About that Netanyahu Invitation to Address Congress – Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
(dailyalert.org, Jan. 28, 2015)
When Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last addressed a joint session of Congress in 2011, Walter Russell Mead wrote a remarkable comment on the speech Netanyahu made and the reception he received. “Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth….Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-American.”
Obama administration officials who are trying to argue that Netanyahu’s invitation from Speaker Boehner is outrageous and political (just a few days after the president got British prime minister Cameron to lobby Congress directly) will lose the argument.
Iran’s nuclear program is one of the most significant national security issues we face and an even larger issue for Israel.
I think it’s fine that Obama will not see Netanyahu so close to the Israeli election; that’s a good practice in general and avoids the inference of U.S. intervention in a foreign electoral contest.
But the White House’s whining about Boehner’s invitation is amateurish, and for the reasons Mead explained it will persuade few Americans beyond the Beltway.
Given the situation in the Middle East and the state of nuclear negotiations with Iran (where the U.S. has abandoned almost every red line it ever set), it’s no wonder that Netanyahu wants to speak about Iran and that the Speaker wants to hear him.
The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.