When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced last week that he'd invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver remarks to Congress, it quickly became an important international controversy. Not only had Republican lawmakers ignored U.S. protocol, circumventing the executive branch to partner with a foreign head of state, but the GOP had hatched a plot to sabotage American foreign policy, siding with a foreign government over the White House -- just weeks in advance of Israeli elections.
Last week, Obama administration officials, the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman all criticized the Boehner/Netanyahu scheme. Over the weekend, Michael Oren, Netanyahu's former ambassador to the U.S. urged the Israeli leader to cancel. "The behavior over the last few days created the impression of a cynical political move, and it could hurt our attempts to act against Iran," Oren said.
Even some Fox News anchors are siding with the White House's position (thanks to reader F.B. for the heads-up).
[T]wo prominent Fox News hosts, Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith, harshly criticized Boehner and Netanyahu on Friday for secretly arranging a Netanyahu speech to Congress that is transparently aimed at undermining President Obama, and set up without the White House's knowledge.The White House, State Department, and many foreign policy observers, including prominent former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, expressed outrage over the move. And, in a sign of just how many lines Boehner and Netanyahu crossed, so did the two Fox News hosts. "I agree 100 percent," Wallace said when Smith read a quote from Indyk criticizing the Boehner-Netanyahu maneuver.
Wallace, hardly an ally of President Obama, noted that Secretary of State John Kerry met on Tuesday with Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, for two hours, and Dermer never mentioned the Boehner/Netanyahu scheme announced a day later. The Fox News host said "this whole thing" is "wicked."
Shep Smith went on to say that the Netanyahu administration seems to think that Americans are "just a bunch of complete morons."
Lisa Goldman, the director of the Israel-Palestine Initiative at the New America Foundation, noting the on-air Fox News discussion, wrote, "After watching this I think Bibi [Netanyahu] and [Israeli ambassador to the US Ron] Dermer might have finally gone too far. They miscalculated the American Zeitgeist and didn't realize that when a foreign power, even a favorite ally, shows a lack of respect for US institutions, a red line has been crossed."
And while congressional Democrats have generally said little about the developments, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called Boehner's gambit "a terrible mistake" and "harmful to the U.S.-Israel relationship." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), meanwhile, gave a statement to Haaretz, a leading Israeli news outlet, also criticizing the Boehner/Netanyahu scheme, calling it "highly inappropriate."
And for good measure, the editorial board of the New York Times added over the weekend, in reference to the international nuclear talks with Iran, "Republicans apparently see value in trying to sabotage any possible success for Mr. Obama, even if it harms American interests."
For more on the controversy, our pals at "Up with Steve Kornacki" had a segment yesterday that's well worth your time.