Pro-Hamas Democrats' Movement to Boycott Netanyahu Speech Gains Momentum

AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg, Pool, File

Anti-Israel Democrats in the House seem to be gaining some traction in staging a boycott of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress.


The development comes just after Israel rescued four hostages taken by Hamas. Critics in the Democratic Party and the media have criticized the Israeli government for the operation to carry out the rescue.

A growing chorus of House Democrats say they’re planning to steer clear of next month’s speech by Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint meeting of Congress, arguing that the Israeli prime minister’s handling of the Hamas war — and his repeated snubbing of President Biden’s preferred approach to the conflict — demand a show of protest from liberals on Capitol Hill.

Some Democrats had foreshadowed the boycott earlier in the year amid speculation that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) was poised to invite Netanyahu to the Capitol to push back against Democratic criticisms of the conservative Israeli leader. With the invitation now official, and the speech set for July 24, more and more progressive Democrats are emerging with a formal declaration of their own: We won’t be there.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said he would not “attend and turn my back towards him” and that he is “just gonna stay away.”

One Democratic lawmaker indicated he would not attend due to Netanyahu’s contentious relationship with former President Barack Obama. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) said the prime minister “imported a little bit of controversy the last time he was here” and that he “thought it was disrespectful to the president, so I’m inclined not to attend.”


Another representative said he would not attend the speech and would instead participate in anti-Israel demonstrations. “I’m not planning on attending, and/or I’ll be participating in whatever events there are to express that we want this war to end and we want both him and Hamas to agree to a cease-fire,” said Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX).

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) claimed several of her colleagues said they would be sitting out the speech.

“I’ve spoken to several members in the House and the Senate, actually, who had gone to the last speech, the last time he was here, even though they had a lot of misgivings about it, and have been clear that they’re not planning to go this time,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who noted that she will not attend the address.

On the other side of the coin, some Democrats have expressed support for Israel and stated they would attend Netanyahu’s speech. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) pointed out that Israel is “our strongest ally in the Middle East.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said, “Every individual member has to make that decision to participate on their own based on what they believe is consistent with the district they represent.”


While several Democratic lawmakers like Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) have voiced support for Israel in its effort to eliminate Hamas, others have pushed calls for a ceasefire. Some, like Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have appeared to side more with the terrorist group, joining and supporting the myriad pro-Hamas protests that have been held across the country since the war in Gaza started on October 7.

A group of pro-Hamas protesters on Saturday swarmed downtown Los Angeles and other major cities after the Israeli Defense Forces rescued the hostages.


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