Rubbing elbows with Bibi is a ‘no no’ for Democrats

MoveOn members believe progressive candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination should skip this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, to be held next week in Washington, DC.

A new survey from MoveOn Political Action asked members if Democratic presidential contenders should skip the conference, headlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

More than 74% of MoveOn members responded agree or strongly agree with the statement that “any progressive vying to be the Democratic nominee for President should skip the AIPAC conference.”

“We are formally asking 2020 presidential candidates to not attend the conference,” said Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn Political Action.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former House of Representatives member Beto O’Rourke and Senator Kamala Harris of California, all said they will not attend the conference.

Sanders, a Jew who has harshly criticized Israeli policy in the past, “is very concerned about the stage that AIPAC gives to leaders who have expressed extreme positions and who oppose the two-state solution.”

The call comes despite a trend for criticism of AIPAC or Israel to come under fire as anti-Semitic, even if such opprobrium has nothing to do with the Jewish faith.

Such was the reaction to comments by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, who expressed the opinion that some American politicians refused to condemn inhumane policies — such as Israeli troops firing into crowds of unarmed protesters — because speaking out could offend some donors.

MoveOn said its warning results from the increasingly partisan nature of AIPAC and the prime minister’s expected attendance at the conference.

Netanyahu, an ally of President Donald Trump, is facing bribery and breach of trust charges to be brought by Israel’s attorney general.

“We have four main points as to why we think 2020 candidates should skip the AIPAC conference,” Ali said. “First and foremost is that AIPAC has become more and more partisan over the years.”

Ali cited the organization’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 and said AIPAC has “become slightly an arm of the Republican Party” by refusing to condemn anti-Semitic statements by Republicans.

“AIPAC has been known to peddle anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric while giving platforms to islamaphobes,” Ali said.

MoveOn members responded agree or strongly agree with the statement that “any progressive vying to be the Democratic nominee for President should skip the AIPAC conference.”

“Israel has no greater friend in the world than the United States,” said Lisa McCormick, a MoveOn volunteer in New Jersey. “But just as many strong allies are candidly sharing their concern about the extreme right wing agenda of the Trump Tea Party Republicans and its destructive impact on world affairs, so must America be truthful when it comes to objecting to the Netanyahu regime’s brutal suppression of Palestinian protests.”

From troops firing into unarmed Palestinian crowds, to illegal settlements on occupied lands and from abuses by soldiers against civilians to frequent violations of the Oslo Accords

The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed in 1993 and 1995, which were aimed at fulfilling the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” 

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that three soldiers from an ultra-Orthodox battalion of the Israel Defense Forces, were given ridiculously low sentences after being convicted of beating two Palestinians, Ziad Shalada, 44, and his 22-year-old son, Mahmoud, while they were tied up in an army truck.

Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state with a liberal democracy, with a parliamentary system, proportional representation, and universal suffrage.

“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” Netanyahu recently said, referring to the deeply controversial law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.”

Israel’s parliament narrowly adopted by 62 votes to 55, a 2018 law defining the country as a Jewish nation, provoking fears of blatant discrimination against 1.8 million Palestinian citizens, who comprise about a quarter of the population.

Some Americans who have been critical of the nationalist extremism represented by Netanyahu’s Likud Party cite this nation’s unjust dalliance with white supremacist policies of ‘separate but equal’ along the path to build a society that genuinely honored equal rights.

The stated mission of AIPAC is to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel, however the organization seems to have endorsed the fear-based leadership embodied in Likud, Israel’s right-wing party.

Despite the fact that large majorities of American Jews vote Democratic, some neo-fascist nationalists, including Trump, have accused the Democratic Party of becoming an anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli party.

Since 1988, American Jews have voted 3 to 1 in favor of Democratic presidential nominees and candidates for Congress.

An unholy alliance between the Republican Party and the social movement known as the Christian Right, which has called for ending the separation of state and religion and attempted to define the United States as a Christian nation, makes Jewish affinity toward the GOP unlikely.

The majority of Americans remain partial toward Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with 59% in Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey saying they sympathize more with the Israelis whereas 21% sympathize more with the Palestinians.

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