By DAVID RUBIN—
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to the joint houses of Congress has stirred up an unprecedented political storm in both Washington and Jerusalem, but there are several positive developments that are being overlooked by the media.
I have always emphasized that in the muddy world of politics, in which evasion and/or zig-zagging often seem to be the norm, the occasional emergence of clarification is a ray of light for the voting public.
Such a situation enabling clarification has developed as a result of the controversy over Netanyahu’s expected March 3rd speech to Congress. While the Israeli Left has been mercilessly attacking Netanyahu for ignoring the wishes of the White House and for his insistence on going forward with the speech so close to the March 17 elections, their Democratic counterparts in Washington have been scrambling to decide what to do on the day of the speech.
The fact is that the Dems have a serious dilemma. Everyone knows that the controversy isn’t really about the date of the Israeli elections, nor is it about the supposed lack of proper protocol in House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation. The real issue is that there have been consistent reports in recent weeks, confirming that Iran and the Western powers are very close to signing an agreement. It’s been reported that the proposed deal would enable the Islamic state to continue its drive to achieve full nuclear weapons capability. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress couldn’t be timelier in light of this existential threat to Israel’s survival.
Most Democrats in Congress have long stressed their pro-Israel credentials, but they now need to decide whether to attend the speech, thereby literally standing firmly with Israel against Iran and the forces of Islamic extremism, or to be conveniently absent on that day, a prospect that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has not so subtly hinted at. Such a conspicuous act by Democrats would be a demonstrative show of support for the Obama administration’s policy of negotiating, or in the words of Iran’s leadership, “begging” the mullahs in Teheran to sign an agreement.
Vice-President Joe Biden has already made it known that he is planning to be absent on the day of the speech, thereby supporting Obama’s policy of weakness, and many of his congressional colleagues are now trying to decide what to do.
A word of warning to the Democrats: It’s not enough to declare before every American election that you are pro-Israel, while spitting in its face in its time of need. The Democrats may not be happy about it, but their attendance at the Netanyahu speech will indeed be seen as a litmus test that pro-Israel American voters should take note of. The real question is: Are you for us or are you against us?
We will find out on March 3rd.