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America Needs to Hear Netanyahu, Regardless of Israeli Elections

February 5th 2015

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When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes before the U.S. Congress next month, it said that he will call on the United States to press Iran with more sanctions and not allow a deal that would see Iran achieve a nuclear weapon. The issue of Iran aside, and it is a huge issue to put aside, pundits have called the invitation of Netanyahu by House Speaker John Boehner a partisan mistake that can damage the solid support Israel has in the U.S. and especially among both parties in Congress.

The pundits who believe it is their duty to forcefully support President Obama have said that Boehner had extended an invitation without consulting the president or congressional Democrats. Even more, they say that Netanyahu accepting is a thumb in the eye of Obama and will backfire.

Yet, the truth is in the correction the New York Times placed in a January 29th story, which reads:

Correction: January 30, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accepted Speaker John A. Boehner’s invitation to address Congress. He accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before

The correction, which has gone largely ignored by pundits on the left, would indicate that while the timing may not be to the White House’s liking, protocol was not breached by Israel.  The Obama administration is clearly frustrated by Netanyahu, but to argue that he surprised or shocked anyone would be wrong.

Obama’s stated position is that the United States does not want to be seen as an influence in foreign elections so close to Israel’s Election Day. However the same proponents of Obama’s public position ignore the duplicity of it all since the President appears to be meddling in his own way to unseat Netanyahu.  While White House officials were making noise about Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to the U.S., Obama’s 2012 national field director, Jeremy Bird, was sent to Israel to advise V15: a grassroots movement whose purpose is to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu.  V15 is partially funded by U.S. based OneVoice, a political NGO that has received funding from the U.S. State Department.

Political wrangling aside, Netanyahu has been a passionate advocate for increased sanctions on Iran in a stern attempt to keep it from obtaining nuclear weaponry.  Whether it is bluster or not, Iranian leaders have been outspoken on their desire and will to use nuclear power against Israel; and Benjamin Netanyahu’s position is that the world should take them at their word.  It is hard to disagree. His fear is shared with many republicans and democrats in the United States, and is compounded by a sense that President Obama either disagrees or does not share the same views of the threat of radical Islam.

If the videos of the brutal beheadings by The Islamic State are not any indication, then the more recent video showing the killing of a Jordanian pilot by burning him alive should make it clear:  The Islamic State represents a version of Islam that is dangerous, and that President Obama denies that any of the violence is in the name of Islam.  Netanyahu comes to Congress with the opposite message, and at a time when the country that has sponsored more terrorist acts worldwide in the name of a radical version of Islam is on the heels of obtaining nuclear abilities.

To be sure, it comes before an Israeli election, and perhaps the timing will help Netanyahu. Maybe President Obama is right in his stated position to not want the U.S. to have an impact on the outcome (which is hard to believe considering his work to the contrary), but the issue of Iran and its abilities are too great to allow time to pass.  Each day is another tick on the clock winding down, and Israel cannot afford to wait and see if there will be a detonation once it does.

There are too many real circumstances that demonstrate the threat of radical Islam, and too few of the majority of Muslims willing or able to stand up and challenge what seems to be a predominant force in the Islamic world.  President Obama is content in not recognizing the threat for what it is, but even his own party Democrats disagree, as seen in the Kirk-Menendez bill.

Israel lives with radical Islam every day. Just take a look at the war with Gaza, the terror tunnels, the automobile attacks on Jews waiting for a train, the machete attacks in a Jerusalem synagogue, the threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, and every other group that has killed or tried to kill Israelis.  They, and the people who attacked a kosher market in Paris just to kill Jews, have different affiliations, but they have a common denominator: Islam.

Netanyahu is not comfortable leaving it to faith that there is no religious war being waged today, and that these actions are all just, as President Obama suggests, evidence of morally bankrupt organizations, and not a religious call.  If Iran feels God is compelling it, no economic deal will stop it from launching a nuclear attack.

Congress knows this, and Netanyahu knows it very well.  He needs to deliver that message to the United States now.  Waiting to see if President Obama is wrong is too late, and if Obama is right, then Iran should have no problem ending its calls for, and funding of, Jihad, and giving up its nuclear aspirations for now.
Juda Engelmayer is a senior vice president and group director at 5W Public Relations, a top public relations firms in the United States.

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