Jewish. Left. Not sorry.

Democratic Candidates Steering Clear Of AIPAC?

Naftali Botwin
Photo: Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 AIPAC policy conference. (Lorie Shaull)

With just over a week to go before its annual policy conference, pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC appears to have not yet confirmed appearances by any of the Democratic candidates for President in 2020, the organization's website reveals. In all, nearly 40 members of Congress, Republican and Democratic, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, are scheduled to attend the three-day event which kicks off March 24 in Washington, D.C.

The lack of participation by incumbent Donald Trump's Democratic challengers signals AIPAC's growing toxicity on the Left and a decline in the power of the lobby itself in Washington. A Gallup poll published March 6 found that support for Israel has dipped among Democrats to 43%, down from 49% a decade ago. However, the drop in support was even more pronounced among Republicans.

It was not so long ago that a Presidential candidate missing AIPAC would be unthinkable. In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the only mainstream Presidential candidate to skip the conference, preferring instead to submit a prepared statement while away campaigning at a safe distance. This year, following the backlash to Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar's controversial remarks about AIPAC's influence over Congress, Democrats appear to be following suit and steering clear, hoping to avoid offending the growing progressive wing of the party.

This may be a wise decision considering who they might be scheduled to speak alongside. Among those attending this year's policy conference are perennial White House warmonger Elliot Abrams, Republican Jewish Coalition chief Matt Brooks, Free Beacon publisher Matthew Continetti, conservative N.Y. Times columnist Bret Stephens, founder of the extremist Israeli New Right party Naftali Bennett, and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Liz Cheney. Also scheduled to speak are former Israeli Ambassdor to the U.S. Ron Dermer, architect of Benjamin Netanyahu's Congressional address; U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who oversees the fundraising for Beit El, an extremist West Bank settlement, and refers to liberal American Jews as "kapos;" and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who posted a deeply antisemitic tweet on the eve of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh accusing wealthy Jews of trying to buy the U.S. election and later led the Congressional attack on Rep. Omar.

The Center for American Progress' Neera Tanden will also be in attendance.

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