2 leading black Democrats to boycott Netanyahu speech

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two prominent black Democrats say they will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

U.S. Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, and G.K. Butterfield (R-N.C.) on Thursday slammed Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the House of Representatives, for inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the White House or Democrats.

“I think it’s an affront to the president and the State Department what the speaker did,” Lewis told The Associated Press, cited by ABC.

Jewish Democrats have protested the speech’s timing in private meetings with Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, but have not said they will skip the speech.

Boehner has said he invited Netanyahu to speak in order to rebut President Barack Obama’s backing for nuclear talks underway between Iran and the major powers.