MoveOn wants Democratic candidates to skip pro-Israel conference

Israel controversy spreads: Progressive group urges 2020 candidates to boycott annual conference of powerful lobby

Published March 21, 2019 12:25PM (EDT)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Donald Trump (Getty/Kobi Gideon)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Donald Trump (Getty/Kobi Gideon)

This article originally appeared at Common Dreams. It is is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

MoveOn, a progressive advocacy group with millions of members, is calling on Democratic presidential candidates to boycott AIPAC's annual conference.

"It's no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage," Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn Political Action, said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are among the confirmed speakers for the event, which begins Sunday.

None of the Democratic presidential candidates are listed as speakers at the conference, and there is no indication that any of them plan to attend. But MoveOn's demand for a boycott will nevertheless "give a clear insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.," said Ali.

Anna Zuccaro, a spokeswoman for MoveOn, told Politico that the boycott demand is "a clear sign that momentum is shifting."

The call to boycott the conference was viewed as further evidence of the generational shift within the Democratic Party over America's relationship with the Israeli government, which has been accused of brutally occupying Palestinian lands and massacring Palestinian civilians with impunity.

"This is a huge step in the right direction," tweeted Max Berger, co-founder of IfNotNow, a youth-led American Jewish advocacy group. "AIPAC upholds the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and second class citizenship for non-Jews in Israel."

MoveOn decided to call on Democratic presidential candidates to boycott AIPAC's conference after more than 74 percent of its members expressed support for the move in an online survey.

On Twitter, MoveOn listed a series of reasons it is calling on Democratic presidential hopefuls to skip the event, beginning with AIPAC's attempts to kill the Iran nuclear deal, its use of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric, and the possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces under Netanyahu.

By Jake Johnson

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