Kudos to Congress and Netanyahu

January 27, 2015

Kudos to Congress for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at a joint session on the issue of imposing tough sanctions on Iran and to Netanyahu for accepting. 

President Obama has continually snubbed Israel and Netanyahu — whom he refuses to meet with in March, allegedly because he doesn’t want to interfere with the upcoming elections in Israel. Obama has been alarmingly lax in his dealings with Iran in its ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons and delivery systems. 

Some Obama defenders are chastising Congress for breaching protocol in inviting Netanyahu, saying, “There appear to be no rules anymore.” This, from the same people who routinely pooh-pooh President Obama’s habitual lawlessness. Even some conservatives are cautioning against Netanyahu’s addressing Congress, saying that if it proceeds as planned, it will play into Obama’s hands and undermine its goal of strengthening sanctions against Iran because it will shift the focus away from Obama’s indefensible position and toward Netanyahu’s “chutzpah.”

I wholeheartedly disagree. Netanyahu’s speech will put the spotlight on the substance of his arguments. Netanyahu will have the world stage, and he’ll make a powerful case that Iran is going full-bore and that at stake is not just Israel’s security but also that of the United States. In the past few days, Israeli media have claimed that satellite images show new long-range ballistic missile launch sites near Tehran. 

We must reject the premise that Netanyahu’s speaking before Congress, which has every constitutional right to invite him, is about Benjamin Netanyahu. It is about a matter of the gravest importance to Israel’s and our national security. It is simply wrongheaded to yield to the idea that Netanyahu and Congress should tread lightly for fear that some will attempt to depict it as an egotistical move on Netanyahu’s part or a power play on the part of the Republican Congress to embarrass President Obama. 

Why aren’t these same critics panning Obama for his egregious behavior in failing to properly prioritize this matter as one not about Israel’s elections but about a matter of national security? Why aren’t they pointing out that it is Obama who should be criticized for conducting meetings with YouTube pop culture figures who eat Froot Loops out of a bathtub instead of with the leader of one of our best and most important allies? Why are they not taking Obama to task for his arguably anti-Semitic slur when he suggested that senators are only opposing his position to appease donors — a lamely veiled reference mostly to Jewish groups? Does Obama just get to say anything he wants to, no matter how offensive? 

Enough of the guarded behavior from our side. Obama has been on a lawless tear for most of his time in office, usurping Congress’ constitutional role and thumbing his nose at it and its authority and daring it to do anything to stop him. 

Must our response always be like that of the fraternity pledge played by Kevin Bacon in the movie “Animal House” upon being paddled by the fraternity actives? “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” So what if, as the feckless fear, future House speakers will engage in the same behavior as House Speaker John Boehner is in inviting Netanyahu? Are you kidding me? Do you actually think those in this modern Democratic Party — currently led by Obama and Harry Reid (who has unilaterally modified Senate rules for partisan advantage) — are ever concerned at all about their violating protocol? They don’t care about the Constitution; why would they care about protocol? This incident doesn’t change anything. 

And why should the current Congress be shy about breaching some technical protocol by inviting Netanyahu to speak, when Obama is brazen about stepping all over its authority at will? Even if Obama hadn’t been trampling on the Constitution for years, the overwhelming gravity of the issue on which Netanyahu will be speaking justifies a so-called breach of protocol here. 

But in fact, Boehner has the authority to ask Netanyahu to speak, and it is his prerogative to invite whomever he chooses. He is neither usurping nor abusing his authority in inviting Netanyahu. 

We are living in very perilous times, and President Obama obviously doesn’t view many of the objectively dangerous threats we face — from members of al-Qaida to other Islamic terrorists to Iran — as even serious problems. Instead of fretting over how Congress is going to be viewed for doing the right thing and placing the issue of Iranian nukes front and center before Congress — and the world — we must vigorously support Congress’ actions and do what we can to help focus attention on this critical issue. 

It also doesn’t hurt for Congress to be sending a loud message, within its own constitutional authority, that there are many in the United States — probably the majority of Americans — who take these matters seriously and intend to take action to defend the security interests of the United States and its allies.