In an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog thanked US legislators for their support of Israel and had harsh words for Iran, which he said is building “nuclear capabilities that pose a threat to the stability of the Middle East and beyond” and calls “to wipe Israel off the map.”
The address drew praise from major American Jewish organizations.
Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, called Herzog a “bridge-builder” who “offers pragmatic and actionable solutions to many of the issues that confront Israel.” He called the speech “a potent symbol of the ironclad partnership between the US and Israel, and how it has transformed the Middle East.”
“President Herzog’s address serves as a testament to the unwavering bond between the Israeli and American peoples,” stated Harriet Schleifer and William Daroff, chair and CEO respectively of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “The timing of President Herzog’s address highlights Israel’s 75th anniversary, a moment to celebrate the nation’s remarkable resilience and prosperity.”
In a statement, the Jewish Federations of North America referred to the Israeli president’s “warm reception today by members of Congress across party lines,” which it called “a testament to the unique relationship these two nations share and the eternal bonds that unite us.”
“Herzog’s well-received speech, interrupted by applause and standing ovations, was a testament to his exemplary leadership and diplomacy and highlighted his commitment to fostering cooperation between Israel and the United States and to peace in the Middle East,” B’nai B’rith International stated.
“We appreciate his pragmatic and forward-looking solutions to pressing issues, such as the threat posed by Iran to Israel, the Middle East and the world,” B’nai B’rith added. “He said that the greatest challenge Israel and the US face together is the Iranian nuclear threat, and he went on to stress that Iran is not trying to gain nuclear power for peaceful purposes.”
Eight members of Congress boycott talk by Israel’s president
Seven Democrats in the US House of Representatives and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent, opted not to attend Herzog’s address.
The House members were Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Cori Bush (Mo.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Nydia Velazquez (NY) and Raul Grijalva (Ariz.).
“Boycotting Herzog, a former Labor Party standard-bearer who represents the State of Israel—not a political party, faction or policy—shows they really oppose Israel,” the Republican Jewish Coalition stated.
The legislators refusing to attend “are ruining the bipartisan support that has always existed for Israel,” the RJC added.
Bush and Tlaib declared that “Israel is an apartheid state. To assert otherwise in the face of the colossal body of evidence … is to deny this reality.”
Explaining why she was boycotting the speech, Ocasio-Cortez told a reporter: “There’s currently a crisis of democracy and apartheid” in Israel.
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