Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t flinch when Democrats called for a boycott of his upcoming address to a joint session of Congress. Most would agree he had no reason to—for all of their bluster, only 23 dems signed on to a trumped-up letter demanding the speech be cancelled; Nancy Pelosi put out a statement insisting Netanyahu stay home, but Netanyahu is famous for ignoring those who insist he go away.
The man is no stranger to backlash.
That Netanyahu will address Congress is becoming increasingly inevitable; but the White House is still busy making moves to rebut the speech while bolstering the President’s controversial upcoming nuclear deal with Iran.
From ABC News:
Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America’s leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials.
The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel’s March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.
Vice President Joe Biden will be away, his absence behind Netanyahu conspicuous in coverage of the speech to Congress. Other options were described by officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
It’s not just about the speech. According to staff associated with the pro-Israel AIPAC conference, the White House is signaling that it intends to break with precedent and decline invitations extended to senior administration officials.
Republicans in Congress aren’t letting this go without a fight. Just over a week ago, Florida Senator Marco Rubio stood on the floor of the Senate and publicly called out Democrats’ plan to boycott:
Polls attempting to reflect where the American people stand on the address are mixed. A February 18 poll by GOP-leaning McLaughlin & Associates showed that 59% of likely general election voters support Netanyahu addressing Congress; a CNN poll released just a day earlier showed that 63% of Americans side with the White House.
This type of reaction has nothing to do with a “breach in diplomatic protocol,” and it probably has less to do with Iran’s nuclear capabilities than the Democratic leadership would like to admit. For years, Americans—especially conservative Americans—have looked to Netanyahu to lead in the Middle East; Obama’s time in office thus far has only reinforced that idea. This Administration’s approach to peace in the Middle East has consisted mostly of tiptoeing around the use of the word “terrorist” during press briefings about acts of barbarism committed by terrorists; in contrast, Netanyahu looks like a bona fide lightbringer.
Why? Because, all things considered, Benjamin Netanyahu stands for something—which is more than this leaf-in-the-wind Administration can say for its fearless leader.
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