Bipartisan Frays

PM Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress was a brilliant tour-de-force, timely, powerful, emotional and determined. It was enthusiastically received. It exemplified leadership in a way that Americans have not seen for years and for that reason alone would discomfit President Obama. Netanyahu became only the second foreign leader to address Congress three times (Winston Churchill was the other) and given the fact that Netanyahu lives in Israel, his three speeches contrast quite sharply with the mere ten or so times that Obama – who lives down the street – has addressed Congress. The relative numbers also speak volumes about each man’s attitudes towards Congress – Netanyahu’s admiration and Obama’s disdain. And given the stakes, those Democrats who boycotted – and only Democrats boycotted – and hid behind explanations that range from flimsy to reprehensible should be ashamed.

Start with the flimsy – the accusation that the speech was a “political stunt” and therefore without substance. Such could only be raised by a political lackeys unfit to serve in a position of influence, because it implies both that the Iranian threat is not real and that Obama is well-situated to protect America’s interests. They must explain why people should not take seriously Iran’s repeated declarations of its intent to annihilate Israel and its construction of intercontinental ballistic missiles that would enable its nuclear weapons to target the United States, and not just Israel. And those Jews who disappeared revealed again that their identities as progressives and Democrats are stronger than their identities as Jews and Americans. They are well represented in some of the liberal organizations that pretend to defend Jewish interests but essentially are just branches of the Democratic Party.

The reprehensible also stands out – the boycott by the entire Congressional Black Caucus whose reason for existence seems to be to keep racism alive by finding it everywhere and anywhere. Thus, Netanyahu’s address to Congress was deemed by them an insult to America’s black president, necessitating their boycott in Obama’s support. Are they serious?  (In the end, Charlie Rangel came anyway after saying he would not attend. Good for him.)

There is a political dimension to the speech because it took place against the will of a sitting president with radically-different (not to mention, radical) views on America’s role in the world and as leader of the free world than is customary in the United States. Certainly Speaker Boehner was interested in reasserting the Congressional role in foreign policy rather than have the President marginalize Congress again, and credit him with not caving under the pressure brought to bear. But this started not with Boehner and Netanyahu but with Obama dispatching British PM David Cameron (also in the middle of an election campaign, by the way) to lobby Congress a short time ago against the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran if the talks fail. Why must Congress listen to Cameron and be deprived of listening to an opposing foreign voice, that of Netanyahu? That is a good question, and Boehner gave his answer quite compellingly. A co-equal branch of government can indeed have a mind and will of its own.

Much has been made of the harm allegedly caused to the “bipartisan” support for Israel. This is a sensitive area filled with truths, half-truths and mythology. It is important to note that not everyone who boycotted is necessarily anti-Israel; some are just timorous hirelings beholden to Obama, but some are anti-Israel. AIPAC went to great lengths over the last few days to strengthen the notion of bi-partisan support for Israel, as did the PM in his speech. Such is true, thankfully so, but needs to be nuanced a bit. Things are not the same as in the past, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

The distinction seems to be as follows: bipartisan support for Israel is a Congressional phenomenon but it is no longer a grass roots phenomenon. Support for Israel in Congress is quite strong, and Israel counts among its most passionate devotees members of both parties. But it is clear to any observer that among the grass roots, support for Israel among Republicans is substantially higher than it is among Democrats. The recent Pew study bandied about in the media in the last few weeks bolsters this assertion: among Republicans, 77% of respondents favor Israel’s cause over the Palestinians. Among Democrats, only 39% support Israel. That is a substantial difference. Republicans are twice more likely to support Israel today than are Democrats. That is a staggering figure that Jews should not deny – nor for which, as some might, blame Israel.

One need only recall the 2012 Democratic National Convention whose platform at first omitted the boilerplate statement that “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.” When a horrified Democratic establishment realized the glaring omission, they hastily proposed such a clause which was then voted down by a voice vote. Shocked at the mutiny of their own delegates, it was voted on again through another two voice votes. To most observers and listeners, the “no” votes against the resolution drowned out the “yes” votes. It wasn’t even close, but the aurally-challenged former Mayor of Los Angeles, convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, “heard” that the “yeses” had prevailed. (He was a good sport about the whole thing, keeping a straight face throughout.)

