Thousands Call on Bernie Sanders to Reject AIPAC's Invitation to Speak Alongside Trump and Clinton
Thousands are urging 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders to refuse an invitation from the right-wing American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to speak at its upcoming policy conference in Washington, DC.
“As the main arm of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, AIPAC has sworn to promote the racist, militaristic, and anti-democratic policies of the most right-wing government in Israel's history,” states a petition, which was created by AlterNet senior editor Max Blumenthal and has garnered 4,000 signatures in just four days. “Its conference this year will feature Islamophobes, anti-immigrant activists, and religious extremists.”
“With his promise to seek a 'level playing field' on Israel-Palestine, Bernie does not belong on the same stage as these figures,” continues the petition, whose prominent signatories include Roger Waters, well-known musician and co-founder of Pink Floyd. Israeli activist and author Miko Peled, Palestinian-American civil rights campaigner and commentator Linda Sarsour and scores of other leading campaigners for Palestinian human rights have lent their names to the initiative.
AIPAC invited every presidential candidate to speak at the conference, slated to take place March 20 through 22. Hillary Clinton was the first to confirm, with Donald Trump following closely behind her. Clinton has made her ardent support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a cornerstone of her campaign – and vowed in a letter to mega-donor media mogul Haim Saban to crush the grassroots BDS movement calling for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel.
A growing number of advocates for Palestinian rights are among Sanders’ supporters, including Waters, Sarsour, and writer Kumars Salehi, who recently registered his concern with Clinton, “who grinned from ear to ear in photo-ops with Netanyahu and claimed Palestinians in Gaza are not trapped by Israel’s blockade so much as they are “trapped by their leadership.”
Mondoweiss reporter Philip Weiss described the petition as “an effort to politicize Israel support inside the Democratic Party,” noting that Clinton’s presence alongside Benjamin Netanyahu “demonstrates the intersectionality (we used to say overlap) of Clintonism and neoconservatism.”
The initiative has earned coverage from media in Israel, including a Jerusalem Post article highlighting Waters' support for Sanders.
The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.