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 leads Trump by 6 points in national poll The Memo: Political world grapples with long coronavirus shutdown The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike 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 TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE’s policies towards Israel.

Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Sanders still sees 'narrow path' to Democratic presidential nomination Tenants call on lawmakers to pass rent freezes 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 WarrenDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Biden faces pesky enthusiasm challenge despite big primary numbers 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 TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Undocumented aliens should stay away as COVID-19 rages in the US The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars MORE (D-Minn.) and Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumDemocratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday Biden, Klobuchar to address AIPAC via video Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements 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 HoyerProcedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House 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.