A leaked audio recording caught presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., saying he and the leader of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “text message back and forth like teenagers” during the lobby group’s annual policy conference in Washington earlier this month.
Booker spoke with members of AIPAC’s New Jersey delegation during the three-day gathering, despite a campaign by progressive advocacy group MoveOn that called on 2020 candidates to snub the event.
“Cory was the subject of some fake news,” AIPAC president Mort Fridman said, according to the Intercept. “An organization threatened a number of presidential candidates and said ‘Don’t show up to AIPAC.’ I immediately got a call from Cory’s office saying well obviously Cory’s gonna be there. … Cory stands with the state of Israel. And Cory stands with the U.S.-Israel alliance.”
“Cory was the subject of some fake news. An organization threatened a number of presidential candidates and said ‘Don’t show up to AIPAC.’ I immediately got a call from Cory’s office saying well obviously Cory’s gonna be there.”
During his address, Booker thanked Fridman for his “leadership and friendship” and addressed the rise in bigotry and anti-Semitism.
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“Let me be clear,” Booker said. “Anti-Semitism is un-American. It is anti- American. It violates, most deeply, our commonly held values, and we must take steps on the global stage against vicious acts that target hatred.”
To prove his point, he reminded listeners about his co-sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which opposes international efforts to encourage the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement while protecting First Amendment rights, the news site reported.
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The BDS movement encourages companies to stop doing business with Israel. The bill opposes efforts to encourage the boycott. Civil rights groups argue it could allow criminal penalties for nonviolent activism.
Booker also told the audience of his work with AIPAC to block fellow Democrats from boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 address to Congress to state his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.
He also criticized fellow Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who was condemned by officials from both political parties after tweeting “It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby” last month, in reference to AIPAC’s influence in Congress.
But Booker wasn’t the only Democrat to interact with AIPAC during the conference.
Sen.Kamala Harris met with AIPAC representatives in her Senate office in Washington rather than attend the conference, Haaretz reported. Harris also tweeted photos from the meeting.
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Netanyahu mentioned Omar’s tweet during his address at the conference.
“Take it from this Benjamin: It’s not about the Benjamins!” Netanyahu said to the Washington conference via satellite.
Booker likewise criticized Vice President Mike Pence’s AIPAC speech as partisan.
“There was no grace in his remarks,” said Booker. “There was no, ‘let’s reach out and unify Democrats and Republicans.’” the Jerusalem Post reported.