Trump slams 2020 Democrats for skipping AIPAC: ‘They’re totally anti-Israel’
Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Friday again accused Democrats of being “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish,” in response to a question from a reporter on the growing number of the party’s presidential candidates skipping a conference put on by a prominent pro-Israel lobbying group.
“The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel, there’s no question about that,” Trump said as he departed the White House for Palm Beach, Florida. “And it’s a disgrace, I mean, I don’t know what’s happened to them but they are totally anti-Israel. Frankly, I think they’re anti-Jewish.”
The comments come after a growing number of Democratic hopefuls for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination said they will not attend the annual policy conference put on by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), an influential pro-Israel lobbying group.
Thus far the campaigns of eight Democratic presidential candidates have confirmed to ABC News that they will not be attending the conference, which is slated to begin this Sunday in Washington, D.C., and runs through Tuesday.
Those not attending the conference include: Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.
Representatives for the campaigns of Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar did not respond to ABC News when asked if they will be attending AIPAC.
Even as a growing number of Democratic candidates declined to appear, other top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, are all slated to attend and speak at this year’s conference.
“Sen. Sanders has no plans to attend the AIPAC conference. He’s concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution,” Sanders’ Policy Director Josh Orton wrote in a statement provided to ABC News.
Sanders, who is Jewish, did not attend the conference in 2016 either, while his then-rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, attended the gathering and gave remarks.
A spokesman for Delaney said the candidate is “very disappointed,” he can not attend the conference due to a scheduling conflict.
The decisions come after prominent liberal group MoveOn.org called on all Democratic candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination to boycott the conference.
“It’s no secret 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.org, wrote in a statement released earlier this week.
The call to boycott the conference also comes after Democrats struggled to respond to the backlash against Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose comments about Jewish Americans and dual-loyalty sparked a debate within the party about anti-Semitism and led the U.S. House to pass an official resolution condemning “hate.”
Despite the backlash, many prominent Democrats including Sanders and Harris came to Omar’s defense.
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