Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, along with other progressive members of the House, skipped a speech by Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday, highlighting disagreements within the Democratic Party over whether or not to support Israel.
On Wednesday, to mark Israel’s 75th birthday, Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress.
The controversy over Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) weekend comments labeling Israel a “racist state” sets the stage for his visit. She backtracked on some of her remarks, but they were nevertheless roundly criticized by all parties involved.
Because of the uproar, Republicans voted on a resolution reaffirming that Israel is neither a racist nor an apartheid state. All Democrats save for ten voted for the answer, with nine voting against and one abstaining. Jayapal sided with the majority in voting that Israel is not a racist country.
In solidarity with the Palestinian people and those affected by Israel’s apartheid government, Democratic Representative for Michigan Rashida Tlaib said earlier this week that she would not attend President Herzog’s joint address to Congress. Tlaib is the only Palestinian-American in Congress.
In a tweet last week, Omar claimed to be the first member of the “Squad” to decline to go. She said she would not be present at the address under any circumstances.
In all capitals, she stated that we shouldn’t invite the president of Israel, a government whose prime minister wouldn’t let the first Muslim congresswomen visit Israel, to give a joint address to Congress.
Both Ocasio-Cortez’s and Missouri Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush’s offices confirmed that they would not be present.
New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman referred to a statement to the progressive movement’s prior boycott of a presentation to Congress by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In light of the need to hold partners accountable for human rights abuses and the actions of far-right governments, including those in Israel and India, I have decided not to attend a lecture by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Herzog is now viewed as a moderate statesman who has not yet shown evidence of supporting democracy and peace. In addition, Bowman emphasized his firm belief in peaceful and secure coexistence between a democratic Israel and a Palestinian state.
On Tuesday, the Republicans pushed a resolution supporting Israel, which was met with universal opposition from the chamber.