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Bloomberg’s Extremist AIPAC Speech

Barbara Boland reports on Bloomerg’s appearance at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference over the weekend. Bloomberg was the only 2020 candidate to speak at the conference in person:

“The fact that Democrats are unwilling to go to AIPAC, and that they’re even willing to criticize AIPAC, is a sign of the changing views of the Democratic constituency, who are more questioning of Israel and more progressive than ever in the past,” said author and foreign policy analyst Mark Perry in an interview with The American Conservative.

Bloomberg’s AIPAC speech was mostly the usual boilerplate affirmations that we are used to hearing from “pro-Israel” hawks, but there were a couple statements from the speech that were important for showing just how extreme Bloomberg’s hawkishness is on this issue. On the question of conditioning aid, Bloomberg took the most hard-line position imaginable:

And if I’m 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 [bold mine-DL].

Bloomberg’s statement is a direct response to Sanders and Warren, both of whom have said that they would be willing to impose conditions on aid. It is a remarkable statement in that it shows that there is absolutely nothing that the Israeli government could ever do that would cause Bloomberg to consider suspending or eliminating U.S. military aid. That is an alarming and dangerous position, and it is a measure of how bizarre the debate on Israel policy is that this extreme view is so widely shared. Guaranteeing unconditional support encourages the Israeli government to pursue its policies of occupation and illegal annexation as aggressively as it wants because it knows that it will face no meaningful opposition from Washington. In this respect, Bloomberg is indistinguishable from Trump.

Bloomberg then went on to make some truly outlandish claims:

Look, Israel is on the front lines countering American enemies in the region and sharing valuable intelligence and experience with us. So conditioning foreign aid wouldn’t only impair Israel’s ability to keep itself safe, but our ability to keep ourselves safe as well. After all, American security and Israel’s safety are inextricably linked.

Conditioning aid would not impair Israel’s ability to defend itself, which it can already do on its own without U.S. assistance. Israel is not “countering American enemies.” Its attacks on Syrian and Iranian targets over the years have nothing to do with our security, and their government takes no part in combating any of our actual enemies. That is understandable because the U.S. and Israel aren’t allies, and our governments have no obligations to defend or aid one another. Our security and theirs is not “inextricably linked.” The two have nothing to do with each other. Conditioning aid to Israel won’t make the U.S. less safe because providing that aid has no connection to our security.

Bloomberg pays lip service to a two-state solution, but everything else he says in his speech proves that this is just window dressing to distract from an otherwise hard-line position that indulges the Israeli government in whatever it wants and expects nothing in return. In one of the more laughable moments in the speech, Bloomberg accuses Sanders and other critics of AIPAC of trying to “intimidate” people from attending the conference by calling attention to the anti-Palestinian bigotry that is so often on display there. Of course, he had nothing to say against that bigotry, because he cannot even bring himself to acknowledge that it exists. In another nod to hawkish extremism on Iran, Bloomberg says that as president he would “put an end to their nuclear program forever.” Once again, Bloomberg feigns concern about reneging on the JCPOA, but then sets demands that are every bit as unrealistic and excessive as Trump’s. There is no chance that Iran would agree to an end to their nuclear program, and talk of permanently ending it shows how out of touch and ill-informed Bloomberg is.

Bloomberg’s views are at the hawkish extreme, and they are also based on a fantasy that “pro-Israel” hawks promote to justify U.S. support that Israel doesn’t need.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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