Indications are that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi to his friends and some others) will be retained in office after
Israel's elections next week.
That's too bad. Netanyahu's recent actions, and some past actions, ought to earn
him political retirement, not a continuation in power.
Netanyahu doesn't lack gall. He recently insulted the President of the
United States, and then proceeded to insult the
thinking part of the American public, while carrying his reelection campaign to . His address to the U.S. Congress was featured
on television and radio in Washington, DC Israel.
Because of that, some believe the whole episode was a contrivance to enhance
his chances of reelection. It probably did that; recent polls show the
parliamentary coalition backing him gained some ground after his appearance.
|A two-faced, worrisome creature.|
Netanyahu improperly accepted an improper invitation to address Congress. The Israeli had appeared before Congress before, and he followed the accepted procedure to get there. Protocol dictates that foreign heads of state get White House blessing before invitations are issued to address Congress. House Speaker John Boehner knew full well he was seriously out of line when he didn't bother seeking administration approval before issuing an invitation to Netanyahu, and so did Netanyahu when he accepted it.
Boehner of late has excelled at insulting President Obama, so the invitation came as no surprise. Netanyahu tried to mask his insult in accepting it by once again demonstrating his less desirable characteristics. In an amazing show of two-faced rhetoric he opening his statement by detailing at great length all the fine things the American president has done to support
Israel. He then
made a frontal assault on Obama's competence and the cornerstone of American
foreign policy pursued by the president for the past six years--a preference
for negotiation and formation of coalitions to deal with problems, taking
military action tailored to the situation only after careful analysis shows it
Netanyahu labeled negotiations over nuclear development between
and a five-nation coalition Obama played a lead role in forming "a bad
deal," ignoring the fact that no proposal had yet been finalized. Key to
Netanyahu's argument was his assertion that the Iranians can't be trusted. He
has some expertise in that area. He once agreed to stop allowing Israeli
settlements in the West Bank, then continued
to allow them, and later said they would be encouraged.
President Obama, who shows admirable restraint after experiencing unwarranted attacks for all sorts of things, gave a measured response to Netanyahu's speech. He said he had no intention of agreeing to anything that did not include rigid controls on
nuclear program, and that the Israeli prime minister offered nothing new in his
There is little doubt Obama was miffed by the whole scenario. But he's a big guy, and he'll get over it. Although Netanyahu's attitudes and actions have been extremely irritating, there is no reason to believe they will cause a reversal of
support of Israel.
I have endorsed American support of Israel as long as I can remember,
and that's not going to change. However, Netanyahu's antics certainly added unnecessary strain to U.S.-Israeli relations, and I believe some formerly staunch supporters of Israel may reevaluate their positions.
My feathers were ruffled by an element of a "beggar wanting to be chooser" arrogance in Netanyahu's speech. The
U.S. has given Israel about $3 billion a year for
many years--the current appropriation is nearly $3.4 billion. In addition we
are giving Egypt more than
$1.5 billion in aid (mostly military) and funding Jordan at about $1 billion (about
one-third military) per year. I consider the Egypt
and Jordan subsidies as
bribes to keep those countries at least fairly neutral in their positions
A prime minister whose country gets that kind of support from a country that has budget problems of its own has no business sneaking in the back door to lecture the donor nation's leader about his policies. And we don't need visitors from foreign lands promoting scare tactics and saber rattling. We have enough fools of our own doing that.