For Immediate Release
July 18, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16) and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) announced they will not attend Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s joint address to Congress.

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) released the following statement in response:

As Jewish New Yorkers, we support Representatives Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision not to attend Israeli President Herzog’s speech before a joint session of Congress, just as we supported their decision not to attend Indian Prime Minister Modi’s speech. President Herzog is not Netanyahu, nor is he part of Netanyahu’s far-right political alliance. But in delivering a joint session speech, Herzog speaks as a representative of the Israeli government — a government actively engaging in apartheid, land theft, and violence against Palestinians. We reject the premise that because Herzog is not Netanyahu’s political ally, he is not complicit or a representative of the Israeli government; he is simply a more palatable representative to cover up the violent reality on the ground.

In New York, we know all too well that just because a party leader or official is not part of the extremist right, that does not make them above reproach.

JFREJ members, like Jews across New York and the United States, hold a range of views on Israel-Palestine, and a range of views on attending President Herzog’s speech. What we share is fierce opposition to Israeli occupation, displacement, annexation, aggression, and ongoing assaults on Palestinians, and a fierce commitment to protecting political speech including criticism of Israel.

It is an act of ongoing desperation by defenders of Israeli policy to claim a symbolic act of protest by members of Congress is evidence of anti-Jewish bias. We have seen time and again how eager certain politicians, organizations, and lobbying groups are to levy these accusations against progressive leaders of color who dare to criticize or oppose the Israeli government. In addition to isolating and harming the individuals targeted, these bad-faith accusations isolate Jews and leave us vulnerable to real antisemitism.

We are proud to have principled leaders like Representatives Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez representing us in New York.


Jews For Racial & Economic Justice is a 6,000-member grassroots organization and the home of New York’s Jewish Left. For over 30 years, JFREJ members have organized alongside our neighbors to transform New York from a playground for the wealthy few into a real democracy, free from all forms of racist violence, (with playgrounds for all of us!)