South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are the latest Democratic presidential candidates to announce that they won’t be attending the upcoming American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. March 1-3.
A spokesperson for the Buttigieg campaign told Fox News that the South Bend mayor won’t be attending the conference “due to a traveling conflict surrounding Super Tuesday.” Jewish News Syndicate asked Klobuchar after the Feb. 25 Democratic presidential debate if she would be attending the conference and she replied, “No.”
Super Tuesday, which is also on March 3, will feature 14 states holding their primaries for the Democratic presidential nomination, including California and Klobuchar’s home state of Minnesota. The AIPAC conference overlaps with the primary voting day.
The progressive Jewish group IfNotNow, which has been pressuring Democratic presidential candidates to boycott the conference as part of their #SkipAIPAC campaign, issued a statement celebrating Buttigieg and Klobuchar’s absence from the conference.
“Even moderates in the Democratic Party are now refusing to attend a conference by a right-wing lobby that allies with bigots just to shield the Israeli government from any conference denying the Palestinian people freedom and dignity,” the statement read. “It is time to end the blank check and for our tax dollars to stop funding the Israeli occupation.”
Pro-Israel activist Arsen Ostrovsky argued that Buttigieg and Klobuchar are skipping the conference because of Super Tuesday.
“Stop twisting this into something it’s not,” he wrote. “You guys know very well that #AIPAC also falls during #SuperTuesday and therefore their attention most likely to be elsewhere. But don’t let facts and reality get in your way.”
Sanders sparked headlines when he announced via Twitter on Feb. 23 that he wasn’t going to attend the AIPAC conference, accusing the pro-Israel lobbying organization of providing a platform “for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” Scores of Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, defended AIPAC and condemned Sanders’ remarks.
“We fully agree with AIPAC’s response to Senator Bernie Sanders. His shameful attack against AIPAC stands in stark contrast to his silence as dozens of Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets rained down on Israeli playgrounds and homes from Gaza during the last two days,” StandWithUs said in a statement. “StandWithUs is proud to have a large delegation attending and participating in AIPAC Policy Conference, as we have done each year since our inception. We look forward to joining activists and leaders of all backgrounds from across the political spectrum to advocate for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has also said that she isn’t attending the AIPAC conference. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, is scheduled to speak at the conference.
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