Progressive activists urge 2020 Democratic candidates to boycott AIPAC confab
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Progressive activists urge 2020 Democratic candidates to boycott AIPAC confab

MoveOn cites scheduled speech by Netanyahu, claiming he may have overseen ‘war crimes,’ and pro-Israel lobby group’s alleged acceptance of Islamophobes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at the Washington Convention Center, March 6, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at the Washington Convention Center, March 6, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana/File)

WASHINGTON — MoveOn, the progressive advocacy movement, asked Democratic presidential candidates not to attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.

The group on Wednesday posted a poll on Twitter of its members, showing that 74 percent of them want candidates to skip the annual AIPAC conference.

The group listed four reasons why candidates should not appear at AIPAC.

It cited the pro-Israel group’s vigorous opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama as well as the fact that the featured speaker this year is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who MoveOn says might have overseen war crimes, and who recently forged an alliance with a far-right party ahead of Israel’s elections next month.

Also, MoveOn said, is AIPAC’s allowance of figures identified by some groups as Islamophobes to appear at its conferences and AIPAC’s failure to condemn figures close to US President Donald Trump believed to be in bed with the far right.

AIPAC rarely takes US officials to task for anything outside the context of Israel, and it has condemned the far-right Otzma Yehudit party that has forged an alliance with Netanyahu. This week, AIPAC distanced itself from a scheduled speaker, pro-Israel giver Adam Milstein, who was accused of peddling Islamophobic themes on his Twitter feed. Milstein then withdrew from speaking at the conference.

“It’s time for progressives to recognize where their base stands — which means upholding progressive principles on domestic AND foreign policy,” the group said on Twitter. “Skip #AIPAC2019.”

No declared presidential candidates are scheduled to speak at the conference, and AIPAC’s policy is that presidential candidates are invited to speak only in election years. However, candidates have in past years circulated at the conference and have held private parlors to meet with activists.

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