Bibi the Bridge Burner

As word leaks out that the Obama administration is prepared to agree to a 10 year deal with Iran, after which Tehran could go full bore towards a nuclear capability, one must wonder what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, were thinking when they hatched a plan for the Israeli leader to address a joint session of Congress. Their clear disdain for the Administration blinded them to the reality that no Democrat could vote for additional sanctions once the issue became one of partisan politics. Netanyahu claims otherwise, but his protestations ring ever more hollow with each passing day.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), no stranger to partisanship, offered Netanyahu a chance to meet separately with Congressional Democrats. Netanyahu refused, arguing that such a meeting would be “partisan.” Yet if his goal was to convince the largest number of legislators, why refuse a chance to meet with anyone, especially those least likely to attend his speech on the Hill?

Even if members of both parties were to attend his address to Congress, Netanyahu may already have damaged his cause beyond repair. To begin with, whatever his personal feelings about President Obama, Netanyahu needs American support on a host of issues, not just the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. For the past several decades, Jerusalem has relied on Washington’s veto of anti-Israel resolutions in the U.N. Moreover, in spite of the little personal warmth Obama has displayed toward Israel, it has depended on the Obama administration in particular to block United Nations recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state. Israel needs ongoing American support in the International Criminal Court to prevent Palestinian efforts to brand its leaders and military officials as war criminals. It needs American military equipment. It needs American dollars to buy that equipment. The list goes on. And on. Mr. Netanyahu is putting all of this in jeopardy. And if he does not think he is, he is kidding himself.

Jewish-American support for Israel is strong, but not strong enough to overcome a determined administration. Never has been. And the majority of Jewish Americans are unhappy with some or most of the current Israeli government’s policies.

If all that were not enough, Netanyahu’s determination to address Congress has all but destroyed any chance…

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