Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner has made me embarrassed to be an Ohioan. His invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress breaks protocol, advances the foreign policy of an expansionist Israeli leader over that of our own president, and brings the United States closer to a war with Iran that most Americans do not want.
Now I know why I left ….
John Boehner makes me ashamed to be an Ohioan
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner has made me embarrassed to be an Ohioan. His invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress breaks protocol, advances the foreign policy of an expansionist Israeli leader over that of our own president, and brings the United States closer to a war with Iran that most Americans do not want.
The Middle East is a powder keg, already sparking and on the verge of even further violent deterioration. How do I know? Because I live here. Actually, I live under the Israeli military occupation that has persisted for nearly 50 years due to the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Boehner has been in public office for a long time, serving since 1991. That’s longer than most of the current Arab leaders. One would think that 24 years is long enough for him to understand that Netanyahu is no friend of America’s in the Middle East. Has Boehner been oblivious to the fact that at every turn in the U.S.-sponsored Oslo peace process, Netanyahu has been politically spitting in the face of U.S. officials?
When President Barack Obama was first elected to the White House, he demanded that Israel stop building illegal settlements in order to give a chance for the failed negotiations to restart. What did Netanyahu do? He carved out huge exceptions to a partial settlement freeze and then refused to renew the freeze. Worse, the pro-Israel lobby mobilized against Obama so he would no longer press so vigorously on the illegal expansion of colonies.
When Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Israel, what did the Israeli government do? Government officials announced new illegal settlement activity while Biden was still there. He fumed, but the U.S. government did nothing.
When Secretary of State John Kerry rushed to the region last year in a last-ditch attempt to save the two-state solution, what did Netanyahu do? He refused to stop settlement building and, in fact, a new Peace Now report indicates that tenders for housing in illegal settlements were at a 10-year high in 2014.
Kerry had to walk back his use of the “A-word” in reference to Israel traveling the path to apartheid, given its refusal to end the occupation of Palestinian land. Netanyahu and his Cabinet, of course, publicly refuse to admit to occupying anyone else’s land.
With his strikes on Gaza and Syria, Netanyahu risks igniting the region and dragging the United States to places that weaken it, undercutting U.S. strategic interests.
These violent and deadly attacks are above and beyond Israel’s never-ending battering of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is also above and beyond the institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel must face every day.
Now Netanyahu is about to be given center stage yet again. As Israelis prepare for theirelections this month, Netanyahu could not have asked for a better present — the chance to address all of the lawmakers of the strongest country on Earth. Even better, for him, is that he can do this while beating the war drums over Iran. For Netanyahu to be elected, like so many Israeli prime ministers before him, electioneering on a platform of fear is the only way he can win.
His browbeating of Obama for new sanctions on Iran is a disgrace to our Congress — an institution already deeply unpopular with the American public. More strikingly, for the first time in many years, Israel may become a partisan issue, with the Democratic grass roots increasingly raising concerns about Israel’s violent and discriminatory actions against Palestinians. More than two dozen brave representatives and senators have announced they will not attend Netanyahu’s speech, indicating a glimmer of integrity emanating from our legislative branch of government.
If that partisan splintering happens, Boehner and Netanyahu inadvertently will have opened the door to a long-overdue American conversation about the propriety of U.S. moral and military support to a country that for decades has oppressed Palestinians in conditions reminiscent of apartheid South Africa. This budding discussion is the silver lining, however, in an otherwise disturbing incident.
These juvenile shenanigans serve only to bring the United States closer to war with Iran right in the midst of critical negotiations to avoid such an outcome. The new Republican Congress has no business elevating a modern-day apartheid leader over its own president.
Originally appeared AT