I do not welcome Benjamin Netanyahu to America. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, is scheduled to address a Joint Session of Congress next Wednesday in a major, historic breach of traditional protocol, political etiquette and basic good manners – the ones our mommies taught us all.
In a disappointing and disgusting overreach of authority and in a pathetic attempt to appear relevantly assertive, Speaker of the House John Boehner officially invited a panicked Netanyahu to enjoy this unique honor and privilege without White House knowledge or approval. In attempting to show Barack Obama who is boss and in charge, Boehner has only succeeded in woefully displaying yet another reason he will never be either.
“Bibi” is running for re-election back home as Israeli voters will head for the polls and select a new Knesset, the unicameral legislature of Israel, on March 17. Netanyahu, no Saint Patrick by any measure, has seen his national approval ratings plummet by a full 50% since last August, falling from 77% to a current 38%. Netanyahu’s horribly one-sided retribution against relatively ineffective rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza last summer earned him dismay and scorn from most of the watching world.
The 50-day conflict in Gaza between Israel and vastly inferior militant opposition left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, and 11,000 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, with scores more wounded. The International Criminal Court announced last month that it is launching a preliminary inquiry into possible war crimes committed in Palestinian territories. The ICC, which is independent of the United Nations, was established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Now facing recently surfaced accusations of misusing public funds at his private residence, Netanyahu has petulantly and obstinately demonstrated limited patience with our current administration’s efforts to reach a more stable peace in the Middle East. Insisting upon a complete freeze of increased settlement construction by Israel on the West Bank as a critical step in this direction, Obama stated in 2009, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of more Israeli settlements.”
Even though this position has since been modified in diplomatic efforts aimed at placating “Bibi’s” characteristic belligerence, major new friction with Netanyahu has developed over negotiations with Iran in attempts to eliminate the possibility of Tehran developing nuclear weapons. As with other Washington initiatives of a similar nature, Benjamin Netanyahu has gone out of his way to effectively sabotage such efforts by our president and state department at each and every turn.
Now, thanks to John Boehner, a resolutely self-defined foreign adversary has been given the opportunity to undermine our elected leader before a worldwide audience from the very center of American power. I herein emphasize that “Bibi” is the referenced adversary here, most definitely not the state or people of Israel.
Although Fox News and other right-leaning media mouthpieces have been droning endlessly about Israel being ignored and abandoned by Washington, such allegations are staggeringly stupid and easily refuted by even the most casual review of our decades of relationship with Tel Aviv and the mutually friendly nature of our permanently established status, however ignorantly challenged.
Netanyahu’s cynical attempt to divide and conquer popular opinion by exploiting our continually perplexing polarity is understandable, but unforgivable. Regardless of party affiliation, a fundamental pillar of our political process has been to address the rest of the world with a single voice – that of our constitutional president.
Like it or loathe it, that president is currently Barack Obama. “Bibi?” Stay home.