La La How The Life Goes On

Don’t Speak

Posted on: February 11, 2015

Attention all Jews! Attention all Jews! Our leader is approaching!

Oh, you didn’t hear? Benjamin Netanyahu, current Prime Minister of Israel and candidate for re-election to that office, is coming to the US to speak to our Congress “not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people.”

I’ll give you a second to get up off the floor before I continue.

Jerk, the entire fundamental basis for being Jewish is that NO ONE PERSON speaks for Jews. Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “One Jew, two opinions?” The very notion that somewhere on God’s green earth there is a human person who Speaks for the Jews is an outrage, theologically and culturally. And the very fact that Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi to his Bubbe) spoke those words tells you everything you need to know about the ego we are dealing with here.

Reminder: Benjamin Netanyahu is a politician. He currently serves as Prime Minister and is engaged in an active campaign for re-election to that office. He himself is not Israel. He himself is not Judaism. He is but one of the candidates seeking elective office in the State of Israel. This man no more speaks for the Jews than the effing Lorax. He speaks for his policy positions as the leader of Israel, as he should. But that’s where it ends. The notion that somehow not supporting Benjamin Netanyahu equals not supporting Israel is as ludicrous as saying that anyone who didn’t vote for Mitt Romney is anti-American. It’s as ridiculous as saying that the 60% of poll respondents (actual Israeli Israelis who live in Israel) who don’t like Netanyahu are anti-Israel.  http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Post-poll-60-percent-of-Israelis-dont-want-Netanyahu-anymore-383724  We go on and on about how Israel is our one democratic ally in the Middle East. What that means, folks, in real time, is that Israel has elections in which candidates compete just like they do here. Which means that no one person has the monopoly on being pro-Israel. Just like here, they have disagreements about policy and process and political means. So the notion that not being in favor of one candidate makes you anti-Israel or anti-Semitic is absolutely unmitigated nonsense.

Which brings us to his speech to the US Congress in March. A speech that should never have been suggested by John Boehner nor accepted by Netanyahu, such a breach of diplomatic protocol is represents. People who are inclined to dislike President Obama want very much to pretend that “diplomatic protocol breach” is shorthand for Muslim King Has Feelings Hurt by Jew He Dislikes. But let’s all grow up here, folks. Diplomatic protocol exists for a reason. It protects our diplomats, it protects our interests, it represents the rules of fair play and of international interaction between nations. The protocol by which we engage other nations is absolutely fundamental to everything we do with those nations. Specifically to avoid misunderstandings, to avoid inadvertent cultural blunders, to avoid international incidents. Diplomacy exists and has existed since time began specifically because it works. There is not an intelligent, thinking person involved in our foreign relations who is supportive of breaching protocol. Because if it’s okay for this one event, then it has to be okay for the next event and the next, and then it’s a free for all. Armchair critics can make this about Obama if that makes them feel smart and superior. But this is about the men and women on the ground in other countries doing the work of our nation on foreign soil. This is about the thousands of individuals who make it their lives’ work to enhance America’s standing in the world of nations. So from your la-z boy recliner in Chicken Choke, Indiana it’s all “eff Obama!” But in the real world these real rules apply for the safety and security of the people doing the actual work. Get off your ass, go live and work in a foreign nation, and tell me you are totally cool with nations being “whatever” to the widely accepted rules of engagement so firmly established over decades and decades of interactions. Please. Make sure you take your kids with you too, to this land where rules are only for people who feel like following them when it suits them. This speech to the US Congress is a breach of international protocol and it therefore should be cancelled.

But if “diplomacy” is too esoteric a notion for you to feel convinced, then let’s try this: This speech is bad for Israel. The US support for Israel has always been bipartisan. It has never been more Republican to support Israel than Democratic. Leaders on both sides of the aisle have always given equal support to the enormous financial and military aid we provide Israel. By accepting this inappropriate invitation from a partisan member of Congress, who did not inform his colleagues in the other party about it, Benjamin Netanyahu has politicized support for Israel. When his Ambassador to the US met with our Secretary of State for an hour and failed to mention that his Prime Minister would be coming to the United States to speak to Congress, Netanyahu politicized support for Israel. By insisting on making this speech in the same trip as his AIPAC speech, Netanyahu  has politicized support for Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu bears full responsibility for whatever happens now in terms of US support for Israel.

Remember, folks. Israel received last year from your tax dollars: $3.399 BILLION. $3.1 billion in military aid and $15 million for “refugees settling in Israel.” Plus $284 million from the Defense Department. That’s a lotta cheese. And it’s a whole lotta cheese to give someone who kind of says Screw You to the established protocols by which our nations operate. It’s the kind of aid that could always be counted on because of our mutual goals and mutual respect for each other. But if one guy can decide that the respect isn’t mutual, then it opens the gate for the people holding our purse strings to quite rightly agree. And that is bad for Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu does not speak for me. And the people of Israel ought to be wondering right about now whether he is truly speaking for them.

David Ben-Gurion: “The State of Israel speaks only on behalf of its own citizens and in no way presumes to represent or speak in the name of Jews who are citizens of any other country; and that the Jews of the United States, as a community and as individuals, have no political attachment to Israel.”

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