Barack to Bibi: Stop “Meddling” In Our Politics

by James M. WallAP 2011

On Monday morning, January 12, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

An unidentified senior American official said that Obama warned Netanyahu “not to meddle in the battle” Obama was “waging against Congress over the sanctions legislation”.

Ha’aretz, reported the firmness with which Obama addressed Netanyahu:

“Obama stressed to Netanyahu that he is seeking to reach an agreement with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons and assure the international community in a verifiable fashion that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, 

One week later, after secret meetings with Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner invited Israel’s Prime Minister to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on February 11.

It is unprecedented for a House speaker to invite a foreign leader to speak to the Congress without prior consultation and agreement with the President of the United States.

Obama is aware that new sanctions legislation would probably sabotage negotiations between Obama, Iran and five other countries. For this reason, Obama has promised to veto any new sanctions legislation.

Nevertheless, the Speaker readily agreed when Netanyahu asked Boehner to shift the invitation to speak to the Congress from February 11 to March 3, only two weeks before Israel’s March 15 elections where Netanyahu faces strong opposition.

Netanyahu has a second reason to ask Boehner to move the date of his speech. According to Boehner, Netanyahu wanted to give his speech to the U.S. Congress during the time of the pro-Israel AIPAC conference in Washington, March 1. 

After consorting with American-born Israeli Ambassador Dermer, Boehner issued his initial invitation to Netanyahu behind Obama’s back.

Again, ignoring his own president, Speaker Boehner quickly agreed to the new AIPAC-friendly date of March 3. 

With this change, the Netanyahu-Boehner tag team (pictured above) achieves two Netanyahu goals: one, schmoozing with his AIPAC congressional funders while two, basking in the politically enhancing glow of all that congressional cheering.

This will be speech number three that Netanyahu delivers to a U.S. Congress, tying him with only one other world leader, Britain’s Winston Churchill who had delivered three speeches from the podium where U.S. presidents deliver their annual State of the Union addresses.

For its part, showing more diplomatic restraint than Netanyahu, the White House reacted to the Netanyahu-Boehner congressional insult by announcing that President Barack Obama would not meet with Netanyahu during his visit.

The official White House rationale was simple: “As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections.”

The White House also announced that Secretary of State John Kerry will not meet with Netanyahu. Vice President Joe Biden is also expected to ignore the Israeli leader, giving Netanyahu a trifecta snub.

What cares Netanyahu about diplomatic slights? He is fighting for his political life in Israel’s March 15 elections. If his party wins and reinstates him as prime minister, Bibi is looking toward to at least two years with an overly friendly Republican controlled congress.

His political motto is simple: Will travel anywhere for votes, even to grief-stricken events.

On January 7, masked gunmen killed 12 people in a Paris attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. It was among the deadliest such attacks in postwar France.

In response to the massacre, the French planned a “rally against terror”. The French government invited world leaders to participate in a march, while also sending word  to both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas not to attend.

A French official explained that French President Francois Hollande “wanted the event to focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

One French source noted that one “French concern – not conveyed to representatives of the Israeli government – was that Netanyahu would take advantage of the event for campaign purposes and make speeches, especially about the Jews of France.”

Such obvious political moves would be contrary to the French government’s desire to have the march promote a European solidarity as part of “dealing with the terror attacks.”

The same “please stay away” message was sent to President Abbas. Both Abbas and Netanyahu agreed to “stay away”. Each issued cover stories that they would not attend.

The night before the Paris march, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett announced they would go to Paris to take part in the march and meet with members of the Jewish community.

Netanyahu quickly informed the French he would also come to Paris for the march and meetings with Jewish groups.

With Netanyahu on his way to Paris, the French quickly invited Abbas a second time. Abbas accepted.

What followed early in the Paris march resembled a Buster Keaton silent street comedy. President Abbas was marching on the front row, absorbing full television camera attention, while Prime Minister Netanyahu was several rows back in the crowd.

But not for long. Yahoo News reported that Netanyahu literally pushed his way to the front of the line,

The picture below catches the leader of the modern state of Israel looking like Buster Keaton, barely concealing a poker face of innocence after pushing his way forward.

APTOPIX France Attacks Rally

The world leaders shown here marched in Paris on January 11, 2015. They are, from left to right, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, France’s President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU President Donald Tusk, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

In Washington, on March 3, there will be no competition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will not need to push. Speaker Boehner has already done that for him.

