Ilhan Omar boycotts Israeli president speech to Congress


Date published: Mon, 17 July 23

This week, Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, is visiting the United States to commemorate the 27th anniversary of Israel’s statehood. Herzog will be delivering marks before a joint meeting of Congress. 

Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Cor Bush are among those who are boycotting the session. Omar tweeted, “There is no way in hell I am attending the joint session address from a president whose country has banned me and denied Rashida Tlaib the ability to see her grandma.” She went on to further say, “The United States can and should use its diplomatic tools to engage with the Israeli government, but giving the current government the honor of a joint televised address sends the absolute wrong signal at the wrong time.”

Israel launched a military aid on a refugee camp in Jenin, located in the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians and wounded over a 100. Herzog’s visit to the US at a time where this attack was initiated is a holistic symbol of US support for Israel. Although President Biden has made comments regarding the extreme nature of Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu’s government and cabinet, the visit of Herzog stands as unwavering support for Israel. Most recently, the NYTimes reports that Biden has now even invited Netanyahu for a visit to the US. “

“The visit to the White House and Capitol Hill by Mr. Herzog, whose position is largely ceremonial, reflects Israel’s enduring role as a key strategic and military ally for the United States in the Middle East. The United States provides Israel with nearly $3.9 billion in annual aid, large amounts of weapons and defense technology, extensive diplomatic cover at the United Nations Security Council and crucial assistance in building new alliances with Arab countries.”

– New York Times

But rights advocates say Herzog’s visit will be a boost to the unquestionable US support for Israel at a time when many of them are asking Biden to pressure Netanyahu’s government to end abuses against Palestinians.

Addressing a joint session of Congress is a rare opportunity granted only to the country’s closest allies. Herzog is also expected to receive a warm welcome at the White House on Tuesday, even as his trip comes amid intensifying violence against Palestinians.

Omar and five other Congress members have previously boycotted India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to Congress. Omar conducted a policy briefing on the human rights situation in India. 

Recently Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal apologized after she called Israel a “racist state.” Jayapal was met with criticism, and accusations of anti-semitism. In the US, there is a dangerous rise in limitations of free speech for those who speak up against Israeli apartheid against Palestinians. Although international organizations around the world have defined Israel as engaging in apartheid, and racist, policies, the US government, federally and in state government, has been increasingly enstating restrictions on freedom of speech for those who support a Free Palestine. In Texas, state contractors are barred from boycotting Israel; in Arizona, a law required government contractors to certify that they aren’t participating in boycotts of Israel or illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank; these are instances that have been occurring all over the US