Israeli President Isaac Herzog said that U.S. lawmakers who question the right of the Jewish State are ‘anti-Semitic.’
In a fiery speech to a joint session of Congress, Herzog acknowledge criticism of Israel, but said the ‘new generation’ of leaders in the U.S. need to realize the importance of the bond between the two countries.
Progressive Democrats continue to criticize the Jewish State and several members of the so-called ‘squad’ skipped out on his remarks on Wednesday.
‘I am not oblivious to criticism among friends, including some expressed by respected members of this House,’ Herzog said in his remarks. ‘I respect criticism, especially from friends, although one does not always have to accept it.’
‘But criticism of Israel must not cross the line into negation of the State of Israel’s right to exist. Questioning the Jewish people’s right to self-determination is not legitimate diplomacy, it is anti-semitism,’ he insisted.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog slammed members of Congress for crossing the line of criticism to ‘anti-Semitism’ toward the Jewish State
Immediately backing-up Herzog’s claim was the noticeable absence of members of Congress critical of Israel’s existence, which puts on display the blatant anti-Semitism they have been accused of espousing in the past.
Herzog’s remarks come on the heels of Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., calling Israel a ‘racist State.’
Palestinian Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a member of the ‘squad,’ tweeted on Sunday that she will be skipping Herzog’s remarks.
Herzog called the relationship with the U.S. ‘mutually beneficial’ and shared his concerns that the ‘new generations’ of Americans becoming leaders in Congress are not ‘privy to the hardship of Israel’s formative years’ and ‘less engaged in the roots that connect our peoples.’
‘When the United States is strong, Israel is stronger. And when Israel is strong, the United States is more secure,’ Herzog said.
Noticeably absent from the House Chamber on Wednesday were members of the progressive ‘squad,’ including Reps. AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Pramila Jayapal, who have all been accused in the past of anti-Semitism
Tlaib posted an image on the Capitol stairs on Sunday announcing she would boycott Herzog’s remarks to Congress
Tlaib wrote on Twitter Sunday: ‘In solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who have been harmed by Israel’s apartheid government, I will be boycotting President Herzog’s joint address to Congress. I urge all Members of Congress who stand for human rights for all to join me.’
‘In solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who have been harmed by Israel’s apartheid government, I will be boycotting President Herzog’s joint address to Congress,’ she wrote. ‘I urge all Members of Congress who stand for human rights for all to join me.’
Included in the tweet is an image of Tlaib standing on the steps of the Capitol with a sign reading: ‘Boycott Apartheid.’
Democrats are clearly split on their support of the Jewish State. Rep. Jerry Nadler was waving a miniature Israeli flag from his seat for Herzog while other members of his party didn’t even attend the remarks.
Also on display in the chamber are the continuing chasms of the Republican Party, with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Lauren Boebert, R-Col., situated nearly on complete opposite ends of their Party’s side of the Chamber.
Herzog met with a series of lawmakers and leaders in Washington, D.C. during a trip to the U.S. this week to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.
Before his remarks, Herzog met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and on Tuesday met with President Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, progressive Jayapal was forced over the weekend to walkback on comments claiming Israel is a ‘racist’ state after intense backlash from even members of her own Party.
Herzog asserted that Iran is one of the biggest threats to the Middle East and national security of the world order, saying: ‘Let there be no doubt – Iran does not strive to attain nuclear energy for peaceful purposes’
In a statement Monday, 43 congressional Democrats condemned her comments.
‘We are deeply concerned about Representative Pramila Jayapal’s unacceptable comments regarding our historic, democratic ally Israel, and we appreciate her retraction,’ they wrote. ‘Israel is the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people and efforts to delegitimize and demonize it are not only dangerous and antisemitic, but they also undermine America’s national security.’
Herzog struck a chord with both sides of the Chamber on Wednesday when he asserted: ‘Mr. Speaker, perhaps the greatest challenge Israel and the United States face at this time is the Iranian nuclear program.’
‘Let there be no doubt – Iran does not strive to attain nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,’ he added to a roaring standing ovation from lawmakers.
On Sunday, Jaypal issued a lengthy statement that still defended the sentiment behind her comments by claiming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is racist.
‘Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement,’ the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus wrote. ‘I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist.’
‘I do, however, believe that Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies and that there are extreme racists driving that policy within the leadership of the current government,’ she added.
She apologized ‘to those who I have hurt with my words’ and said she was only trying to ‘defuse a tense situation’ with her comments at the progressive Netroots Nation conference over the weekend.
Jayapal made her comments while trying to calm a group holding Palestinian flags at the conference last week who were saying Democrats in Congress aren’t doing enough to help Palestinians gain autonomy from Israel.
Rep. Jayapal was forced to walk-back on comments she made at the progressive Netroots Nation conference where she called Israel a ‘racist state’
‘Hey guys, Can I say something as somebody that’s been in the streets and has participated in a lot of demonstrations? I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state, that the Palestinian people deserve self-determination and autonomy, that the dream of a two-state solution is slipping away from us, that it does not even feel possible,’ she said.
‘While you may have arguments with whether or not some of us onstage are fighting hard enough, I do want you to know that there is an organized opposition on the other side, and it isn’t the people that are on this stage,’ Jayapal added.
No. 3 House Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeted: ‘Israel is NOT a racist state.’
‘House Republicans condemn the blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks made by Rep. Jayapal and condemn House Democrats’ inaction to address the deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the Democrat Caucus,’ the New York lawmaker added.