Donkey Shame

Rather than boycott a controversial appearance by the Israeli prime minister, most Democrats plan to be there when Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a joint session of Congress on March 3.

If that’s not bad enough, Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with Democrats in order to, they said, “maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress.” Netanyahu said no thanks, amazingly claiming that to meet with Democratic senators “could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit.”

The truth is, of course, that there is no “misperception” of partisanship related to Netanyahu’s visit. It is clearly quite partisan. Speaker John Boehner invited him to speak so that he could dope-slap President Obama in front of Americans and undermine any potential deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons aspirations.

And if Netanyahu were to meet with Democratic senators, that would piss off his Republican benefactors in Congress, who sometimes have a hard time understanding that Israel is not our fifty-first state, or, like some Democrats, have a hard time telling the difference between Israeli interests and our own.

We all should keep in mind that if we fail to make a deal with Iran, if we fail to find a diplomatic way to keep them from developing nuclear weapons, that may quite likely mean war at some point. And a U.S. war against Iran seems to be what Netanyahu, and some Republican members of Congress, want for us and our future.

We now know that not only has Netanyahu been selectively leaking misleading details about our negotiations with Iran, but during his 2012 U.N. speech—the one in which he wielded a weird cartoon bomb drawing worthy of The Road Runner Show—Netanyahu misrepresented the truth about how close Iran is to making a nuclear bomb. He told the world then:

“By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”

Except that top-secret documents leaked to the press show that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, believed at that time that Iran “does not appear to be ready” to enrich uranium “to higher levels.” And because that is Netanyahu’s  home-controlled source of intelligence on the matter, he clearly knew what the intelligence assessment was and chose to mislead the world about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Worse than that, Netanyahu has played this game since 1992. Back then, twenty-three years ago, he said Iran was three to five years away from nuclear weaponry. And according to the Christian Science Monitor, Republicans also joined in the hysteria:

The same alarm bells were already ringing in Washington, where in early 1992 a task force of the House Republican Research Committee claimed that there was a “98 percent certainty that Iran already had all (or virtually all) of the components required for two or three operational nuclear weapons.”

Thus it is that some people have been pushing us in the direction of war with Iran for some time now. And we should be able to count on Democrats in Congress having President Obama’s back when he is trying to avoid such an outcome by using diplomacy to find a solution to the potential problem of a nuclear armed Iran.

But we apparently can’t count on that, as it appears that most Democrats will legitimize Netanyahu’s untimely speech to Congress by showing up and listening to him. The right-wing prime minister is clearly trying to undermine President Obama’s foreign policy—a policy that thankfully includes the principle that war is the last resort—and Democrats shouldn’t help him do so.

However, on March 3, they will sit and listen and some will applaud, as Netanyahu essentially tells us why avoiding war with Iran is a bad idea.

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  1. Bbob

     /  February 25, 2015

    This is a slap in the face for President Obama. There will be consequences. One of the basic adages is, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Obama is president for another eighteen months. If Hillary Clinton is elected a Democrat will be in the White House for the following four years, which would not bode well for Netanyhu.. A gentle hint in the right Israeli ears now will affect the upcoming Israeli elections. We probably won’t know exactly what the consequences will be, but they will happen.

    And the feckless Democrats will go along with this insult, in hopes of cooperation from the Repubs. Fat chance.


    • The election in two weeks in Israel will be fascinating. Opinion there has been divided for some time and it seems unlikely that Netanyahu’s party will have enough to govern without getting into bed with other parties and forge a governing coaltion. The only question is: which side will he take to bed? He can go left or he can go right. My guess is that if he wins a plurality, he will go right. That seems to make the most sense, given what he has been doing lately.



  2. henrygmorgan

     /  February 25, 2015

    Duane: I remember that Secretary of Defense Gates wanted very much to ban Natanyahu from the the White House. He felt that Natanyahu was guilty of leaking U,S, secrets, of misrepresenting American positions, and of an attitude not friendly toward the U.S. nor conducive to a successful working relationship with it. He goes much further in expressing these views in his book. He also is a great deal more passionate in his book now that he is a private citizen, freed of the restraints imposed by public office

    While it is certain that Israel has numerous deadly enemies who work actively to bring about its destruction, it is equally certain that it is not likely to ease its predicament by insulting and often working actively to oppose its primary benefactor, financial contributor, and United Nations supporter. Perhaps it would have been better if we had heeded the advice of Secretary Gates. Bud


    • Henry,

      I had forgotten just how much mischief Netanyahu has caused here and, sadly, in his own country. His record is long and disturbing. And it is beyond stupid to piss off any American president, especially one who doesn’t like you or your brand of politics in the first place. I haven’t read Gates’ book, but I’m not surprised he was so passionate about it. Gates obviously believed in putting American interests first and didn’t like anyone, even one of our closet international friends, to undermine them. Good for him.



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