Wednesday, March 18, 2015

After the Israeli Elections, What Next?

Almost two weeks have passed since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intensely controversial address to Congress, but the dust has not yet settled. The response to the speech is a reflection of growing resentment toward Israeli policies and the power of its lobby in the U.S., but it is also clear that there is a long way to go before the substance of Israel's policies toward Palestinians and belligerent stance toward Iran are meaningfully debated in Congress.

In the weeks leading up to the speech, there was harsh criticism of Netanyahu and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for engineering Netanyahu's appearance in Congress, accompanied by accelerating numbers of Democratic lawmakers deciding to skip the speech. But the reception afterward was even more bitterly partisan.

Of special note were the comments of two leading Democrats who are strong allies of Israel. After attending the speech, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement that said, in part, "I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister's speech - saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 [the U.N. Security Council and Germany] nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat." Last Sunday on "Meet the Press," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who also attended, said that "[the speech] is something that no ally of the United States would have done. I find it humiliating, embarrassing and very arrogant."


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