January 27: Readers, local and foreign, react to congressional speech flap

"Netanyahu has the interests of our country at heart in trying his best to stop Obama’s dangerous actions."

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sir, – The detractors of actions taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are now partaking in the criticism of his planned address to both houses of the US Congress (“Left accuses Netanyahu of ‘destroying’ ties with Washington,” January 25).
Regrettably, these critics are not relating to the facts of the case.
Netanyahu did not motivate for this but responded to an invitation from the speaker of the House of Representatives. If there was a breach of protocol, it was the fault of the latter.
Clear unbiased thinking will attribute the invitation to the fears of US legislators that their president is playing with fire in his continued negotiations with Iran over the nuclear dangers. Netanyahu has the interests of our country at heart in trying his best to stop Obama’s dangerous actions. He, much more than Tzipi Livni or Yair Lapid (or, for that matter, US Secretary of State John Kerry), is aware of and fears the existential risk to Israel.
American congressmen share these fears, even of risk to their own country, and are trying their best to save the world from a dangerous situation. The proximity of these events to the Israel elections is coincidental and would in no way influence Israeli voters.
We have good common sense, and many of us liken Obama’s actions to those of Neville Chamberlain before World War II.
Tel Mond
Sir, – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to US House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation, as a responsible leader, should have been: I am deeply honored, but due to the upcoming elections I will delay my decision till after they have taken place.
It’s obvious that this deal was cooked up by Boehner and Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer to embarrass President Barack Obama. That an Israeli prime minister can lend a hand to such unwanted and brazen interference in US politics shows a serious lack of responsibility.
Other than attracting a large number of ovations, I doubt Bibi’s comments will shed new thoughts about his opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran.
As King Louis XV said, après moi, le deluge (after me, the flood). There’s still time for our prime minister to seek advice before sailing into the storm.
HENRY WEIL Jerusalem Sir, – What the Left should be asking is how the situation today is any different from 1938, when British prime minister Neville Chamberlain believed that giving Hitler half a viable democracy would bring peace to the world.
At that time, the way was paved for the death of western democracy.
If President Barack Obama allows Iran to progress with its nuclear program – and as a sweetener gives it Israel on a plate – democracy will truly die.
I am as frightened as my parents were in the 1930s.
Sir, – The speaking invitation and its acceptance were a very underhanded ploy. Whatever Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship with Barack Obama, this action displays incredible disrespect for the president of the United States.
It seems that in politics today, there is no longer any integrity.
This is no way to win friends and influence people.
Kfar Saba
Sir, – What is wrong with the world? What is wrong with the Israeli public and with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni, US President Barack Obama and many others that they preempt what our prime minister is going to say in his address to the joint houses of Congress? He was invited to speak! Should he snub the elected leaders of that body? Should he do so, how much criticism would he have to face then? Come on! We are supposed to be intelligent people! Stop this now! S. GELGOR Tel Aviv Sir, – I am surprised that nobody seems to recall that just before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2011 visit to the White House, President Barack Obama gave a speech articulating his vision for the basis of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Without giving Netanyahu advance warning, Obama announced to the world that the basis for discussions must start with the 1967 lines and that Israel would have to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to retain land over the Green Line via swaps.
This shocked the Israeli government and likely was a major factor in the rocky relations between Netanyahu and Obama.
I am also surprised that nobody seems to remember that during Obama’s 2013 visit to Israel, he refused an invitation to speak to the Knesset. Instead, snubbing both the prime minister and our lawmakers, he opted to address a preselected group of Israeli university students.
Is the government of Israel deserving of any less respect than the White House? DAVID JACOBS Efrat Sir, – I am thinking of King Solomon’s wise suggestion to cut the baby in two. The “baby” in this case is the upcoming trip to Washington by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress and speak at the annual AIPAC conference.
Let Netanyahu get the half that involves addressing Congress, and send opposition leader Isaac Herzog to speak to AIPAC. This would guarantee media coverage for both the Likud and Labor-Hatnua.
Set a limit on how many will accompany each and thus reduce the added expense of two leaders traveling to America.
This way we can have a “healthy baby” that gives equal opportunities to the two major lists participating in our elections.
Beer Sheba
Sir, – Speaking as an American Jew who loves his country, who has family in Israel and who has generously supported Israel politically, emotionally and financially for several decades, I find the circumstances of the upcoming trip by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be, frankly, stupid, disrespectful and ill-considered. Both Netanyahu and Speaker John Boehner should know better.
This visit would create foreign interference in the politics of both countries. In addition, President Obama is being snubbed and protocol is being disregarded.
In the end, this visit will engender more ill will for Congress and Israel from the American people and harm the important relationship between our two countries.
The prime minister should not come.
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Sir, – With regard to “Obama declines to meet Netanyahu during US visit” (January 23), let the world know that this would be the second time an American president refused to meet with a Jewish leader to discuss an in-progress plan to destroy Jewish lives. The first was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s refusal in 1943 to meet with 400 rabbis who had evidence of the killing of Jews in Poland and other countries.
One can only speculate whether Roosevelt, had he reviewed the evidence, would have acted to have the railway lines to Auschwitz and other death camps bombed, and exert intense diplomatic pressure on Turkey, Spain and Switzerland to allow Jewish refugees transit through their territories rather than turn them back to certain death.
Cliffside Park, New Jersey
Sir, – I find it quite disturbing as an American Jew that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to get involved in American politics.
His decision to join with the Republican Party, siding against our president, is in my opinion divisive and counter-productive.
It has the potential to divide and alienate American Jews from what should be a common goal: the survival and well-being of the State of Israel.
Sir, – The White House claims that President Barack Obama will not meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so as to “avoid any appearance of influencing a foreign vote.”
Nonsense. Bill Clinton had no problem meeting then-prime minister Ehud Barak after the latter announced elections in 2000.
Rather, this is another manifestation of Obama’s hostility toward Israel in general, and toward Netanyahu in particular.
Remember, this is the president who has treated Netanyahu with contempt and hostility starting from his first visit to the Obama White House. Netanyahu was forced to enter through a side door, was denied a photo opportunity with the president, and was left with his aides to cool their heels while the president went off to have dinner.
It is Obama who has insisted repeatedly on public condemnations of Israel – something he never does with any other ally – for merely announcing construction programs in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem that enjoy bipartisan Israeli support.
It was Obama who in 2011 was caught on mike denigrating Netanyahu to French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Unlike Sarkozy, who was overheard saying something similar, he never apologized. And when, a few months ago, a White House official publicly called Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” Obama refused to fire him.
Perhaps all this is also a matter of avoiding “any appearance of influencing a foreign vote.”
New York
The writer is chairman of the Zionist Organization of America
Sir, – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should think twice about cozying up to the Republican Party. Israel doesn’t have enough friends in the world to put at risk the intimate relationship it has with America.
Netanyahu may have taken the wrong lesson from the 2014 US elections. The map of red and blue states is likely to be very different in 2016. Interfering in American politics and policy may yield unintended consequences.
The Republicans may be more in sync with the ideology of the prime minister’s party, but they aren’t in sync with where the American Jewish community sits politically. In fact, the community’s support for Democrats in Congress has been unwavering and hovers around 70 percent.
Historical trends will almost certainly be repeated in 2016.
I hope the strain that is being put on the Israeli-American relationship can be repaired before the 2016 US elections.
Bethesda, Maryland
Sir, – Do you not have enough issues in your own country for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address? Please have your leader confront the problems there and stay out of our politics. We are dysfunctional enough without outside agitators.
Las Vegas