Borough Park

Hikind blasts Democratic boycott of Netanyahu speech

Assemblymember says he’d like to attend

February 13, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Dov Hikind says that if U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler doesn’t attend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech, he’d like to go in his place. Photo courtesy Hikind’s office
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Assemblyman Dov Hikind is making an unusual request of the man who represents him in congress. And it has nothing to do with a constituent concern.

Hikind (D-Borough Park) says he’s outraged by talk among congressional Democrats of a possible boycott of Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister delivers a speech before a joint session of congress next month.

Hikind has reached out to Nadler (D-Manhattan-Bensonhurst-Borough Park) and asked the congressman if he can take his place in the House chamber on March 3 should Nadler decide to skip the speech.

“In the unlikely event that you will not be attending Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to congress, please allow me to sit in your seat for those few hours. I believe all American elected officials should carefully weigh what our sole Democratic ally in the Middle East has to say, and I for one will be listening closely,” Hikind wrote in a letter to Nadler.

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Hikind also said that if Democrats plan to boycott the speech, there are plenty of people who would be willing to filling their chairs, too.

Democrats are critical of the speech because the invitation to Netanyahu came from House Speaker John Boehner who did not consult the White House prior to extending the invitation, as has been customary in Washington D.C. The move was seen by Democrats as a slap in the face to President Obama.

Earlier this month, Nadler blasted Boehner, charging that the speaker committed a big blunder that could have major implications.

Nadler said that Boehner, a Republican, should have consulted the Obama Administration before extending the invitation to Netanyahu. He also accused the house speaker putting politics above the need for the U.S. to show a united front in its foreign policy.

“He has demonstrated that he is willing to play childish games with our most serious questions of war and peace, and is equally willing to put partisan advantage over Israel’s security,” Nadler said in a statement. 

But Hikind said his fellow Democrats are not looking at the big picture.

“Never in my lifetime can I recall such turmoil in the world as we have now. Further, I can’t recollect a time when America’s leaders have taken less of a decisive role in safeguarding long-term American interests on the international stage,” Hikind said. “Consequently, it’s astounding to hear President Obama still talking about ‘protocols’ for a visiting head of state—an ally—when the lives of millions potentially hang in the balance.”

Netanyahu is expected to speak about the threat Israeli faces from Iran’s plans to build a nuclear bomb.

“Given an invitation to speak before congress in an effort to save his nation from imminent danger is an opportunity no leader of any country would refuse, regardless of protocols. Whether or not Speaker Boehner’s invitation to address congress followed the accepted or expected etiquette, it’s time to look past decorum and get to the heart of the matter: It is in the best interest of the United States that we listen carefully to what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say,” Hikind said.

Hikind’s request will likely be rejected. The Hill, the newspaper that covers congress, reported on Feb. 10 that Nadler does intend to be there when Netanyahu speaks.

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