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Pummeling The Truth

Survival. It’s what Prime Minister Netanyahu pinpointed as the main difference between Israel and the United States in his speech to AIPAC. “American leaders worry about the security of their country,” he said. “Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.”

Dana Milbank’s latest opinion piece in the Washington Post, AIPAC pummels Obama, suggests he has little understanding of what this means. Milbank chastises AIPAC for what he perceives as its militant aggression against President Obama. It’s there in the title of his piece, and it’s there in the body of the text. He uses words like “pummel,” “brawl,” “brazenly,” and “defiant.”

Them’s fighting words.

Milbank sees AIPAC as a big bully, Obama’s opponent in the ring, suggesting that the underlying motivation of entire event is to “pummel the Obama administration with bare knuckles.” He sees AIPAC as having gone over to the dark side. “In the brawl between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran nuclear negotiations,” Milbank writes, “AIPAC has joined congressional Republicans in siding wholeheartedly with the Israeli hard-liner.”

Dana Milbank
Dana Milbank

What Milbank doesn’t see is Jewish America, with its heart in its mouth as it watches events unfolding in Europe and in the Middle East, an oh-so-obvious repetition of history with an isolationist president sitting in the White House. This time, the American president is an actor with no red lines who will name neither Muslims nor Jews in the very specific war of one against the other and the West at large.

It would be a waste of time to pummel Obama. That’s not what this is about. It’s about offering support to a brave little nation with its very survival on the line. It’s about standing up for truth and honor, and never allowing evil to triumph, because everyone knows how that story ends.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s mission is to give Washington a taste of what it is like to live life while being Israeli. Bibi had to go to America to do this, to make it tangible. Because otherwise, it’s easy for America to think, “Iran isn’t targeting America. It’s all happening far away on the other side of the world.”

It’s easy to take the easy way out, to change the channel and like Scarlet O’Hara, to think about it tomorrow.

To live in Israel means to vacillate between two states of being. There is the fear, the dark heavy cloud, the Damocles sword of war breaking out on all four borders with soldiers pouring in from the other 18 Arab states to overrun the Jews and drive them into the sea. Or Iran with a single nuclear bomb, turning us into vapor and ash.

And there is the denial, the state of being that allows us to get up, brush our teeth, scramble eggs for breakfast, fight heavy rush hour traffic to punch in at work on time, and read our kids a bedtime story.

You need two states of being to live here in Israel. Because the fear is so heavy that it can paralyze you. You have to be strong enough to override the fear and act as if. As if there were no wolves at the door. As if Europe were not repeating history.

President Obama didn’t want Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to Washington, to speak. President Obama doesn’t want America to lose the vista he’s painted, his vision of one world, where no one is better than anyone else. Where terror happens far away, with no greater purpose, to random people. President Obama knows that Netanyahu’s speech will break the reverie, the dreams of his father before him, red dreams with free stuff for all. The leveling of the world as we know it.

That Pesky Nuisance

President Obama has his reasons for allowing Iran to go nuclear. Perhaps he honestly thinks Iran will be appeased if he lets them get the bomb and use it against Israel. Maybe Obama thinks this will save the West and rid the Middle East of Israel, once and for all, that pesky nuisance that gets in the way of oil and peace.

Or maybe Obama believes that allowing states to act as they will is an appropriate measure of respect for a sovereign nation, every sovereign nation that is, except for Israel. This may be President Obama’s biggest gripe about American exceptionalism: that it shows disrespect to other countries by nature of its elitist philosophy. Perhaps in Israel and the Jews, he sees this same sort of elitism. The very phrase “Chosen People” must therefore stick in his craw.

But no. The battle is not against President Obama. It’s not even a battle. It’s about waking people up from the dreams of Obama and his father before him while the President dearly wants them to rest undisturbed as he unravels the world.

Milbank suggests that Netanyahu snubbed the President, and failed to consult him before accepting John Boehner’s invitation to speak before Congress. He writes:

Netanyahu, by accepting House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress Tuesday — snubbing Obama, who wasn’t consulted — is exploiting a partisan rift in American politics and driving a wedge through the American Jewish community.

Except that’s not true, now is it? By now we know what happened. It was John Boehner’s responsibility to notify the White House of his intention to invite Netanyahu to speak before Congress. He did not do so. There was no breach of protocol by the Prime Minister of Israel. The onus lies squarely with Boehner who, to tell you the truth, exploited Bibi and Israel mercilessly to stir up trouble in Washington. Here is Ron Dermer, explaining what actually happened as opposed to the White House fairytale:

Top administration officials are upset with Boehner’s surprise move, and with Netanyahu for accepting the invitation without checking with the White House first.

But Dermer says he did everything by the book.

“It was the speaker’s responsibility and normal protocol for the speaker’s office to notify the administration” about the invitation, the ambassador told Goldberg.

