WASHINGTON — With some Democrats advocating a re-evaluation of the U.S relationship with Israel, the progressive political advocacy group MoveOn is calling on 2020 candidates to boycott this year’s conference of prominent pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC.
It’s not clear yet which 2020 Democratic candidates — if any — were planning to attend this year. But in the past three presidential cycles, the eventual nominees for both parties spoke at the conference the year of the election.
Iram Ali, MoveOn’s campaign director, told NBC News that the boycott only applies to this year’s conference. That could leave the door open for candidates to attend next year, when the Democratic presidential primary will be in full swing. But she described alignment with AIPAC as anti-progressive.
“It’s important that the next Democratic nominee has progressive values, not only in their domestic policies, but also in their foreign policies,” Ali said. “You cannot be a progressive and support AIPAC because of the policies that they’ve supported.”
Four announced 2020 Democratic candidates have spoken at AIPAC before: Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar have all spoken at the policy conference. Former Vice President Joe Biden has also addressed AIPAC before.
While there’s no confirmation that any candidates will attend this year’s conference, Rep. John Delaney’s communication’s director Will McDonald said he plans to attend in the future.
“John is very disappointed that he can't attend this year, he has attended every year since he has been in Congress and he very much looks forward to being back next year,” McDonald said.
No other 2020 Democratic campaigns have committed to attending or avoiding the conference in the future.
Ali said MoveOn won’t use speaking at AIPAC as a litmus test, but that it will be one of several benchmarks used to endorse a 2020 candidate.
“We will be setting various benchmarks over the next year and a half. This is not the only benchmark that we’re measuring candidates against,” Ali said. “We will be looking holistically at candidates going into the primaries.”