Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanOvernight Defense & National Security — Congress begins Afghanistan grilling US says about 1,500 citizens remain in Afghanistan How Congress can advance peace with North Korea MORE (D-Calif.) canceled his appearance at a Monday roundtable discussion with an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in protest over an advertisement for the event that paired an image of national security adviser Susan RiceSusan RiceSinema in Arizona as Democrats try to get spending-infrastructure deal White House says it's 'closer to agreement than ever' after House punts infrastructure vote Manchin says 'I don't see a deal tonight' MORE with a pile of skulls.
Sherman said he could not take part in an event advertised with a personal attack on the top aide to President Obama.
“Since 1998, I have taken advantage of every opportunity to urge the toughest sanctions on Iran, including nearly twenty presentations at AIPAC policy conferences,” Sherman said in a statement.
“I cannot appear at a forum which was advertised using an unwarranted incendiary personal attack. I will be working with Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and others, to create appropriate forums to focus on the danger posed by Iran.”
The event featured Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of the group This World: The Values Network. The group’s advertisement in The New York Times claimed that Rice “disparaged” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE by criticizing his upcoming speech to Congress as “destructive.”
At the top of the ad was a picture of Rice’s face next to a pile of skulls. Its title read: “Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) did attend the event, titled “The Meaning of Never Again: Preventing a Nuclear Iran,” at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. He appeared with Weisel, a Nobel laureate Holocaust survivor, and Boteach.
Cruz said at the event that he had invited many Congressional Democrats to participate, but none attended, according to tweets from Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray, who attended the speech. Boteach also apologized for the ad and said he only had political differences with Rice, according to Gray's tweets.
The dust-up over the ad comes in advance of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday. He is expected to criticize the Obama administration’s nascent deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
The speech has for weeks been a political flashpoint, with Democrats slamming Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for inviting Netanyahu without consulting with the White House. At least 47 Democrats will be absent from the speech.
The event also coincides with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference, a major event for supporters of Israel.
Updated at 8:12 p.m.