It would have been “inappropriate” for the news to have come from the Israelis, Dermer said.

Milbank accuses Republicans of messing in Israeli politics:

Congressional Republicans, by giving Netanyahu their pulpit 14 days before Israel’s elections, are brazenly taking sides in that country’s politics. This all is likely to backfire by firming Democratic resistance to more Iran sanctions — and, in the long run, by politicizing U.S.-Israeli relations.

But in actual fact, President Obama had his Vice President and Secretary of State meet with Netanyahu’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, Isaac Herzog, after Obama announced he had no intention of meeting with Netanyahu during his visit to Washington. Worse yet, the State Department-funded activist group known as OneVoice has partnered with an Israeli “grassroots” movement known as V15, which actively seeks to undermine the Netanyahu election campaign. OneVoice even hired former Obama aides to help organize V15 activities.

And we know that Democrats are boycotting Bibi’s speech in droves. I personally am memorizing their names for future reference. These are the people who don’t care if I, my family, and my people get vaporized. Did the speech firm up their resistance?

Nope. Because as Bibi put it to AIPAC last night:

Never has so much been written about a speech that hasn’t been given.

The brouhaha was in the run up to the speech, which hasn’t even happened at the time of this writing. The brouhaha was something that was incited by Boehner alone, and magnified greatly by President Obama and his minions. Feinstein, for instance, who may or may not be Jewish depending on the day of the week or constituent flavor of the month, used an anti-Semitic trope against Netanyahu, calling him “arrogant,” because he said he speaks for the Jewish people.

What “firms” Democratic resistance to more Iran sanctions is Obama’s contempt for Netanyahu and his message. It is Obama who sets the tone for U.S.-Israel relations. It is Obama who made a stink over a speech. It is Obama alone who has politicized this relationship and made it what it is today. Obama did not have to hold a gun to the heads of Democrats to make them heel. All he had to do was make his feelings known and then “step out of the way.” They are all too eager to follow the leader.

After feeding an anonymous, unquoted complaint about Dermer to The New York Times last week, the White House has stepped out of the way.

The president and his aides won’t tell Democrats to skip the speech. But they aren’t telling Democrats to go, either.

“We defer to Democratic members if they’d like to attend or not,” a White House aide said Tuesday.

Compare and contrast the attitude of the White House toward Netanyahu to Netanyahu’s outspoken respect for President Obama:

My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both.

I deeply appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel, security cooperation, intelligence sharing, support at the U.N., and much more, some things that I, as prime minister of Israel, cannot even divulge to you because it remains in the realm of the confidences that are kept between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. I am deeply grateful for this support, and so should you be.

Milbank ends by accusing Netanyahu of “meddling in domestic affairs.”

The Israeli leader put his spat with Obama in the context of previous disagreements back to 1948, arguing that “disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must always remember that we are family.”

That’s true. But when family members start meddling in each other’s domestic affairs, they risk estrangement.

And here is the place where my fury bubbled up and overflowed. “Meddling in each other’s domestic affairs????” As if the United States, by signing a deal that essentially allows Iran to get the bomb in order to kill ME, MY FAMILY, and MY PEOPLE, is merely transacting “domestic policy!”

Milbank sees the proposed American agreement with Iran that threatens the very survival of Israel as strictly an American issue. As if America could sign off on that deal, sacrificing Israel, America’s ally, because of the assumption that domestically, at least, the bomb doesn’t threaten America.

I want to ask Milbank: will the bomb exist in a vacuum, an Israeli/Iranian bubble, never to affect the balance of power in the world? Will it ONLY harm Israel? Will it never affect the West? Can he make that promise? Can Obama?

Tough Tootsies

Milbank holds that Prime Minister Netanyahu is interfering with domestic American policy by trying to stop America from signing off on a deal that signs away Israel’s very survival. Milbank is essentially telling Israel that it should mind its own damned business and if Iran bombs Israel it’s tough tootsies: a domestic Israeli problem and not a problem for America. And if Israel should, on its own, take steps to stop Iran, this too, is meddling in America’s domestic affairs.

I want to ask Milbank to remember this day, this opinion post in the days and years to come, after Speechgate is a notation in a history book.

I want to ask Milbank, a Jew, to remember this day when he comes crawling to Israel for succor because some unnamed somebody randomly wants him dead. I want him to remember the day when he still had the freedom and the power to be so arrogant as to tell Israel it should lay down and die on the altar of Obama, King of the Leftist Jews. Because he says so.


About the author

Picture of Varda Epstein

Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 36 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between raising her 12 children and writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids a Guidestar gold medal charity.
Picture of Varda Epstein

Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 36 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between raising her 12 children and writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids a Guidestar gold medal charity.
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