When President Herzog Spoke to Congress
I was honored with an invitation to Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to Congress on Wednesday, and would like to share a few reflections.
Overall, especially up to the final quarter of his time, I thought that President Herzog spoke extremely well. He pointed out that the first time a president of the modern State of Israel addressed both houses of Congress was when his father did so in 1987, as Israel celebrated its 40th year. That set the emotional tenor of his address.
He struck the correct notes on Iran as a threat to the region, on the Abraham Accords and the ongoing need to expand them, on Israel’s quest for peace, and on the unique dangers she faces surrounded by terrorists and hostile nations. It was notable that all of these topics earned him bipartisan standing ovations, as the clear majority of Democrats joined Republicans to support his message. I would say that the first three-fourths of his address were entirely on point.
But in that last quarter, he put the lie to the claim by the progressive left that they merely oppose “certain government policies.” If those leftists in Congress only objected to certain policies of Israel’s current right-wing government, then they would have attended and applauded yet louder.
“Bougie” Herzog is a member of the Labor Party, a former left-wing legislator who would prefer Netanyahu fail in his quest to rein in Israel’s out-of-control Supreme Court. He highlighted the current street protests as reflecting Israel’s democratic character; others would describe them as an attempt by the secular left, defeated at the ballot box, to blackmail the rest of the country. So America’s progressive left, those now trying to engineer a leftist takeover of the U.S. Supreme Court, should have proudly supported Herzog’s message.
His last several minutes at the podium also saw the only one-sided ovation, when many Republicans stayed seated, and much to their credit. President Herzog touted Israel’s tolerance when “the sound of the Muezzin calling to [Muslim] prayer blends with the siren announcing the Sabbath in Jerusalem…” while “one of the largest and most impressive” Pride Parades was happening in Tel Aviv.
Sorry, but true tolerance does not require a celebration, and, not incidentally, it does require permitting individual business owners to make their own decisions regarding what activities they wish to support and service. That sort of tolerance, of course, is lacking in many corners in both Israel and America today. So I didn’t stand up, and only found out later that Speaker McCarthy remained seated as well—because the person in the row in front of me had practically leaped from his chair, blocking my view.
The progressives boycotted precisely because they do not care what Israel’s policies are, even when those policies favor leftist causes. All the so-called “progressives” care about is that Israel is the one place in the Middle East that protects the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, including Jews. And the loud applause in the hall was an open repudiation of their hate.
So, all in all, it was a very good and helpful speech. We even learned from the reactions to things we might rather he not have said.
This article first appeared in Times of Israel.