AIPAC on Sunday night responded to Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who announced earlier that he would boycott the pro-Israel lobby’s policy conference scheduled for next week.
“Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment. In fact, many of his own Senate and House Democratic colleagues and leaders speak from our platform to the over 18,000 Americans from widely diverse backgrounds – Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Christians, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, progressives, Veterans, students, members of the LGBTQ+ community who participate in the conference to proclaim their support for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” the organization said in a statement.
“By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel. Truly shameful,” it added.
Sanders wrote on Twitter earlier, “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,” he tweeted.
“As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region,” he added.
Sanders was one of several Democratic presidential hopefuls who declined to speak at last year’s AIPAC conference, but he previously said he would not object to attending this year’s conference.
His statement follows that of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who indicated she would skip the AIPAC conference and did not push back against questionable assertions about the lobby.
Former US Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, rejected pressure to skip the conference, saying, “No, because I’m there to convince. Convince them to change their position.”
Sanders has repeatedly criticized the Israeli government, most recently last week when he asserted that it is racist.