for it.

        “AIPAC will likely survive the damage that one tough election year will cause; it is, after all, a very well-funded organization, led by professionals with a lot of political experience. But a generational fracture over Israel will create much more lasting, bipartisan damages. If the lobby group wants to stay relevant among Democrats – not just in 2020, but beyond – it needs to prepare seriously for this new reality.”

  2. Misterioso on February 24, 2020, 3:45 pm

    “Bernie Sanders Says Won’t Attend AIPAC Confab That ‘Gives Platform to Bigotry.’”

    “‘The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people,’ Democratic presidential candidate says on Twitter”

    By Amir Tibon. Washington. Feb 24, 2020 4:58 AM, Haaretz.

  3. lyn117 on February 24, 2020, 8:50 pm

    After they smeared the whole Democratic Party and called some members of congress worse than terrorists, AIPAC has a lot of gall.

  4. Kay24 on February 25, 2020, 12:47 am

    AIPAC is just another Israeli entity with an A in front.

    At least Sanders has the spine to refuse that invitation, that all other Democrats are eager to attend, and show “unwavering” support for a criminal state. In the US you have to kiss up to Israel’s large behind, to win…..something is horribly wrong with our political system.

  5. Misterioso on February 25, 2020, 10:17 am
    Short video: Cornel West on Bernie Sanders

    “Bernie Sanders has a backbone. That’s what it is to have integrity. That’s what it is to have courage and conviction and commitment and that consistency over time and space.” -Dr. Cornel West.

    Short video:

    Dick VanDyke on Bernie Sanders

  6. fyrebird on February 25, 2020, 10:36 am

    Abby Martin is right that Sanders can be steered in the correct amd more moral direction by the left. He’s probably the best bet when compared to the rest – which includes a right-wing Hindu nationalist and member serving in the imperial military – using poisonous war on terror rhetoric – presented as a progressive by the inane.

    • echinococcus on February 25, 2020, 11:59 am


      Not that anyone can guess future behavior, but Sanders is still a huge imperialist warmonger, proudly defending, as of last week even, imperial intervention and war of aggression (and he has a XXty-year record of imperialist warmongering), while Ms Gabbard, whatever her defects imagined or real, has consistently opposed aggression and intervention. Her worst defect, that of being a Democrat, is shared by Sanders anyway. All the rest is bullshit. Propaganda blurbs by the likes of you don’t change the record.

      • fyrebird on February 26, 2020, 1:13 am


        Your reply is not unexpected. The point that Abby Martin made – and which a closeted imperialist like you doesn’t understand – is that Sanders can be steered.

        Your continued defence of Gabbard puts you squarely in the imperialist camp and you don’t quite pass the litmus test you set others with – inane is the word that came to mind, hypocritical is another. You protest too much. Are you on Modi’s payroll too? Or are you another anti-anti-Zionist suffering from the same parochial vision you criticise others for?

      • fyrebird on February 26, 2020, 4:16 am

        “has consistently opposed aggression and intervention”

        Not just false or misinformed but also cultish – an echo from the echo-chamber. Maybe y’all should join her in giving Netanyahu another standing ovation or trying to justify pogroms or getting on Obama’s case about not doing more bombing raids or defending torture using Derhsowtiz’s playbook or maybe you can join her on the front lines on the endless war aka war-on-terror of which she is an active participant.

        I can’t attempt to de-radicalise a convert anymore – you really need to do the research.

      • echinococcus on February 26, 2020, 9:10 pm

        1. Not opposing “pogroms”, applauding Netanyahoo speech, “defending torture” or whatever else you think you saw (you think) are not acts of international aggression.

        2. Supporting anyone at all that supports total non-intervention against warmongering mountebanks like Sanders — look at Empire Bernie’s last interview to the NYT — is not support for Modi or Trump or Obama, etc.

        3. As already said, Gabbard’s prohibitive defect still is her being on the Democrat list.

        4. What, apart from empty words by the old demagogue, can you adduce as proof that he is “steerable”? The only ones doing the steering are the owners of the Single Party. And anyway he is not running to win but to throw the disgruntled vote to the Party-anointed (Warren, Harpy Clinton… who knows?)

