Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins growing list of progressives who will skip Israeli president’s speech to Congress


(New York Jewish Week) – New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined fellow progressives Jamaal Bowman, Ilhan Omar and Cori Bush in saying she will skip Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress next week. 

The House member, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, told Jewish Insider her plans on Thursday. Missouri’s Cori Bush revealed her plans to Haaretz.

While the number of Congress members who have announced their plans to skip Herzog’s speech is far lower than the 58 who sat out of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress in 2015, a handful of other progressive lawmakers critical of Israel — including Reps. Andre Carson of Indiana and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin — have yet to make up their minds. 

Herzog is slated to speak to Congress on Wednesday, during a short visit to the White House that begins on Tuesday. Per the official statement from the White House, Herzog’s visit with President Joe Biden “will reaffirm the ironclad commitment of the United States to Israel’s security.” 

The two leaders will also discuss “opportunities to deepen Israel’s regional integration and to create a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East”; “ways to advance equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and security for Palestinians and Israelis”; and “Russia’s deepening military relationship with Iran, and Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region.” 

Biden has criticized Israel’s plans to weaken its judiciary and said in March that he has no plans to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House anytime soon. Herzog’s role as president is nonpartisan and largely ceremonial, but he has criticized the judiciary proposals, saying that they could spark “a civil war.”

Ocasio-Cortez has made a number of comments critical of Israel and its policies, including calling it an “apartheid state.” However, she has never vocalized support for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel, and in 2021, she switched her vote from “no” to “present” during a Congressional vote to approve $1 billion in new U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.