AIPAC CEO: Pro-Israel community will beat those who try to harm US ties

The remarks are believed to refer to Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders, without mentioning him by name.

AIPAC's longtime executive director Howard Kohr. (photo credit: SCREENSHOT AIPAC)
AIPAC's longtime executive director Howard Kohr.
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT AIPAC)
WASHINGTON – AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr appeared to slam the front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination to run for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders, without mentioning his name on Sunday.
“Israel cannot afford false friends,” he said, adding: “Any leader who energizes their political movement by demonizing Israel is not a friend of Israel.”
“I must sound an alarm,” Kohr said in a speech at the opening session of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington. “There is an emerging threat to America’s friendship with Israel. The work we have done and continue to do is at risk.” AIPAC is a “movement [that] has national ambitions,” he said.
Kohr spoke about the bipartisan foundation of AIPAC, adding that today, this foundation is “in danger of being rocked as it never has been before.
“A growing, highly vocal and energized part of the electorate fundamentally rejects the value of the US-Israel alliance,” he said.
“The leaders of this movement say they support Israel’s right to exist,” Kohr said. “But that’s not up for debate. Israel exists, and it doesn’t take a true friend to support that. Or these leaders say they support Israel’s right to defend herself, but every time Israel exercises that right, they condemn Israel.”
Sanders has said on many occasions that he supports Israel’s right to exist.
Both Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are skipping the pro-Israel lobby’s annual conference.
“In their political utterances, the leaders of this movement repeatedly and reflexively disparage Israel’s democracy and lump her in with nations hostile to American interests and American values,” Kohr said.
“These political leaders have chosen to deploy several surrogates who have long records of hostility to the Jewish state,” he said in a veiled reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar taking part in a Sanders campaign event in Virginia. “In the rising movement against the US-Israel relationship there are familiar faces, but they are not our friends.”
Regarding US military aid to Israel, which Sanders has threatened to cut if Israel does not change its policies, Kohr said: “Overwhelming majorities of Democrats and Republicans in Congress have consistently supported Israel’s security without conditions and without hesitation.”
“This support in Congress rests on the work of successive American administrations, each of whom made 10-year commitments with Israel’s leaders on security assistance,” he said. “President [Bill] Clinton did it. So did president George W. Bush. So did president [Barack] Obama.”
“The pro-Israel community will work to defeat those who try to harm our friends and those who try to harm the US-Israel relationship,” Kohr said. “We will demonstrate that friendship with Israel is valued across this country and by voters in both parties. The pro-Israel movement will show that standing with Israel is what the American people want. This fight won’t be easy. There will be angry opposition, and it won’t end in November.”