Tomorrow Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to address the United States Congress on the floor of the house, in advance of upcoming elections in Israel. Some have voiced concern, and others feel it is much ado about nothing. To those who fall within the latter group, perhaps there are some things you should consider.
First of all, the established protocol for foreign affairs and visits to the U.S. by heads of state, has always been via invitation of the sitting President of the United States. In this instance, President Obama was neither consulted nor involved. It appears as if some of the more juvenile members of Congress only issued this invitation as a tool to publicly disrespect the President of the United States. It seems that they need to feel as though they have elevated another head of state to the same level as the President, thereby, in their minds, diminishing the importance of President Obama’s State of the Union Address. It is as if they are saying to their base: “See? Anybody can do this. We are in control. Not Obama.” However, what some see, is a shameful disrespect for the President’s unique right to handle foreign policy. And, clearly, this is an issue of foreign policy. Netanyahu has been clear that he disagrees with President Obama’s determination to work with Iran and its nuclear policy via diplomacy, sanctions, and pressure from other countries in the region. Whether or not President Obama’s choice is the correct one is not the issue here, but rather his role as President of the United States, to make that choice.
What should Netanyahu do? It is not too late for him to decline the invitation on grounds of respect for our president.
What is he hoping to gain via the speech? Some say that he feels that he can convince Congress to put pressure on President Obama to take a more forceful stand regarding Iran. Seriously? Has he not been watching U.S. politics? This Congress will not work with President Obama, only against him. Foreign policy is within the purview of the President. Others say he is only doing it to elevate himself in the eyes of those back at home. Why? So that he can win the upcoming election. White House policy is not invite leaders of countries who are facing an immediate election bid… period. This is to make certain that it is clear that America does not have a dog in the fight of other countries’ election process. And, in this way, if a new leader is re-elected, then there are no negative feelings or grudges between the U.S. president and that new leader. Recently, NSA Director Susan Rice publicly denounced the visit/speech which is indicative of the White House displeasure. http://news.yahoo.com/obama-aide-calls-netanyahu-visit-destructive-relations-115835398–politics.html
What will he gain? Not much. His speech will have no impact upon how President Obama directs his cabinet to proceed. He will lose even more access to the White House. And, his failure to understand the disrespect which is intertwined with his speech, will diminish his own standing in the minds and hearts of many American people. He will have cooperated with a divisive, obstructionist congress who seem to be hell-bent on disrespecting our president. As for the invitation itself, Congress has dedicated too much energy trying to do things to thwart the success of the current administration instead of what they are paid to do for the American people. They seem to still be smarting over President Obama’s stunning re-election victory, and remain in denial.
So, should Netanyahu address the U.S. Congress? No. Should the American people watch it? No. Should those opposed to him speaking attend? No. Poetic justice would be for him to lose the upcoming election.