Barack Obama had it pegged. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech today before a joint congressional session will play well in Israel and because of the proximity to the upcoming election, it was totally inappropriate for the Israeli prime minister to make such a speech in that venue.
But the prime minister today delivered a blistering attack on President Obama’s Iran policy. Was he correct? Is a possible deal to stop Iran’s nuclear enrichment program so bad that it puts the Middle East in more danger of an Iranian nuclear weapons development?
Netanyahu says it will. Does he know more than anyone else on the planet? That’s debatable, to say the very least.
Today’s speech was not intended to disrespect the president, Netanyahu had promised. I’m afraid it did what he said it wouldn’t do. He suggested that the United States does not understand the Iranian threat. I would submit that the United States understands all too well how mercurial the Islamic Republic of Iran can be at many levels.
Mr. Prime Minister, surely you recall the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80.
Well, the White House didn’t want Netanyahu to speak, citing the juxtaposition of the speech and the upcoming Israeli elections. The United States is now going to be seen as playing a part in influencing the election. It’s long been customary to forgo such speeches.
None of that mattered to Speaker John Boehner, who extended the invitation without consulting with the White House. Nor did it matter to Netanyahu, who accepted the invitation understanding the firestorm it would create.
I remain confident that U.S.-Israeli relations will remain strong. President Obama says it is unbreakable; Prime Minister Netanyahu says the nations are like “family.”
This speech, though, has caused a significant rift between these allies.
The time to heal that rift is at hand.