Bloomberg courts American voters in Israel as Sanders shuns AIPAC

Bloomberg courts American voters in Israel as Sanders shuns AIPAC
The Democratic primaries are heating up as its two Jewish candidates stand on opposing sides of the field when it comes to Israel.
3 min read
25 February, 2020
Sanders [R] and Bloombers [L] have differed over AIPAC [Getty]
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is looking to Israel for voter support in the upcoming 2020 presidential leadership race, to entice Democrats living abroad, his campaign told reporters.

John Calvelli, the Bloomberg campaign director for Democrats Abroad, said: “There is a large discrepancy between the number of Americans living abroad and the number of voters in the Democrats Abroad global primary.”

Americans who live abroad may still vote in their state’s primary through something called an absentee ballot, or, as registered Democrats they can register to be members of Democrats Abroad, the party’s official international arm for those living outside the US.

Over 100,000 Americans are currently living in Israel, according to Haaretz, however in 2016 only 34,570 Democrats living abroad – including Israel – voted in the global primary.

“Israel has a large expat population, which means there are American voters that the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign is looking to reach,” Calvelli told the publication.

“Through events, targeted outreach and old-fashioned networking, our team is looking to simultaneously spread the word about Mike’s record and increase the number of Democrats Abroad voters in Israel.”

He added that Bloomberg’s “commitment to fighting anti-Semitism” will resonate with American Israelis.

“By doing this, we are working to maximise the number of our supporters participating in this process,” Calvelli said.

Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Sanders [Getty]
Part of the campaign’s plan would be to hire staff overseas to talk with voters, organise events in an over-arching “paid, earned and social media strategy”.

This comes as rival Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders pledged to boycott the conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the pro-Israel lobby, planting himself in opposition to Bloomberg.

"The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference," he tweeted.

"As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region."

The Jewish senator is seen as the leftist frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, and his comments come after reports that AIPAC helped fund advertisements attacking Sanders in Nevada, where he topped the polls for the caucus.

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In an interview on Sunday, Sanders denied being a pacifist, saying that if elected president he would “absolutely” the military if warranted, both to protect US interests and to support its allies.

In an extensive interview airing on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the Vermont senator asked under what circumstances he would deploy US military forces.

He said: “Threats against the American people, to be sure. Threats against our allies. I believe in NATO.

“I believe that the United States, everything being equal, should be working with other countries in alliance, not doing it alone.”

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