By COLlive reporter
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver a grand address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, most of New York City’s congressional delegation will be present.
Some have been debating whether to attend the speech as it was initiated by Republican House Speaker John Boehner without consulting House Democrats or the White House.
President Barack Obama said he opposed the timing of the speech due to its proximity to the general elections in Israel. He won’t be meeting Netanyahu during his stay in Washington, DC, this week.
Netanyahu, for his part, says he must give voice to his objections over a nearby deal being negotiated with the Iranians over their nuclear program which is an “existential threat” to Israel.
Despite the objections to how the invitation was handled, Netanyahu’s popularity rate among Americans remains high and the majority of members of the Congress and Senate, of both parties, plan to hear him out.
Senator Charles Schumer, a ranking Democrat, said he is attending the speech to show the Israel-United States relationship is “strong and vital to both countries,” according to the New York Observer.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is planning a trip to Israel, weighed in on the issue. While criticizing Speaker Boehner, Adams said “It is my hope that all members of the House and Senate will attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech tomorrow.”
“Israel is more than our ally and friend; their safety and security is at the nexus of the overall conditions of the Mideast, which I have witnessed personally in my past visits to the country,” he said. “Furthermore, the many global threats in the region impel us to thoroughly consider all relevant perspectives, rather than play politics.”
According to the New York Observer, more than 30 of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they will not attend, though Congressman Charles Rangel objected to the characterization of skipping the speech as a boycott. “I am not boycotting the speech. I am just not going to the speech,” he said.
COLlive.com has learned that this is a result of left-leaning organizations and anti Israel activists putting pressure on Congress members not to attend and painting the invitation to the speech as a personal insult to the President.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, whose constituency includes both Jews and blacks, told the Observer: “I’m probably the only one here who still is not decided. I’m conflicted.”
Clarke said she would meet with some of her constituents who are in Washington today for a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) before making a decision, the newspaper said.
Pro Israel activists in Brooklyn called on the public to encourage Clarke to represent them at the speech. Her office can be reached at (202) 225-6231 during working hours or via email: [email protected]
Netanyahu’s speech will be broadcast on COLlive.com on Tuesday, 11:00 AM Eastern Time. “Interest in attending the speech is high,” Boehner’s office reported. “We’ve had 10 times the number of requests for tickets than there are seats available in the gallery.”
Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill are the only foreign leaders to address a joint meeting of Congress on three occasions. Seated in the gallery will be Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
LIVE VIDEO: Tuesday, 11:00 AM Eastern Time
UPDATE: Congresswoman Yvette Clarke has attended the speech. “I salute her for doing what is right at a time when Israel is facing such grave dangers,” one Brooklyn resident emailed COLlive.com.