If we needed any further evidence that President Obama has it in for PM Netanyahu — in a very special way, with a bitterness that he doesn’t express toward Vladimir Putin or Ali Khamenei — his administration’s behavior in connection with Netanyahu’s planned speech before Congress should provide it.
After White House officials said that the president was “furious” that he had received a “slap in the face” from Netanyahu when he accepted an invitation from Speaker Boehner “behind his back” it turns out that the White House was informed of the invitation before Netanyahu accepted it.
Michael Doran, in a fascinating and horrifying piece about Obama’s tilt toward Iran, writes that
Netanyahu accepted the invitation without first consulting the White House, which reacted in a storm of indignation, describing the move as an egregious break in protocol and an insult to the president. Instead of trying to paper over the disagreement, Obama has done everything in his power to advertise it. In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them—and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president’s conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided.
The White House outrage is manufactured, just as it was when an Israeli official announced that the housing authority was planning to permit apartments to be built in a Jewish neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem during a visit by Joe Biden in March of 2010. And how can we forget the phony contention that Israel was getting weapons from the Pentagon ‘behind the backs’ of the White House and State Department during last summer’s Gaza war?
The administration, it seems, can’t resist playing the ‘uppity Jew’ card whenever Israel doesn’t jump to attention as a good satellite should.
Netanyahu’s domestic opponents, too stupid (or more likely too cynical) to see that it plays into the hands of the administration, have been happy to chime in and say that Netanyahu is going to America as a pre-election stunt, and that he is sacrificing relations with the US for his own political advantage. This is precisely the what the administration would like Americans — including members of Congress — to think, so that they will not pay too much attention to what Netanyahu will say, which is that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the US and others as much as it it to Israel.
Netanyahu argues that the US is on the verge of making a very “bad deal” with Iran that will leave it a “breakout state” that can field a nuclear weapon in a matter of months. Such weapons in the hands of an expansionist nation which is the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism would be disastrous, even if it didn’t intend (incidentally) to destroy Israel.
As Netanyahu will certainly say, this is a matter too important to be pushed aside for political reasons. And it is by no means certain that his visit to the US will help him at home, since the opposition has attacked him aggressively over this (their next biggest ‘issue’ is an alleged scandal about recycled glass bottles).