At Israel forum, candidate Bloomberg criticizes rival Sanders

"Now Israel is small, we know, and resilient, and surrounded by adversaries," the former New York City mayor told the audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

"And if you caught the last couple of presidential debates you know that I can empathize," he joked.

Bloomberg then moved on to criticize Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who declined to appear at AIPAC and described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "a reactionary racist who is now running" that country.

"Unfortunately," Bloomberg said, "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've heard by now, he called AIPAC a racist platform. Well, let me tell you, he's dead wrong."

Both Bloomberg and Sanders are Jewish. If one of them were to win the Democratic nomination, it would mark the first time a major U.S. political party tapped a Jewish candidate for president.