Netanyahu Hunting Season
Has Officially Begun
By Ron Jager
In recent weeks, as “Benjamin Netanyahu hunting season” got its official kickoff with the White House and its current tenant, President Obama, firing the opening shot, it’s no wonder that throughout the Jewish world there is a hesitancy to stand up and be counted among those against the tsunami of Bibi-hatred and demonization.
For the past six years, paralleling the Obama presidency, we have witnessed a worldwide emergence of anti-Semitism unseen since the dark days of Jewish history prior to World WarÂ II. President Obama and European leaders have come out publicly against the new anti-Semitism, expressing their deep regret of the new persecution of Jews throughout the world; however, when one examines the hatred and demonization conveyed by the White House and others for Netanyahu, one can only conclude that President Obama and many of his European cohorts have nothing but revulsion for Netanyahu the Jew.
Netanyahu is a fierce opponent of the emerging U.S. nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran and has served as a thorn in Obama’s side as the negotiations have progressed. When it comes to Iran, many Republicans and Democrats in the Capitol seem more closely aligned with Netanyahu than with Obama. This fact has made President Obama climb the walls. Prime Minister Netanyahu has addressed Congress twice in the past, and in 2011 he received an ebullient welcome. Netanyahu has left no stone unturned in his pursuit to deter Iran’s developing nuclear capability. The American public and the European public fail to understand that an Iranian nuclear missile arsenal threatens not only Israel, but mainland America and continental Europe as well.
In 1996, President Clinton invited candidate Shimon Peres to the White House just prior to the Israeli elections in which Peres was running against incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu. At the time, neither the White House spokesman nor the senior media White House corps reported anything negative of this seemingly harmless political meeting. Yet now, after the prime minister of Israel, who has been leading the global campaign to maintain sanctions against Iran, receives an invitation from the Congressional House Republican leader, there is a great hue and cry.
Netanyahu is the type of Jewish leader that makes Obama’s skin crawl. He is the sort of Jew who doesn’t mind his own business, who unashamedly represents the future of the Jewish people by publicly embracing Zionism–and without apology. Netanyahu is the antithesis of the docile and meek Jew so much adored by the White House, the type of Jew who wallows in existential doubts, who takes blame for Israel being forced to defend herself against 120 years of Islamic rejection of the Jewish nation.
Now that Netanyahu has been invited to Congress to drum up support for maintaining strict sanctions against Iran, it’s not surprising that the Jewish world has responded with a whimper. In today’s anti-Jew atmosphere, where in many places in the world a kippah-wearing Jew is violently assaulted or spat upon, Jews have once again begun to mind their own business and act as if this assault on Netanyahu and Jews in general doesn’t involve them. We cannot escape the atmosphere in the United States and in Europe that inhibits Jews from being as vocal as they should be, leaving most of the major Jewish organizations on the sidelines as Netanyahu slugs it out with President Obama.
Sadly, by adopting such an antagonistic disposition towards Netanyahu, Obama has only reinforced the belief that he is a neophyte who has no idea how to play in the global big leagues. White House and State Department officials have been quoted as stating that the president and his staff think Netanyahu “spat” in the president’s face with his actions and vowed “there would be a price” to be paid for his effrontery. Irrespective of what one may think about the decision to accept the invitation, Obama’s threats shouldn’t impress anyone in the United States and certainly not in Israel. After six years of insults and provocations aimed at Netanyahu and Israel by President Obama, his administration has achieved nothing in advancing U.S. interests or the cause of Middle East peace.
If Obama would adopt our Israeli chutzpah and try for once not to appease but to let the Iranians sweat, he would be thrilled with the idea of Netanyahu addressing Congress and rallying it to the cause of stopping Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu would be doing the White House a favor by accepting Boehner’s invitation without going through the normal protocol of consulting with the State Department and the White House. Instead of attacking and publicly humiliating Netanyahu by focusing public attention on Israel’s prime minister, Obama should have used Netanyahu’s expected appearance on Capitol Hill to put pressure on the Iranians to stop stonewalling him and running out the clock in nuclear negotiations.
The revival of the Menendez—Kirk bill (both of them are Democrats) for more sanctions on Iran already has a strong majority vote in both houses of Congress–again a step that would strengthen Obama’s hand in negotiations–and the Republicans are the Senate majority. Clearly, the idea of making the Iranians sweat is understood by congressional leaders, who seem to grasp more aptly than President Obama how to conduct negotiations in the Middle Eastern bazaar of nations.
President Obama would be wise to invite Netanyahu for a cup of coffee at the White House after he speaks before both houses of Congress. That would put the Iranians in a difficult situation, and it might even make Obama look as if he knows what he is doing. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.