Thursday, March 5, 2015

Netanyahu Speaks...

I am not sure if anyone has been paying attention (yeah, right...), but Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech to a Joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday. Depending on what political sites one goes to, it was a either triumph that helped or a failure that did not. But there is no mistaking that it was a dynamic speech by a world-class speaker. If you didn't get a chance to here it, let's go to the tape...[or read it if you prefer - transcript - LINK]

Frankly, I wasn't going to listen to the whole speech, but I was compelled to listen to the entire 40+ minutes. Just on it's face, rich-baritoned voiced Bibi Netanyahu is a compelling speaker and someone who commands to be listened to, but it is much deeper than that. The tag line to an editorial in the NY Post from John Podhoretz sums up exactly what I thought - LINK:
"It was a triumph — because, unlike Obama, Netanyahu had something of surpassing importance to say, and he said it with force, with strength, with conviction and with grace."
The only word I would add to that would be "clarity". He spoke with such a clarity that I have not heard from any world leader or politician in many years. He did not mince words or couch them in politically correct feel-good jargon. He spoke with clarity about the risk that the world is taking by making a "bad deal" with Iran and why Israel is most at risk.

I implore you to read it, listen to it, whichever you prefer. Whatever you might think about whether a foreign leader should have been allowed to speak before a joint meeting of our Congress with or without Obama's permission, it was important for him to be able to speak to the most "august" body about the existential threat to Israel and to the world at large. If we appease and acquiece for the sake of making any deal, we are all at risk. He explains it much better than I could recount, so judge for yourself and we can discuss.

Several Democrats chose not to attend and here is the list of those members who chose not to attend. To me they are all an embarrassment to Democracy, but that's just me. With one change - at the urging of his constiuents, Charlie Rangel (D/NY) actually did attend, but he is still an embarrassment (but that's just for so many other reasons...)


Anthony said...

Everyone knew what Netanyahu was going to say before he said it and many wrote out their reactions beforehand. A Republican Congress was never going to approve an Obama deal with Iran so the whole thing is just politicians playing games with each other.

Boehner saw a chance to flip the bird to Obama (a lame duck President who has often tried to work around Congress). Netanyahu (who is close to Republicans and has as little use for Obama as Obama does for him) thought it sounded like a wonderful idea.

All It did was widen by a bit a rupture that was growing just fine on its own between the Democrats and Israel so it isn't really a move with long term importance, just a sign of the way the political winds are blowing.

Robert L. Hedd said...

Bev....The best comment I've read about this was from someone who stated something along the lines of: What did you expect? One is a former community activist. The other is a former commando.

Perfect encapsulation of their respective views of their respective countries, and personal histories.


tryanmax said...

Netanyahu’s speech and who attended is political theater to distract from the Iranian nuclear talks themselves. Whether the terms are good for the U.S. and its allies is set behind whether the speech was hyperbolic or not—and of course, one’s impression of the latter informs their interpretation of the former. e.g. If the deal with Iran is bad, but Netanyahu said it’d be worse, then comparatively the deal is good.
As to political importance, I think this move by the Dems should not be dismissed entirely. Til now, the divide has been between enthusiastic support for Israel from the right and tepid support from the left. The Dems are testing the political waters of opposition. They are characterizing their lack of support as merely symbolic, blaming the GOP for politicizing our national ties with Israel--as if they have no choice in how to respond. Lest we forget, much like the tango, it takes two to politick.

AndrewPrice said...

What's interesting is that I'm seeing a lot of Jews shifting from the Democrats to the Republicans of late. This doesn't help the Democrats in that regard.

tryanmax said...

I don't want to make a specious slippery-slope argument, but if a political rift regarding Israel comes to be seen as acceptable, I see naked, widespread antisemitism as a likely follower. And historically speaking, the things that accompany that are never good.

BevfromNYC said...

"...I see naked, widespread antisemitism as a likely follower."

Tryanmax - the "likely" has already arrived and it began to raise its ugly head years ago. Physical harassments and outright attacks against Jews and Jewish business and religious institutions have begun to snowball in Europe. Btw, did you read that Angela Merkel and the German Government will now allow "Mein Kampf" to sold and read in public in Germany again starting in 2016?

BevfromNYC said...

"But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand..."

Tryanmax - The above statement is what gives me pause. Though I know this statement to be the truth. Without a strong ally like the US holding the reigns and interceding (1990 Gulf War), Israel will have no choice but to preemptively protect itself. That's what happened in 1980 with Iraq where they took out Saddam's one nuclear facility to much public condemnation (and private Huzzah's btw). But this time, Iran is much more advanced in it's nuclear program and the stakes are much, much higher since Iran has specifically and quite vocally vowed to annihilate Israel off the face of the earth.

One can say that this has "all been heard before", Anthony, but no one has been listening. Yes, it IS political...that's why they are all politicians. But to me there were shades of Churchill warning of impending doom if Europe appeases Germany with ceding parts of Czechoslovakia. Everyone was tired of hearing the same old trope from Churchill too.

This time it is nuclear and can go very badly much, much quicker.

BevfromNYC said...

"...One is a former community activist. The other is a former commando."

Bob - Yeah, Netanyahu has actually been in the line of fire, not pontificating from the comfort of his living quarters. His life and the lives of all Israelis are at direct risk every single day. Obama not so much unless you count how poorly the Secret Service protects the WH when they forget to lock the front door...

BevfromNYC said...

"What's interesting is that I'm seeing a lot of Jews shifting from the Democrats to the Republicans of late. This doesn't help the Democrats in that regard."

Yeah, some are actually understanding that Obama and the Dems have taken their votes and donations for granted. It is VERY apparent in Jewish-heavy greater Metropolitan New York. I was shocked that one of my most ardent Jewish Democrat friends declared that she and her Jewish friends were never going to vote for a Democrat again. They are disgusted and not just about Israel related reasons either. It's the lack of transparency, self-serving, and the downright criminality of NY politicians.

Koshcat said...

What I find odd in all of this has been the administration's response. It has been far too vitriolic. Now, when you listen or read how appreciative Netanyahu was toward Obama it makes their criticism sound even more childish. The multiple democrats who chose to skip should be challenged by Jewish groups.

Obama's and other liberals' response shouldn't surprise us as the one thing they can't stand is someone daring to disagree with them in public.

Critch said...

"One is a former community activist. The other is a former commando." Such a perfect comparison. I can't seem to find the source, but I remember reading once that Bibi was in a tank with two other future PMs of Israel that was under attack. Probably Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. Obama was organizing neighborhoods and smoking dope...

Anthony said...


I think the short term importance of the rift is minimal. Obama and Democrats in Congress give Israel pretty much whatever it wants and its unlikely the next Democratic president will be any different.

Netanyahu's disagreements with Obama center on his dealings with countries other than Israel and its hardly the first time an American president has declined to follow Israel's desires on foreign policy. It's just that relations between the two men are so bad both are happy to publicly stick knives in each other.

Personal relations between leaders are unlikely to be quite as poisonous in the future, but the problem is the left sees Israel as a colonial power so the rift between Democrats and Israel and Jews and Democrats will continue to slowly widen over time, even if it shrinks a bit post-Obama.

Kit said...

"What I find odd in all of this has been the administration's response. It has been far too vitriolic. Now, when you listen or read how appreciative Netanyahu was toward Obama it makes their criticism sound even more childish."


That one concerned me a lot.

The way the Obama administration responded to Netanyahu's speech was more like how one would respond to a politician in an opposing party rather than the leader of another country, much less one that is supposed to be an ally.

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