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Sanders: AIPAC is a platform ‘for leaders who express bigotry’

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders delivers a speech during his first presidential campaign rally at Brooklyn College in New York, United States, 2 March, 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]
US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders delivers a speech in New York, US, 2 March 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said he will not attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference because it is a platform for leaders who “express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights”.

In a tweet, Sanders wrote: “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 continued: “As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region.”

AIPAC hit back at Sanders, describing his attack as “odious”, and said he had never attended their conference.

In a statement, it claimed that AIPAC welcomed many from “diverse” backgrounds, including Democrats and Hispanic Americans.

 US’ Sanders: ‘We cannot ignore the needs of the Palestinian people’

However, anti-occupation group IfNotNow, which has lobbied Democratic presidential candidates to skip the conference, congratulated Sanders on his decision.

The group tweeted: “Thank you Bernie for choosing to #SkipAIPAC! We are grateful for your commitment to freedom and dignity for all Palestinians and Israelis.”

AIPAC has in the past hosted right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, far-right newspaper Breitbart Editor Joel Pollak, extreme right anti-Palestinian MKs Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sanders has previously expressed his support for the Palestinians, most recently stating at a Town Hall meeting hosted by US news channel CNN that supporting Israel was possible without backing its government who he branded “racist”, and has advocated for military aid to be halted or directed towards Palestinians. 

READ: AIPAC is in a losing battle to preserve Israel’s bipartisan status in America

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