Arnold Flick

Netanyahu, don’t come to the USA

Netanyahu, don’t come to the USA unless invited by Biden.

You do not come into a neighbor’s house without an invitation; Presidents do not visit another country without an invite from that country’s President. In particular, and never, do Presidents visit another country and there make public speeches criticizing the host.

In 2015 Netanyahu gave an in-person address to the US Congress regarding the threat of Iran. In so doing, he majorly breached protocol in three places: he came, as a head of State, to the USA without an invitation from the sitting head of State of the USA: he gave a high-profile speech to a USA branch of government without the approval of the sitting head of the USA; during his speech he criticized existing USA policy. One can only imagine the fury in the White House when this occurred. It was no surprise that later that year the USA abstained on a key UN vote regarding the relationship of Israel to the Old City of Jerusalem. The effect of that vote which omitted any relation of Jews to Jerusalem is still with us.

Now Netanyahu is doing a repeat, again speaking to the US Congress on a contested subject without a Presidential invite. That it is only months before a Presidential election is an additional factor. His speech will expound on Israel’s war in Gaza. It is open that Netanyahu and Biden do not see this war and its resolution in the same way. Nonetheless, it is also clear that Israel is dependent on a steady USA arms flow if Israeli casualties in the war are to be minimized. Biden has publicly clashed with Netanyahu on war policy. While the average Israeli will see this trip as a mark of Netanyahu’s strength and will likely increase the latter’s chance of reelection, it will aggravate relations between the two countries. A significant number of USA residents do not support Israel’s war. Angering Biden will increase their influence and may result in delay if not denial of USA arms to Israel; this will continue past 2024 if Biden is reelected. That sector of the USA public which already hates Israel cannot be appeased and it will feed on any tension between the States. It seems Netanyahu cannot let go of his need for self-elevation even when this means doing harm to Israel.

Alternately Netanyahu can give a position paper to Mike Johnson, chairman of the US House of Representatives with apologies for his inability to attend in person. Johnson can read it to the House. This will not be as big a show as Netanyahu seems to need but it will get distributed and preserve some relationship between Israel and the USA.

I am sure that there are many in Israel that understand are conveying this, but unfortunately, now as before, Netanyahu is wearing earplugs.

About the Author
Arnold L. Flick was born 1930 of secular, Zionist, Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. He has followed events in Israel since age seven when he first solicited for the “Jews of Palestine” on the streets of Los Angeles as a young member of Habonim. He was in Israel for four months 1990-91 and for two months 2002. He is active in the House of Israel Balboa park, a non-profit museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, that provides information about Israel to its 15,000 annual visitors.