Why Is Everyone Talking Netanyahu Instead of Iran?

If the mere fact of a particular man speaking in Congress can make elected officials change their minds about a potentially game-changing international agreement, then just what kind of game are these people playing? I don’t care if the man is Bibi Netanyahu, Vladamir Putin, Bob Simon or a heavenly angel (who, arguably, would not be considered a man). If elected officials, responsible for the good of their nation, knee-jerkingly change their minds about the pending deal with Iran, as I understand some have said they are doing, just because Bibi has the gall to address them in Congress, then it doesn’t say much for their ability to function in their jobs. I would have hoped that they would concern themselves with substance and not with fluff.

If I grasp the situation correctly, the fuss is because Obama is infuriated that Netanyahu accepted an invitation to speak at Congress without having checked with him first. It reminds me of a husband (excuse my gender stereotyped example) surprising his wife by bringing guests home for dinner without asking her first if it was convenient. She would be angry at her husband, not the guests, right? So why is Obama fuming at Netanyahu?

Of course, the next step would be that the guests would excuse themselves, saying they just remembered an important event they had already committed themselves to attending. With everyone smiling bravely, the guests would extricate themselves from the embarrassing situation, leaving the couple to fight it out privately. Does this mean that Netanyahu should have backed out as gracefully as he could?

Interestingly, the heat was never so much on the husband (John Boehner), but on the guest (Netanyahu). Furthermore, Obama claims he was not consulted but I read that he was notified of the invitation and just never responded. Generally, when people do not want something to happen they put up a fuss when the possibility of that something happening is raised and if nothing is said it is usually taken as passive acceptance. If this is true, then the husband (Boehner) should be angry at the wife (Obama) for ignoring his message. It should have nothing to do with the guest (Netanyahu).

Furthermore, if it is true that Boehner sent Obama a notification that the latter chose to ignore, it seems that Obama deliberately set a trap for Netanyahu, a wonderfully artful trap, exploiting the one weakness he knows that Netanyahu has – his sincere belief that Israel is under existential threat and that nobody appreciates the extent of that threat. The usually adept Netanyahu may now feel he is between a rock and a hard place. I cannot imagine that this situation is comfortable for him, nor easy to know how to handle.

Netanyahu, arrogant and narcissistic as he may be, does sincerely believe, in my opinion, that the weight of at least Israel if not the entire Jewish people rests upon his shoulders. He seems to think that we are now at a crossroads and the deal with Iran, among other issues, is pivotal to our security. He so strongly believes in the power of his rhetoric to sway others that he feels it incumbent upon him to defend our lives before Congress makes irreversible errors that will endanger our very existence. He probably feels that to retreat from the speech would be a sign that he is not up to the task of protecting the Jews in the Promised Land. For Netanyahu, this is not a simple case of “oops, sorry – I’ll leave you two to sort this out between you”.

What if Angela Merkel had been the one involved and not Netanyahu? Would Obama have made a federal case out of it or would he have graciously rearranged his feathers ruffled by the lapse in protocol and smoothed things over? Probably the latter. But this is Netanyahu we are talking about.

Nothing Netanyahu does, either at home or abroad, draws a balanced and measured analysis of his actions; he is either vilified or held up on a pedestal. Interestingly, one could say the same about Obama. Such polarized responses are worrying because neither extreme speaks to reasoned scrutiny of their words and deeds. But I would have expected members of the American Congress to be above the rabblerousing and, able to distinguish the figure from the ground, I would have expected them to make intelligent decisions without being thrown off by all the noise. Unfortunately, it seems they are getting more caught up in the soap-opera relations between Obama and Netanyahu than by the subject at hand. Now is that not just a little bit scary?

About the Author
Sheri Oz, owner of, is a retired family therapist exploring mutual interactions between politics and Israeli society.
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