By Tony Perkins
Today’s message by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Capitol Hill may be one of the most important speeches in modern times. For the first time in more than six years, a leader standing before a joint session of Congress will speak with clarity about the threats in the Middle East and beyond. At the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Prime Minister Netanyahu will argue against a possible nuclear agreement with Iran — a top priority of the Obama administration and source of enormous tension between the two nations.
The Prime Minister, who, as Quin Hillyer points out, spent more of his formative years on the U.S. mainland than Obama, seems to understand the crisis this President is so eager to ignore. “Yet Obama not only begrudges the Prime Minister the opportunity to make his case against this existential threat to his nation, but he conducts a diplomatic and political assault against Netanyahu of a ferocity rarely seen in the annals of American foreign policy… (The Prime Minister)… has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. He also speaks and acts, quite obviously, to preserve security — for Israel, of course, but more broadly for the civilized world.”
No wonder Netanyahu’s American popularity rivals the President’s. On issues of national security, the Prime Minister commands more respect than the leader of an administration whose only consistent foreign policy is apologizing for the country it’s leading. Unfortunately, though, Netanyahu’s touch down in America didn’t exactly show the President’s hospitable side.
The relationship between the two nations took another bitter turn this weekend, when the administration sent out its diplomatic attack dogs. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a not-so-veiled threat to the Israeli leader about spilling any secrets of the Iranian negotiations. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, meanwhile, didn’t bother with subtleties. In a sharp rebuke, she accused Netanyahu of injecting “a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
On the contrary, “destructive” is snubbing the Prime Minister in his own country, calling him chicken excrement in a national interview, and mocking him on a hot mic to the French President. If anyone has injected partisanship into the debate, it isn’t Israel. Fortunately, the White House’s sentiments aren’t shared by the U.S. Senate, which unanimously passed a resolution welcoming the Prime Minister to America to speak to Congress — one the country would echo if they could.
With the White House an unreliable ally of Israel and a miserable failure at foreign policy, Netanyahu had no choice but to go around the President to the American people. And under the conservative leadership of Congress, he has an avenue for exactly that. As an organization, that’s especially gratifying, since part of it is the fruit of FRC’s work in helping to connect members of Congress with Israeli leaders during some of our recent political trips to Netanyahu’s nation.
While groups like FRC try to bolster the relationship between our two countries, the White House continues to undermine it. Reports are swirling that the President had said he would shoot down Israeli planes if they tried to take out the Iranian nuclear facility. Of course, the White House has denied the report, insisting that it’s propaganda from Tehran. We’d all like to believe the President, but let’s face it: this is the same man who said that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. The same President who said abortion funding wasn’t in ObamaCare, who said there wasn’t a “smidgeon” of corruption at the IRS. You can’t blame us for being a little skeptical of the White House’s denial.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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