Netanyahu and Congress: Wishful Thinking

The effect of a speech to half of Congress will be devastating.

Dr. Avi Perry

OpEds Dr. Avi Perry
Dr. Avi Perry

Can you imagine a Netanyahu speech to the joint session of Congress where the “joint” part is an illusion, since the Democrats will be "too busy to attend"? What will that half empty chamber look like? How will his message be received, be remembered?

I can already see the headlines on the morning-after if that occurs. It will be about the empty seats, not about the real issue concerning the danger of letting Iran off the hook, of letting them sustain the capability and the means for developing a nuclear bomb.

What a shame!

Nancy Pelosi has already hinted that she is not sure Democrats will attend. (This was a politically-correct way of saying—“they will not”)

The democratic boycott seems to be gaining momentum.

Netanyahu is loved by Americans, even those who will have a headache and fail to show up on the day of the speech.
In several articles on the subject, I claimed that Netanyahu’s planned visit to the special joint session of congress has backfired. If until now it looked like a potentially successful bipartisan effort to redirect the US/Iranian nuclear negotiations and bring it to conclusion, more consistent with Netanyahu’s position, Netanyahu’s planned visit, embroiled inside Capitol Hill politics contributed to a reversal of this path.

The democratic leaders whose respect for Netanyahu and strong support of the Jewish state are well documented have now decided to stand by their president and cast off their conscience. Once Netanyahu’s visit appeared to be a Republican political ploy, politics took precedence over the democrats’ sense of right and wrong. They opted for a political victory over the Speaker and his congressional Republicans. This political victory was substantiated by one senior democratic aid in the Senate who claimed: “It’s a small win for our side…” He continued, “Democrats were also embittered as Netanyahu’s planned visit became a partisan affair.”

It should not have transpired the way it did. Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, and as such, he represents Israel’s interests. And he does a great job at that. But the invitation process, even if misrepresented as is now claimed, dressed up the Israeli leader in Republican costumes. It’s wrong for Bibi and it’s bad for Israel.

Netanyahu must find a way to the heart of the embittered Democrats; he must make sincere efforts to appear non-partisan before coming to Washington. He must make sure that the Democrats in Congress second Boehner’s invitation before he shows up. Otherwise, his speech, as great as it’s going to be, will fail to get translated to actions. And action is the only thing that matters at the end.Consequently, if that does't happen, it should be cancelled.

I hoped that the right idea will eventually reach the right brain. I am afraid it will not.

I can't stop Netanyahu from making a mistake. I do like him. He is a great representative of Israel, a great communicator, smart, and charismatic. Some people compare him to Churchill. His warnings about the Iranian nuclear ambitions and his criticism of Obama are a reminder of the Great Brit who had criticized Chamberlain, warning him about Hitler.

What’s more, Netanyahu is loved by Americans, even those who will have a headache and fail to show up on the day of the speech.  

Unfortunately, he listens to his advisors and others who prefer becoming martyrs, because they believe that being right is more important than being smart and effective.

It doesn't work that way. I wish they would realize that.