Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bibi Deserves Boot

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 Washington, DC. His address to the U.S. Congress was featured on television and radio in 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 is necessary.

Netanyahu labeled negotiations over nuclear development between Iran 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 Iran's nuclear program, and that the Israeli prime minister offered nothing new in his talk.

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 U.S. 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 regarding Israel

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. 


Kay said...

Thank you very much for this post, Dick. We do agree with you 100%.

Phil Kramer said...

Well said, Dick.....in the same vein it is disgusting that 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Iran.....politics can't get worse!

JHawk23 said...

Spot on. Israel's unique feature is that they have, or feel they have, their own constituency in the U.S. It's that duality that leads to frequent overstepping of boundaries. Plus of course, it's Netanyahu's personal style.

Marc Leavitt said...


I couldn't agree more.

PiedType said...

You said it all more tactfully than I would or could. I am still angry that Netanyahu, who owes so very much to this country, had to gall to come here as a guest and stand before our Congress to criticize our president. I do disagree with you on foreign aid to Israel. Netanyahu has convinced me they no longer need or deserve it.

Anonymous said...

I listened to every word of his speech. I don't agree with your interpretation of the speech or the White House spin. Bibi is a real hero in my book.

Anonymous said...

Ps read the book FDR and the Jews and get a new perspective. Antisemitism is alive and well in this country.

Also Carter worked out the deal to restore normality between Egypt and Israel, via what you call bribes.

Dick Klade said...

That's ok, Dianne. I read every word of the speech and listened to major parts of it. No problem with your disagreement. That's what comments are for.

Unfortunately, I agree that antisemitism remains in the U.S. However, it is a great deal less than it was in the days (the 1940s) when Jews could not enter resorts near my hometown. That just doesn't happen today.

I am aware that Carter was the president when the bribery deals were made. Did I say otherwise?