Cancel Invitation: Boehner's And Netanyahu's Bridge Over Troubled Waters

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Misled: Speaker Boehner is in way over his pay grade

Brother John Boehner, you'’ve done it again.

This is another fine mess you'’ve allowed the fringe members of your party to get you into. Your recently extended invitation to Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, to come and speak before a joint session of Congress for the purpose of sabotaging President Obama'’s diplomatic efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran is beyond disrespectful to the president.

The Israeli PM’s plan to persuade Congress not to support US negotiations with Iran isn’t just appallingly tone-deaf it's also an unprecedented breach of the protocols of Congressional business and decorum which have been in place since 1776.

As a pastor, I’'m all about building bridges. This particular one – the Boehner-Netanyahu Bridge – is a bridge too far.

Mr. Boehner didn'’t consult with President Obama before reaching out to Mr. Netanyahu. No White House officials were contacted in advance.

Even Secretary of State John Kerry was left in the dark – which is especially punitive because he’s been engaging directly in talks with Iran towards a possible deal for abandoning its nuclear intentions. These things are considered so out of order because they’ve never happened to any other POTUS. The goal was to publicly embarrass and obstruct the president. Period.

It get's worse. Mr. Netanyahu is facing a March 17th election back in Israel. A long-standing American political standard has been to not allow any foreign head of state to either visit the White House or address Congress within a month of his or her election date.

Why? Because such visits still have great intrinsic value. Being formally received and recognized in Washington, D.C. gives that head of state or government an unfair advantage during a campaign.

The Democrats are hotter than ghost peppers. Congressman John Lewis (GA) told the Associated Press that what the speaker did "was an affront to the president and the State Department.”" Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC) said he was “very disappointed the speaker would cause such a ruckus” with the invite.

Congressman Jim McDermott (WA) stated last Tuesday:  "“It's a campaign stunt, and I'm not working for his campaign. I'm not a standing stooge.” Congressman Lewis, Congressman Butterfield, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR) said they won't attend Netanyahu’s March 3rd speech."

Several media reports seem to indicate that Vice-President Joe Biden may also choose to be absent then. Point-of-fact: in six years, Mr. Biden has only missed one joint session of Congress when the leader of a foreign nation has spoken.

People in Washington are angry. Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, recently had meetings on Capitol Hill with the intention of soothing frayed nerves and helping House Democrats warm to the idea of Mr. Netanyahu’s speech.

Mission failure. Seven Jewish Democratic members of Congress let Mr. Dermer know that they didn'’t appreciate being put in a position requiring them to choose between President Obama and the Israeli PM. An apology won’t do. They feel the only way forward is to either cancel Mr. Netanyahu'’s speech or reschedule it for a later date. The word boycott is being thrown around liberally, if you’ll pardon the expression.

People in Israel are angry. A senior Foreign Ministry official said the Israeli Consuls General in San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia have sent worried cables about widespread dissatisfaction regarding Netanyahu’'s speech. They feel Mr. Netanyahu’s appearance could set American-Israeli relations back decades. Jewish communities and Israel’s allies in America and abroad are also unhappy. They see an American President loyal to Israel being disrespected by the leader of Israel – and they don’t like it.

That's why Mr. Netanyahu’'s re-election bid has been so difficult thus far.

(Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League told The Forward newspaper that Netanyahu shouldn't come).

Kevin Drum – a writer for progressive magazine Mother Jones – offered this view: "“Obviously this mess puts a lot of Democrats in a tough position, but I still would have figured that they'd make their displeasure known sooner rather than later. And yet, for the week or so after Netanyahu announced his speech, we barely heard a peep of protest. Apparently Democratic anger was growing the whole time, and now Netanyahu has a full-grown public insurgency on his hands. It’s been obvious for years that Netanyahu has decided to tie his future to the Republican Party. Dermer knew the speech would create a partisan mess… but now it looks like Netanyahu has finally gone a step too far. After years of putting up with Netanyahu's partisan antics, Democrats are finally getting tired of them. This episode is unlikely to end well for Israel.”"

Bibi” won'’t budge. Will Boehner?The Boehner-Netanyahu Bridge is apparently a bridge to nowhere. 

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