Bernie Sanders will be the only 2016 presidential candidate not to address the annual conference of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which starts Sunday in Washington, D.C..
Sanders sent a letter Friday to AIPAC President Robert Cohen saying that “the campaign schedule that we have prevents me from attending,” and, “the best that I can do is to send you a copy of the remarks that I would have given if I was able to attend.” The campaign posted the letter (pdf) in full.
All the presidential candidates were invited, and
California-based human rights group Jewish Voice for Peace also stated Friday:
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Sanders’ campaign communications director Michael Briggs said an offer to address the conference via video link was rejected, according to reporting by The Intercept. The news outlet also notes that AIPAC did make that allowance for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich during the 2012 presidential campaign.
AIPAC has been met with repeated fierce criticisms over its stances, including its efforts to derail U.S. diplomatic efforts with Iran, its push for military intervention in Syria, and its support for Israeli invasions and siege of Gaza.
A change.org petition started by journalist Max Blumenthal had urged Sanders to reject the conference fully. It states:
And that promise, Murtaza Hussain wrote at The Intercept, “makes him an outlier in the presidential race.”
“Regardless of any spin he’s offering,” Blumenthal told Salon, “I think Sanders recognized that sharing a stage with bigots at AIPAC and apartheid lobbyists would be anathema to his hardcore base of support.”
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