Squad Congress members to boycott Israeli president's US address
A growing number of progressive members of Congress are joining a boycott of the Israeli president's speech that he will deliver to Congress on Wednesday.
So far, the five who have announced they have joined the boycott of Isaac Herzog's speech at a joint session of Congress are part of the squad of left-wing Congress members.
Led by Representative Ilhan Omar, who was the first to announce her boycott of the speech, the list now includes Representatives Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Rashida Tlaib, who announced via Twitter on Monday with a picture of herself holding a sign reading "Boycott Apartheid". The rest of the eight squad members are expected to join.
"Israeli President Isaac Herzog's address comes on behalf of the most rightwing government in Israel's history, at a time when the government is openly promising to "crush" Palestinian hopes of statehood—essentially putting a nail in the coffin of peace and a two-state solution," Omar wrote in a Twitter thread last week.
"It also comes as the Israeli government is pushing through what legal experts describe as a judicial coup to centralize power and undermine checks on their power, prompting months of mass demonstrations against the government throughout Israel," she continued.
Outside of the squad, other lawmakers are not expected to follow suit, given Herzog's position as a left-of-centre politician and his largely ceremonial role, unlike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose polarising stances have garnered more widespread condemnation from US lawmakers.
Nevertheless, critics of Herzog's visit point out that he is speaking on behalf of the Israeli government, whose increasingly right-wing policies have elicited months of demonstrations by Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a public statement, "We commend those members of Congress who have decided to skip the speech by Israeli president Isaac Herzog, who is the public face of a far-right, racist, and increasingly violent government that is even targeting American citizens of Palestinian heritage."