A representative of Rhode Island’s Jewish community was in the visitor’s gallery on July 19, when Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed the U.S. Congress.
Harris Chorney, chair of the board of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, attended the speech as a guest of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Chorney said it was his first experience observing a joint session of Congress and his first trip to the U.S. Capitol.
“I was really inspired by being at the Capitol,” he said in an interview with Jewish Rhode Island. “We may have issues and challenges, but there is still no better place to be than the United States.”
Chorney called Herzog’s speech “terrific” and said he was gratified to see the bipartisan support for the speech. This was despite a handful of legislators who chose not to attend the evening presentation.
All but a few who attended gave Herzog more than 25 bipartisan standing ovations.
“His speech brought out the importance of the relationship between the two countries,” Chorney said. “He emphasized the U.S. and Israel connection.”
And Chorney referenced this quote by Herzog, as reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Association:
“Criticism of Israel must not cross the line into negation of the State of Israel’s right to exist,” Herzog said to cheers. “Questioning the Jewish people’s right to self-determination is not legitimate diplomacy, it is antisemitism.”
Chorney said he will never forget the experience of listening to the president of Israel and walking through the Capitol – including passing by the area where the building was breached on Jan. 6, 2021.
FRAN OSTENDORF is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.