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Congressional Democrats Boycott Benjamin Netanyahu Congressional Speech

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 3, 2015

Nearly 60 Congressional Democrats boycotted today’s speech before Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The purported reasons according to the Democrats were that Israeli and American politics were behind the PM’s speech and that Congress’s invitation was a breach of protocol.

Both the Democrat’s excuses for the boycott are lame.  First, politics plays a role in what every politician does on a daily basis, whether he be the Prime Minister of Israel or President of the United States.  As for the breach in protocol, that is a rather hollow excuse coming from this Leftist president for whom American history often is of little importance.

Irrespective of the personal differences between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Iranian matter is complex for which reasonable people can disagree.  Iran has for decades proven to be one of the world’s foremost promoter of terrorism.  It also continuously on threatens the annihilation of Israel.  Given these realities should Iran become a nuclear power, a difficult world situation will become even more dangerous.

A nuclear armed Iran becomes an immediate existential threat to Israel.  Should it also obtain intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Iran would become a direct tgigihreat to the United States.  In addition, should Iran go nuclear, its arch enemies, the Sunni Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey, would likely join a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Given the complexity of the Iranian issue, we should promote active debate on possible responses. However, the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress instead seek to stifle debate and opposing opinions including those of Benjamin Netanyahu.  It begs the question as to why they fear debate so much.  It seems that the Obama Administration is so intent on making a deal with the ayatollahs that it would demonize and ally and thwart open debate.

This Blog comes with a Libertarian view towards and its rightful powers.  On the other end of the philosophical spectrum are Progressives including liberal law professor, Alan Dershowitz.  Dershowitz posted an op-ed prior to Netanyahu’s visit condoning those that would suppress his voice in front of Congress, article posted below.  The ineffective leadership and failed policies of Barack Obama are bringing together a uniquely diverse group of opposition.

The Appalling Talk of Boycotting Netanyahu, ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, Feb. 23, 2015

As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama , I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress. At bottom, this controversy is not mainly about protocol and politics—it is about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers.

Under the Constitution, the executive and legislative branches share responsibility for making and implementing important foreign-policy decisions. Congress has a critical role to play in scrutinizing the decisions of the president when these decisions involve national security, relationships with allies and the threat of nuclear proliferation.

Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every member of Congress to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who probably knows more about this issue than any world leader, because it threatens the very existence of the nation state of the Jewish people.

Congress has the right to disagree with the prime minister, but the idea that some members of Congress will not give him the courtesy of listening violates protocol and basic decency to a far greater extent than anything Mr. Netanyahu is accused of doing for having accepted an invitation from Congress.

Recall that President Obama sent British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby Congress with phone calls last month against conditionally imposing new sanctions on Iran if the deal were to fail. What the president objects to is not that Mr. Netanyahu will speak to Congress, but the content of what he intends to say. This constitutes a direct intrusion on the power of Congress and on the constitutional separation of powers.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Speaker John Boehner ’s decision to invite Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to accept, no legal scholar can dispute that Congress has the power to act independently of the president in matters of foreign policy. Whether any deal with Iran would technically constitute a treaty requiring Senate confirmation, it is certainly treaty-like in its impact. Moreover, the president can’t implement the deal without some action or inaction by Congress.

Congress also has a role in implementing the president’s promise—made on behalf of our nation as a whole—that Iran will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. That promise seems to be in the process of being broken, as reports in the media and Congress circulate that the deal on the table contains a sunset provision that would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after a certain number of years.

Once it became clear that Iran will eventually be permitted to become a nuclear-weapon power, it has already become such a power for practical purposes. The Saudis and the Arab emirates will not wait until Iran turns the last screw on its nuclear bomb. As soon as this deal is struck, with its sunset provision, these countries would begin to develop their own nuclear-weapon programs, as would other countries in the region. If Congress thinks this is a bad deal, it has the responsibility to act.

Another reason members of Congress should not boycott Mr. Netanyahu’s speech is that support for Israel has always been a bipartisan issue. The decision by some members to boycott Israel’s prime minister endangers this bipartisan support. This will not only hurt Israel but will also endanger support for Democrats among pro-Israel voters. I certainly would never vote for or support a member of Congress who walked out on Israel’s prime minister.

