In May, 2011, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give a speech to a joint session of Congress. First the speaker invited Netanyahu and then the latter informed the White House. When Boehner recently extended another invitation to Netanyahu, the exact same protocol was followed, but this time it caused a major international controversy. Why is that?
There are two essential differences:
1. In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama was not a lame duck. He still needed his critically important liberal Jewish establishment, which raised campaign funding for the president at up to $32,400 per head. By now he is convinced that much of the liberal American Jewish community, including the Hollywood crowd like Barbra Streisand, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, will still deify him no matter how abysmally he treats Israel and its democratically elected prime minister. I am certain that for much of American Jewry, liberalism has become a religion, replacing Judaism long ago.
2. Obama is determined to make a deal, any deal, with Iran, and he doesn’t want any congressional oversight whatsoever. In his State of the Union Address, the president vowed to veto any sanctions bill on Iran. Of course the Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill is designed to go into effect if and only if diplomacy fails, but that fact is irrelevant to the president. The point is that the President is determined to muzzle any sort of congressional debate on the issue until it is a fait accompli.
The huge controversy over the conjured violation of protocol has, for the first time, driven a real wedge into the bipartisan nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship. It is really much ado about nothing, as was made evident by a correction in The New York Times. However, because of the White House’s exaggerated emphasis on an imaginary slight, democratic congressmen and Jewish democrats have been asked to choose between their loyalty to the president and their loyalty to Israel.
The president’s true feelings toward Israel and the Jewish people have been glaringly out in the open for some time now. This is the same president who eschewed and ignored what was supposed to have been an “ironclad understanding” between then-U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that certain communities within Judea and Samaria would allow for natural growth.
This is the same president whose first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, responded to building in one of the areas, the Gush Etzion region, with “not one more brick.” When Israel responded with a nine-month moratorium on settlement construction, there was no display of gratitude.
This is the same president who left the Israeli prime minister waiting in the basement while he dined with his wife and family.
This is the same president who made the prime minister of Israel apologize to then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, three years after violence erupted aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara when activists sporting iron bars and knives tried to break a naval blockade around Gaza.
This is the same president who, early on in his administration, went to Cairo to apologize for the sins of the Western colonialists, but could never find the time to make a stop in Israel.
This is the same president who complained to then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy about Netanyahu, saying, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
And, of course, this is the same president whose administration described the prime minister of the Jewish state as a chicken****.
Netanyahu has valiantly led Israel through some incredibly challenging times. The challenges facing Israel have never been graver. The Islamic State group is almost at Israel’s northern border, in Syria, and is trying to gain a foothold in Judea and Samaria. There are 200,000 missiles pointed at Israel from every direction. A genocidal Iran is making huge strides in its nuclear enrichment program as it negotiates a nuclear deal with Western powers. Iran now has enough highly enriched uranium for one to two nuclear bombs, and they are working on intercontinental ballistic capability as well as a plutonium enrichment facility. Iranian forces now control swaths of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
It is overwhelmingly apparent that instead of confronting these existential threats, Obama would rather dismiss them and launch ad hominem attacks on the Israeli prime minister and muzzle his voice.
It has become apparent by now that this hostility is not only directed at Netanyahu but also at the Jewish people. After Amedy Coulibaly attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris and murdered four Jews, French President François Hollande called the terror attack “an appalling anti-Semitic act,” while Obama described it as “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots” who “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli.”
When questioned about this, White House spokesman Joshua Ernest attempted impressive linguistic gymnastics to avoid saying the obvious: That the supermarket had been targeted because it was a Jewish establishment which is frequented by Jews. We are waiting to see whether the White House can somehow manage to get out the words that Saturday night’s attack on a Copenhagen synagogue was motivated by Islamic anti-Semitism.
Whether or not Obama wants to acknowledge it, the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the café where Lars Vilks, a Danish cartoonist, was speaking, happened because of what they did, which was to draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad; while Jews are attacked simply because of who we are — Jews. Whether or not the president wants to admit it, there is a virulent strain of anti-Semitism running through Islam. And the State of Israel is singled out for eradication by the ayatollahs because of what it is — the Jewish state.
The first step in addressing any problem is acknowledging it and calling it by name. It is difficult to even get this president to acknowledge that there is such a thing as Islamic terrorism. This week, Obama is holding a conference in the White House on “Radical Extremism.” I am positive that he and his staff are hard at work searching for some examples of Crusaders who are still alive in the 21st century. Failure by the leader of the free world to call them by name is quietly enabling Islamic terrorism and Islamic anti-Semitism to metastasize. By trying to prevent Netanyahu, who was not even a party to the nuclear talks with Iran, to address Congress, Obama is using all the might of his political office to try to keep the details of this deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran under wraps. He is also trying to suppress the voice of the world’s conscience, and that voice belongs to Netanyahu. The inevitable question remains: If this deal is so good, why is Obama trying so hard to prevent any congressional oversight and going to such great lengths to muzzle any discussion about it?
Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel Hayom