Evan Ross
Truth. Principles. People. Pragmatism.

AIPAC is about inclusion, Bernie Sanders isn’t

Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) at AIPAC Policy Conference (2019)

On Saturday, I’ll board an airplane for one of my favorite times of the year. I’m going to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington D.C. I’ll spend three days and nights surrounded by a diverse group of more than eighteen thousand people who represent a cross-section of our country. There will be Republicans who cheer on President Donald Trump like he is a rockstar. There will be Democrats like me, who believe that Trump has implemented some excellent Israel policy, while also finding his attempts to divide supporters of Israel along party lines is dangerous, destructive, and disingenuous. There will be independents who still aren’t sure who they will be voting for in November. There will be people of color, people of all ages, and people from across the LGBT+ spectrum.

AIPAC Policy Conference is a place that brings people together around shared values. We put our differences aside to emphasize the bonds we share. We build relationships with people who come from different places, live different lives, and voted for different people in the last election. America needs more organizations like AIPAC.

Bernie Sanders was on 60 Minutes last night praising the Castro government in Cuba. He can manage to identify things he believes are worthy of praise from a communist dictatorship, which has murdered countless innocent people and holds large numbers of political prisoners. Yet he can only find criticism for AIPAC and Israel.

Bernie claimed that AIPAC gives a platform for leaders who express bigotry. The hypocrisy of his statement only exceeds the dishonesty of it. As I wrote last month, it is Bernie Sanders who is giving a platform to people who promote bigotry. He has surrounded himself with a collection of antisemites that is unrivaled by any significant presidential campaign in modern history.

Bernie never attended an AIPAC Policy Conference. If he had participated last year, he could’ve sat next to me at my first breakout session. The majority of it was spent discussing how to address the growing water crisis in Gaza. He also could’ve sat in general sessions and listened to speeches from Benny Gantz, the chief political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Netanyahu himself. Unfortunately, the prime minister didn’t get to give his speech from the stage at AIPAC last year. As hundreds of rockets were launched from Gaza, Israeli homes and schools were taking fire. The prime minister had no choice but to return home to address the barrage of terror. Those rockets come from the very people who Bernie defends. Those rockets were flying as Bernie unsurprisingly announced his plan to skip AIPAC Policy Conference, as though anyone ever believed he would attend.

Bernie Sanders has built his campaign on extremism and exclusion. Support Israel? You’re not welcome. Support universal healthcare, but not Medicare for all? You’re not welcome. Don’t support legal immunity for gun manufacturers? You’re not welcome. Think people should keep more of what they earn than they pay in taxes? You’re not welcome. Want plans that are paid for with numbers that add up? You’re not welcome. Think the answers to any of our problems aren’t found in a government program? You’re not welcome. Speak up against antisemitism? You’re not welcome.

Bernie Sanders should’ve taken the opportunity to attend AIPAC one time during his decades in public office. Had he done so, maybe he would’ve learned something about how to bring people together rather than how to divide.

I can’t wait to walk into the convention center next week, surrounded by diversity and passion. I look forward to forming new relationships and building on existing ones. AIPAC is about community. AIPAC is about inclusiveness. AIPAC is about American values.

I’m a lifelong Democrat. I’m a proud Zionist. I am firmly committed to voting for a president who upholds my values.

Bernie Sanders represents the politics of divisiveness and name-calling. He has built a campaign on exclusion. Bernie Sanders doesn’t belong at AIPAC, but he would’ve been welcomed anyway.

About the Author
Evan Ross is the principal of Public Communicators Group, a public affairs firm that engages in lobbying, public relations, and business development. Evan lives in Miami. Follow Evan on Twitter: @MrEvanRoss
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