Tennessee’s only two Democratic legislators in Washington have taken divergent positions on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pending speech to Congress Tuesday.
Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen, a Jewish American and self-described “supporter of the state of Israel,” has announced his intention to boycott because he believes “the speech is political theater” for Netanyahu’s re-election efforts.
Cohen also took umbrage with Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to the Israeli leader in light of the Obama administration’s ongoing negotiations in the Middle East. He accused House Republicans of “giving a foreign leader the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as a forum to present a counterargument to the foreign policy peace efforts” of President Barack Obama.
“My lack of attendance does not mean I will not be aware of the content of the speech nor does it mean I won’t follow the commentary both pro and con but I will not be part of the spectacle,” Cohen said in a release.
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, on the other hand, plans to attend, as he said he always does when a foreign leader addresses Congress. Cooper’s also planning to bring along the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville to the speech as his guest.
According to a media advisory e-mailed late Monday, House Democrats, led by Cohen, will make a response to Netanyahu’s speech early Tuesday afternoon.