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February 9, 2015 8:21 am

Why Democrats Won’t Boycott Netanyahu

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said reported progress on Iran's nuclear talks were being made on Tehran's terms. Photo: Cherie Cullen.

The rumor that some Democrats might boycott Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is nothing more than a cheap scare tactic.

How do we know?

For starters, not a single Democratic member of Congress has said that he or she will boycott it. At worst, over the weekend, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was non-committal. All the rumors of a Democratic boycott are the product of pundits and political activists who want the speech to be canceled.

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Yes, a February 5 Times of Israel article claimed to see evidence of “growing pressure” on Netanyahu to cancel the speech in a remark by a Democratic congressman that “Israel should never be used as a political football.”

But how does that remark constitute “pressure”? Republicans and Democrats alike agree that Israel should not be turned into a political football. Why should addressing Congress, which has both Republican and Democrat members, make it a political football? Did Netanyahu’s address to Congress in 2011, when the Democrats controlled the Senate, make Israel a political football?

Note that the “political football” remark was made by Congressman Steve Israel, a New York Democrat. His district covers Great Neck and other heavily-Jewish areas of Long Island. Congressman Israel knows that many of his constituents would be furious if he boycotted a speech by the prime minister of Israel.

It’s not just Steve Israel. No prominent Democrat is interested in having a major public fight with Israel and American Jewry in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Yes, many Jewish voters and donors might spurn the Democrats if the Democrat Party is perceived as turning against Israel. Every ethnic group uses its votes and donations to advance its particular concerns. It’s a legitimate and longstanding part of American political culture.

But the most important reason why no Democrats will boycott Netanyahu comes from last year’s Gallup World Affairs survey. As it does every year, Gallup asked Americans whether they view various countries favorably or unfavorably. Fully 72 percent of Americans have a “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” view of Israel.

Now compare that to the number who told Gallup that they have a favorable view of the other countries in Israel’s neighborhood: Egypt: 45%; Saudi Arabia: 35%; Libya: 19%; Palestinian Authority: 19%; Iraq: 16%; Syria: 13%; Iran: 12%.

Think about that. Nearly three-fourths of Americans remain favorable towards Israel while fewer than one-fifth think favorably of the Palestinian Authority–despite decades of critical news media coverage of Israel, despite the Obama Administration’s frequent statements of sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs, and despite the torrent of anti-Israel resolutions by the United Nations, by radical academics, and by certain churches.

And that makes sense.

Most Americans recognize that Israel is a lot like the United States–and the Arab countries are not. Israel is a democracy; the Arab regimes are dictatorships, theocracies, and kingdoms. Israelis have the same freedoms that Americans enjoy–a free press, religious tolerance, political rights. The Arab world falls woefully short in those areas. Israel embraces Western culture and considers itself part and parcel of the Western world. By contrast, many in the Arab and Muslim countries regard the West as their enemy.

When it comes to the rights of women and minorities, too, Israel shines. In Israel, women have full equality. In much of the Arab world, women are treated as little better than men’s property–even to the point of being targeted for “honor killings” if they do not follow fundamentalist moral dictates. Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens. Arabs serve in Israel’s parliament, on the Supreme Court, and as Israeli emissaries abroad. As for Jewish citizens in Arab countries–there are almost none left because nearly all 800,000 of them were driven out, decades ago, with just the clothes on their backs.

In Israel, citizens with dark skin (such as immigrants from Ethiopia or some Arab countries) are treated the same as those with light skin; in Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, enslavement of blacks was commonplace as late as the 1960s; it was practiced in Sudan until it was eclipsed by the Darfur genocide; and it is still practiced in Arab Mauritania.

Which is why no Democrats will boycott Israel’s prime minister. Because they know that it’s not just millions of American Jews who care about Israel. It’s tens and tens of millions of American Christians who likewise strongly support Israel. Pro-Israel sentiment among the American public in general is strong, widespread, and deeply rooted. And that translates into a lot of votes.

Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and are candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.

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  • nelson marans

    For those Democrats, who choose to boycott the speech by Netanyahu to Congress, it will only confirm the fact that while they may pay lip service to the security of the State of Israel, they actually have little concern about it. Catering to the president, they will have shown their true colors and hopefully the part of the electorate that values the security of the State of Israel will voice their displeasure in any forthcoming election.

