Bernie Sanders, the leading Democratic candidate for the upcoming presidential election in the United States, has stated that he will not be attending this year’s policy conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The US senator from the State of Vermont has objected to the politics of the pro-Israel lobby group and its history of offering the platform to those who are expressedly intolerant of the Palestinian people.
Prefacing his announcement with the assertion that Palestinians have just as much right to live in “peace and security” as Israel, Sanders explained why he refused to attend the conference through his Twitter handle. “I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights”, he wrote.
He also added in the tweets that “(a)s president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region”. Sanders has advocated for a peaceful resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict and the issue of Palestinian self-determination.
His statement was also in reference to the platform given by the organization to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu despite his government standing accused of innumerable atrocities against Palestinians and war crimes in the occupied territories. AIPAC is also notorious for its campaigns against supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and has been drafting and pushing for legislation that would criminalize its advocacy.
The AIPAC policy conference for this year will be held between March 1-3 in the capital Washington D.C. It is traditionally attended by presidential candidates during election season. AIPAC is among the foremost pro-Israeli and pro-Zionist lobby groups in the US. It has been often accused of whitewashing atrocities committed against Palestinians. It is also infamous for attacking people who criticize Israel by accusing such critics of anti-semitism.