Why is Netanyahu crashing Congress?

The prime minister of Israel is coming to visit us.  He’s not coming to meet with President Obama.  He’s not coming to see Secretary of State Kerry.  He’s not coming to give a lecture at a university or at a conference on international affairs.  And he’s not coming to speak to some pro-Israel American organization. Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to address the members of the United States Congress.  Okay, maybe he is coming to speak to a pro-Israel American organization.

To be clear, Bibi is not landing in America at the invitation of the American president.  According to news reports, President Obama doesn’t want him coming here.  Nevertheless, House Speaker John Boehner (the head of the Barack Obama fan club) has invited Netanyahu to address Congress in March.

So, why is Bibi addressing the 535 American legislators of the United States Congress?   Is he going to thank them for the billions of dollars every year?  Is he going to ask Boehner for tanning advice?  Is he going to tell them how much he loved “American Sniper”?

As it turns out, he is not coming to do any of those things.  In fact, Netanyahu will be encouraging Congress to pass a bill that would levy more sanctions against Iran.  President Obama, as he told us in last week’s State of the Union address, will veto such a measure if it does make it to his desk.  He views new sanctions as counterproductive, worried that they might be seen as a sign to the Iranians that the American government is not serious about a long-lasting agreement.  Furthermore, Obama sees them as possibly threatening the current sanctions regime.  Many countries, much to their own detriment, have been on board with the current sanctions as a “just-enough” method to encourage the Iranians to negotiate.  Going too far, they say, could serve no one’s interests.

But back to Netanyahu’s visit.  The whole thing is kind of strange.  I mean, think about it.  A foreign leader is coming to the United States to address the United States Congress about how the President of United States is making a foreign policy mistake. And this foreign leader is not the leader of some country that stands on economic or military par with the United States.  He comes from a country that the United States funds more than any other.  Weird, right?

Also, he comes from a country that does not really have a great foreign policy track record.  Israel has been in a war with every one of her neighbors.  She holds over four million people under a military occupation.  She blockades almost two million people in the Gaza Strip.  She is being sued in the International Criminal Court.  And she is currently under investigation by the United Nations for the commission of war crimes. Odd, right?

And in the kookiest twist of all, Israel might spy on the United States more than any other country in the world.  Seriously, Israel spies on America. A lot. A number of Americans have been charged with or convicted of spying for Israel.  Jonathan Pollard is serving a life sentence for selling classified documents to Israel while working for the American government.  His lawyers have been paid for by the Israeli government, and Benjamin Netanyahu, along with many other Israeli leaders, has personally asked for his release on numerous occasions.

This is the guy who is being invited to address the United States Congress.  And the goal of his remarks will be to end reconciliation talks between the United States and Iran that, among other peaceful aims, are intended to stop the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon. The whole thing is just bizarre, right?

And we should have no misgivings about what Bibi really wants.  The Israeli prime minister is coming to America to get one thing and one thing only: War. He loves war.  He doesn’t know how to live if living is without war.  He would do anything for war (but he won’t do that).  He would walk 500 miles for war.  He is the Cookie Monster of war.

Benjamin Netanyahu wants a war with Iran.  Badly.  He has tried before.  He tried getting President Obama to bomb Syria, which would have likely forced Iran to get involved, which then would have allowed him to get involved.  That didn’t work.  He has tried to bomb Syria himself, not targeting ISIS, but targeting locations loyal to Bashar Assad, who is loyal to Iran.  That didn’t work.  Finally, just last week, he authorized a strike in Syria that killed an Iranian general.  That had to work, right?  Nope.  That didn’t work either.  Iran is not starting a war with Israel, even when provoked, because it seems, believe it or not, that Iran doesn’t want to. Iran needs a restraining order against Israel.

But Netanyahu is persistent.  He is now coming to the place where he knows he will get support. He is coming to Congress.  He is coming to talk to the 535 people whom he can fire at any time.  He is Donald Trump, and American congressman are his apprentices.

And he has his own election coming up.  And guess what? He’s not doing that well.  The Jerusalem Post published a poll just last month showing that 60% of Israelis “don’t want Netanyahu anymore.”  So why not come to Congress, a place where he is much more popular, and much more sure to receive a standing ovation, perhaps his last for some time?