The pictures above are from Ha’aretz and AP.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
This entry was posted in Israel, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Barack to Bibi: Stop “Meddling” In Our Politics

  1. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Thank you, Jim, for clearly exposing Israeli “meddling” and attempts to sabotage vital US interests – with the help of some US puppets of Israel – such as, none other than US Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and a majority of members of Congress.
    In a stealthy move, Boehner unashamedly agreed to coordinate and “fix’ the timing of Netanyahu’s address to Congress with AIPAC’s “Assembly of terrorists”. That’s when most American politicians flock in to bow and worship the Israeli Baal.
    The purpose of this conspiracy is to humiliate our President, while flagrantly discrediting “America” itself, in a big way. It is for pushing our American armed forces into yet another “war of choice” to serve perceived Israeli interests; and last, but not least, giving Netanyahu a significant advantage in Israeli elections.
    It is time for President Obama to act courageously and to clearly demonstrate that this time US interests will be held above Israeli interests because the two are certainly not one and the same.

  2. J. Martin Bailey says:

    The research into the “back story” (really “back stories” ) that Jim Wall has presented here is very helpful. Clearly the Speaker of the House of Representatives needs (and got) a lesson in diplomatic protocol. He also needs and will surely get a slap in the face (figuratively speaking) for such a stupid bit of cheap drama. Netanyahu has received and will continue to suffer from his incredibly bold entry into American politics. World leaders who are rapidly turning away from Israel will find ways to respond. And without doubt, there will be further ways that the U.S. President will ignore this sandbox politician. The Israeli electorate, also, will see this for what it is, the desperate act of the naughtiest little boy in the neighborhood.

  3. Noushin says:

    Did you see the video game that popped up capturing Bibi’s jostling for position? It’s called “Push the Bibi”! See here: apparently Lapid called Bibi “uncouth.” The Forward covered it all in a blog post that includes a hilarious rendition of Bibi’s jostle set to Bugs Bunny music. See:

    The priceless Forward post ends thusly:

    “But the piece de resistance came immediately after Netanyahu had finished delivering his speech, and had already turned his back on the crowd to leave. Before he could step down from the bimah, one of the Jewish leaders grabbed a microphone and launched into a spontaneous rendition of the French national anthem. Not Hatikvah, but the Marseillaise. Within seconds the entire audience had joined in, singing loudly and emotionally.

    Netanyahu was forced to stand there, facing the yarmulke-wearing French Jews after just having finished telling them that their true home was Israel. Were his lips pressed together because he did not know the words? He did not look pleased at all.”

  4. Fred says:

    Americans need to swamp Boehner with calls, emails and letters, about his sneaky invitation, and stab in the back to Obama. We should ask him to withdraw the invitation. and ask our reps not to attend it if not withdrawn But all our Reps want Israel lobby money, so I don’t think that will happen. Get to DC if you can and protest the warmonger Netenyahu, who has recently slaughtered over 500 kids in Gaza, and has a stockpile of nukes ready to strike its neighbors at any time and wanting the US to go to war with Iran. It’s israel that needs to be on sanctions for nukes, not Iran.

    Christians are no match for zionists when it comes to controlling Congress. We whine and moan but have no influence compared to zionists with their huge financial backers like Adleson and Sabon, who are avowed Israel Firsters.

    Let’s really fight this disgusting, betrayal invitation to a warmonger and leader of a terrorist state. Let’s show that we are citizens, not slaves in our own country.

  5. Robert says:

    There is an excellent analysis of the opposite Mideast alliances forged by the US and Israel reflected in Netanyahu’s congressional visit:

    My question of Obama: If the “stop meddling” call is not to be laughed off and further enable Netanyahu, “the Senator from Israel,” to wag the dog, and if Obama wants to make half an effort to earn his Nobel prize, why doesn’t he simply vote in favour of a war crimes resolution or one recognizing the Palestinian state conveniently put forward by, say, Jordan on March 1?

  6. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Robert, That’s a great comment!

    Let’s hope that President Obama will have similar advice, contrary to Kerry’s making 50 calls to world leaders, on behalf of Netanyahu, to reject Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, let alone Statehood.

  7. Meddling in American politics puts it too mildly. Embedded in it is more like it. Bibi (with Boehner’s help) is making the US Congress an extension of his own administration. In fact, he has more power over the US Congress than he does the Knesset!

    How long will this go on? I am disgusted beyond the limit. My own Congressman is right in there with the rest of the Republicans (AND Democrats). There is more unanimity in support of the Zionist State than for any other single piece of legislation or foreign policy decision.

    Boehner is spitting deliberately in Obama’s face. Grovelling before a foreign power has reached new heights of obsenity.

    Money talks. It is screaming to high heaven. Most of these folks are being paid off. A whiff of half-heartedness and they lose their seat. How long O Lord, how long?

  8. Lynn Naibert says:

    Why not also invite to Congress the Pope and Dalai Lama, in a separate appearance, to speak to the disaster of perpetuating a cultural war, the path on which Israel is pushing the US and the Western world!

  9. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    To Lynn Naibert, This is a brilliant idea!!!
    Let us spread the word and have as many as possible phone the White House with your idea.

  10. Roy Hayes says:

    Thanks, Jim. I’ve shared this one with my mailing list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s