Pro and con Netanyahu rhetoric heats up
Pro and con Netanyahu rhetoric heats up
Compiled by Donald H. Harrison
The rhetoric is heating up over the scheduled March 3 speech that Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahyu is scheduled to give to a Joint Session of Congress.
Jeremy Ben Ami, execuitve director of J Street, has taken umbrage at Netanyahu saying that he will give his speech “not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people.”
Said Ben Ami: “I don’t know about you, but he doesn’t speak for me.” He urged email correspondents to sign a petition to be sent to Israel’s Ambassador Ron Dermer saying that Netanyahu doesn’t speak for American Jews.
Meanwhile, the Zionist Organization of America’s President Morton Klein has criticized Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Union for Reform Judiasm, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, and Ben Ami of J Street “for pressuring PM Netanyahu to cancel his critically important speech on Iran.” While he was at it, Klein also criticized the American Jewish Committee and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for not speaking out forcefully in favor of Netanyahu’s speech, which resulted in an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner and which is opposed by the Obama administration.
Said Klein: “We must never again be the Jews of appeasement and paralyzing fear. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.’ We must speak out with strength and pride. We must publicly state that President Obama is endangering America and Israel by his delaying and delaying on stopping Iran’s nuclear program. Iran continues to enrich uranium and to work on developing improved centrifuges while refusing to get rid of its uranium and its 19,000 centrifuge stockpile. Iran keeps working on its Arak plutonium facility and its Parchin military facility that where it likely keeps secretly working on its nuclear program. And it keeps working on its ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) program whose only purpose is to carry a nuclear warhead which will be able to reach not only Israel and the West but our beloved country of America as well. Yet President Obama dawdles and fiddles, and defends Iran while Iran’s nuclear program progresses to the finish line, G-d forbid.”
In his blog on the ADL website, Foxman had this to say:
Israel is directly in the cross-hairs of Iranian ambitions for regional domination, as are the Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and others. President Obama and many among the American people are rightly wary of entangling the U.S. in yet another Middle East war and European leaders are focused on their faltering economies, which would benefit from the reopening of full trade with Iran.
This is precisely the moment when there should frank, direct and open discussion of the different perspectives.
Now is exactly the time when Israel’s leader should be having those discussions with all who have a say in shaping policy outcomes on this issue, including the U.S. Congress. And the views of America’s closest ally in the Middle East should be heard, so policymakers and the American people will have the benefit of hearing directly from Netanyahu how he sees what is at stake and what he believes is the best way to reach an agreement with Iran that will ensure the long term safety of Israel, the region and the world.
Yet, this point has been nearly obliterated by the waves of controversy surrounding the invitation to the prime minister to address Congress. I have called it a tragedy of unintended consequences — and it is.
Instead of staying laser-focused on the very real, very complex and very dangerous consequences of the outcome of the negotiations with Iran, the public discourse is now being hijacked by politics.
It is being dominated by mocking comedians, moaning pundits and manipulating politicians all talking about who is insulting whom, who will and who won’t be in the chamber for the speech, who may or may not be punished for not showing up, who will get an electoral advantage from the appearance, and who won’t.
These are absolutely the wrong questions, and this is absolutely the wrong time to be raising them.
Donald Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online Media Association. This article is reprinted from that website.