Netanyahu’s speech props cause row at Congress

A last minute confrontation on Monday threatened to scupper Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress after a clash between members of his entourage and security officials at the Capitol building over the bag of tricks the premier intends to use in his forthcoming speech to US lawmakers.

Netanyahu is famous for employing visual aids and props during his speeches and aides arrived at the Capitol in Washington in order to set the stage one day ahead of his address to lawmakers. Netanyahu is expected to tell Congress of his concerns over a developing agreement with Iran on its nuclear development program that, he fears, is aimed at producing atomic weapons.

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said there was a “blazing row” when US security officials at the building were presented with several containers, but were denied permission to check what was inside. Israeli officials said they feared that revealing the items would “ruin the surprise.”

When Capitol staff demanded to know exactly what was in store Deputy Assistant Speech Administration Michael Cohen shot back “if the Iranians aren’t telling you what they are up to then neither will we,” the source claimed.

After a heated debate Netanyahu’s support team agreed to list the contents. Among some of the items known to have been included were a rabbit and top hat, a jug of milk, a pack of oversized playing cards, several doves, a box large enough to conceal a person, and a saw.

However, it was the “various pyrotechnics” among the props that caused the most headache for organizers with Capitol staff adamantly refusing to admit the incendiaries into the building

“We are going to give you a taste of Iran,” Cohen told US staff but would not elaborate.

Matters became so strained they threatened to abort the much publicized and controversial speech until Netanyahu’s team agreed to leave the fireworks in the truck.

Another sticking point surrounded the saw. Since Netanyahu is not listed as approved maintenance person for the Capitol he was not authorized to carry work tools into the building, which meant the saw could only be classified as a sword. US security personnel made it clear that no weapons could be brought onto the floor and so the cutting tool was also left out.

However, despite the setbacks, Israeli officials remain hopeful that the address to Congress will meet expectations. Unlike previous speeches Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday will also include a halftime show.

The Prime Minister’s Office has declined to comment on reports that Beyonce turned down a request to perform her hit single “Beautiful Liar” in a duet with Sarah Netanyahu, apparently a reference to Iran’s perceived attitude in negotiations.

While pundits suggested various other artists who may have stepped up to fill the slot, the Capitol spokesperson’s office tweeted last Friday that the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were given a one-day pass to leave their bus in the senators’ parking lot. Democrats dismissed the revelation as a ploy to try and boost attendance for Netanyahu’s speech.

With less than a day to go before the big event, the Israelis believe they will meet expectations.

“It’ll be a great show,” the source promised. “We’ve got girls, we’ve got visuals, we’ve got razzmatazz. We’re going to knock their socks off.”

Spoof and satire contributed to this blog post.

About the Author
When he isn't writing outlandish blog posts just for fun, Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.