This story was updated on July 21, 8:20 p.m., to include the fact that Rep. Summer Lee did not attend the speech.
Rep. Summer Lee, who represents Squirrel Hill, and at least seven other Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent, did not attend Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress on July 19.
The other House members were Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.) and Raul Grijalva (Ariz.).
Lee told Jewish Insider last week that she hadn’t yet considered whether to attend Herzog’s address. While her office did not respond to the Chronicle’s inquiry as to whether she was present for the speech, WESA reported that, according to Lee’s spokesperson, she did not attend because she was preparing for a committee hearing at the time.
“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 on July 18.
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. PJC
Toby Tabachnick contributed to this report.