As Congress prepares to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, the Democratic Party has suddenly developed a Jewish problem.
The party standard bearer, President Barack Obama, maintains his visceral dislike of Israel and of Netanyahu. He rationalizes his pique at the invitation offered by House Speaker Boehner by declaring that he should have been consulted.
Of course, had he been consulted he would have strongly disapproved of the gesture. Believing that his crowning foreign policy achievement will be a deal that opens a pathway to Iranian nuclear weapons, he will allow nothing, certainly not an Israeli Jew, stand in his way.
And then, there’s the political side of Boehner’s masterstroke. The Netanyahu invitation has exposed divisions in the Jewish community. Some blindly follow their Pied Piper, Obama. Others have courageously declared their support for Israel.
Those who oppose the speech are worried that it has damaged bipartisan Congressional support for Israel. Had they been paying any attention, they would have seen that President Obama, by himself, has done considerable harm to the relationship with Israel.
Considering the pressure on him to cancel the speech, Netanyahu has clearly shown considerable political courage. Why should he be responsible for saving what is left of Obama’s face?
The Obama administration has launched a campaign to discredit and demean the Natanyahu speech.
The Israeli intelligence service, Debkafile reports on the latest from Susan Rice and John Kerry:
National Security Adviser Susan Rice, the latest US administration official to attack Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, sharply called his forthcoming speech on Iran to Congress “destructive to the relationship between the two countries." In an interview with Charlie Rose Tuesday night, she said: "What has happened over the last several weeks by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu two weeks before his elections is that on both sides there have been injected some degree of partisanship.
"It is not only unfortunate but it is also destructive of the fabric of the relationship. It has always been bipartisan and we want to keep it that way. When it becomes injected with politics, that's a problem.”
Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry said in reference to the prime minister: “…anybody running around right now jumping in to say, ‘Well we don’t like the deal,’ or this, or that, doesn’t know what the deal is.”
Such is Obama’s contempt for Israel that he cannot let up his criticism of Netanyahu. Either he believes that American Jews will follow him blindly wherever he leads them—for fear of being accused of racism—or he does not care what they think.
Happily, Netanyahu has been receiving strong support from certain segments of the American Jewish community.
Among them, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Obama will not attend the speech. Joe Biden will not attend. John Kerry will be lost somewhere. Some Democratic members of Congress will boycott it. But, Elie Wiesel will be there.
In a newspaper advertisement, Wiesel wrote:
Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?
Upping the ante liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz yesterday denounced those who would boycott Netanyahu.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he said:
As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama , I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress.
Dershowitz challenged those who suggested that Congress does not have the power to issue the invitation:
Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every member of Congress to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who probably knows more about this issue than any world leader, because it threatens the very existence of the nation state of the Jewish people.
Congress has the right to disagree with the prime minister, but the idea that some members of Congress will not give him the courtesy of listening violates protocol and basic decency to a far greater extent than anything Mr. Netanyahu is accused of doing for having accepted an invitation from Congress.
Effectively, the president and his minions have made Israel a partisan issue. Dershowitz turned their own rhetoric against them:
Another reason members of Congress should not boycott Mr. Netanyahu’s speech is that support for Israel has always been a bipartisan issue. The decision by some members to boycott Israel’s prime minister endangers this bipartisan support. This will not only hurt Israel but will also endanger support for Democrats among pro-Israel voters. I certainly would never vote for or support a member of Congress who walked out on Israel’s prime minister.
Surely, Dershowitz is somewhat late to the party. And yet, he understands that the long standing relationship between the Democratic Party and Jewish voters is being seriously imperiled… by Barack Obama.
Yesterday, Sens. Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein, speaking for Democratic senators invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with them and their colleagues.
Happily, Netanyahu declined. He said he did not want to politicize the issue.
One does not know what it will take for Jewish voters to wake up to the threat imposed by Obama, but, perhaps the controversy over the Netanyahu speech this will be a wake-up call.
The only question now is: how will the media cover the speech? Will they place it at the top of the news and on the front page above the fold, or will they try to bury it?