347 rabbis sign letter rejecting Bernie Sanders' 'outrageous comments'

"AIPAC's mission is one that we and our congregants care deeply about."

Bernie Sanders (photo credit: REUTERS/SCOTT MORGAN)
Bernie Sanders
(photo credit: REUTERS/SCOTT MORGAN)
WASHINGTON – Following Sen. Bernie Sanders’s decision to skip the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, a group of 347 rabbis has signed an open letter to the Democratic front-runner, saying they support AIPAC’s role in advancing the US-Israel relationship and reject his “outrageous comments.”
Sanders claimed on Saturday that the organization gives a platform “for leaders who express bigotry.”
AIPAC responded in a statement, saying that the Vermont senator’s comments were “truly shameful” and were considered an “odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event.”
This was an unusual reaction from a group that avoids public disputes with political leaders.
“AIPAC’s mission is one that we and our congregants care deeply about,” the rabbis wrote in their letter. “Through AIPAC, we lobby Congress to support our democratic ally and strengthen the long-standing bipartisan support for a partnership that benefits both nations.
“AIPAC is one of the last remaining vehicles in American politics that proactively seeks to bring Americans from across the political spectrum together to achieve a common goal,” the letter continues. “The AIPAC Policy Conference may be the largest political gathering of Democrats and Republicans in the entire country.”
The letter goes on to say how these rabbis have “seen presidents and prime ministers, members of Congress and members of Knesset, policy analysts and military experts, religious leaders and cultural icons, from across the political spectrum, address the conference.
“We embrace the opportunity to be challenged to think constructively and appreciate that people on the other end of the political divide are doing this sacred work alongside us,” the letter reads.
The rabbis come from across the spectrum and include both male and female clergy.
Sanders was confronted about his decision to skip the AIPAC conference, during the Democratic debate on Tuesday night. He was asked, “What would you say to American Jews who worry you’re not supportive enough of Israel?”
Sanders responded that he is “proud of being Jewish,” mentioning his time spent living in Israel. “But what I happen to believe is that right now – sadly, tragically in Israel, through [Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu – you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country.... And I happen to believe that what our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about is absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel.”
“But you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people,” Sanders continued. “We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the [Israelis].”
Asked about a possible move of the United States Embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, where President Donald Trump moved it in 2018, he said, “It’s something that we would take into consideration.”