The Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has declared that he won’t attend the annual conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which begins this Sunday, because of the “platform [it] provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.” While Sanders has no qualms about libeling AIPAC—until recently a regular stop for political candidates of both parties—he has never attended one of its gatherings. Last year, however, he was the speaker for the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, where, writes Asra Normani, no small amount of bigotry was given a platform:
[The conference’s] theme was, “What’s your super-power for social good?” Some [of the] “super-powers” suggested at the conference: . . . the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks a “one-state solution” with a “right of return” for Palestinians so that they outnumber Jews; the elimination of Israel from “the river to the sea,” as [endorsed by Sanders’s] ally Marc Lamont Hill; and violent hate, including a book, Reliance of the Traveler, which I bought in the conference bazaar for $39.99, sanctioning jihad as “war against non-Muslims” and “war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.”
[At the same conference], Sanders’s champion, Representative Rashida Tlaib, who supports BDS, [also] spoke. [And] the activist Linda Sarsour slipped into the Grand Ballroom to cheer “Uncle Bernie.” She has [also] backed the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who condemned “Satanic Jews” and claimed to be an “anti-termite,” rather than an “anti-Semite.” The year before, at the same conference, I heard Sarsour say it’s a “problem” to “humanize” Israelis.
This past week, [meanwhile], Sanders said it is “an honor” to be endorsed by Emgage PAC, whose chief executive Wa’el Alzayat has defended Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism.