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Response: Sky Will Not Fall If DeGette Not in Hall

Dear Editor:

Dean Rotbart’s piece, “Congress: Polis Will Attend – DeGette Will Snub Netanyahu Speech”, unfortunately injects more partisan politics into an already over-politicized matter.

The timing of Netanyahu’s address to Congress was a political ploy, pure and simple. The speech is set for March 3, exactly two weeks before Israel’s March 17 national election. Mr. Netanyahu is facing a tough reelection campaign, with polls thus far showing the race too close to call.

The Washington speech offers the Prime Minister a golden opportunity for free political air time in Israel. Netanyahu will no doubt impress right wing Israelis by attacking the Obama Administration’s policies toward Iran. Netanyahu also hopes to appeal to more centrist Israeli voters – who value strong ties with America – by the televised spectacle of American lawmakers lavishing Bibi with standing ovation after standing ovation.

Mr. Rotbart minimizes how the Netanyahu address breaches diplomatic protocol. Its timing violates a policy of U.S. presidents of not inviting foreign leaders to speak in Washington shortly before those leaders face elections in their home country. Even Speaker Boehner admitted he did not consult the White House prior to the invitation to Mr. Netanyahu, another break with protocol.

To be sure, the substance of Mr. Netanyahu’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program have been lost in the controversy over the politics and timing of Mr. Netanyahu’s speech. But here, too, Mr. Rotbart overstates the case. Both the Obama Administration and those opposed to its Iran policy share the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The Obama position seeks to roll back Iran’s enrichment capability and to contain its nuclear program through a regime of intrusive inspections.

Critics of Netanyahu’s position – including columnist Roger Cohen – argue that further sanctions on Iran likely will not force Tehran to completely dismantle its nuclear program. The only other alternative, Cohen points out, is war. Yet even a successful military campaign against Iran will likely not completely destroy Iran’s bomb making capacity. Such a campaign, however, would virtually insure that Iran will eventually build a bomb. That outcome surely is not what any supporter of Israel wants to see.

So, should those of us in the First District insist that Representative DeGette attend Netanyahu’s March 3 speech? No. The sky will surely not fall – for Israel or for America – if there are some empty seats in the hall. Indeed, rather than insisting that Congresswoman DeGette change her schedule on March 3, Mr. Netanyahu should postpone his address, until after the Israeli election. He can then make his case – as a statesman, not as a politician – and Ms. DeGette and her colleagues can reach their own conclusions.

Thomas Feldman
Daniel Recht
Elaine Selsberg
David Wahl

Denver

About Staff

They call me "NewsHound Too," because I'm sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. My buddies know me as "Rocky." I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was adopted from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and have many friends there also looking for homes.

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3 comments

  1. Portions of President Obama's deal with Iran have been leaked out or let out, but one wonders whether the authors of this letter are listening or just regurgitating talking points. It is not contrived that the Obama Administration is gunning to take down Netanyahu and has made it a focal point themselves to attack everyone over a silly argument about protocol when Israel feels its very life is at stake. For some relief from sanctions, which were working enough to scare Iran to the negotiating table, and then some posturing about feckless agreements (about which the Israelis say Iran got 80% of what they wanted), Iran is supposed to help the US out in stabilizing the Middle East. This is a long run plan Obama hopes to conclude before the end of his 2nd term, and his failure to support the Iranian Green Revolution of 2009 against the Mullahs is part and parcel of his on-going attempt to supplant American influence for Iranian influence in the region. In short, he wants to partner with Iran and doesn't want the Israelis to scuttle the plan. Like a mafia godfather, Israel is expendable. At least the risks to Israel are worth the idealism. He has been playing this game since his 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world. Go read it.

    The issue with Iran and the negotiations is to stop their capability to breakout to a nuclear weapon. Israel wants no centrifuges, and the Israelis say Iran needs none, if its intent is peaceful. The US is willing to allow them 6500, whereas the Mullahs say they want 200,000. Obama is just so oversensitive to taking his plan to fruition, and the Mullahs are so gleeful and smell his nervousness, that they will take his offer and find some way to keep their program going anyway. They've already said so. And this has been their past behavior. They are not above lying, and cheating and stealing. Scholarly Islamic thought not only allows it, but demands it, if the Islamic forces are in a weaker position. And Iran is in a weaker position.

    But, instead of strength, Obama projects weakness. And this is where the American people and the Congress come into play. Iran is attempting to create intercontinental ballistic missiles. They don't need them to destroy Israel, they need them to destroy or threaten the USA. That's NYC, LA, and Denver, where your kids live.

    Don't even try to suggest that Congresswoman DeGette and the Democratic boy-cotters of Netanyahu's speech have something else to do that is more important to Israel and the USA. THAT is what smacks of politics.

  2. The idea that Democrats are very concerned about not interfering in the political processes of other countries is laughable. Obama has taken positions on Egyptian politics. He took a position on the recent Greek election. His friends are funding opposition candidates in the Israeli election. Clinton is taking money from foreign sources.

    The argument that the ski will not fall is hypocrisy and beneath contempt. Boulder is constantly "sending messages" about political issues of one kind or another in situations where the sky will surely not fall. It is famous for such actions.

    DeGette is supposed to represent her constituents. That includes many Jews. Her failure to do so in the past is not an excuse to fail to do so now.

    Boehner is the Speaker of the House. He is the third in line for the presidency. Congress is a co-equal branch of the government. Congressmen involve themselves in foreign affairs all the time. Given the failures of the State Department all over the middle east, and the failure in particular of the Iran negotiations to produce any results, extra scrutiny is a wise precaution.

    But all of this merely demonstrates that the invitation and the acceptance are justifiable. The real issue here is whether the authors are placing American politics over the safety of millions of people who will be threatened by a nuclear Iran. I think they are.

  3. Mr. Kreis hits the nail on the head. Time for the voters to get a "get" from Congresswoman DeGette!