WASHINGTON – The Democratic Party needs to fight antisemitism in its own ranks, US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy told The Jerusalem Post before President Isaac Herzog’s speech to a joint session of Congress.
“Israel will not find a greater set of supporters than Republicans in the US Congress,” McCarthy said on Tuesday. “I’m honored to have President Herzog join us and address the world from the Capitol in celebration of 75 years [of Israeli independence].”
Several lawmakers from the Democratic Party’s left flank said they would boycott Herzog’s speech, with Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota saying there is “no way in hell” that she would attend. Rep. Pramila Jayapal called Israel a “racist” state over the weekend, facing significant blowback from within her party, as well as Republicans, who put forward a resolution affirming US support for Israel and calling it a democracy.
“The House Democrat Caucus needs to answer for some of the recent comments made by members of the Democrat party,” McCarthy said in response to questions sent via e-mail. “Congress maintains continued bipartisan support for Israel, but Democrats need to push back on the continued antisemitic rhetoric from within their party.”
Asked about recent Biden administration criticism of Israel, such as a statement calling for freedom of assembly when there have been large, peaceful protests for nearly 30 weeks, and the decision to no longer allow US-funded scientific and agricultural cooperation between Americans and Israelis based in the West Bank, McCarthy said he was “very concerned with any Biden administration policy that appears to prejudge Israel.”
“So long as Republicans are in control of the House, we will always push back on any policy that seeks to undercut the US-Israel relationship,” he said.
Asked about the controversial comments and boycott by members of the Democratic Party, Sen. Jackie Rosen (D-NV) said that “among Democrats and Republicans, I believe here in the Congress, and I hope around the country, that support for the state of Israel's existence is unwavering.”
Rosen noted that “President Herzog rightfully spoke out in his speech that no one should criticize or speak about the right of Israel to exist - that is antisemitic…I think we all feel strongly about that, and that is the definition of antisemitism.“
Biden admin officials entered indirect negotiations with Iran
Earlier this year, Biden administration officials entered indirect negotiations with Iran towards “understandings” regarding pausing its nuclear program and the US easing sanctions. The agreement was not committed to writing in order to avoid Congressional review.
Meanwhile, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has been actively investigating US envoy for Iran Rob Malley’s suspension from his role amid concerns about mishandling classified documents and an FBI investigation into him.
“The Biden administration knows that it has a congressional problem with restarting any deals with a rogue Iranian regime,” McCarthy said. “The House will not stand for it, and I imagine Democrats in the Senate will be against it given Iranian support to Russia in Russia’s brutal attacks on Ukraine.
“Congress will use all the tools in its arsenal to make sure any potential harmful deal doesn’t see the light of day,” he added.
Herzog addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, at McCarthy’s invitation, the second Israeli president to do so, following his father, Chaim Herzog, in 1987.