Democratic Leaders Face Backlash Over Netanyahu Invite

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Democratic congressional leaders are grappling with widespread anger over their invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

The invitation, signed by the four main congressional leaders, would mark Netanyahu’s first visit since the onset of the conflict in Gaza. This move has escalated tensions within the Democratic Party and among certain influential senators.

Democratic Leaders Face Backlash Over Netanyahu Invite
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, front, attends a wreath-laying ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 6, 2024. (Amir Cohen/Pool Photo via AP, File)

“You do not honor a foreign leader by addressing a joint session of Congress who is currently engaged in creating the worst humanitarian disaster in the modern history of this country,” stated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in an MSNBC interview.

Even established Democrats have been vocal in their surprise and opposition to the visit.

“There will be a lot of disruption, and it will not be helpful for Israel or its supporters,” former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told Inside Congress.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) echoed these sentiments.

Politico reported that Democrats were perplexed as to why Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) agreed to House Speaker Mike Johnson‘s (D-LA) invitation.

“We’re already divided — we don’t need this guy who’s killing people coming to speak,” a representative in Jeffries’s leadership circle remarked to the outlet.

The outrage extended even further among left-wing activists.

“Everything about this idea is a disaster,” Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of Indivisible, a Democratic PAC, told the Truth Voices in a statement. “Netanyahu is starving Gaza and waging a disastrous campaign of slaughter. He’s prolonging death and suffering for his own political gain, and everyone knows it. Even President Biden acknowledges it is completely reasonable to understand Netanyahu’s motivation for continuing the war as political.”

Greenberg commended some Democratic lawmakers for deciding not to attend Netanyahu’s speech.

“It should be an easy decision not to attend,” Greenberg added. “Democrats with a range of positions are questioning this choice — why this? Why now? What are we doing here? The number of lawmakers skipping the speech is going to grow. There are a thousand good reasons to reject this speech, and not one defensible reason to do it, morally or politically.”

Amid the backlash, Jeffries has slightly distanced himself from the invitation. According to him, Johnson would have extended the invite regardless, and his and Schumer’s signatures were a customary gesture. One Democratic aide familiar with the situation told Politico that Jeffries “didn’t really have a lot of choice” after Schumer signed on.

Timing is a significant issue, as Netanyahu’s visit date remains undisclosed. A source familiar with the White House’s perspective informed Politico that the impact of his visit depends on the timing.

“If he comes in two weeks versus six weeks from now, it’s a very different situation,” the source stated. “If there’s a ceasefire deal, hostages are being released, and there’s no fighting, then it’s just a very different political environment than if fighting is very much ongoing and active.”

Former Obama aide Tommy Vietor, aware of Netanyahu’s notable 2015 speech before Congress decrying the imminent Iran Nuclear Deal, expressed resentment over Netanyahu’s strategies.

He told the outlet that Netanyahu is “the only Israeli leader that can manipulate the West and interfere in our politics. He’s bragged about it publicly. He’ll come here, give a speech, take some shots at political enemies, and go back home and say, ‘Look, I did it again’ and get a polling bump from it.”

Brady Knox
Brady Knox
Brady Knox is a breaking news reporter with a particular focus on Russia, Eastern Europe, and foreign affairs. Hailing from Pittsburgh, he graduated from Miami University in 2022 with a bachelor's degree in Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies and political science.

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