Politics

Sanders Campaign Manager Dodges on Whether Dem Leaders Who Spoke at AIPAC Support ‘Bigotry’

Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) campaign manager Faiz Shakir on Monday dodged a question about whether Democratic leaders are bigots for attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual conference.

MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle asked Shakir about Sanders's announcement that he will not attend the AIPAC conference because he believes the group is a platform for politicians to "express bigotry." Ruhle said prominent Democratic members of Congress have supported the conference.

"Last year Speaker Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer, and congressman Steny Hoyer all spoke at AIPAC," Ruhle said. "Are those leaders that express bigotry?"

Shakir said in reply that Sanders was committed to protecting Palestinian human rights in order to achieve peace in Israel. 

"You asked me one foreign policy question before, I’ll answer it again on this one," Shakir said. "You see honesty and conviction on his part. He doesn't play political games with this when he sees a system that doesn't seem to respect Palestinian rights but talks a lot about what he believes is preserving and maintaining the security of Israel."

"[Sanders] wants to see that country live in peace and security but also recognizes that for Israel to live in peace and security, you have to have its neighbors, particularly Palestinians, live in peace and security themselves," Shakir added. "And for some reason in American politics, it seems very hard for many people to discuss the fact that human rights of Palestinians matter."

Shakir's response echoed Sanders's announcement.

"As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region," Sanders said

When Shakir worked at the Center for American Progress, several of his employees accused pro-Israel members in Congress of being "Israel firsters" and, according to an internal email, used "terrible, anti-Semitic language."