Displaying Photos of Kids Starved by Israel, Sanders Explains Boycott of Netanyahu Speech

Children are dying of malnutrition in Gaza as a “direct result of Netanyahu’s policies,” the Vermont senator said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Bernie Sanders before photo of emaciated child in Gaza
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivers a speech on June 3, 2024 explaining why he will boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expected speech before Congress. (Photo: C-SPAN/Screengrab)


Jun 04, 2024 – https://www.commondreams.org/

Sen. Bernie Sanders displayed photos of starving Palestinian children on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Monday to explain his decision to boycott an upcoming speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Democratic and Republican leaders formally invited to address a joint meeting of Congress amid Israel’s catastrophic assault on Gaza.

The monthslong military campaign has had appalling impacts on Palestinian children, Sanders (I-Vt.) emphasized in his floor remarks Monday, blasting U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for eating “fine steaks” at fundraising dinners with his “billionaire friends” while Israel’s army blocks critical food aid from entering Gaza, causing kids to starve to death.

“This is a photograph of a child in Gaza taken by Getty,” said the Vermont senator as an aide displayed a picture of an emaciated Palestinian child.

The photo was one of several that Sanders showed during his speech, stressing that there are thousands of children in Gaza suffering acute malnutrition as a “direct result of Netanyahu’s policies—Netanyahu, the man Speaker Johnson has invited to address Congress.”

“No,” Sanders said, “I will not be in attendance for that speech.”

Watch Sanders’ remarks in full:

Sanders is one of many progressive U.S. lawmakers expected to boycott Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, the timing of which remains unclear after the Israeli prime minister’s office denied reporting by Punchbowl and other outlets that the date was set for June 13—a day U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to be out of the country.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the roughly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, toldAxios on Monday that she expects the boycott of Netanyahu’s speech to be “large,” noting there are “a lot of people who are extremely upset he is coming here.”

According to Axios, “Jayapal said she has spoken to several lawmakers who went to Netanyahu’s 2015 speech [to Congress] but said they will not attend this time.”

Speaking to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) signaled that she would join the congressional boycott, saying the Israeli prime minister “shouldn’t be here.”

“I don’t think that it is productive for a Republican or a Democrat to invite him,” she added

Netanyahu stands accused by the International Criminal Court of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip, including the “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” and “willfully causing great suffering.” Last month, the ICC’s prosecutor formally applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as several Hamas leaders.

Whatever the date of his speech to the U.S. Congress, protests are expected to greet the prime minister upon his arrival in Washington, D.C.

Recent survey data has shown that a majority of Americans oppose Israel’s war on Gaza and want the Biden administration to cut off U.S. arms sales to the country.

“He’s an indicted felon in Israel with an indictment as a war criminal at the ICC and they’ve invited him to speak here! Shame,” James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, said of Netanyahu late Monday.