AIPAC-aligned Sen. Ben Cardin to speak at J Street conference


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ben Cardin, the Democratic senator from Maryland who is among the closest in his party to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, will speak at the annual conference of its liberal rival, J Street.

Cardin, who is Jewish, was one of just four Democrats in the Senate who voted in 2015 against the Iran nuclear deal, a pact that AIPAC vigorously opposed and that J Street championed. J Street this week announced he would speak at its April 14-17 conference.

Cardin also is the lead sponsor of a bill that would criminalize some forms of compliance with the Boycott Israel movement. J Street objects to the legislation on free speech grounds, although it opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Additionally, while J Street opposes BDS generally, it does not oppose boycotting settlements, which is included among the bill’s targets.

AIPAC made garnering support for the bill part of its legislative agenda during its conference earlier this month.

Like J Street, Cardin endorses the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So does AIPAC, at whose conference Cardin spoke earlier this month. Cardin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Cardin is likely a shoo-in for reelection this year, but faces a number of opponents in the Democratic primary, including Jerome Segal, a philosophy professor who in the late 1980s founded a precursor to J Street, the Jewish Peace Lobby.

Also speaking at J Street’s conference is Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who is Jewish.

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