Michael Bloomberg Criticizes 'Social Justice' Democrats, Bernie Sanders in AIPAC Speech, Says He Won't Move Jerusalem Embassy

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out at members of the Democratic Party, particularly fellow Jewish presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Monday, saying "social justice conversations" among Democrats are being used to intimidate supporters of Israel.

The billionaire Democratic presidential candidate told the powerful pro-Israel lobby group that if he is elected president, he will "never" curb U.S. taxpayer funding to the Israeli military.

Bloomberg, who received a standing ovation when introduced during the meeting in Washington D.C., demanded bipartisan support for Israel from Democrats but never directly criticized Republicans or President Donald Trump by name. Bloomberg said he supported Trump's 2018 controversial decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and that he won't move it back if he wins in November.

He responded to remarks Senator Sanders made at last week's Democratic debate in which he called AIPAC a platform for "bigotry" but still maintained his support for Israel—a country Sanders lived in during the 1960s. Sanders referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "reactionary racist" during the same debate, which led to the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations telling AIPAC Sunday, "We don't want Sanders in Israel."

"In recent years we have begun to see cracks in that bipartisanship and that is deeply disturbing," Bloomberg said. "Unfortunately not all of my fellow Democrats in this race have attended an AIPAC conference. One of them, Senator Sanders, has spent 30 years boycotting this event and as you heard by now he called AIPAC a racist platform. Will let me tell you he is dead wrong."

"At a time when some try to make strong supporters of Israel feel unwelcome in social justice conversations, your refusal to be intimidated reminds us of the courage and integrity that we need in our political discourse," Bloomberg told AIPAC, adding that he opposes the Palestinian-backed "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" (BDS) movement that is supported by Democratic lawmakers including New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota's Ilhan Omar.

Bloomberg referred to Jerusalem as the "eternal capital of the Jewish state" and expressed his support for Trump's 2018 decision to move the U.S. embassy there—a move that provoked deadly protests among Palestinians in the region. "I'll leave it there because that's where it belongs," Bloomberg declared to loud applause.

The billionaire Democratic candidate said he will "never" require U.S. lawmakers to "impose conditions" on the $3.8 billion American taxpayers currently give to Israel each year, according to Congressional Research Service data.

"And if I am elected president I can promise you I will always have Israel's back. Because Israel has a right to defend itself, by itself. And that means I will never impose conditions on military aid no matter what government is in power," he added.

Bloomberg repeatedly referenced an increase in hate crimes against Jewish people both globally and in the U.S., but declined to propose why that was happening. He appeared to imply that his presence in the White House would help to stem such recent deadly attacks.

"In recent years we have seen hate crimes increase which raises the question, 'what has changed?'" Bloomberg asked the AIPAC audience. "There is no single answer I think and no single person or political party that is entirely to blame. Anti-Semitism is hardly the exclusive domain of any one group. It can be found on both the right and the left, on town squares and campus quads. But there is one fact that we cannot ignore. Presidential leadership matters."

Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar are among the Democratic presidential candidates who were scheduled to speak with AIPAC this week. Bloomberg offered a joke about his recent debate performances after being introduced to talk Monday:

"Israel is small and resilient and surrounded by adversaries and if you caught the last couple presidential debates you know that I can empathize," he joked.

michael bloomberg aipac israel sanders
Bloomberg, who received a standing ovation when introduced, demanded bipartisan support for Israel from Democrats but never directly criticized Republicans or President Donald Trump by name. Screenshot: AIPAC