      • fyrebird on February 29, 2020, 10:02 am

        The slow rise of Gabbard in US politics to the top will also be the advent of the entrenching of the neofascist Hindutva lobby – representing the most pro-Israel consitutuency outside Israel – in the United States. It will also be the ideological demise of anti-anti-Zionists and the fake leftists who are backing her. Her fixers, which includes at least one famous journalist on the left but more an ego-stroker from a privileged background, will find other crusades.


        Bilkis Bano will tell you.

        Meanwhile your response would be more succinct if you quoted the cruel Jimmy Dore when asked about Gabbard: Why should I give a sh*t about India?

        If your morally unblemished goddess (a description parsed from your references to the cult handbook) does become president one day, don’t count out the resistance. For the goddess is a hoax and you are a pilgrim to nothing but a carefully tailored PR campaign designed for you

      • echinococcus on February 29, 2020, 1:05 pm


        How many times do you have to hear it: I don’t give a rat’s ass (to repeat for good measure your appropriate quote, “why should I give a sh*t?”) for anything but international aggression. There is no other issue today, and all fake-leftie helpers of war of aggression by imperial monopoly capital, including Sanders, our gracious albeit censoring host and your good self are just barely tolerable only if and when they somehow help against Zionist aggression.

        Make sure to let me know what language you understand, for the next time.

  7. genesto on February 25, 2020, 1:25 pm

    Nice to see my faith in, and support for, Bernie Sanders is being validated. Trust that Bernie is even more sympathetic to the Palestinians than he lets on publicly. He is, after all, a seasoned politician too.

    Now, all of you, PLEASE vote for Bernie, try to get your friends to do so and, if you are so inclined, please try to help the campaign as much as you can. The other so-called major candidates are either individuals with a sense of entitlement (Biden and Bloomberg), overarching ambition (Buttigieg and Klobuchar), or with a similar vision but far less support (Warren) who don’t have the means to grow the type of movement that it will take to defeat Trump. Bernie has this movement, and it is growing by the day!

  8. just on February 25, 2020, 4:49 pm

    Here’s a darn good read by Alex Kane published in +972~ I’ll only cite a portion of it wrt Bernie’s team:

    “Meet the foreign policy teams shaping the Democratic Party’s views on Israel

    The advisers of the Democratic candidates offer a deeper look into what their policies on Israel-Palestine would be once they enter the White House.

    U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is doing something no American politician has done before: running as the Democratic front-runner for president while harshly criticizing Israel.

    Just last Tuesday, Sanders slammed Israel’s “right-wing racist government” during a CNN town hall in Nevada, four days before he won a resounding victory in the state’s caucuses. On Sunday, he announced that he would not attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), stating he was “concerned about the platform AIPAC provides leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”

    When Sanders criticizes Israel in this way, he is not merely expressing his own personal beliefs. His remarks are also the outcome of the work of a foreign policy team that is helping to hone Sanders’ thinking on Israel – and which, in turn, is dramatically reshaping the national debate on what U.S. policy toward the Jewish state should be. …

    The following year, Sanders signaled his seriousness in addressing foreign policy matters — and in particular about Israel-Palestine — when he hired Matt Duss to be his top foreign policy aide.

    A veteran of Washington’s battles over Israel-Palestine, Duss was a foreign policy analyst from 2008 to 2014 at the Center for American Progress, Washington’s premier liberal think tank, where he also wrote for its blog, ThinkProgress. In 2014, Duss went on to lead the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), which publishes analysis on Israel-Palestine and U.S. foreign policy, and funds human rights groups and news outlets that focus on the region (including +972 Magazine).

    Duss has written extensively on Israel-Palestine, criticizing Israel’s settlement project and the Israel lobby while highlighting the need to push for a Palestinian state. During his time at CAP, Duss caught the attention of Josh Block, a pugilistic Washington operative and former spokesman for AIPAC, who compiled a dossier on Duss and his colleagues and accused them of spreading anti-Semitism. …

    The presence of Malley and Duss suggests that Israel-Palestine would be among the top foreign policy priorities for a Sanders White House. More importantly, it suggests that a Sanders administration would seek to pressure Israel into ending its occupation, including by making U.S. military aid contingent on Israeli changes in behavior — something Duss has advocated for. As the Sanders campaign told the New York Times, his administration would “use every tool at his disposal, including the conditioning of military aid, to create consequences for moves (such as settlements or annexation) that undermine the chances for peace.” ” …

    there’s much more @

  9. Kay24 on February 26, 2020, 5:50 am

    So here is another scumbag accepted, and welcomed, to speak at this AIPAC horror show:


    For people who keep reminding the world about the Holocaust, it is unbelievable they invite a man involved in what the world calls the ‘worst genocide after the Holocaust”.