What has happened to the Democratic Party? Simply put, the activist base of the Democrats and the grass-roots are dominated by the George Soros wing – far-left, anti-American, internationalist, and anti-Israel. They are the ones who vote in primaries, they are the ones who donate money and they are the ones who serve as delegates. The one-dimensional media obsess on the split between the Republican establishment and the grass roots Tea Party but the far greater divide in American politics is between the mainstream Democrat and the George Soros-base. At least among the Republicans, all believe in a strong America, in American exceptionalism and on most fundamentals. The chasm amongst Democrats is much greater.

That is why Soros leftists such as John Yarmuth, Al Franken and Elizabeth Warren boycotted the Netanyahu speech. They and others will usually say the right things, sort of, but then act in ways that are harmful to Israel.

As it stands now, Congressional Democrats remain overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, but the Soros wing is gradually making inroads. That wing has already captured the White House (Obama is an acolyte) and its candidates are slowly trying to infiltrate Congress as well. If it happens – in many places, fear of the Soros candidates has been a boon for Republicans and that has limited their successes – the reality of bipartisanship will be undone. That might happens sooner than one thinks, as other Soros candidates are poised to capture Democratic strongholds in the coming two years. Those Soros affiliates will cause tzoros for the Democratic Party and for America.

And then liberal Jews will be left with nostalgia – Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel, JFK’s sale of Hawk missiles to Israel, and the long-time support for Israel among Congressional Democrats when they were in the majority. Certainly most presidents – of both parties – have been well-disposed to Israel, and support for Israel has never been considered controversial or politically risky. Not so anymore. Kudos to our own Senator Bob Menendez (D) who has stood up to the White House on a number of issues, come under tremendous pressure and pushed back – as in his forceful speech at AIPAC the other night castigating the sellout with Iran. He could become this generation’s Pat Moynihan and has won the admiration of lovers of Israel and America on both sides of the political divide. Time will tell whether or not his kind of Democrat is a dinosaur.

Time will also soon tell us the fate of Binyamin Netanyahu. Cast in the Churchillian role of warning the Western world about the dangers of fascism – Nazi fascism for Churchill and Islamofascism for Netanyahu – the PM gave a Churchillian speech, passionate and evocative, that framed the issues of our time in a memorable way and included rhetorical touches that will also endure. But he would do well to recall that Churchill won the war –and then ignominiously lost the next election. The “grateful” British people voted him out of office just two months later forcing Churchill to depart the Allied postwar conference at Potsdam.

Apparently, not everyone appreciates true leadership…until it is missing and until it reappears in a new guise. Only then do we realize the enormous potential impact of the strong leader – to accomplish, to inspire, to wage war against the forces of absolute evil and to prevail against all odds. The US Congress, in its warm embrace and enthusiastic reception of PM Netanyahu, showed that it both recognizes true leadership and will stand firmly with Israel in the shared struggles ahead. The Obama administration, having crudely mocked Netanyahu’s courage last year, saw both courage and resolve. Notwithstanding the administration, the alliance and friendship between the United States and Israel is as strong as ever.

And, proud Jews stood a little prouder, with the spirit of Purim in the air.

Happy Purim to all!

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51 responses to “Bipartisan Frays

  1. I never get tired of listening to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky because he speaks truth and logic.

    Truth an logic about Israel have become rare, thanks to the tireless efforts people who are dedicated to spreading falsehood and illogic about Israel, including: The United Nations (especially the UNWRA ), USA President Barack Hussein Obama, The New York Times, ex-USA President Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, the far-left-dominated American “news”-media, the far-left-dominated American academic world, far-left-dominated American Jewish organizations (J Street, ADL, Reform Rabbis, Jewish Voices for Peace), the Liberal churches, George Soros and the organizations that represent him, The European Union (which represents European traditions of anti-Semitism 15 centuries old), the BBC and the also-British Guardian newspaper, the Arab/Muslim news media, the propaganda of the super-massive former Soviet Union/USSR which is still felt today even though the Soviet Union vanished 25 years ago, anonymous neo-Nazis and lunatics who produce avalanches of anti-Israel propaganda on FaceBook and AOL and CraigsList and YouTube, and last but not least, the terrorists themselves, including: the PLO/Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Islamic State (ISIS), and Iran.

