Several 2020 Democrats Won’t Attend the Annual AIPAC Conference. Trump Thinks They’re “Anti-Jewish”

March 22, 2019, 4:47 PM UTC

The annual AIPAC policy conference is nearly upon us, and a number of prominent names will be notoriously absent.

Following a call from group MoveOn to 2020 presidential candidates to boycott the conference, many appear to be heeding the group’s call. Thus far, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas); South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have all said in recent days that they will not attend the event that was once seen as a must for those seeking the highest office in the U.S.

AIPAC is a non-partisan organization, but has come under scrutiny for its close ties to the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and accusations of fostering Islamophobia. Nevertheless, while some candidates, such as Sanders, have explicitly cited concerns about the ethics of the group as motivation for not attending, others have not provided an explanation for their absence.

News that such a large swathe of Democrats will not attend the conference has spurred further accusations of anti-Semitism by President Trump, however. Speaking on the south lawn of the White House, Trump told reporters, “The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel. There’s no question about that. 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.”

Netanyahu will be present at the conference, along with a number of Republicans, such as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Several Democrats plan to attend as well, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.