Israel Speaks, But Are We Listening?

BY DIANE DIMOND

OK, so let me get this straight. We need to add the conflict in the Middle East to the list of things our politicians cannot agree upon. Is that right?

Our schismatic U.S. Congress — the body that makes the laws we are all bound to live by — can’t agree on what to do about immigration, long-overdue tax reform, environmental issues, economic policies or budgetary matters, and now they’re also divided on how to treat Israel, our strongest ally in the never-ending war of ideologies in the Middle East? Really?

Look, I’m no expert on international relations, but when Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of a friendly foreign country, comes to the United States to address a joint session of Congress and more than 50 democrats shun the speech because their party’s president didn’t like the way in which he was invited — well, that’s just childish. And when protocol is broken and the vice president of the United States doesn’t attend either — well, that’s just premeditated crass politics.

Ask yourself this: What did those no-show democrats achieve with their group hissy fit?

Yes, the speech was arranged by republican House Speaker John Boehner. Yes, the White House was not informed ahead of time. And it was known in advance that Prime Minister Netanyahu was going to slam the U.S.-led nuclear negotiations with Iran. He had openly worried that the American team (and representatives from five other countries) might be giving in to Israel’s avowed enemy and that Iran might move closer to possessing material for nuclear weapons.

But so what? A leader is supposed to advocate for their country’s security in every way, shape and forum they can. That loyalty to country should be applauded, not snubbed.

Are our elected officials so unable to take criticism, so arrogant that they believe they’ve got it all figured out? Maybe they think they need no more information about something as complex an equation as Iran possessing nuclear material.

Put it together: A hostile fundamentalist Muslim county that has long backed the terrorist group Hezbollah (and maybe others) plus Iran’s open and repeated call for Israel’s annihilation plus ownership of the nuclear material needed to make massively destructive bombs. Sound like a promising combination to you?

Critics of the ongoing negotiations with Iran say that given that country’s history and its oftentimes-radical Islamic beliefs, its leaders cannot and should not be trusted to live up to the terms of any agreement. That we seem to share a common enemy in ISIS is not enough.

Make no mistake. There is no less at stake here than the future of who will possess the most deadly weapons known to mankind. If Iran achieves that capability, how long before a nuclear warhead finds its way into the hands of a radical terrorist group like, say, Hezbollah?

This discussion — and Netanyahu’s speech — seems pretty damn important in the scheme of things. A lot more important than petty high-school type bickering about whom invited whom to speak at the party.

“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of military Islam with nuclear “weapons,” Netanyahu told those lawmakers who bothered to attend his speech at the U.S. Capitol. He spoke of a “potential nuclear nightmare.”

Does anyone reading this disagree that if a terrorist group got a hold of a nuclear bomb, horrendously bad things would follow?

The dozens of lawmakers who sat out this speech surely watched it on television or read about it later, at least I certainly hope they did. So were they comfortable simply dismissing Netanyahu’s message as being politically motivated? (The prime minister is facing a difficult reelection later this month.) Or thinking it was part of some “theater” as President Obama labeled it later? Are they all sure Israel is overblowing the potential for danger?

The fact that Netanyahu would come to the U.S. and lecture against an official White House policy should give us all pause. It was an unprecedented scold. Why did the Israeli prime minister feel compelled to do it? Maybe because the distance between Jerusalem and Tehran is just 1000 miles.

We don’t have an enemy developing nuclear capability that close to the U.S. mainland, but if we did, I’d want our commander in chief to use every forum necessary to try to get them to stop.

Rockland resident Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist, author, regular guest on TV news programs, and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Visit her at www.DianeDimond.net or reach her via email Diane@DianeDimond.net