The American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday blasted Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) over the senator’s claim that the pro-Israel group gives a “platform to bigotry.”
“Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment,” read a statement from AIPAC. “By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel. Truly shameful.”
Sanders announced on Sunday he would not attend the annual AIPAC Policy Conference.
“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “For that reason I will not attend their conference.” The statement seems to be a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Sanders has referred to as a “racist” in the past.
The conference will be held at the beginning of March. Confirmed speakers include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Senator Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), and a bipartisan roster of U.S. representatives.
Sanders has himself received endorsements for his presidential campaign from Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), both of whom have drawn accusations of anti-Semitism. Omar has written on Twitter that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” and wrote in 2012 that Israel had “hypnotized the world.” Both representatives planned a visit to Israel with Palestinian group Miftah, which has a history of promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and once republished an article from a neo-Nazi website.
Sanders has also named activist Linda Sarsour, who has similarly been accused of anti-Semitism, as a campaign surrogate.