Sen. Bernie Sanders drew the ire of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its supporters after he announced he would not attend the lobbying group’s annual conference because he said the organization gives a platform for “bigotry.”
Sanders – who now leads the presidential pack in delegates after wins in Nevada and New Hampshire – has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and derided Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “racist” during a Democratic debate in December.
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people,” Sanders tweeted Sunday. “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.
“As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region,” he added in a second tweet.
AIPAC responded, calling Sanders remarks “insulting” and “shameful” in a statement.
“Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment,” the group said. AIPAC said Sanders’ fellow members of Congress are among those it gives a platform to and that “18,000 Americans from widely diverse backgrounds” participate in the conference.
“By engaging in such an odious attack on the mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel. Truly shameful,” AIPAC’s statement said.
The pro-Israel lobbying group also retweeted several people who defended its work or who were critical of Sanders’ of comments.
“Sen. Sanders, You won’t address 18,000 Americans of all backgrounds celebrating US-Israel ties. Shame. You overlook core interests & values at heart of link. Shame. You describe #AIPAC as a platform for bigotry. Shame. You ignore AIPAC’s support for 2-state deal. Shame,” tweeted David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee.
Read the rest at: AIPAC