How Boehner’s Invite to Netanyahu is Undermining Our President

boehner and netanyahuEarlier this month we saw a breach of traditional protocol when House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to lawmakers without notifying the White House.

While the Obama administration responded that it found the invitation “interesting”, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that, “The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there. That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when he travels overseas. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

Under our constitution it is the President who negotiates treaties and these treaties are subject to the consent of the United States Senate. At this time the President along with our Secretary of State is attempting to negotiate a treaty with Iran on nuclear weapons with a June deadline. The President, as the chief spokesman of our nation, directs government officials and machinery in the daily conduct of diplomacy while having the principal responsibility for taking action to advance U.S. foreign policy interests. Congress in its oversight responsibility can affect the course of policy through enactment of legislation governing foreign relations and through the appropriation or denial of funds.

However, Speaker Boehner, most Republicans, and some Democrats want to place new sanctions on Iran which would more than likely scuttle any hopes of a treaty. While they do have a right to attempt to do this, it will probably be vetoed by our President. Experience has shown that cooperation between the two branches is necessary for a strong and effective U.S. foreign policy. Speaker Boehner is weakening our foreign policy by intervening with negotiations which are on going. I consider it dangerous to invite any leader of a foreign country to speak to a joint session of Congress on a specific issue of foreign policy. It is my strong view that Congress should never ask a head of state to speak to a joint session of Congress and advise and influence members of Congress about what to do.

In a statement about the invitation, Boehner said, “In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life. Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

J Street ad depicting motives of Mr. Netanyahu in speaking before Congress

In the NYTimes paper on February 26th: J Street ad depicting motives of Mr. Netanyahu in speaking before Congress

When speaking in Paris after the terrorist attacks he once again stated that wherever and whenever he speaks on behalf of Israel and for Jews world wide. As a Jew I resent this attempt and do not believe that Mr. Netanyahu speaks for the Jewish People.

As was written in The Jewish Forward:

“As perpetual minority actors on the world stage, we Jews must be able to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves, yes. But we also have survived because we have learned how to align our interests with those who protect and appreciate us, and, let us hope, with forces of good. We have survived into modern times because we haven’t relied on one leader — a king or prelate or pope — and instead embraced the fact that we are diverse in more ways than we can count. Why even Israel’s hierarchical rabbinate has two chiefs, one for the Ashkenazim and one for the Sephardim. It’s hard to imagine American Jews settling on anyone to represent them — except, perhaps, for Jon Stewart (at least until the end of the year).”

Our President has provided needed military weapons and defense systems. It is an affront to our President for an invitation to speak before Congress to go to the head of state of another country without at least our President’s input. It is even more of an affront for Mr. Netanyahu to accept the invitation with out any consultation with the White House.

At this point Congressman Charlie Rangel does not plan to attend that session while Congressmen Eliot Engel and Joe Crowley plan to attend.

“Frankly, the strong U.S.-Israel relationship, bipartisan relationship through the years, is stronger than any perceived slight or dispute,” Congressman Engel said. “I care about the U.S.-Israel relationship. It has always been bipartisan and will continue to be.”

Congressman Charles Rangel stated, “I don’t know what good could possibly come out of anybody visiting the United States Congress to take issue with my President. It would be wrong if it was some American that was picked by Democrats or Republicans and it’s worse for a person from a foreign government to take issue with a foreign policy that’s headed by my President.” Continuing he said, “The whole thing is a nightmare in diplomacy.”