Op-Ed: Can’t We All Just get Along?

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ywe[By: N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.]

Diplomatic protocol is sacrosanct to world leaders. Adherence to the unofficial rules of international diplomacy is universally expected and any deviation from those rubrics is viewed as a serious breach of this unwritten code.

As savvy as he is, Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, committed a big blunder when he worked exclusively with House Speaker John Boehner to arrange for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in March.

Let us forget for a moment that the speech was scheduled to take place just a short time prior to the upcoming Israeli elections for the Knesset. That alone elevated the Ambassador’s actions to a major faux pas. Let us instead focus on what the core of the problem appears to be, namely, that the White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress were kept in the dark until just shortly before the Prime Minister’s plans were made public.

By collaborating with Speaker Boehner, to the exclusion of his colleagues across the political aisle and without involving the President, Ambassador Dermer committed a gross miscalculation that appears to have thrown the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship into utter turmoil. Amidst angry statements from the White House and threats from Democratic lawmakers that they will boycott the Prime Minister’s address, the once seemingly unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel appears to have ruptured to a certain extent.

Vice President Biden announced that he would not attend the speech, and a slew of Senators and Representatives stated that they would boycott the address. Viewing the speech as a sign of disrespect to President Obama, many members of the Congressional Black Caucus declared their intent to boycott the Prime Minister’s address, including renowned civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis.

I understand why the White House and the Democratic lawmakers, many of whom are strong supporters of Israel, are angry. This entire situation was handled poorly from the outset and the controversy that ultimately arose could have easily been avoided. That being said, it is time to move on and to look at the bigger picture.

U.S. Congressional leaders need to coalesce around Prime Minister Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress and not allow the partisan debate surrounding the speech to undercut the strong U.S.-Israel relationship. The Prime Minister’s address, which is scheduled to take place shortly before the March 31 deadline to reach a deal concerning Iran’s nuclear program, is expected to focus on the grave threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran and spotlight the ramifications of a potential agreement that softens the sanctions and empowers one of the world’s most notorious and active state sponsors of terrorism.

With the deadline to reach an agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear capabilities rapidly approaching, an address by the Israeli Prime Minister, who has long warned about the existential threat that a nuclear Iran poses to the world, not only makes sense, but is vitally important. As someone who has closely monitored the Iranian situation and whose country and citizens have repeatedly been the targets of terrorist groups intent on destroying them, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s perspective on Iran is a credible and critical piece to a very complex diplomatic puzzle.

At the same time, while I fully support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to accept an invitation to address Congress, I am deeply troubled by the partisan divide that has ensued and the political rancor that it has engendered.

I am extraordinarily grateful for the United States’ longstanding and resolute relationship with the State of Israel and recognize that the enduring nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship has always been rooted in bipartisan support. It is my hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will proceed with his address to Congress as planned and that lawmakers from both major political parties will attend and listen to what he has to say on an issue that has global implications and with which the Prime Minister is intimately familiar.

We cannot afford to allow partisan politics to overshadow a key issue that warrants bipartisan support. In this instance, where the status of the United States’ relationship with its key ally in the Middle East seemingly hangs in the balance, bipartisanship and cooperation must transcend party politics.

“Israel’s survival is not a partisan issue, not in Israel nor in the United States,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. “I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country.”

There is no question that the planning process surrounding the Prime Minister’s Congressional address may have been flawed, but that should not diminish the importance of the subject matter to be discussed. Lawmakers in Washington, DC need to break through the partisan squabble that developed after plans for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech were announced, check their egos and emotions at the door, and come hear what he has to say.

Can’t we all just get along? For Israel’s sake, I hope that the answer is “yes.”

N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler




8 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Troodler:

    You’re a typical lawyer, talking out of both sides of your mouth. I am pleased that you sided with the utter need for every public official to listen to Bibi and his message. Let’s examine the several major flaws in your reasoning.

    The responsibility to adhere to this unwritten set of rules of protocol is squarely on the shoulders of Boehner, not any Israeli official. Not Bibi, nor any ambassador, should bother with Boehner’s compliance or absence thereof, to this “code”. Israel, as far as this political “code” goes, owes the White House absolutely nothing. In the light of Obama’s consistent rejection of Israel and its safety, there is also no reason that Israel should “give the extra inch”.

