Biden, Klobuchar to address AIPAC via video

Biden, Klobuchar to address AIPAC via video
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Democratic presidential candidates campaigning on the road will beam in to address an annual pro-Israel conference in Washington, D.C., by video message next week despite calls by progressive groups to boycott the event.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Democratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Harris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSocial media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates MORE (D-Minn.) will address the AIPAC policy conference by video, the organization announced in a pair of tweets on Friday, amid campaigning ahead of Super Tuesday next week.

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Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was the first Democratic presidential hopeful to announce he would be attending the pro-Israel confab in person. The event runs March 1-3.

Progressive groups have called on presidential candidates to boycott the conference, criticizing the organization as pushing for unconditional support of Israel that perpetuates the conflict with the Palestinians and alleging that the organization promotes the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu and President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Romney: 'Unthinkable and unacceptable' to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE’s policies towards Israel.

Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOutrage erupts over Breonna Taylor grand jury ruling Dimon: Wealth tax 'almost impossible to do' Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (I-Vt.) publicly committed to skipping the conference and criticized it for giving a platform to “leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference.” 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDimon: Wealth tax 'almost impossible to do' CNN's Don Lemon: 'Blow up the entire system' remark taken out of context Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-Mass.) answered “Yeah” when asked if she would commit to skipping the AIPAC conference, in response to a question at a campaign event from an activist with the group IfNotNow, which calls on the U.S. to pressure Israel over its policies towards Palestinians. 

The annual conference comes amid a busy period of campaigning for candidates seeking to shore up support in South Carolina ahead of that state's primary on Saturday and before Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold voting in the Democratic race.

More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the conference and will lobby their representatives on Capitol Hill for continued U.S. support for Israel, including continuing to provide $3.3 billion in annual aid to the country.

AIPAC presents itself as committed to promoting bipartisan support of the U.S. and Israel relationship, but recently had to issue an apology and pull advertisements that attacked Democratic congress members as “radicals” that are “anti-Semitic”, “anti-Israel" and “maybe more sinister” than threats from ISIS, Hamas or Hezbollah.

“We offer our unequivocal apology to the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress who are rightfully offended by the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied,” the apology read. 

The advertisements featured images of Democratic congresswomen who are critical of AIPAC and of U.S. support for Israel, including Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTrump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' George Conway: 'Trump is like a practical joke that got out of hand' Pelosi endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary challenge MORE (D-Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise MORE (D-Minn.) and Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina | Democrats probe Park Service involvement in GOP convention | Sanders attacks 'corporate welfare' to coal industry included in relief package Democrats probe Park Service involvement in GOP convention Overnight Energy: EPA chief outlines vision for agency under 'Trump's second term' | Agency sued over decision not to regulate chemical linked to fetal brain damage MORE (D-Minn.).

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in 2018 tweeted that support for AIPAC is “all about the Benjamins” and drew criticism for employing an antisemitic trope connecting Jews with money. She was further condemned for invoking antisemitic charges of dual loyalty for saying that pro-Israel Americans push for loyalty to a foreign country.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said during a panel at a Washington coffee shop in February 2019.

The House of Representatives condemned those remarks in a resolution rejecting antisemitism and all hate speech that passed in March 2019, but was criticized for not more forcefully calling out Omar’s comments themselves.

The Minnesota congresswoman was a feature at the 2019 AIPAC conference, where Republican members tried to paint the Democratic Party as antisemitic, while Democratic members like House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities | House energy package sparks criticism from left and right House energy package sparks criticism from left and right Hoyer: House should vote on COVID-19 aid — with or without a bipartisan deal MORE (D-Md.) reaffirmed support for the U.S. and Israel relationship while distancing the party from Omar’s remarks.

Hoyer is expected to address this year's conference.