columnU.S.-Israel Relations

West Wing worry about Bibi’s upcoming speech

Democrats conveniently forget that Netanyahu’s last address to Congress so impressed the Gulf states that it set the Abraham Accords in motion.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the crowd during his address to a joint session of Congress, March 3, 2015. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to the crowd during his address to a joint session of Congress, March 3, 2015. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Ruthie Blum. Photo by Ariel Jerozolomski.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, former adviser at the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is an award-winning columnist and senior contributing editor at JNS, as well as co-host, with Amb. Mark Regev, of "Israel Undiplomatic" on JNS-TV. She writes and lectures on Israeli politics and culture, and on U.S.-Israel relations. Originally from New York City, she moved to Israel in 1977 and is based in Tel Aviv.

An article published in Politico on Saturday claims that the administration in Washington is worried about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address next month to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

The reason for the anxiety—say the outlet’s White House bureau chief, Jonathan Lemire, and national-security reporter Alexander Ward, citing “senior officials” whom they “granted anonymity to speak candidly about internal deliberations”—is that “no one knows what he is going to say.”

According to the authors and their nameless contacts, the White House fears that Bibi might take the opportunity to (gasp!) criticize President Joe Biden for not sufficiently supporting Israel’s war effort.

Terrifying indeed.

That ship sailed, of course, as the piece makes sure to stress by referring to Netanyahu’s by-now infamous video urging Biden not to hold up arms shipments—you know, the ammo needed for an Israel Defense Forces victory over Hamas. Naturally, no mention of the Israeli premier’s invoking Winston Churchill’s 1941 request of Franklin Roosevelt to give Britain the tools to “finish the job” against Nazi Germany.

Calling the clip “unhelpful,” the op-ed disguised as a news story quotes one of the unspecified inner-circle denizens as saying that Bibi could make things “far worse up there in front of Congress.”

The clarification for those curious about what this actually means is void of information yet rife with partisan speculation.

“Frictions have deepened between Biden and Netanyahu since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, with Biden aides increasingly believing that the Israeli leader is prolonging the conflict to stay in power,” it asserts. “And that he would prefer Donald Trump return to the White House.”

Yes, Team Biden is “increasingly believing” the mantra of Israel’s “anybody but Bibi” protesters and their colluders across the pond: that Netanyahu doesn’t care about the 120 remaining hostages in Gaza—where they’re being physically, psychologically and sexually abused—or about the IDF troops risking and losing their lives to defeat Hamas and free the captives.

The accusation isn’t merely immoral; its premise is totally false. The longer the war against Hamas drags on without a clear victory and a return of the hostages, the worse it is for Netanyahu’s future and legacy. Ditto with regard to his handling of Hezbollah, the terrorist organization in Lebanon that is bombarding northern Israel with rockets, missiles and drones, while threatening to hit the center of the country.

Which brings us back to his speech to Congress, scheduled for July 24. Politico states that Biden’s aides think Netanyahu is going to use the platform to address his audience at home as much as in the United States.

The audience in this case are the “far-right members of his coalition who want further escalation of the war against Hamas.” The article explains that challenging Biden is one way for Bibi to “placate” them.

Really? The far-right members of his coalition want “further escalation” of the war?

This is Democrat-speak for the goal that most Israelis share: to achieve the swiftest possible victory over a brutal enemy whose genocidal slaughter and mass abductions on Oct. 7 forced Israel into a war it didn’t want but must win. But Politico and its “senior officials” don’t stop there.

“For the prime minister,” they assess, “being perceived at home as fighting Biden could be helpful.”

To illustrate his alleged manipulation of the House and Senate to convey a message at home, Lemire and Ward take the reader down memory lane.

“Netanyahu has used speeches to Congress for his political purposes before,” they write, “infuriating the Obama-Biden White House when he addressed a joint session in 2015 to attack that administration’s proposed Iran nuclear deal.”

Bibi’s plea eight years ago that the U.S. not reach an agreement with the evil regime in Tehran indeed enraged America’s Iran appeasers. Nor was it answered until Donald Trump took the reins in 2017 and ripped up the disastrous deal.

Yet, his appeal to the U.S. lawmakers stemmed from Iran’s race to obtain atomic bombs with which to wipe Israel off the map. In this sense, he was “playing” to the Israeli electorate.

He was also trying to convey that enriching the ayatollahs would simply enable them to pursue their nuclear program and fund their terrorist proxies around the globe. This, he insisted, would imperil the free world as a whole.

What Lemire and Ward conveniently omit from their hostile analysis is that Netanyahu’s standing up in this way to the Obama administration so impressed the Gulf states, which also feared an emboldened Iran, that it turned out to be the precursor to the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab neighbors.

Immediately preceding the Oct. 7 massacre and subsequent Swords of Iron war, Saudi Arabia was on the verge of joining those countries in normalizing relations with Israel. Biden had nothing to do with that.

His appropriation of the process is a cynical move to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state. Both Biden and Politico ought to realize that it’s not Netanyahu’s “far-right” coalition members who oppose such an eventuality, but rather the vast majority of the Israeli public.

Note to the Democrats and their apologists in the press: the Abraham Accords signatories and Saudi Arabia are carefully observing the war in Gaza and Israel’s response to Hezbollah in Lebanon to see which side emerges as the strong horse.

They are actually hoping for a decisive Israeli victory and an administration in Washington that makes Iran tremble—not the other way around. Netanyahu needs to show them that Israel is still their safest bet, regardless of the presidential election in November. And they’ll be listening very carefully to his oratory.

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