Sunday, January 25, 2015

Netanyahu, Obama, and Iran

Nasrallah and Khameni (2013) - Is Islamic rule the world's destiny?
There is a lot of controversy about House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of congress.  The controversy surrounds the fact that Speaker Boehner did not consult with the President before inviting him and that he accepted. Critics are saying that it was not right for Boehner to invite Netanyahu nor was it right for him to accept. It is a slap in the face to the President, they say.

Those who have a visceral hatred for the Netanyahu will surely accuse him of being a political opportunist who is shamelessly exploiting this invitation for his own political benefit. Being invited by the legislators of the most powerful nation on earth to address them on one of the most important issues of our day will surly boost his prestige among voters in Israel. And that is reason - they will cynically say - that Netanyahu is really doing this.  And to top it off he is slapping the President in the face by accepting this invitation.

One unidentified member of the White House staff characterized Netanyahu just that way – and even threatened consequences. The White House has repudiated that as untrue and not their actual view. But President is still refusing to meet with him – citing a historical precedent of never inviting leaders of foreign countries just before an election there.

I am not a Netanyhau hater. I actually agree with the majority of the Israeli people about him. Recent polls show that his party,the Likud,  will handily win the next election making his re-election as prime minister assured. Which will also make him the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history. (It should also be clear that people who vote for Likud are doing it mostly because they want to see Netanyahu returned to office.)

So if I were a Netanyahu hater, I would rethink my attitude about him. Whatever complaints and criticism of him one may have, they apparently do not match the view of the people that will actually return him to office.  This is not to say that his policies can’t be criticized. But it should mean that the visceral hatred is misplaced. Maybe… just maybe the Israeli people might be a little closer to the situation and are voting accordingly. 

I also think the so-called enmity between the 2 leaders is over-blown. Sure, there are some fundamental disagreements between them. But that should not necessarily mean that they hate each other. And I don’t think they actually do hate each other. But that is somewhat beside the point.

The question is, do Speaker Boehner and Prime Minster Netanyahu deserve the criticism they are getting from some quarters? My answer is absolutely not.

There are 3 separate but equal branches of government. The legislative branch does not need permission from the executive branch. They can invite anyone they wish to address their august body. The Executive branch does not have a say here. Nor do I blame Netanyahu for accepting the invitation. As he said, he will speak anywhere he invited any time about his view of dealing with the nuclear threat presented by Iran.

While one can disagree with his perspective, one cannot say that it has no merit. No country has more to lose by a nuclear Iran than Israel does. And the US has nothing to gain by it either. A nuclear Iran would destabilize the entire Middle East which would probably cause other Arab nations to go nuclear. That would endanger the entire world.

And we all know that Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map by any means necessary. A nuclear weapon in Iran’s hands would certainly go a long way towards that.  So if anyone has a dog in this hunt, it’s Israel. And because they do, they may very well have the best intelligence on the matter. So addressing the legislators of the most powerful nation in the world should be something sought after, not criticized, or snubbed. Instead of snubbing Netanyahu, the President ought to be seeking his counsel – even if in the end he doesn’t agree with him.

The excuse about not wanting to influence the Israeli election is just that - an excuse. But even if his reason was legitimate, hearing Netanyahu’s views should over-ride it. The leader of a country whose very existence is at stake should Iran go nuclear ought not to be snubbed about this matter. He should have over-looked the fact that he was not consulted and taken the opportunity to meet with his closest ally in the Middle East. So I am disappointed in him. 

Less than 2 weeks ago we saw Islamic extremists murder 17 people. Today we witnessed yet against another beheading of an innocent man by ISIS (or ISIL or IS… or whatever they call themselves now). It’s time for the leader of the free world recognize that Islamic fundamentalist extremism is behind all of this. And Iran is a government led by fundamentalists that celebrate such extremists. And export it. And finance it.

This isn’t about Al Qaida, or ISIS or any other single group. It is about an ideology that supports and promotes the idea of Islam ruling the world. And Iran is their model. The only dispute among them is which form of Isalm will rule, but either way, it should be Islam. Until the US and the rest of the world recognize this and acts accordingly, things will only get worse.