There was once a time when any criticism of any Israeli leader by an elected U.S. political leader was a taboo, an act that ensured a quick political death sentence. Those who even mildly criticized the actions of Israel or any Israeli prime minister were guaranteed a well-funded election opponent, courtesy of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
After Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conspired with Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner for the Israeli prime minister to give an address to a joint session of Congress, his third -- a distinction that Netanyahu shares only with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill -- and without the knowledge of the Obama administration, all gloves are off. Never before in the history of the United States has a foreign leader been invited to denounce a sitting American president from the same pulpit where the American president delivers the traditional State of the Union address.
What Netanyahu called for before Congress was nothing less than total regime change in Iran. Netanyahu stressed he does not want any sort of nuclear deal with the current government in Tehran and wants sanctions increased not decreased. Netanyahu, who understands the hold that his Zionist friends who control Hollywood have over the American public, compared Iran to the «Game of Thrones», a reference to an HBO fantasy series about seven warring kingdoms. Netanyahu also said that as far as the Islamic State’s conflict with Iran was concerned, «the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.» He was referring to the United States and its current war with the Islamic State. Netanyahu mangled what every sane observer of the current state of Middle Eastern affairs say that the U.S. and Iran are natural allies against ISIL, the operative motto being «the enemy of your enemy is your friend.» Netanyahu laughingly tried to draw a comparison between the Islamic State and Iran because «Iran calls itself the Islamic Republic and ISIS calls itself the Islamic State.»
Netanyahu said Iran and ISIL are competing like the warring kingdoms in the «Game of Thrones» to see who would wear the crown. Netanyahu ignored the fact that the jihadist ISIL guerrillas claim to be Sunni while Iran is Shi’a. As far as Iran’s formal name is concerned, Netanyahu may have as well compared ISIS or ISIL to Mauritania, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, all of which use «Islamic Republic» in their names.
Netanyahu also outrageously suggested that it was more important to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon than in defeating the Islamic State. Netanyahu was relying on the same low-IQ sound-bytes that are commonplace on such propaganda networks as Fox News and on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal.
As a number of Democratic senators and representatives announced they were going to avoid Netanyahu’s speech, another move that would have normally resulted in a cacophony of dissenting shouts from the Israel Lobby, President Obama told Reuters in an exclusive interview that Netanyahu’s speech was a mistake. Obama, in response to national security adviser Susan Rice’s earlier comment that Netanyahu’s speech was «destructive to the fabric» of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, agreed that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress two weeks before an Israeli election was a «distraction», in addition to being a mistake.
Obama’s rather diplomatic language hides a seething within the White House for the partisan activities of Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, a former U.S. citizen, and Boehner. The Netanyahu visit comes after senior White House officials were anonymously quoted in the media as calling the Israeli prime minister a «coward» and a «chickenshit.»
Perhaps no other U.S. administration has had a tenser relationship with Israel since John F. Kennedy warned Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in a 1963 letter that unless American inspectors were allowed into Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility, Israel would lose American aid and find itself diplomatically isolated. In 1961, Kennedy refused to allow Ben-Gurion to visit the White House but agreed to meet him in a rather unpublicized meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
A CNN poll showed that American public opinion is shifting on Israel, with 63 percent of Americans polled disagreeing with Boehner’s invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress. But to the tone deaf AIPAC, whose annual conference in Washington Netanyahu addressed on the eve of his speech to Congress, they wrongly believe they have the support of the American people when they only have the support of older Jews, so-called Christian Zionists, and neoconservative war hawks who are part of the U.S. military-industrial base. Even 31 percent of American Jews, according to the CNN poll cited earlier have no affinity to the goals of Israel.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden decided not to speak to AIPAC this year. The White House, instead, sent Susan Rice and UN ambassador Samantha Power to address the very pro-Republican and right-wing group. In preparation for his congressional speech, Netanyahu told AIPAC «For 2,000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless." Anyone familiar with the history of the financial system of the Roman Empire or the Rothschild barons of finance and industry in Europe would not claim that the Jewish were entirely «defenseless» or «voiceless» throughout the last 2000 years.
Many Jews in the United States and elsewhere resent Netanyahu’s repeated claims to represent the entirety of the Jewish people. Before Congress, Netanyahu shamelessly tried to compare today’s Iran with Nazi Germany and ancient Persia. In reference to Persia, Netanyahu said, «Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us.» Netanyahu was citing arcane Old Testament mythology contained in the pages of the Book of Esther.
Irking AIPAC even more was the fact that Secretary of State John Kerry turned down his invitation so he could meet with Iranian foreign minister Zavad Jarif in P5+1 nuclear discussions in Geneva. Kerry also pointedly warned Netanyahu against disclosing secret details of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations before the Congress. It became clear, however, that Netanyahu’s undermining of Obama and Kerry during the sensitive negotiations in Geneva, were aimed at scuttling a nuclear deal and preventing any weakening of sanctions on Iran. Netanyahu flatly told Congress that any nuclear deal by the P5+1 with Iran would «pave the way» for an Iranian nuclear weapons. Not only has the CIA dismissed any such current plans by Iran but several former Israeli intelligence officials have said the same thing: Iran has no capability of producing a nuclear weapon at the present time.
Netanyahu’s people managed to dredge up Czech president Milos Zeman, former Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar, and former Canadian foreign minister John Baird to applaud Netanyahu’s comments to AIPAC. The three foreign officials, by default, also showed their disrespect to the Obama administration by attending a partisan event on the eve of an even greater partisan event.
Although such Democratic senators as Patrick Leahy, Elizabeth Warren (a much-rumored 2016 presidential candidate), Brian Schatz, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tim Kaine, and Al Franken, and veteran Democratic Representatives John Lewis, Jim McDermott, and Jim Clyburn, as well as Republican Representative Walter Jones, announced their boycott of Netanyahu’s speech, other Democrats, including Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were present. The empty seats in the House chamber will filled by pro-Netanyahu Republican staffers who, along with the attendees the nearby AIPAC conference managed to pack into the House Visitor’s Gallery, gave Netanyahu thunderous, if not misleading, applause and shouts of support.
Not surprisingly, Netanyahu’s speech was praised by the pro-Zionist CNN and its Washington bureau chief, Wolf Blitzer, who never admits in the interest of full disclosure that he was once the public affairs spokesman for AIPAC.
Netanyahu will now face off against Israel’s political opposition in the March 17 election. Although Netanyahu may have scored cheap political points with Israel’s right-wing and even farther-right settlers, the damage he has done to the U.S.-Israeli «special relationship» will far outlast the results of the forthcoming election.