But let’s not forget something.  Sure, I’m sitting here being snarky and making jokes.  Nevertheless, it’s still extraordinary that a foreign leader would come to the United States when the president doesn’t want him to.  It’s even more extraordinary when you consider that America is Israel’s principal benefactor and patron.

By the way, if you were wondering whether Mr. Netanyahu has ever before gone into a country uninvited, you might remember when he visited Paris after the horrific Charlie Hebdo attacks in early January.  French president Francois Hollande made it quite clear that he would rather the Israeli prime minister not attend the Paris solidarity march, so as not to taint the event and turn it into a political spectacle.  Well, Bibi did not oblige.  He attended anyway.

Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu knows how to show up to a land where he is not welcome.  If he does end up coming to America in March, he would have done it twice.  Well, three times if you ask the Palestinians.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Pushy in Paris, wailing in Washington–Mr Mileikowsky, Poland needs you, return to the land of your ancestors and leave the world in peace.

  2. You are spot on about Bibi. I enjoyed your humor, as well, since this subject matter is not only outrageous, but beginning to alarm me about the direction our nation is taking. I hope Americans will take to the streets to protest! Thank you for a very well-done article!

  3. I greatly enjoyed this piece, and found it most refreshing. BUT… if you want to find statements from the Iranian government that might make Israel nervous, you don’t have to look too far! How would you feel if YOU were Israel?
    How do we break the deadlock? Would it help if Americans learned some actual recent Iranian history? How would you feel if YOU were Iran? How would we feel if those things happened to us? (Ask any Indian!) When can we start?
    “Pearce be With You!”

  4. Warren, did you really just ask a PALESTINIAN how they would feel if a country made aggressive, angry, racist, genocidal remarks against them? Did you really? I want to laugh but I think perhaps crying is the more appropriate reaction. Israel is an aggressive country. You don’t have to look far to find statements from the Israelis that might make Iran nervous. Further, Israel routinely sends agents into Iran to KILL CIVILIAN NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS. I don’t recall that Iran has done any such thing in Israel.

    I appreciate that you watch a lot of Fox news and so your understanding of FACTS with regard to recent Mid East Political history is limited, but Google is free bro, seriously. Maybe look up some of the truly evil, illegal and deplorable things the Israel government does every single day and then come back here and ask that question again, or better yet, maybe come back and apologize.

  5. Riwan: I didnt find Warren Pearce’s answer like a support-letter for Israel. He merely encouraged to look both sides of the case and give more debt to the matter. He asked how Israel would feel on the matter, and how Iran would feel on the matter (a 50/50 % analysis). He could have asked the Palestinians as well, however this article is not about Palestinians, but about Israel and Iran.

    At once someones was out mentioned Israels Oh’Forbidden name, you where out with your finger painting them in demonic figures. Mr. Riwan, dont be a middle age crusader priest. Don’t grab your brush to paint the devils horn and tail on every person you see might not agree with you 110%. Keep your head cold, and try to look for what people actually is saying, other than what you think or would presume they are saying.

  6. Marianne: Riwan is a girls name, I am not a mister.

    Warren did not ask how the Iranians would feel.

    As for horns and the devil. Israel is an evil regime founded on the principal that one race is superior to another based on the word of the God of the superior race. A God that apparently tells Bibi that if he doesn’t get the Americans to blow up Iran, then all hope is lost.

    The reality is that Israel perpetuates pure, unadulterated evil against the Palestinians every day, and has been itching for a war with Iran for decades. Asking how they would feel, how the country with the third strongest army in the world, the country where the Prime Minster is so full of hubris that he goes to other countries uninvited to press the case for continued oppression and new war…..that’s like asking a man who hits his wife what she did to make him so mad, because surely it can’t be his fault.

    Warren was very clear in his post, I made no assumptions. The vast majority of his words are “how would you feel if someone did this to you”. I am telling him someone IS DOING THIS TO ME (and everyone who happens to be Palestinian like me). That someone is Israel. The word Palestine does not appear anyplace in Warrens post, but you can not ignore the atrocities that Israel commits against the Palestinian while they are itching to get the world to let them do it to the Iranians. If you imagine that Israel is going to be more “moral” in their war with Iran, then I have a bridge to sell you….

    His post deserved criticism as does yours.

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