None of the declared candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president will attend the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) this year.
Presidential candidates tend to address the conference in election years, which 2019 is not. However, the AIPAC conference is usually an important platform for both parties to showcase their support for Israel.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Thursday that he will be speaking at AIPAC. He is the first — and, so far, the only — Democratic presidential hopeful to confirm his attendance.
But de Blasio has not actually declared that he is running yet.
Other Democratic candidates are being encouraged to boycott the conference — and some have already declared they will not attend.
On Wednesday, the left-wing group MoveOn.org called on candidates to boycott the conference, Politico reported.
“By Thursday, campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the candidates wouldn’t be there,” noted Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner.
AIPAC has prided itself, in the past, on maintaining a façade of bipartisan support for Israel — even as Democrats have moved further and further away from pro-Israel positions.
In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) spoke to AIPAC and pledged: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” His campaign began backing away from that commitment almost immediately.
In office, Obama sought to create distance between Israel and the U.S. and publicly rebuked the Israeli government. By 2012, Democrats were already struggling to contain a left-wing revolt over pro-Israel planks in the party platform. In 2015, Obama used the UN Security Council to enact the Iran nuclear deal — without Senate ratification or even congressional approval, and over Israel’s objections.
By 2016, Obama allowed the UN Security Security Council to declare the Jewish presence in Jerusalem illegal, withholding the traditional American veto.
Since then, President Donald Trump’s staunch pro-Israel stance — withdrawing from the Iran deal, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, cutting off funding to Palestinian terrorists, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, among other steps — has widened the gulf between the two parties.
And Democrats are so viscerally opposed to Trump that not one elected Democrat attended the opening of the Jerusalem embassy — or even the party thrown by the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, to celebrate the occasion.
The new Democratic majority in the House contains a number of anti-Israel “progressives” whose clout is such that the party failed to punish one of them, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), for antisemitic remarks (including the false claim that AIPAC bribes members of Congress to support Israel).
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.