The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, for her recent, ludicrous comment alleging that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was being partisan and “destructive” of the U.S./Israeli relationship by deciding to accept the invitation to address the U.S. Congress.
In an interview on the PBS television ‘Charlie Rose’ program, Ms. Rice said that Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to speak “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship” (Julie Hirschfeld Davis, ‘Obama Aide Calls Netanyahu’s Planned Visit “Destructive” to U.S.-Israel Ties,’ New York Times, February 25, 2015).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Nothing could be further from the truth.
“It is President Obama’s partisanship which has produced a crisis in relations between the White House and Jerusalem, not Mr. Netanyahu.
“We note that President Obama doesn’t mind foreign leaders urging Congressman to support his Iran policy. That’s why he urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to do just that. But he deeply objects to Mr. Netanyahu critiquing his Iran policy to Members of Congress.
“Therein lies the problem –– not in Mr. Netanyahu accepting an invitation from the House Speaker to address Congress on a matter of the utmost, indeed, existential, Israeli concern, which he has a duty to do.
“Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Obama wrote this week, ‘Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program …no legal scholar can dispute that Congress has the power to act independently of the president in matters of foreign policy … Inviting a prime minister of an ally to educate Congress about a pressing foreign-policy decision is in the highest tradition of our democratic system of separation of powers and checks and balances.’
“Little wonder that veteran Israeli analyst, Ehud Yaari, an Israeli Labor Party supporter, has actually urged Israeli Labor leader, Yitzhak Herzog, to accompany Mr. Netanyahu and stand at his side when the Israeli Prime Minister addresses Congress.
“President Barack Obama has sought to cast Netanyahu’s acceptance of the invitation to address Congress as a partisan slap in the face, but it isn’t.
“The issue is entirely a product of President Obama’s policy on Iran, which engenders bipartisan concern in Israel. Put simply, President Obama seems willing to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapons threshold capacity – but Israel is not.
“The Israeli Prime Minister is scarcely alone in finding this deeply troubling and dangerous. A recent McLaughlin poll found that 59% of Americans support Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, while only 23% oppose.
“President Obama’s policy on Iran is destructive, not the Israeli leader’s objection to it, nor his willingness to speak out on the subject.
“Didn’t President Obama say that friends and allies sometimes have the obligation to speak out, even when their advice is uncomfortable? This would seem to be such a moment. It’s just that President Obama only ever imagined himself advising Israel, not Israel advising him.”