Netanyahu Does The Impossible: Divides Congress on Israel

Bibi's speech to Congress threatens the uniquely rock-solid bipartisan support for Israel.


Say what you want about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he's his own man.

Biting the hand.

With at least 33 Democrats planning on boycotting his controversial upcoming speech before a joint session of Congress and National Security Adviser Susan Rice calling it "destructive to the fabric of the relationship" between the U.S. and Israel, you might think he'd take pause and consider the long-term ramifications of defiantly insulting the president and thereby alienating half of the political elite in Washington.

Not Bibi.

Netanyahu, engaged in the final weeks of a neck-and-neck campaign to keep his job, insists he must address Congress before the March 31 deadline ending multilateral negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. By maintaining this position, he is reportedly even defying AIPAC, the top pro-Israel lobby group, which is terrified that their decades-long efforts to ensure nearly unanimous bipartisan support of Israel will be irreparably damaged by the speech.

In a new column for The Daily Beast, I write that Netanyahu's speech is "shortsighted political theater, which will do little for Israel's long-term security" and is essentially driven by his desperation to stay in office, as the baggage surrounding his campaign continues to mount:

Beyond typical domestic legislative battles and never-ending threats of war, Netanyahu is loaded with political liabilities. Dogging the home stretch of his campaign are allegations against his wife, Sara, of drunkenly abusing employees and improperly pocketing recycling deposits from official functions, as well as a recent report from Israel's State Comptroller suggesting an improper use of state funds, which could lead to a criminal investigation.

Writing for Brookings, Natan Sachs describes the current Israeli political climate as one suffering from "Netanyahu fatigue," adding, "the elections have become, to a degree, a referendum on Netanyahu himself." Netanyahu fatigue could translate to "Israel fatigue" in the United States, particularly on the left.

Netanyahu is forcing Democrats to choose between their leader, still popular in his own party, and the prime minister of a country whose policies are increasingly falling out of favor with young liberals. Worse for the special relationship between the two nations, many American Jews are taking pointed exception to Netanyahu's assertion that he speaks as a "representative of the entire Jewish people."

Read the whole thing here

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  1. “improperly pocketing recycling deposits”????
    Whoever brings in the cans and bottles gets to keep the money.

    1. The linked article says that the money was used by household staff as petty cash. Scandal!

      1. Yeah, it’s hard to imagine scandals more stupid than ours, but they have managed. Israel is known for innovation.

        1. They had a President convicted of rape.

          1. Their president is pretty much a powerless figurehead. The PM is where it’s at.

            Then again, we had Bill Clinton.

            1. That was all just a vast right-wing conspiracy.

          2. President Rapeapottamus.

            I might actually vote for him.

  2. I find it difficult to blame Netanyahu too much for this rift. For years now, Obama and many Democrats has been doing everything but burning Israeli flags on camera. No wonder he’s ticked off.

    1. I’m of no mind to defend Obama’s foreign policy, but hyperbole much?

      1. It’s a colorful metaphor to make a point in a humorous way. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but hyperbole is often used for comic purposes.

        1. You’re the ripest papaya I’ve ever seen!

          I’m doing it wrong, aren’t I?

    2. You know what other nation’s leader didn’t like the Jews?

      1. The Ice King?

      2. Nineteenth Dynasty?

    3. it has far more to do with the world seeing the zionists slaughter a couple of thousand indigenous people for the second time in a few years , killing around 400 children and demolishing 140 schools in the process , including ones for which the UN had given them GPS coordinates as shelters , and destroying several billion dollars worth of infrastructure they expect the rest of the world to pay for the rebuilding .

      1. It was a start.

        And fair repayment for the Mufti of Jerusalem – a benefactor to Arafat.

      2. Maybe just maybe the UN should tell the Palistinians to stop using schools and hospitals as armories and launching sites?

  3. He may see an opportunity in Obama’s support being at an all time low, even in his own party. Unfortunately for him, the Democrats who are dissatisfied with Obama are largely motivated by the perception that his foreign policy is too interventionist, so playing hardball isn’t going to impress them one bit. I’d guess this approach is more of a “with us or against us” threat meant to motivate lukewarm Congressional Israel supporters, but I doubt the fence-sitters will really be motivated to get off it.

  4. Anything that can disrupt the cognitive dissonance about Israel in DC’s halls of power is alright by me.

  5. The problem I have with the Iran talks is the fact that the U.S once again is making policy for another country.Think what you will of Netanyahu,but,Israel wants a deal it can live with.Now one forced on them by the U.S. Also,the gulf states,Jordan and Egypt fear Iran. The only way a deal works is if all parties have a say in the finale result.

    1. It’s Obama’s clever plan to create an alliance between Israel and the Arab countries.

      1. It seems Israel’s sitting back letting them kill each other in Iraq and else where. I’ve also noticed that ISIS has not tried to take on the IDF.

