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.