US President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, October 1, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yesterday, at the AIPAC Conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he “does not mean to inject Israel into American politics” and that “the last thing I would want is for Israel to be part of American politics.”
If he meant it, he would cancel his speech to Congress today.
Netanyahu imagines himself to be a latter-day Winston Churchill, valiantly appearing before Congress on behalf of his country to confront a common enemy. But Churchill never fought the White House from the podium of a joint session of Congress, nor did he turn his country into a political football as a result of his actions.
Let me be clear: there is no daylight between Right and Left in Israel on the threat of a nuclear Iran. Iran will not be permitted to become a nuclear, or even a nuclear-threshold, state. That will be the policy of a Herzog government just as it has been the policy of the present government.
But Netanyahu, in a fit of political pyromania, has managed to snub the US president and has insisted on addressing the Republican-controlled Congress over the objections of the White House. The US national security advisor has called Netanyahu’s efforts “destructive to the fabric” of the US-Israel relationship. This in addition to his overt campaigning for the president’s opponent, Mitt Romney, in the 2012 election, which belies his claims today at AIPAC about not wanting to interfere in American politics. He has done nothing but.
You cannot stop the Iranian push for nuclear weapons by torching our strategic alliance with the Americans. The target is Tehran, not Washington. Ironically, Netanyahu has managed to not only not improve our prospects of preventing Iran from going nuclear, he has in fact achieved the exact opposite. He has introduced an undeniable rift between Washington and Jerusalem, and this has only strengthened Tehran’s hand.
Nobody doubts the timing and manner of arranging Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is anything other than electioneering. He proved it just the other day, when the comptroller’s damning report on the housing crisis came out. Netanyahu’s response was to post a tweet that said, essentially, “Yes – but Iran.” Netanyahu knows that on virtually every domestic issue he is electorally weak, and if he can just frighten the Israeli public enough before March 17 he’ll be reelected, because he is “Mr. Security.” Even if it endangers Israel’s strong bipartisan ties with its closest ally.
But security requires more than arms and a military background. It also requires a responsible, fearless and pragmatic government – and a competent prime minister – to command the IDF appropriately, and to utilize diplomacy in conjunction with our military in order to ensure Israel’s security. It requires not just the uncompromising yet judicious use of military force when necessary, but also the deployment of a “diplomatic Iron Dome,” or the construction of a strong network of global alliances to support Israel in this crazy region and against terrorism.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog will return Israel to this pragmatic, responsible approach to security. This Zionist Union will work to rebuild Israel’s relationship with the United States that Netanyahu has put in jeopardy. Where Netanyahu has left us isolated and alone, the Zionist Union will work to restore Israel’s international reputation. Where Netanyahu has left Israel even more vulnerable to the Iranian nuclear threat, the Zionist Union will work to rebuild international resolve to pressure Iran and ensure that it doesn’t even come close to becoming a threshold nuclear regime.
The author is a member of Knesset for the Zionist Union.