Breaking political custom, Democratic presidential candidates skip AIPAC summit

After the decision by leading Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders, other candidates have also jumped in to skip the 2020 AIPAC policy summit. Only Mike Bloomberg is scheduled to attend

February 28, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) increasingly finds itself isolated by the US Democratic Party, as more presidential candidates decide to skip its upcoming summit. Amy Klobouchar and Pete Buttigieg have also decided to give the pro-Israel lobby’s annual policy conference a miss, joining frontrunner candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The only candidate to confirm attendance for the summit is Michael Bloomberg.

The decision by multiple candidates to skip the AIPAC policy conference has been a major break from tradition for the Democratic Party. Presidential candidates, particularly those from the party, have for years coveted the platform that the extravagant annual conference has offered them. However, in recent months, AIPAC’s attempts to target several Democratic legislators has put the party leadership at odds with the lobby group.

Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have been targeted by AIPAC for their support for Palestinian rights and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. AIPAC lobbied to campaign for a resolution against Ilhan Omar in the US House of Representative, which saw almost the entire Democratic Party voting against it.

Recently, AIPAC found itself in hot water over its campaign ad video released on Facebook accusing pro-Palestinian Democratic legislators of being worse than the Islamic State (ISIS) for their advocacy of Palestinian rights. While the organization deleted and promptly apologized for the ad after a severe public backlash, the relationship between the party and the lobby group continues to be sour.