A diverse coalition of progressive advocacy groups representing Jewish and Muslim Americans is pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other top Democrats to cancel planned speeches at AIPAC's annual conference as a growing number of the party's presidential candidates are vowing to skip the event.
"At a time when AIPAC's power is clearly waning and we are watching change happen in real time, Nancy Pelosi is lending her legitimacy to them."
—Michael Deheeger, Jewish Voice for Peace
"Instead of speaking at their conference, Nancy Pelosi should be publicly condemning the far-right shift in Israel and AIPAC's dangerous political behavior," Michael Deheeger, congressional organizer with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), wrote in an email to supporters Friday.
"Giving AIPAC cover right when progressives are finally responding to their constituents and turning away from AIPAC is simply the wrong thing to do," he added.
To build momentum for the pressure campaign, JVP launched a petition urging Pelosi to cancel her planned appearance and "stand up for true democratic values."
— JewishVoiceForPeace (@jvplive) March 22, 2019
The campaign targeting Democratic leaders comes after MoveOn—a grassroots progressive group with millions of members—called on all Democrats running for president in 2020 to boycott AIPAC's policy conference, which is headlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all vowed to skip the conference.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), however, is reportedly planning to attend the event, which begins on Sunday.
Jewish Voice for Peace said Pelosi's attendance at the conference would "boost" AIPAC's "all-star line-up of anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian speakers."
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"At a time when AIPAC's power is clearly waning and we are watching change happen in real time—with groups like MoveOn coming out strongly in favor for Democrats to skip AIPAC—Nancy Pelosi is lending her legitimacy to them," Deheeger wrote. "This is appalling."
.@SpeakerPelosi there's still time to #skipAIPAC and side with those who believe in democratic values of equality and freedom for all. AIPAC doesn’t speak for a growing number of American Jews, progressives and human rights advocates who want a just peace for Israel/Palestine.
— JewishVoiceForPeace (@jvplive) March 21, 2019
Pelosi and Schumer are hardly the only Democrats slated to speak at AIPAC's conference.
Other Democratic speakers include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), Sen. Bob Menendez (Calif.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), and Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.). View the conference's full line-up here.
MPower Change, the largest Muslim-led social and racial justice organization in the United States, declared that "speaking at AIPAC means supporting an org[anization] that funds anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney, whose bigotry inspires people like the Christchurch shooter."
"Take a stand against Islamophobia," the group wrote to Pelosi, Schumer, and Hoyer.
.@SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer @LeaderHoyer—speaking at AIPAC means supporting an org that funds anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney, whose bigotry inspires people like the #Christchurch shooter. Take a stand against Islamophobia: #SkipAIPAChttps://t.co/7W4lBL7qjt pic.twitter.com/o6GHncopZZ
— MPower Change (@MPower_Change) March 20, 2019
"Tell your members of Congress it's time to #SkipAIPAC," tweeted JVP. "It's past time for real dialogue about Israel's illegal occupation, the killing of nearly 200 protesters in Gaza's Great Return March, and freedom, justice, and equality for all in Israel/Palestine."