POLITICS

Anti-Defamation League Urges Benjamin Netanyahu To Cancel Congress Speech

02/07/2015 02:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 09, 2015
Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak before Congress on March 3, but there's a growing chorus of voices calling on him to cancel the appearance. The latest organization to issue this call? The Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based international organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism.

Abrahm Foxman, the group's national director and a leading voice in the Jewish community, told The Jewish Daily Forward that the controversy over Netanyahu's speech is unhelpful. He added that Netanyahu should stay home.

“One needs to restart, and it needs a mature adult statement that this was not what we intended,” Foxman said in an interview published Friday. “It has been hijacked by politics. Now is a time to recalibrate, restart and find a new platform and new timing to take away the distractions.”

White House officials have expressed irritation that Netanyahu was invited to speak without their consultation, a breach of traditional protocol. Foxman indicated that he did not want the controversy to overshadow concerns about U.S.-Iranian nuclear talks.

While Foxman said he stood with Israel and its concerns over a potential U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, he lamented the fact that Netanyahu's upcoming appearance has become "a circus." Rather than delivering the speech as planned, Foxman suggested the prime minister postpone it until after Israel's March 17 elections, or else address the matter at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington on March 1.

Israeli opposition leaders on Saturday called on Netanyahu to cancel the speech. Vice President Joe Biden is also expected to miss the address, his office announced on Friday.

Correction: Foxman's interview was with The Jewish Daily Forward, not Haaretz. We regret the error.

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