  • BH in Iowa

    The writers underestimate the eagerness of today’s Democrats to put party above country.

  • EthanP

    I thought the ‘Congressional Black Caucus’ said they WILL boycott.

  • Leo Toystory

    I believe you’ll see non-attendance from certain members of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as from a few Democrats whose districts have either no Jews or lots of Kapos as in Bermie Saunder’s so-called state.

  • RiverKing

    You may be right, but you are assuming a degree of political acuity that may not be found in many Democrats. As far as I am concerned, I hope all Democrats boycott Bibi’s speech and loudly proclaim their boycott. But then, I’m a Republican and a strong supporter of Israel.

  • Ariely Shein

    Every decent worldwide will agree that if a world leader delivered a speech in the British parliament before Chambering surrender Czechoslovakia to the NAZI and managed to change the faulty agreement could changed the world history for better.
    —–

    President Obama diverts away the discussion from the crucial problem relevant to the entire world to irrelevant points, such as protocol.

    President Obama, leading the mighty USA, faulty ME political experiments are dangerous for the entire world.
    The next 2 USA presidents will have a hard work to fix his faulty experiments.

    Like in Hans Christians Anderson story- Netanyahu plays the role of the small child crying:
    “”The king is naked””.
    (And the King ( Obama) wants to stop the child cry, before the people will recognize that indeed – the kink is naked.)

    Imagine how will be living in a world where terrorists are protected by a Islamist Iran with almost ready NUK power!!
    Shai terrorists supported by Islamist Iran attcked in Yemen- Argentina- Lebanon-Bulgaria-Iraq- India- Syria- Thailand- Egypt- Uruguay- Gulf states- USA and Saud Arabia.
    Islamist Iran ambitions are defined in 2 stages:

    Stage 1:
    Reestablishing the ancient Persian empire over the Fertile Crescent by using the SHIA in all the countries (including the territories of Islamist Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and some of the Gulf states)
    Islamist Iran proxy forces and Islamist Iran revolutionary guard are taking part in all the conflicts in those areas.
    (NAZI stage 1 was to control all the territories with German speaking people)

    Stage 2: Imposing worldwide the Shia version of Islamism:
    (NAZI stage 2 was to try to impose their ideology worldwide by force)

    **:”This century will witness the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others”**
    Constitution of Islamist Republic of Iran
    *****:””the Islamic Republic’s ideals include destroying America””.
    Said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader
    *********USA foreign affairs report about Islamist Iran:
    Few samples- many more in the testimony
    –*”Iran leaders view terrorism as an impotent foreign policy to export -the Islamsit Iran ideals”
    –For more than 20 years provides financial, material,logistic and training to terror organizations worldwide , listed 41 countries.
    —:” Islamsit Iran is the single most significant threat to stability and prosperity”.
    —-* Documents seized from Islamist Iran unveiled the strategy in South and North
    America- saying that Muslim population will be used to penetrate Islamsit ideology in the Americas.
    ************** Wikileaks disclosed that the Arab leaders requested USA to stop Islamist Iran, the traditional regional historical superpower Arabs geopolitical enemy by any means.
    Obama claimed that stopping Islamist Iran form getting NUK is related to the Arab-Israel conflict.
    ==============

    Now, imagine a world where terror organizations currently active in 41 countries are protected by Islamist Iran NUKS!!!!
    The people will live in the NAZI era before Czechoslovakia agreement and NAZI era post Czechoslovakia agreement.

    Is president Obama the modern time Chamberlin?

  • Efram

    If only our terrorist-in-chief felt this way.

    • R.H. Traylor

      Efram,

      Really? Please stop the name calling. It adds nothing worthwhile to the discussion. You insult the American people by calling our president a terrorist. He was elected by a majority of the American people. While I know there are differences of opinion regarding how best to prevent a nuclear Iran do you think for one moment that the U.S. would sit by and allow Iran to attack Israel with nuclear weapons? Certainly, Iran knows it would face total destruction if it launched nuclear weapons against Israel. I don’t believe the Netanyahu-hype that the Iranians are mad men bent on self-destruction. Please consider that under this president, financial, military and all other tangible support for Israel has not only continued but has increased. And while I do not agree with the U.S. government’s position against U.N. recognition of Palestine, it is clear that the Obama administration has done all in its power to frustrate U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. So, Please stop calling Israel’s friends, who happen to see the world differently, anti-Israel or anti Jewish.