    PS:
    http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/04/the-forgotten-issue-in-the-iran-debate/

  2. Israeli PM Netanyahu Addresses U.S. Congress
    (FULL SPEECH, 2015 March 3)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=magIuMBx3x0

  3. Obama Threatened to Shoot Down Israeli Jets Attacking Iran
    by Greg Richter, 2015 March 1

    http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/obama-threatened-israeli-jets/2015/03/01/id/627575/

  4. This is my favorite Purim story (as seen here http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/21/how-to-take-purim-seriously.html)

    “There is a story about blotting out Amalek told in the name of the Hasidic master Zvi Elimelekh of Dinov (1783-1841). I heard the story from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. During the Purim feast, Zvi Elimelekh suddenly stopped the festivities and said, “Saddle the horses and get the carriages, it is time to blot out Amalek.” His Hasidim were petrified. “What could the master mean?” Being obedient disciples, they got in their carriages and followed their rebbe. He rode into town to a local inn where the Polish peasants (the Amalekites of his day?) were engaged in their own drunken bash. The rebbe and his disciples entered the inn. When the peasants saw them, they stopped dancing. The music stopped. Everyone circled around the rebbe and the Jews as they walked to the center of the dance floor. The room was silent. The rebbe looked at one of the peasants and put out his hand with his palm to the ceiling. Silence. The peasants looked at one another. Suddenly one of them stepped forward and took the rebbe’s hand. They slowly started dancing. The musicians began playing. In a matter of minutes, all the Hasidim and peasants were dancing furiously with one another.”

  5. Phillip Slepian

    All good points, Rabbi, but I cannot help thinking that this whole brouhaha would have been avoided had Netanyahu not failed to strike Iran six years ago, when most of the world expected it to happen, and when Israel could have easily weathered the inevitable backlash. Yes, Israel could not have destroyed Iran’s nuclear program (especially since the U.S. refused to sell it the bunker-buster bombs needed for such an attack), but how can any nation let the threats like those of Iran go unanswered? Both actions, and lack of action, have consequences. Instead, Netanyahu caved to intimidation from the U.S. and his own advisors and military leaders. Iran saw this hesitation and learned that Israel, like America “can do nothing” (as the Ayatolla once remarked). And certainly that Israel cannot do anything unless America gives it a green light. And so we see that Iran has manipulated Obama in a way that meant Israel striking Iran was now off the table. And that has led to a buildup of Iranian forces along Israel’s northern border that has changed the balance of power and now hamstrings the IDF’s ability to protect Israel. 130,000 Iranian Republican Guard troops now protect 100,000 missiles (some guided, and some with bio-chem warheads), pointed at Israel’s towns and cities. Will Netanyahu watch as Russia supplies Iran with the most sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries it has? Then what? Israel’s options to defend itself against Iranian aggression from the north, and the calculation of Iranian-ordered attacks from the north, must figure into every defense decision Israel will make. The icing on the cake is the doubt Netanyahu harbors about the willingness of his generals to follow orders they disagree with. So, sure, the speech was wonderful. But the reality Netanyahu flies home to is something else altogether, and it is largely of his own making.

    • Phillip is that true? 130,000 Soldiers protect 100,000 missiles pointed at Israel?

    • What’s stopping Iran from firing at Israel now?

      • Phillip Slepian

        Yaakov – The Ayatollas are nothing if not patient (an old Muslim trait). They are weeks away from getting the green light for a 10 year nuclear weapons program from Obama, ending what few sanctions remain. They are just now getting committments from Russia for more nuclear infrastructure and high-end anti-aircraft batteries. To attack Israel, which could respond with nukes, now, makes little sense. Iran is not in a rush, as long as they are making progress. And progress is indeed being made. Once they have deployable nukes, they can green light Hezbollah’s missiles without fear of an Israeli response.

      • Israel can respond both now and later with nukes. Any attempted strike by Iran now or later would be met with an Israeli counter launch. Suicide any way you slice it.

      • Phillip Slepian

        The Ayatollahs refer to Israel as a “two-bomb” country, while Iran would be much harder to destroy. This tells you their mind-set, that once they have nuclear weapons, Israel would be deterred from a first or second strike on Iran.

