Sanders to boycott pro-Israel lobby AIPAC conference

Sanders to boycott pro-Israel lobby AIPAC conference
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders pledged to boycott the conference hosted by AIPAC, as the senator comes under increased scrutiny for his foreign policy positions.
3 min read
24 February, 2020
Sanders has achieved unexpected success (Getty)
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has pledged to boycott the conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the pro-Israel lobby, as the senator comes under increased scrutiny for his foreign policy positions.   

"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."

Perceived as the leftist frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, the Jewish senator has been critical of Israel during the campaign. 

The tweet comes after reports that AIPAC helped to fund advertisements attacking Sanders in Nevada, where he topped the polls for the caucus.

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

He also said he would be willing to meet with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, as President Donald Trump has done.

In the interview airing on CBS's "60 Minutes," the Vermont senator was asked in what circumstances he, as commander-in-chief, would deploy US military forces. He listed these criteria:

"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."

'We will not sit by'

When the interviewer asked whether he would order military action if Taiwan came under attack from China, Sanders replied:

"Yeah. I mean, I think we have got to make it clear to countries around the world that we will not sit by and allow invasions to take place, absolutely."

The senator, who scored a resounding victory Saturday in the Nevada presidential caucuses, was asked if he would follow Trump's example and meet with the North Korean leader.

"Yeah, I mean I've criticized Trump for everything..." he said. "But meeting with people who are antagonistic is, to me, not a bad thing."

Sanders added that he believed Trump was "unprepared" when he met with Kim - their meeting last year in Hanoi collapsed in disagreement.

"But I do not have a problem with sitting down with adversaries all over the world."

In a recent New York Times survey of the Democratic candidates, Sanders and fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren said they would continue Trump's personal diplomacy with Kim, but former vice president Joe Biden, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Amy Klobuchar said they would not.

Sanders, along with Biden and Bloomberg, also said he would consider using force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test.

Agencies contributed to this report

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