At AIPAC Policy Conference, High Profile Speakers Reject Bernie Sanders: ‘We Don’t Want Him in Israel’
Speakers at the annual gathering of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Sunday offered veiled and open condemnation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an outspoken and frequent critic of the Jewish state.
The group’s CEO Howard Kohr told attendees at the high-profile annual Policy Conference that he “must sound an alarm” about “an emerging threat” to the US-Israel relationship, appearing to point a finger at Sanders, who has publicly denounced the conference. “The work we have done and continue to do is at risk,” Kohr said.
Noting that support for Israel has always been bipartisan, Kohr warned, “A growing, highly vocal, and energized part of the electorate fundamentally rejects the value of the US-Israel alliance. It is no longer on the margins — but instead has taken the spotlight of our political life. Its most radical views are bending the political conversation and commanding attention.”
“And this movement has national ambitions,” he warned.
“The leaders of this movement occasionally seek to mollify us with empty reassurances and hollow affirmations of Israel’s right to live in peace,” he went on. “The leaders of this movement say they support Israel’s right to exist, but that’s not up for debate. Israel exists, and it doesn’t take a true friend to support that.”
“These are not the things a friend would say or do,” he said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon was more forthright in his comments on Sanders. Referring to one of the senator’s recent remarks about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, “We don’t want Sanders at AIPAC. We don’t want him in Israel. Anyone who calls our prime minister a ‘racist’ is either a liar, an ignorant fool, or both.”
Sanders, who is currently the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has broken with the Democrats’ traditionally pro-Israel stance, calling Netanyahu a “racist” and hinting at using US aid to Israel in order to force the Israeli government into concessions to the Palestinians.
He has also surrounded himself with aides and surrogates who are known to be hostile to Israel, to the extent that they reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
In his refusal to attend the Policy Conference, Sanders claimed AIPAC had given a platform to “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”