Bibi, I love ya. But please stay home.
Or at least stay out of Congress. I say this as an American, a Jew and an ardent supporter of Israel.
I say this as someone who understands Iran’s nuclear threat is existential for Israel and, at very least, menacing to the middle east and the rest of the world.
I say this as someone who believes Iran has no intention of surrendering its nuclear program and is playing the west as naïve dreamers.
And despite all that, making your case at this time, in this forum and to this audience is the wrong thing to do for Israel and Jewish security. Here’s why.
1. You don’t need to sway opinion.
Right now there are both Republicans and Democrats who want to make sure Iran understands there are harsh consequences for walking away from a deal. In fact, Democrat Robert Menendez, head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is already leading the way to impose harsher sanctions, assuming (which many do) that Iran will not sign a deal. He’s gone as far as to say that Obama’s position sounds like “talking points straight out of Iran.” Are your statements, Bibi, going to be more forceful and moving than that?
2. You aren’t the most credible advocate.
In this particular case, you’re better off letting other people make your argument for you. You have your own agenda, which is the safety of Israel. As it should be.
If you let U.S. Congress members make the case, they can more credibly state why Iran’s nuclear path is dangerous for America’s interests, as well as Israel’s. Their agenda is the American agenda. As it should be. And the argument against Iran will be more convincing coming from them than from you.
3. You may increase the division between Democrats and Republicans about Israel.
This is perhaps the most important point. Addressing Congress will be seen as sticking your finger in Obama’s eye. He’s already stated publicly and emphatically that he’ll veto a bill that imposes additional sanctions on Iran. Some Democrats will see this as a foreign country tinkering in US affairs and antagonizing the president and their party leader.
Stay out of that fray if you can. Bi-partisan support is one of the most important things Israel has going for it. Turning Israel into a partisan issue will only hurt Israeli security in the long run.
4. You don’t want to hand Iran any excuses.
I know Iran doesn’t need your help in making excuses. They’ve got it down to an art form. Iran will claim the deal, any deal, isn’t fair. That Iran has the “right” to enrich. That nukes are needed for defense. And so on.
But give Iran enough rope to make its own noose, and let people realize on their own that Iran isn’t negotiating with good intentions. If you put yourself in the middle of this particular argument, it will be all too easy for people to say, “There was a chance at an agreement… but Bibi blew it.”
5. You’re holding the trump card.
In the end, you always reserve the right to strike Iran with military might. It’s the second-worst potential scenario, topped only by Iran getting the bomb.
If it comes to that, you’ll want America on your side. Not just Republicans. Not just Democrats. But united, meaningful support from the entire United States.
So please, Bibi. There’s no need to rattle the cage, at least not right now. Let Americans fight for what’s best for America, and in this case, what is also best for Israel.