2020 Democrats to Skip AIPAC Conference after Call to Boycott
Edelman, Ludwig Hurtado, and Melissa Holzberg
March 21, 2019
Democratic presidential candidates will skip the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee's policy conference this year after a prominent progressive group
called on them to boycott the event.
Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,
will all ditch the conference, the Associated Press reported, and a spokesman
for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, told NBC News that he also will not
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will not be going, The
Jewish Week reported, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban
Development Julian Castro also won't show, according
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering running for president as an
independent, will also skip the conference, the Associated Press reported.
Orton, a policy director for Sanders, told NBC News that the senator is
"concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have
expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.”
didn't attend the 2016 conference while he was running in the Democratic
presidential primary, but addressed
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at length during a speech around the
time of the event.
candidates' decisions to skip the prominent pro-Israel lobbying group’s
conference come one day after liberal group MoveOn.org called on all 2020
presidential candidates to
steer clear of the event.
no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran
deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures
actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” Iram Ali, campaign
director for MoveOn's political action committee, said in a post on the group's
website. “We asked our members what they think so that we can make more
informed decisions — and over 74% agreed that progressive presidential
candidates should skip the AIPAC conference. This should also give a clear
insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing
lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.”
spokesman Marshall Whittmann said the "focus for the conference has always
are proud that the bipartisan leadership of the House and the Senate will be
speaking," Whittmann told NBC News.
at this year’s conference, which will kick off Sunday, include Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a number of prominent Democrats, such as House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
has been at the center of headlines about the Democratic Party in recent weeks,
after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted several controversial claims about
Israel, including the
claim that AIPAC was paying politicians to support Israel.
was accused by some lawmakers and prominent Jewish groups of anti-Semitism and
playing on toxic
a nonprofit that does not donate directly to candidates but works to promote a
staunchly pro-Israel message in Washington, responded to Omar, tweeting that
it is "proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen
the US-Israel relationship."
Omar later apologized after her comments were denounced by House Democratic leaders as "anti-Semitic tropes."