    Why, pray tell, why, have we stooped to make this unwritten protocol sacrosanct? Why do we prioritize this over the deathly risks of Iran going nuclear? Don’t we recall foods that have microscopic amounts of contamination, where the chances of being affected are miniscule? Iran has not only a track record of failure to comply with any form of supervision and inspection, but it has made its intent on possessing nuclear weapons clear, together with its intention to use the first one to annihilate Israel. The White House, in the effort to appease anyone with an evil mind, is trying to make “peace” with savages. The risk to Israel is clearly unimportant to Obama. All he wants to do with terrorists is offer them jobs! Our Congress needs to listen to the facts that Bibi has to share. And if his set of facts differs from those pushed by Obama, I swear that I will sooner trust Bibi than Obama. His track record for honesty is perfect. Obama’s is quite the opposite.

    Lastly, the ire of Obama and his co-conspirators does not translate into a “rupture of the unbreakable bond” that exists between United States and Israel. It simply means that Obama has a policy that has ignored the special relationship that has existed between Israel and Congress, which parallels the awful relationship that Obama has with the legislative branch. It points to the partisan politics “code” that matters more to the current administration than the governing of our country to fulfill the mandates of civility and morality that comprise the Constitution.

    The first half of your article contains numerous, glaring gaps of intellect, which adequately and accurately represent the corrupt thinking that will catapult Obama into the sewer of history of United States, while he might get into the Terror Hall of Fame. I am grateful that you opine with the urge to the politicians who are too stubborn to think to attend Bibi’s speech anyway.

  2. Mr. Troodler,
    This issue is about a fundamental separation of powers. The Obama Administration has been ignoring legislative protocol for years with its overreaching executive actions. Congress–as an equal branch of government–has the duty to check the power of the executive branch. The founding fathers intended it to be this way. Congress is simply responding to a provocative administration in a language that the Obama Administration understands; provocation. It is the exact type of proportionate response that was written about hundreds of years ago in the Federalist Papers. This is only one example in which the Legislature is attempting to check the power of the Executive, and it just so happens to be that Israel is thrown into the middle, and that the Legislature is controlled by the Republican Party. This is no coincidence. Congress wants to hit a nerve with Obama to effectuate change in the same way he does. Also, your first paragraph is written way too fancily. Chill; this is The Yeshiva World.

  3. There was no diplomatic breach. America invited the leader of Israel. The foreign leader doesn’t need to check if all levers of American government are on board. That is the internal responsibility of the American officials who issued the invitation. Nor is it any breach for a foreign leader to make a State visit close to his election time.

    Mr. Troodler, stop eating everything the media is feeding you.

  4. Of course he is talking out of both sides of his mouth. N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations. Two of the most un-needed professions in the world.

  5. After Begin was elected PM, he was scheduled to visit Washington and meet with President Carter. There was one problem: the meeting was scheduled for the nine days, when we are told to avoid court cases with non-Jews because of the bad mazel of those days. Begin asked Rabbi Porush to ask HaRav Shach whether the warning about the nine days applied to his having an official meeting with the U.S. President. HaRav Shach answered that the warning about the mazel of the nine days only applies to an individual, not the community, and he said that Begin should go. But, “Before he speaks with the President, he should read through Parshas Vayishlach.” Begin thanked Rabbi Porush and told him, “Menachem I want you to know I am not [only] a maamin be’emunah sheleimah; I am a meimen be’eminohshleimah.” (Putting a spin on the pronunciation, Begin switched from Hebrew to Yiddish – using his inflection to signal to Rabbi Porush that he wasn’t merely dati [at heart]. He identified internally as a heimishe Yid.

  6. I could be proud to be an American, if it wasn’t an America that elected Obama two times. We all saw how the Democratic National Convention went last time…once the Democratic Party was a haven for a variety on the political spectrum… Moderate….Liberal….Ultra-Liberal, then Israel(as a nationalistic and traditional state) could hold hope of being supported by both parties. However, most recently, the Demos have been hijacked by the Ultra-Liberals and Moderates hide their faces, and Liberals have lost their reticence, and we are presented with a full blown Obama brand politics…who could even begin to “get along” with something like that?