Of course PM Netanyahu should address Congress on the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran and the ongoing threat of Islamic terror. If not him, then who? If not now, then when?
For one reason, Netanyahu will be in Washington anyway for the AIPAC Policy Conference. That, too, is on his agenda notwithstanding its proximity to the Israeli elections. There is a second reason as well: while Netanyahu is the probable winner in those elections and therefore will head the next government, that is by no means assured. The election campaign – as tawdry and sordid as it is – has changed no minds. Israel’s electorate is as ideologically frozen as the New Jersey tundra this winter, and the outcome will be based on the obvious: turnout of one’s supporters, as it invariably does. The percentage of Israelis actually voting in elections has steadily declined over the last two decades and is slightly above the poor participation rate in the United States. The notion that Netanyahu is coming here in order to win votes is risible. But who knows if a Prime Minister Herzog – not the strongest personality in the country – will project the same resolve or even deign to oppose an Obama whose campaign team was dispatched from the US to get him elected? It might be the last time that Netanyahu has a chance to sound the alarm.
There is a third reason why he should come and speak, and was right in accepting Speaker Boehner’s offer to become only the second foreign leader – Winston Churchill was the other – to address a joint session of Congress three times. Who will alert Congress and the American people to the clear and present danger of a nuclear Iran and the epidemic of Islamic terror – Barack Obama? He is preternaturally incapable of even uttering the phrase “Islamic terror” and has no plan to thwart the Iranian nuclear program. Obama, in just the last few years, has eviscerated the effect of two decades’ worth of diplomacy, UN resolutions and the sanctions regime that was weakening Iran, all in exchange for nothing.
Obama has two goals, both of which have combined to make him the weakest American president in the last half-century, and perhaps in the last century: he is determined not to send any American troops abroad to fight in a war of his choosing (becoming the first President in generations to accomplish that “feat,” and completely oblivious to the cost to American and human life, and world stability, now and in the future); and, he has no objection to the Iranians acquiring a nuclear capacity – as long as they don’t do it on his watch. In essence, he wants to kick the can down the road, pacify the Iranians with the carrots of trade and sanctions relief, and threaten the Israelis into inaction. Obama is today the mullahs’ best friend, and through passivity has allowed Islamic terror – of which the Iranian bomb is just one facet and future tool – to proliferate, all while he denies it really exists.
No wonder Obama reacted apoplectically to the Congressional invitation. (The lie that his minions proffered – that the White House was unaware of the offer until after it was extended and accepted – has already been exposed by the NY Times.) It was the breach of protocol – that wasn’t. No matter.
There are two issues that Netanyahu will raise that threaten to undermine the Obama plan: one is the imminence of the Iranian threat. The pending deal essentially leaves Iran with the capacity to enrich at will and produce a weapon at the time of its choosing, even assuming that it will adhere to any limitations placed or to an inspections regime. The current president, Rouhani, who headed the Iranian negotiating team over a decade ago, admitted lying back then in order to build new facilities, conceal them from UN inspectors, and continue enrichment surreptitiously. If necessary, they will lie again, except for this: Rouhani has been quite open that nothing will deter Iran from obtaining a nuclear capacity and any agreement will have to recognize that right.
Contrast his candor with Obama’s repeated assertions that he will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon – this from the same person who said “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”; who said there is “not a smidgeon of evidence of scandal” at the IRS; and who does not believe that Islamic terror even exists.
Netanyahu will burst that bubble and acquaint Americans with the dangers that an Iranian nuclear capacity poses to them and not just Israel and that the deal now pending will make Iran a nuclear power within a short time. Better to state that publicly – loudly and clearly – before the deal is finalized than do it after the deal is formally reached when such opposition by Israel’s leaders will be perceived as a frontal attack on the American President.
There is a second aspect to the Obama disenchantment with Netanyahu of which Americans should be aware. At present, Obama has no intention of bringing an accord with Iran to the US Senate for approval. He wishes to bypass Congress – again; immigration reform, anyone? – and shape US foreign policy on his own. He doesn’t care about constitutional limits; his attitude since he became president is to do what he wants and let the courts sort it out, which takes years.
Netanyahu’s address to Congress essentially re-asserts Congressional supremacy in treaty-making but, more importantly, Congressional relevance in foreign policy. It would be extremely hard for Obama to ignore Congress after Netanyahu has roused them – even subtly – in asserting their constitutional prerogatives. If I had to choose, I would suggest that this reason plays more of a role in Obama’s current disenchantment than the first, and even more than his visceral dislike of PM Netanyahu.
Allegedly, Netanyahu is being “punished” by being denied an audience with President Obama. Well, some people are glad they are not meeting. Would that they never meet again! Those meetings have never gone well for Israel, and they are always accompanied by the expectation that Israel will provide some concession in exchange for the great privilege of sitting down with the most hostile president to Israel in memory. It’s no honor, no privilege, and no good comes out of it. Sometimes a curse is actually a blessing in disguise.
Many suggest that Netanyahu’s visit threatens a rupture in US-Israel relations. Hogwash. The US-Israel alliance and friendship is not based on Obama – or even on Netanyahu – but on the American people’s recognition of justice. A poll this week showed support for Israel among Americans to be four times greater than for the Palestinian “cause,” and a majority supporting Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. And given Obama’s unpopularity in Israel – despite the way Israel’s media elites fawn over him – a confrontation with Netanyahu can only benefit Netanyahu, even if he doesn’t seek one.
Worse, Americans are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Obama’s stewardship and America’s declining role in the world. It is not just Obama’s bizarre refusal to underscore the problem of Islamic terror; that is just part of the pro-Muslim bias that clouds his thinking about world affairs. Consider: when Muslims (in America) were killed recently, they were killed – as per Obama – because they were Muslims. When blacks are killed, they are killed because they are black. But when Jews are killed, or Christians are killed, across the world, they are killed because they were “random folks” caught in the web of some never-to-be-named “violent extremists.”
Thus, to combat Islamic terror of all stripes and varieties, this is the Obama track record: Boko Haram and its kidnapping, raping, murdering and pillaging – nothing (except for a twitter campaign, for what that is worth); Syria and Iraq – next to nothing. ISIS – a barrage of verbiage, even with Americans being tortured and murdered. Al Qaeda – reborn. Afghanistan – pending withdrawal, which will again empower the Taliban. Yemen – fall of that country to Muslim radicals. Libya – the same. Some of these groups are themselves rivals but they all share one thing in common: they are not Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians or Shintos. And the enemy remains unnamed.
At a certain point, this denial moves from the realm of willful blindness into the realm of pathological blindness. And we have moved from an inability to state the truth openly – because of fear or other reasons – to an inability to state the obvious with clarity.
How many innocent heads have to roll in the Middle East before the United States reasserts its indispensable role as a force for good in the world?
Let Netanyahu come as the voice of reason and leadership, and let him sound the alarm. Those Senators who forever proclaim their love for Israel – Schumer and others – let’s see whether their Jewishness and love for America exceeds their fear of Obama and commitment to the Democratic Party. If they find an excuse to absent themselves, they should be called to account. Now is crunch time, time for Jews to move past empty expressions of support for Israel by a host of politicians and demand forthrightness, courage and action.
Those who are unwilling to face the truth and prefer to be ensnared in Obama’s tangled web will have to answer for their poltroonery. Let Netanyahu come, and let lovers of Israel, America and truth show their support for him, and for combating this generation’s greatest foe.