  • Arthur Fliegenheimer

    The democrats seem to have the Jewish vote in the bag,even though they have not earned it.The old lions-men of courage are gone-Lieberman,Lautenberg,Inoghwei,Carl Levin,.Many of the democrats are obama zombies-they do what they’re told.But most of the Jews are obama zombies also,(66% voted for him).I am thankful for Christian support of Israel.Iwould like to summarize the state of the union speech by quoting Groucho Marx,”Who you gonna believe ,me or your own eyes?”

  • Anonymous

    I have never saw so much disrespect towards a leader of a country like the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from the United States Government, except the one time that a rude Venezuelan President attempted to embarrass former President Busch at the United Nation. It is a shame that we are repeating that very action by not attending the Prime Minister address before the Congress, with the excuse that the white house do not meet with leaders prior to an election. In contract, ver recently, our US President met and received with open arms two people including a member of the Israeli parliament and I believe one labor leader who are making campaign and came to visit the house seeking support to overthrow the Prime Minister. Nothing has been mentioned about that visit. However, some politicians in Washington including the President, are trying to embarrass the Prime Minister, and are talking as if by accepting the invitation to speak before Congress about his concern regarding nuclear weapons, the Prime Minister is committing a sin. We all should admire, and support Mr. Netanyahu. He is a leader like no other. He makes every effort to protect his county and its people in a well determined, courageous manner. The Prime Minister deserves all the blessings Hashem can provide. God bless him.

  • I pray that what you say is true, but I believe that the democrates that are Jewish are cravin bunch. They have sold their soles for political gain.

  • Dr. Stephen Steinlight

    This is likely the case with most Jewish Democrats and other white members of Congress on the Party’s liberal wing who count on Jewish campaign donations. But it is not true of all, and those who will boycott represent the ascending trend within Democratic ranks: members of Congress from communities of color. Only a minority of Democrats are white, and without a large turnout of blacks and Hispanics and increasingly Asians the Party wouldn’t be competitive. Prominent Congresspersons from all these groups will boycott. It’s not a good harbinger for Jewish support in the Democratic Party. And there’s nothing further Jews can do about it that wouldn’t amount to groveling. Jews have been by far the most committed of all Americans to equal rights and social inclusion. But Jewish love is unrequited. The levels of anti-Semitism within the African-American community has remained at 48 percent in survey after survey over the past 30 years, and according to the Pew Research Center, after Muslims foreign-born Hispanics are the most anti-Semitic people on earth. And they will play an ever larger role in American life, thanks, in part, to the aggressive and ill-considered support illegal immigration has received from across the entire organized Jewish world. The point is that “good news” about a decent Democrat turnout for Prime Minister Netanyahu conceals a bigger and far more ominous trend in the Democratic Party.

  • Reform School

    The State of Israel has a problem. Its pioneers have died. That generation is aging. Bibi’s U.S. upbringing leaves him in a political class with no real competition. Rivals acknowledge it. Have seen his ‘Bibisitter’ campaign video? Who can fill his shoes when he is gone?

  • spktruth

    You have lost touch with American Jews….there are many groups of Jews who are calling for a total boycott…LOL.

  • spktruth

    Your delusional. I am getting emails FROM democrats saying the will not come to Congress to listen to Bibi…this is another plot to make people think Bibi isn’t going to be boycotted. He will, and Bibi will hurt himself and Israel…the demonstrators outside Congress will get lots of coverage…

  • Mickey Oberman

    Now we must wait and see.

    Prognostications are notoriously unreliable and almost always biased.

    But I hope this one is correct.

    • We must act, not passively wait. we must write to nancy Pelosi, to Joe Biden, whom I consider the best politician in the White House, to (shame on Them!) Mr. Foxman, the ADL Director, Mr. Gordon, Mr. Robert Naiman (“Just foreign policy’), who organized a dirty campaign against the speech by Mr. Netanyahu. Instead of careful discussing it (Mr. Netanyahu, contrary to all Americans including Prez. Obama) knows the best the problems with Iran, as well as with the entire Middle East. Shame of those, ignorant and probably hating Israel Democrats. They pervert the very meaning of “Democrat”. So, please do something helpful towards the arrival and speech by Mr. Netanyahu

  • Eric

    I wish Netanyahu would change the date of his speech. But I sure hope no one boycotts him!

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