‘Apologists for terrorism’: House Republicans eviscerate far-left Dems skipping Netanyahu speech

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House Republicans are coming down hard against progressive Democrats threatening to skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress next month.

The high-stakes address, expected July 24, comes as Israel continues its operation in Gaza to eradicate Hamas and rescue hostages taken by the terror group during its Oct. 7, 2023, attack that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

A growing number of Democrats are critical of the Israeli operation, accusing Netanyahu of waging a disproportionate response that’s resulted in tens of thousands of Palestinian civilian deaths. Several have already said they would boycott his address in protest – prompting a furious backlash from the House GOP.

The No. 3 House GOP leader, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., labeled Democrats “the anti-Israel party” in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“Their threats to boycott Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Joint Address is another notch on their long list of betrayals of our strongest ally in the Middle East,” Emmer said.


Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is addressing Congress next month. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo)

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., a retired Navy pilot, told Fox News Digital that the speech would only be “a ’controversial’ or ‘counterproductive’ speech” if Israel’s Democratic critics “make it one”

“There’s nothing controversial about allowing the elected leader of America’s greatest ally – who’s in the middle of a war against… U.S.-designated terrorists – speak to the Congress that’s funding and supporting Israel’s fight for survival,” Garcia said.

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., similarly accused “extreme factions of the Democratic Party” of “turning their backs” on Israel and “disrespecting” its elected leader.

Army combat veteran Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who led the House GOP’s effort to sanction the International Criminal Court for threatening to go after Netanyahu, said of the Democrats’ boycott, “Too bad they don’t seem to care about the six Americans being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza as much as they care about establishing a Palestinian state.”

Rep. Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., called the would-be boycotters “apologists for terrorism,” adding, “Their refusal to stand with our closest ally in the Middle East emboldens murderers and extremists who seek to destroy democracy and freedom worldwide.”


Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla.

Rep. Brian Mast said of Democrats’ boycott, “Too bad they don’t seem to care about the six Americans being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.” (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, told Fox News Digital, “While Israel fights for its very existence, the United States must display unwavering support for our greatest ally in the Middle East. We cannot let partisan politics get in the way.”

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a retired brigadier general, said, “Not showing for Netanyahu’s visit is giving moral support to all the antisemitism we are seeing on college campuses and in our big cities.”

The chairman of the House GOP’s campaign arm, Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., also weighed in, “Extreme House Democrats are so beholden to the pro-Hamas mobs of their party that they would rather turn their backs on Israel than stand with our greatest Democratic ally in the Middle East.”

The issue of Israel and its war on Hamas has had an unprecedented unifying effect on what’s been a House GOP Conference marked by public division for much of this congressional term. 

On the flip side, it has also served to bring long-simmering Democratic fractures between the old and new left to the surface, prompting spats on social media and elsewhere between progressives and pro-Israel Democrats.


Jeffries at Capitol presser

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he would attend the address, but it’s up to each individual Democrat on whether they’d do so. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Greg Casar, D-Texas, told Fox News Digital last week that he would be skipping Netanyahu’s speech.

“I don’t plan to attend, and I will plan to participate in whatever advocacy is being done to push for Netanyahu and Hamas to agree to a cease-fire,” he said.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., told The Hill, “I won’t attend and turn my back toward him… So I’m just gonna stay away.”


And Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said on Saturday, “Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal. He should not be invited to address a joint meeting of Congress. I certainly will not attend.”

When asked about the boycott threats from his fellow Democrats, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters last week that he would attend the speech but “all of us recognize that every individual member has to make that decision to participate on their own based on what they believe is consistent with the district that they represent.”

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