Senate Democrats, for reasons not clear, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with them in a “closed door” session during his upcoming Congress visit. Netanyahu declined for reasons most likely related to trying to keep Democrats from mass boycotting his speech to Congress. So tell me again why Netanyahu is speaking before Congress?
AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) is meeting during the same week that Netanyahu visits. AIPAC is an un-apologist for all matters dealing with Israel and solid supporter of its conservative lead government. AIPAC is also quick to intimidate or congratulate (with $$$) US political figures based upon their level of unquestioning support for Israel. Netanyahu is a regular visitor to AIPAC conventions. Hmmm.
So in the world of Washington dysfunctional politics, Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak before a combined session of both Houses of Congress, two weeks before the next Israeli general election, while unprecedented, came as no surprise. Netanyahu’s acceptance, however, was surprising.
Netanyahu undoubtably knows that Boehner is not leading a well oiled machine. With a huge majority in the House, Boehner’s majority has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to deny funding for the Homeland Security Department (by attaching conditions which he knows in advance cannot pass in the Senate). His legislative activity is not exactly speaking for all Americans.
But then Netanyahu’s views for Israel do not speak for all Israelis, or for the best interests of Israel’s neighbors. Divide and conquer, however, is and has been a well known strategy to win in tactical situations. Why not try it in Washington.
President Obama has done well to keep his rhetoric controlled and above the gutter where Speaker Boehner and Netanyahu seem comfortable. The President and Vice President will be out of town or unavailable to meet with Netanyahu, and now Congressional Democrats must decide whether they will attend Netanyahu’s speech. (I can imagine the pressure which the combination “threat and reward” AIPAC money can mean in the life of Democrat Congress members.)
Any Congress member who wants to know Netanyahu’s thoughts (as if they don’t already) can go to the AIPAC meeting. Republican members will understandably follow Boehner’s lead and attend the Congressional speech. But why should Democrats even think about this for a moment?
Netanyahu’s speech is a partisan speech and unfit for the floor of Congress. It should be an easy decision to spend the day instead at the National Gallery where Congress members could learn something.