John Boehner rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise, Dec. 12, 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Republicans harden partisan lines over Israel

Just when it seemed the political dispute surrounding the Republican/Netanyahu partnership couldn’t get any uglier, the GOP leader who instigated the fight managed to make matters worse.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday defended his decision to invite Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, despite vocal opposition from the White House.
 
Boehner said he purposefully instructed Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, not to tell the White House about the invitation. “I wanted to make sure there was no interference,” he told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
The context is almost amusing, in a macabre sort of way. The Speaker of the House decided to partner with a foreign government to help undermine the foreign policy of the United States, and he did this in secret because he didn’t want “interference” from those responsible for shaping U.S. foreign policy. The follow-up question I desperately wanted Wallace to ask Boehner was, “Do you even hear yourself?”
 
For that matter, Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, added yesterday, “Boehner’s remarks contradict the earlier claim by him and his staff that he gave the White House sufficient warning about the Netanyahu invite.”
 
Correct. The House Speaker not only went behind the president’s back in the hopes of sabotaging American diplomatic efforts, he now also appears to have been caught fibbing about it.
 
In the same Fox News interview yesterday, Boehner added, “The fact is that we had every right to do what we did.” That’s probably true. There is no law or written rule that prevents American lawmakers from partnering with foreign officials to undermine American foreign policy. But there are norms and protocols, and for about two centuries, responsible U.S. officials realized that such actions were simply beyond the pale.
 
Maybe someday, the hapless House Speaker will realize that having “every right” to do something does not make the action just.
 
In the meantime, while Republicans try to politicize U.S. support for Israel, and assorted partisans cheer on the Boehner/Netanyahu debacle, five former Israeli ambassadors have publicly called on the Prime Minister to cancel his scheduled March 3 address.
Ynet News spoke with former ambassadors Moshe Arens, Moshe Arad, Itamar Rabinovich, Shimon Peres, Danny Ayalon, Sallai Meridor, and Michael Oren, Dermer’s immediate predecessor. Their combined service dates back to the early 1980s.
 
“If the prime minister is perceived to be meddling in US politics, it has implications for the Jewish community,” Arad said…. Or as Rabinovich put it most succinctly: “He made a mistake – period.”
For every pundit and partisan who wants to suggest that Netanyahu speaks for all Jews, and that those who question his GOP gambit are somehow anti-Israel, the evidence to contrary is overwhelming.
 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Israel and John Boehner

Republicans harden partisan lines over Israel