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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jonathan Tobin, "Must Netanyahu Give That Speech?": The Answer, Absolutely!

It is rare that I disagree with Jonathan Tobin. However, I am not in accord with Jonathan's Commentary opinion piece entitled "Must Netanyahu Give That Speech?," in which he takes the position that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should not address Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner. Jonathan writes:

"It’s time for Netanyahu to come to grips with the question of what his real goal is here. If it’s to help the Republicans and Democrats who are working hard to pass this bill, he should know it’s time for him to find an excuse to back down and not give the speech. His is a powerful and eloquent voice, but what Congress needs to hear now is the sound of Democrats like Menendez and his colleagues making the case for sanctions, not a foreign leader, albeit from a country that most members of the House and the Senate regard with affection. It is only when he removes himself as a distraction from this debate that sanctions advocates will have a chance to get the focus back on Obama’s indefensible policies rather than Netanyahu’s supposed chutzpah."

As many of those who read this blog already know, I am not a member of the Likud, and by Israeli standards my views are centrist. However, I am of the belief that Netanyahu must give that speech.

Yes, I know: It would be preferable not to do anything that might undermine the chances of the bill sponsored by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, which would impose additional sanctions on Iran if agreement is not reached with the P5+1. But Obama's opposition to this bill is intense, and those same Democrats, whose support of the bill hangs in the balance, will face sledgehammer pressure from the White House regardless of whether or not Netanyahu speaks before Congress. As Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes's declared last year about reaching an agreement with Tehran:

"This is probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy. This is healthcare for us, just to put it in context."

The stark reality is that Israel at some time in the future will be facing a war with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Assad's forces in Syria - a situation much akin to that faced by Israel in 1967. Israel's survival is at issue, and Iran's repeated calls for Israel's destruction must not be ignored. Yesterday, even as Iranian President Rouhani, a so-called moderate, addressed crowds in Tehran celebrating the 36th anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and called for a "constructive interaction" with the world, the crowd chanted "Death to Israel" in response.

Given the controversy surrounding his address and the enormous worldwide attention it will now attract, Netanyahu should travel to Congress and explain in detail how Obama's insistence upon reaching a conciliatory agreement with Iran threatens Israel's existence. Netanyahu should spell out how Obama's willingness to allow 6,500 Iranian centrifuges to continue to spin enriched uranium will permit Khamenei to build his first atomic bomb within months. Netanyahu should shed light upon Tehran's refusal to allow IAEA inspectors to visit Iran's Parchin weapons development complex. If there are Democrats who refuse to listen and are willing to standby and watch as Obama tries to do to Israel in 2015 what Neville Chamberlain did to Czechoslovakia in 1938, so be it.

Czechoslovakia could not oppose Hitler alone. Israel will be forced to fight and win. Never again!

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