    Why are American Jews embracing this man?

    • genesto on February 26, 2020, 4:25 pm

      Because it’s all about power, not about protecting world Jewry.

      It’s the bitterest of ironies!

    • wondering jew on February 26, 2020, 8:34 pm

      “worst genocide in Europe since the Holocaust” is the accurate quote.

    • just on February 26, 2020, 9:34 pm

      Just because, Kay24! From your link:

      “Vucic is among the most hated individuals for Bosnian Muslims, with some viewing him in worse terms than late strongman Slobodan Milosevic. During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Vucic was an ultranationalist politician in opposition to Milosevic, criticizing the Serb leader of leniency toward Bosnian Muslims.

      Many Bosnian Muslims also still remember Vucic’s incendiary statement during the Balkan wars that for every dead Serb, 100 Muslims should be killed. Some in the crowd held a banner with the quote to remind him of his past.”

      The rhetoric (his “incendiary statement”) sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? I would hope he would lay bare his soul and apologize for his evil, racist, and murderous Islamophobic ways @ AIPAC, but I doubt it. He could, but he won’t. A leopard never changes his spots, you know.

  10. just on February 26, 2020, 12:29 pm

    wrt Rep. Betty McCollum and her resolution about the myriad crimes against Palestinian children:

    By Brad Parker

    “I was meant to talk about Palestinian kids at the UN. Israel forced me out

    Belgium caved into Israeli pressure to disinvite me from the Security Council. In doing so, they helped undermine human rights work for Palestinian children.

    Last week, the government of Belgium caved in to intense Israeli government pressure and effectively disinvited me from briefing the UN Security Council in New York today.

    Ironically, the decision to exclude my voice as a representative of Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), a Palestinian human rights organization, exemplifies and reinforces the message I had prepared to deliver before the Council.

    I was invited by Belgium’s Permanent Mission to the UN in late January to brief members of the Security Council on violations of children’s rights in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

    Belgium, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency for this month, is a leader of the UN’s global agenda on children and armed conflict, and as such wanted to highlight these specific themes during the Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East and Palestine Question. The Belgians wrote in their invitation that this focused discussion would help “to enrich the debate” on the Palestinian issue.

    I gladly accepted. The fact that Belgium was willing to invite a local Palestinian human rights organization like DCIP to brief the Council was commendable, as civil society space at the UN has been shrinking for years. While they urged me to be “balanced” in my statement (which I had shared with them for feedback), they understood that Palestinian children overwhelmingly and disproportionately bear the brunt of the kinds of violations they sought to highlight.

    Then the troubles began.

    Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, reportedly asked the Belgian government in early February to cancel the invitation. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Belgium’s Deputy Ambassador to Israel, Pascal Buffin, on two separate occasions to formally object to the invitation. These requests were initially rejected.

    Israeli officials and right-wing organizations, like NGO Monitor, and their affiliates subsequently mounted a well-orchestrated political and media disinformation campaign to press the Belgians to capitulate.

    Then, four days ago, I received an early morning phone call informing me that Brussels had decided to change the Security Council event from an open meeting to a closed meeting — meaning that I was no longer a participant.

    Targeted defamation campaigns
    Belgium’s acquiescence to Israel’s demands is a frustrating and devastating blow. Not only is it a shameful act of censorship, but it also boosts longstanding efforts to delegitimize human rights work and basic tenets of international law when it comes to Palestinians.

    Over the past two weeks, I have falsely been called everything from an “extreme anti-Israel activist” and “minor American propogandist,” to a “terror supporter” and “diplomatic terrorist.”

    Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, even wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres calling DCIP “an arm of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) in order to enact diplomatic terror against Israel,” adding, “A place that promotes peace and security in the world has no room for people like Parker.” ” …

    much more @

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