One should walk out on tyrants, bigots and radical extremists, as the United States did when Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and called for Israel’s destruction at the United Nations. To use such an extreme tactic against our closest ally, and the Middle East’s only vibrant democracy, is not only to insult Israel’s prime minister but to put Israel in a category in which it does not belong.

So let members of Congress who disagree with the prime minister’s decision to accept Speaker Boehner’s invitation express that disagreement privately and even publicly, but let them not walk out on a speech from which they may learn a great deal and which may help them prevent the president from making a disastrous foreign-policy mistake. Inviting a prime minister of an ally to educate Congress about a pressing foreign-policy decision is in the highest tradition of our democratic system of separation of powers and checks and balances.

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One Response to “Congressional Democrats Boycott Benjamin Netanyahu Congressional Speech”

  1. Carl Hackert said

    The policy of interfering in an election does not apply to Obama’s election staff. I am sure that Mitch Stewart is not cheap and is not over there for his own gain, who is paying him??

    http://www.jpost.com/Blogs/The-View-from-Israel/Obamas-shocking-interference-into-Israels-election-process-389858
    On Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 11:47 AM, Frank Hackert wrote:

    ​Barrack Obama, Congressional Democrats and media leftists have been in a fuss for weeks over what is alleged to be an improper speech by the Israeli Head of State to the US Congress relative to the Iran nuclear weapons deal. They claim the visit was inappropriate because there is an Israeli election this month. I don’t recall that being a problem in July 2008 when Barrack Obama was running for President and traveled to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, the West Bank, Israel, Germany, France and Britain. Then in election year 2012 Obama again traveled to South Korea, Colombia, Afganistan, Mexico, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. So I guess these previously unknown rules of political etiquette governing election year travel changed since 2012, or simply don’t apply the Barrack Hussein Obama. Still there’s no doubt media Leftist have convinced many morons in this country that Bibi Netanyahu violated some sort of sacred tradition. I have yet to hear anyone in the media point out the contradictions I just identified from 2008 and 2012.
    Bibi Netanyahu has only one serious opponent for the Match 17 Parliamentary election. He appears to be an Obama-like Leftist named Isaac Herzog (Labor Party)inclined towards appeasement of Israel’s Moslem enemies. This is a quote from the far-Left publication “The Guardian” talking about getting rid of Netanyahu:
    “But the problem goes deeper. “Bibi is still the authentic voice of the majority of Israelis,” says the author Tom Segev. The one thing no Israeli ever wants to be is a freier – a sucker, a naive fool who’s taken in. Even if Israelis dislike Netanyahu and despise his wife, they don’t fear that he will be a freier in negotiations with the Palestinians or anyone else. An Israeli electorate still on its guard, still anxious about personal security – however irrational that may seem to people far away – might well conclude that it’s safer with Bibi than with the untested freier-in-waiting they detect in Herzog.”
    Above quote is taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/06/israel-netanyahu-election
    So why was freier Obama so opposed to Netanyahu’s speech to Congress when most people think it’s perfectly normal to want to hear from Israel’s Head of State on this Iran deal. Well as usual Obama is more concerned about politics than anything else. This election is clearly a Left-Right struggle in Israel which is why liberal Democrat Jews in the US (Sanders, Schumer, Nadler, etc) uniformly oppose Bibi Netanyahu because they are more dedicated to their Leftist ideology than the survival of the Jewish Homeland. I first figured this out at SUNY Buffalo in ’72, ’73, ’74 when I was surrounded by Long Island Jews. It was obvious after the many conversations I had that they were Lefists, Democrats, Jews, Americans in that order, with descending levels of importance. Some were so conflicted by their Lefist ideology they had trouble deciding where they stood on the outcome of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War.
    Incidentally, Isaac Herzog’s father was Chaim Herzog who born in Ireland and served in the British Army Intelligence in WW2 and moved to Israel after the war. He served in the Israeli Military in all conflicts up to 1962. After the 1967 6-Day War he entered politics and was later elected Israeli President in 1983. He too was a Leftist but not nearly as extreme as his son Isaac.

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