The tide is turning among establishment Democrats on Israel/Palestine. (Photo by Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It’s Not Just Bernie Anymore—Centrist Dems Are Skipping AIPAC in a “Watershed Moment”

Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg have joined Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in abandoning the pro-Israel conference that critics call “a fringe, right-wing, radioactive rogue organization.”

BY Julia Conley

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"This is a watershed moment and a major victory against the bigotry that AIPAC has legitimized for decades," said IfNotNow co-founder Dani Moscovitch.

Succumbing to grassroots pressure, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg both announced Wednesday that they would not attend the Israel lobby's meeting this year, making them the latest two Democratic presidential candidates to decline an invitation to address the conference.

Jewish-led group IfNotNow credited its #SkipAIPAC campaign—which it's leading with MoveOn, Indivisible, and the Working Families Party—as well as years of public pressure from defenders of Palestinians' human rights—with convincing Buttigieg and Klobuchar to skip the conference.

“This is a watershed moment and a major victory against the bigotry that AIPAC has legitimized for decades,” said IfNotNow co-founder Dani Moscovitch. “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 consequences for denying the Palestinian people freedom and dignity.”

“Because of grassroots pressure, the tide is turning,” IfNotNow tweeted.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald said the shift away from AIPAC solidifies its status as “a fringe, right-wing, radioactive rogue organization.”

“It always was that, but its mask has finally fallen and it's now widely recognized as such,” Greenwald tweeted.

Democrats as well as Republicans have for decades attended the annual policy conference led by AIPAC, which supports the Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the first Democratic presidential candidate this year to announce she would skip the conference, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) earlier this week.

On Tuesday, seven IfNotNow members were arrested at former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign headquarters in Philadelphia for holding a public action there. Biden and businessman Tom Steyer have not committed to skipping the AIPAC conference, and IfNotNow called former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is set to speak at the meeting, a “lost cause.” 

MoveOn said it was encouraged by the commitments of the four Democratic candidates.

“MoveOn members are excited that Democratic candidates are listening to the grassroots majority that supports peace and diplomacy over disastrous wars of choice,” said senior political advisor Dan Kalik. “Thank you Senators Warren, Sanders, and Klobuchar, and Mayor Pete for standing by your values and choosing to #SkipAIPAC. No candidates should be pandering to AIPAC, which spent millions in an attempt to defeat the Iran Nuclear Deal and continues to give a platform to Islamophobes and bigots.”

With a growing number of major political figures refusing to align with the anti-Palestinian rights lobby, IfNotNow is also focused on ending the U.S. government's support for the Israeli military's occupation.

“It is time to end the blank check and for our tax dollars to stop funding the Israeli occupation,” said Moscovitch.

This story was first posted at Common Dreams.


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Julia Conley is a Maine-based staff writer for ,Common Dreams.

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