Trump Calls Democrats ‘Anti-Israel’ For Not Attending Pro-Israel Conference

Holly Kellum
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump took aim at Democrats for being “anti-Israel” on March 21 when asked about his attendance at the annual pro-Israel conference, AIPAC.

“The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel, there’s no question about that, and it’s a disgrace,“ Trump said. ”I mean, I don’t know what’s happened to them but they are totally anti-Israel. Frankly, I think they’re anti-Jewish.”

His remarks come after the progressive advocacy group MoveOn urged presidential candidates to boycott the conference, which is being headlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MoveOn said in a Twitter post dated March 20 it is promoting the boycott because AIPAC, which stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, lobbied for the United States to withdraw from an Iran Deal, peddled “anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric,” and refused to condemn the “anti-Semitism of Republicans.”

It cited a poll of its members in which more than 74 percent agreed any progressive candidate running for the U.S. presidency should skip the conference.

Presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) have all indicated they do not plan to attend.

The office of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) did not respond to emailed questions on whether she planned to attend.

Democrat congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are planning to speak at the conference, as is the congressional leadership on the Republican side, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Trump, whose son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump are Jewish, is not scheduled to attend the conference. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence (R) will speak, as well as a number of other administration officials.

Trump on March 21 said it was time to back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that Israel seized from Syria in 1967, noting it is “of critical strategic and security importance to the state of Israel and regional stability.”

Netanyahu thanked Trump for the gesture. “At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thank you President Trump! @realDonaldTrump,” Netanyahu said in a Twitter post dated March 21.

Trump’s comments on Democrats came after freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) stirred controversy with Twitter posts and comments widely viewed to be anti-semitic. Omar has since apologized for her comments.

“Anti-semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Omar said in a Twitter post dated Feb. 11.

The House has voted twice now on legislation, which is perceived to be targeting Omar’s comments. However, controversy ensued on how narrowly the second vote focused on anti-semitism.

The first vote was on a “motion to recommit“ that said, in part, ”there has been a significant amount of anti-semitic and anti-Israel hatred that must be most strongly condemned.”

The second, a resolution, also condemned anti-semitism but focused on Islamaphobia and “other forms of bigotry” as well.

Trump in February called for Omar to step down from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, if not Congress altogether. “Anti-semitism has no place in the United States Congress,” he said during a cabinet meeting.

Omar remains a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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