Before Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint meeting of Congress last week, many House Democrats expressed concerns that the prime minister intended to use his appearance to advance his own political fortunes ahead of Tuesday's Israeli elections.
Days later, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said their suspicions were correct.
Cohen was one of the dozens of Democrats who skipped the Netanyahu speech. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Jewish lawmaker, one of many Democrats across the spiritual and ideological spectrum to boycott the speech, released a statement Thursday slamming Netanyahu, locked in a tight race for re-election in Israel, for using footage of his appearance in a campaign video.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu's predictable use of this footage is one of several reasons I did not attend his speech," Cohen said. "I am saddened that Congress is once again being turned into theater and that the Prime Minister made our Capitol into a studio for his political ads, complete with Teleprompters and a live studio audience."
The ad, which is in Hebrew, is interspersed with film clips of Netanyahu's speech from the House floor, with lawmakers rising to give standing ovations and onlookers applauding from the viewing galleries surrounding the chamber.
In the speech, Netanyahu sharply criticized the Obama administration's handling of negotiations to rein in Iran's nuclear program, arguing the U.S. should adopt a much more aggressive posture toward the Islamic republic.
Cohen noted that it's actually against House rules for lawmakers to use taped floor proceedings in campaign materials, though his press release acknowledged that it it was "likely not enforceable against foreign leaders."
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