(February 26, 2020 / JNS) More than 345 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis have signed a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in response to the leading Democratic presidential candidate’s decision not to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference next week.
The 347 pulpit rabbis signed the following open letter:
As strong supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship and AIPAC’s role in advancing it, we reject Senator Bernie Sanders’ outrageous comment accusing AIPAC of fostering bigotry.
AIPAC’s mission is one that we and our congregants care deeply about. Through AIPAC, we lobby Congress to support our democratic ally and strengthen the long-standing bipartisan support for a partnership that benefits both nations.
AIPAC is one of the last remaining vehicles in American politics that proactively seeks to bring Americans from across the political spectrum together to achieve a common goal.
The AIPAC Policy Conference may be the largest political gathering of Democrats and Republicans in the entire country. We’ve seen presidents and prime ministers, members of Congress and members of Knesset, policy analysts and military experts, religious leaders and cultural icons, from across the political spectrum address the conference. We embrace the opportunity to be challenged to think constructively, and appreciate that people on the other end of the political divide are doing this sacred work alongside us.
I am proud of my congregants who attend the AIPAC conference. They are fulfilling their duty as Americans to participate in the political process together with Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Christians, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, progressives, veterans, students, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many others.
There is truly no higher form of civic participation.
Sanders announced on Sunday that he will skip the annual pro-Israel conference, scheduled for March 1-3 in Washington, D.C., with the final day falling on Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold presidential primaries.
“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.”
AIPAC fired back at Sanders.
“Senator Sanders has never attended our conference, and that is evident from his outrageous comment,” said the pro-Israel lobby in a statement. “In fact, many of his own Senate and House Democratic colleagues and leaders speak from our platform to the over 18,000 Americans from widely diverse backgrounds—Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Christians, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, members of the LBGTQ+ community—who participate in the conference to proclaim their support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel,” continued AIPAC. “Truly shameful.”
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