      • Here’s the issue for Israel. Iran could survive as a state after absorbing a counter strike. Israel could not. But that is not what would happen.
        Iran has always used proxies. Same here. They could deliver a small tactical nuclear device – yes,
        in a suitcase – to one of its several proxies who would detonate it in an Israeli city perhaps after smuggling it through Gaza or Sinai. Or, it could unleash one as an EMP attack.
        In either case, there would be no obvious target for a counter strike, even if one were possible.
        MAD does not work as a deterrent if one party is actually mad.
        But happy Purim to all!
        -RSP

  6. Yaakov, that is a good point.

  7. Phillip, the Iranian government is 10 years away from getting nukes?

    That’s a long time

  8. Phillip Slepian

    Not so long if you consider that it is a game changer. Besides, 10 years assumes they will follow the soon-to-be-inked agreement with Obama and wait that long. At their current rate, the U.S. estimate is 1 year to breakout capability, and the Israeli estimate is in months.

  9. What do you think the US should do to prevent it?

    • Phillip Slepian

      Andy – Preventing Iran from going nuclear was possible, once. Strict sanctions, support for those Iranians seeking regime change, and leaving the threat of military action on the table might have worked. Obama lifted sanctions, failed to support the Iranian Green movement, and took military action off the table. Also, and this is a failure as well of the Bush administration, the President must make the case to America and the world that Iran having nuclear weapons is not the same as France or India having them. Both Bush and Obama failed to do this. Obama didn’t even try. Also left unchallenged is Iran’s claim that it has a “right” to enrich uranium. That is a lie. All nations that sign the NPT have a right to the peaceful use of atomic power and technology, but they must purchase already-enriched uranium from a limited group of nations authorized to produce and sell it. All of this is moot, since Obama clearly does not want to prevent Iran from going nuclear, nor does he desire regime change. On the contrary, Obama seeks to turn the clock back to before WWI, when the U.S. and the allies first defeated the Ottoman Turks and redrew the map of the Middle East. Obama sees this as evidence of our “colonialism”, and wants to extract the last century from the modern realities of the Middle East. The implications for Israel of this policy, by the way, ought to be clear.

      • Did obama tell u this?

      • Phillip Slepian

        These are widely accepted facts, Andy. Read Obama’s books and listen to the text of his speeches, which confirm the assertions in my post. No need to get snarky about it. You asked what I though the U.S. should do to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and I attempted an answer. You will notice I did not give Bush a pass on this one. What’s your suggestion? Or are you naive enough to believe that the deal Obama is now working on (the one we will have to sign in order to see what’s in it) will be effective?

      • I am not contesting what you wrote in the first part. I don’t know too much about the Iran situation, I’m not sure what can be done to stop them, your suggestion seems reasonable. My issue is with the last several sentences about Obama not wanting to prevent Iran from going nuclear, and turning back the clock, anti colonialism. I’ve read some of Dinesh Dsouza’s stuff on this, it’s far fetched to say the least. Seems like to much conservative criticism of Obama is based on what he’s thinking or secretly planning to do as oppossed to his actions. ( Don’t get me wrong he’s done plenty wrong also)

      • Phillip Slepian

        Andy – There is nothing secret about any of this. Read Obama’s books, and the transcripts of his speeches, especially the Cairo speech of 2009. Dsouza’s works were based on sources like those. Any objective review of the pending Iranian nuclear deal makes it clear that at best, it attempts to kick the nuclear can down the road. At worst, it creates a pathway, via compliance, to unrestricted nuclear development and uranium refining ability. If you can demonstrate otherwise, I am happy to read your posts.

  10. Rabbi P. – is the state of things in Iran such that Israel can still do something like it did to the Iraqi reactor in 1981?

    • I don’t know, and if I did, I wouldn’t tell. But I would assume a different tactic would be employed.
      -RSP

    • From what I have read the situation is totally different. in 1981 the Israelis bombed one nuclear reactor. With Iran, you have numerous sites that would need to be hit in a series of raids that would most certainly result in a longer War

  11. Rabbi, do you think the split between the “far left” and moderate Democrats is really greater than the split between Tea party types and establishment Republicans? Where would you categorize Obama and Hillary Clinton in this split?

  12. Obama – far left
    Clinton – opportunist