Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Gross Hypocrisy of Benjamin Netanyahu



Benjamin Netanyahu says his speech against President Obama’s Iran policy, delivered on the floor of Congress, shouldn’t be taken as an affront. “My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama,” Netanyahu told AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby group, on Monday. In his remarks to Congress on Tuesday morning, the prime minister brushed aside those who “perceive my being here as political.”

But back home, Netanyahu shows no such tolerance. He claims to represent not just all Israelis, but all Jews. When critics question his policies, he purges them from office, challenges their patriotism, and accuses them of serving foreign masters. If anyone were to do in Israel what Netanyahu has just done here—walk into the nation’s parliament at the unilateral invitation of an opposition party and deliver a speech against the government’s foreign policy—Netanyahu would have cried treason.

Let’s get a few excuses out of the way. First, the indisputable purpose of this speech was to enlist Congress as a weapon against Obama. Two weeks ago, according to Haaretz, Israel’s ambassador to the United States—the Netanyahu protégé who negotiated the speaking engagement—told officials in Jerusalem that Netanyahu was going to Congress because Israel “has almost no ability to influence the negotiations through other channels.” Last Friday, campaigning in Israel, Netanyahu said he was coming here to lobby “the only body that may prevent” the Iran deal. The gist of both statements is obvious: Netanyahu doesn’t like Obama’s policy, so he’s trying to use Congress to block it.

Netanyahu says he’s doing this only because Iranian nukes are an existential threat to Israel. But this isn’t the first time Netanyahu has publicly challenged Obama. The last time he did it—lecturing Obama in the Oval Office, in front of television cameras, for seven minutes in May 2011—the subject wasn’t Iran. It was peace talks with the Palestinians.

In Israel, Netanyahu is exploiting his fight with the administration. He accuses his rivals in the center and on the left of “groveling to the international community” while he stands up to foreign pressure. A Likud campaign ad casts Netanyahu in the tradition of past Israeli leaders who, according to the ad, defied “the American secretary of state” and “the American State Department.”

So let’s be clear: Netanyahu has come here to defy Obama. He has done so because confrontation is in his nature. And he’s politicizing it. You can dismiss all his protestations that the speech shouldn’t be taken as an assault on the authority of our head of state. Because that’s exactly how Netanyahu treats criticism of his own policies back home.


  1. He's dissing Obama, so he's dissing America. And the so called right wing patriots are cheering him on. Just like they cheered on Bush attacking and killing Iraqis for nothing more than a lie. They just love killing and getting a chance to use their killing machines for real. As Patton said about war, "God help me, I love it so."

    1. So liberals were dissing America when they dissed W? Or just the Europeans and other foreigners and foreign leaders who said the same things?

      And does W being out of office mean you're not dissing America with this post? So will dissing Obama for his current decisions be acceptable after the next president is inaugurated?

    2. Since W lied to get Americans to back his murders against Iraqis, he should have been dissed.

    3. Well, Jack, opponents of Obama's Iran policy would say he deserves to be dissed for it.

      You still haven't made clear why dissing Obama is equal to dissing America, but dissing W wasn't.

    4. Because he is our president, dis him, you dis us. I won't respect Bibi, because he disrespects my president. I guess that's hard for you to understand, but tell me where my logic is wrong.

    5. What Boener and Netanyahu did was never done to George Bush - nothing even came close for disrespect. Same with much of the Obama hate that's so prevalent on Fox News and other conservative sources. The just criticism of Bush never reached the level of these things. The Republicans actually caused the government to shut down a couple years ago in their feverish lust to oppose Obama.