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COVID-19 forces cancellation of pro-Israel conference in US

June 1, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an AIPAC conference in Washington, US on 6 March 2018 [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has cancelled its 2021 conference due to COVID-19.

AIPAC President Betsy Korn sent an email to supporters citing “no predictable avenue” for the infamous conference to safely take place in 2021.

The statement continued: “While we will sorely miss seeing our AIPAC family in Washington and connecting in person as a pro-Israel community, what truly binds us together is our shared commitment to ensuring the safety and security of America and Israel.”

“AIPAC will continue to find new and creative ways over the coming year for us to connect online and in person to advance the US-Israel relationship.”

The statement then went on to express hope that their “family” would overcome such obstacles to tackle Israel’s “detractors” attempts to “undermine the bi-partisan support” for AIPAC’s aims and values, and promised a refund to people who had already paid to attend the conference.

A spokesperson for AIPAC said: “Due to the unprecedented situation this is the first time [we are cancelling the policy conference] – since it was already clear that we did not have a predictable avenue to safely bring together thousands of pro-Israel Americans, we have been forced to cancel.”

READ: AIPAC is a ‘hate group’ ‘weaponizing anti-Semitism’, says US Congresswoman 

The conference, which costs around $700 to attend, attracts hundreds of people every year, including high profile politicians in the corridors of power such as Mike Pompeo, and President Donald Trump himself, who has recently given his approval to Israel’s plans to annex the illegally occupied West Bank.

High profile Israel politicians such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett MK have also spoken at the event.

AIPAC has been criticised for its seemingly unwavering support for the Israeli government, illegal occupation of Palestinian land and refusal to condemn Israel’s violence.

It has been accused of being a “platform for bigotry” and forming an “unholy alliance” with bigots and racists to forward its aims and values. Organisers have denied this, saying some of their supporters were black or hispanic, which proved otherwise.

Last year the conference was the subject of a campaign called #SkipAIPAC, led by young Jewish group IfNotNow.

The group called on politicians to boycott the event, which resulted in then-Democratic presidential candidates – including Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren – not attending, sparking rage from the pro-Israel organisation.