Netanyahu speech has Jewish Democrats lining up

Netanyahu speech has Jewish Democrats lining up
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Jewish Democrats in Congress are lining up to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE’s address to Congress next month. 

More than half of the 27 Jewish Democrats in the House and Senate surveyed by The Hill say they’ll attend the speech. 

Only two Jewish lawmakers, so far, say they’ll skip it: Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans Booker introduces bill banning facial recognition tech in public housing Senate Democrat: Colleague was working on fantasy football trade instead of listening to Schumer MORE 


(D-Hawaii) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersRahm Emanuel: Bloomberg, Patrick entering race will allow Democrats to have 'ideas primary' Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Jayapal hits back at Biden on marijuana 'prohibition' MORE, an Independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats. 

Several Jewish members have expressed reservations about Netanyahu’s March 3 address, arguing it was inappropriate for the visit to be organized by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) without input from the White House. 

“I’m deeply troubled that politics has been injected into this enduring relationship that has always been above politics, but I plan to go,” said Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif.).

The Israeli government has been courting Jewish Democrats in an attempt to defuse the fallout. Six prominent Jewish House Democrats met with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer last week to complain about the way the invitation to speak was handled. 

That meeting in Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-N.Y.) office was attended by fellow Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Sandy Levin (Mich.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Ted Deutch (Fla.) and Nita Lowey (N.Y.). 

Schatz and Sanders argue Netanyahu’s visit two weeks before the March 17 Israeli elections will be too politicized to merit their appearances.

“I am disappointed in the Republican leadership’s invitation of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress with the apparent purpose of undermining President Obama’s foreign policy prerogatives,” Schatz said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. “I will not be attending Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech because it does more harm than good to the bipartisan U.S.-Israel alliance.”


Some Jewish Democrats remain undecided on attending the speech, which Vice President Biden also intends to skip.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview that he’s “inclined to go” but hasn’t come to a final decision yet.

“Well, I’m here as the senator from Connecticut, and I have to make a decision about what serves the national interest. And obviously I am Jewish, so I will be inclined to go but I, you know, have to make a decision on what I think is the right thing to do,” Blumenthal said.


Democrats who say they will go to the speech outnumber those planning to boycott it. But the list of Democrats who say they will skip it grew on Tuesday to two senators and 14 House members.


Below is a list of the Jewish lawmakers who will and won't attend:


Attending (14)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.)

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.)

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)


Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)


Skipping (2)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)



Undecided (6)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.)


No response (5)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.)

Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)


— This story was updated at 8:33 p.m.