        1. They still remember the results of Egypts attempt.

          They’ll wait until they have overwhelming force before taking on the IDF, and even then, it’ll be a close run thing.

          1. If they go head to head with IDF it’ll be 1967 all over.Except this time Israel is the only one with a Air Force. They have to come across a desert. I don’t think ISIS wants to take them on.

  6. Like the president and some of his supporters in congress don’t hate Netanyahu already.

    Young Israelis eager to replace Netanyahu’s government have turned for help to an Obama stalwart, an integral player in both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. A group known as “Victory 15”?V15, for short?has put up shop on Tel Aviv’s Lilienblum Street and joined with OneVoice, a political grassroots organization that aims to propel “mainstream Israelis and Palestinians?toward the two-state solution.” According to the reporter Roy (Chicky) Arad, writing for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the alliance’s “secret campaign weapon” is 36-year-old Jeremy Bird, who has flown in with a team of four consultants. In a photograph in Haaretz, Bird is shown in plastic-framed glasses and arms crossed, affecting a serious mug. He’s leaning against a yellow wall that boasts a poster: “Big Data,” it reads, in obtrusive capitals. At the center, in a circle that matches Bird’s pin, in Hebrew and in English: “V15.”

    Bird is not a typical traveler to the Holy Land. He was raised Southern Baptist in a trailer park in High Ridge, Mo. He ran cross-country in high school, and was recruited by Wabash College, a small, all-male liberal-arts school in Crawfordsville, Ind.

  7. “defiantly insulting the president and thereby alienating half of the political elite in Washington.”

    Fuck the President. Seriously, you’re arguing the Democrats’ diplomatic policies for longtime allies in critical parts of the globe hinges on whether President Boyfriend’s feelings are hurt?

    1. I think the ‘insulting the Emperor Obama’ is the biggest part of this. The blueteamers are steaming about that.

      And Bibi gets a few votes from the two-thirds of Israelis who distrust Obama and his gang.

  8. It’s not “Netanyahu” (or baggage unique to his admin) that the Dems resent. It’s the “Israeli PM”. And the Jews in Israel won’t vote for an Obama equivalent as their PM.

    Anyone remember this little fiasco –

    Obama has breached countless number to protocols. This guy invited undocumented aliens (gasp, broke the law) to his SOTU. His staff called Bibi “chickenshit”, and Obaam hung around with anti-semites before he rose to power. Dems hate Israel, we get it.

    Aren’t Jews the sort of immigrants who built the nation? Aren’t they behind MANY accomplishments that propelled the nation to superpower status? Yeah, they were white, but they faced centuries of oppression from whatever hellhole they escaped from.

    I suppose that’s why the left hate hate Jews – they’re too successful. Not like the poverty stricken Muslims who run away to join ISIS, I guess.

    1. Oddly enough, American Jews tend to be leftists.

      1. At least the non-Orthodox ones. It is a psychological paradox, though.

    2. Although many of the ISIS thugs come from middle and upper class families and are well educated.

      1. Nothing quite like quoting Shakespear while killing infidels, amirite?

    3. The conservative equivalent of the race card on display right here.

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  10. Have not scrolled thru comments yet so disregard if this has been addressed above. Anyone have any idea who would be replacing bibi? I’m gonna doubt it’s an Iranian friendly Muslim extremists, no?

    1. According to the WaPo, it might be Issac Hertzog or Tzipi Livni. But it’s a complex parliamentary system, so who knows?

  11. You holocaust deniers at the misnamed “Reason Magazine.” How dare those joos defend themselves, even a tiny bit, eh? Maybe Bibi should let six million more Jews die under his watch and not utter even a peep of protest, huh? Bib, of course, is not doing near enough. He should deal with Iran and after that is done, Israel should create a division of the Mossad to deal with antisemites quietly. If Iran did nuke Israel and kill millions of Jews, “Reason Magazine” would only pull its holocaust denial”holocaust denial tricks and deny it even happened. Even in mass murder/death we Jews will get no mention from you — except for the clinking of champagne glasses, perhaps.

  12. Fatigue? How about, getting tired of the political theater of make-believe issues?

    Let me get this straight. Michelle Obama spends millions of US tax dollars on a luxury trip to Europe, with a large entourage, and not a peep out of “Reason”.

    Bibi is not responsible for his wife’s behavior.
    The alleged misbehavior is trivial and unproven.

    I think Israelis, and the world, have more important things on their mind.
    Like not getting nuked by an apocalyptic theocracy. Just reminding, you appear to have your priorities backwards.

  13. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8012 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  14. Bibi didn’t create any division that was purely Obama. This is all his fault.

  15. This is like having cake and eating it too. Bibi is cashing in all of the “support” he has with the U.S. over this issue because it is the most critical event to have happened since 1973. What is the point of having political support if you are not going to use it?

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