Why Is Bibi Challenging Obama?

What we are currently watching is a battle between two men, each of whom believes that he will leave his name in the annals of history. There is Barack Obama, who has nothing left before him except to reach toward an agreement with Iran in order for history to remember him. Then there is Benjamin Netanyahu, or “Bibi,” as his citizens call him, who wants to play the role of the Israeli leader that saved Iran.

Bibi wouldn’t challenge the resident of the White House even if there actually was a strong president leading the only superpower in the world, who knows how to deal with leaders of other countries, including the Israeli prime minister.

There was no political value to Bibi’s speech in front of Congress, which put the man down in history, quite unfortunately, within the ranks of Winston Churchill. Before the Israeli prime minister delivered his speech in front of Congress, Churchill was the only world leader to have addressed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives a total of three times.

Maybe the difference was that Churchill did not sneak into Congress behind the American president’s back. On the contrary, his invitation to speak to representatives of the American people came, each time, from all the necessary governmental bodies and authorities.

Bibi’s presence in Congress was the opposite, having been invited by Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner and the provocative way in which he was welcomed — an insult to the U.S. and Israel at the same time.

The Israeli prime minister came to protest the agreement that could be reached between the P5+1 group — the U.S., Russia, France, China, the U.K. and Germany — and Iran regarding its nuclear program. He seized the opportunity to launch a relentless campaign against Iranian politics. He recalled terrorist acts that he believes Iran stood behind, including the bombing of the Marine headquarters in Beirut in October 1983. He mentioned the senior military official from Hezbollah, Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in a suburb of Damascus in February 2008. He estimated that Imad Mughniyah killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden. He also recalled, in order to support his position, Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah and the threats he directed at Israel.

There is a very important matter that Bibi disregarded. He ignored, above all, Israel’s responsibility for the instability in the region. Israel does all that it can to prevent any progress in the peace process with the Palestinians. Bibi has no goal but to stand in the way of peace, and prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

Surely, reaching an arrangement between the Palestinians and Israel won’t solve the Middle East’s problems, which increase daily. However, such a compromise would block the road to Iran — a country that does business with the Palestinians and supports their cause. If the Israeli prime minister really wants to address Iran, then the first thing to do is pursue negotiations with the Palestinian side in order to reach a solution, and not negotiate for the sake of negotiating. If he actually intends to limit confrontations with Iran, as he claims, he would stop the practice of settlement policy in the West Bank. This policy feeds extremism in all its forms and allows for Iran to bid on the Arabs and Palestinians, and appear to care about Jerusalem the most out of all of them!

Bibi’s remarks in Congress were true words with a false intention. Most of the Arab countries complain about Iranian politics and the expansionist project associated with it, which produces terrorists and terrorist operations. Iranian politics in Syria, Iraq and even Lebanon played an essential role in the growth of the Islamic State by expanding it and creating an incubator for it in regions with a Sunni majority. This reality is one thing, but Israel’s using Iranian politics to its advantage is something completely different. Israel made no progress in suggesting that it objects to what Iran is doing. Everything that Israel does follows the movement of the Iranian game, responding to Iran in a way that opposes the interests of both parties. This is what transpired in Lebanon and Iraq, and this is what is happening in Syria now.

Israel never said a single word when the matter pertained to Iranian practices in the region, especially in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They never objected to these practices, given that they were a good cover for terrorizing the state — something that the Israeli leaders themselves practice, with Bibi Netanyahu at the head. Netanyahu never took the small step of indicating that he wants peace and stability in the region, and to combat terrorism.

This was the Israeli prime minister’s third speech in front of Congress for Israeli consumption. Will this speech, which was a successful exercise in public relations, help Bibi’s success in the Israeli elections on March 17? This is the big question. This is the reason that Bibi came to Washington at a time that wouldn’t have served to advance the agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear crisis and wouldn’t have delayed anything, either. So the topic is not the nuclear crisis so much as it is Iranian politics in the region, and the American administration’s comprehension of the gravity of the situation. Do you serve as a wake-up call on this policy, Bibi, and the seriousness of the Israeli right wing?

There is a real deterioration of Israel. This decline is tied largely to the figure of Bibi Netanyahu, who brings out the political vacuum in a sick society. He bet 20 years ago — that is, since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 — on extremism and extremists, including in Iranian politics. He attacks Iran in order to avoid the end of the occupation, nothing more.

There remains another side to Bibi’s speech in front of Congress. This is the American side. Barack Obama was exposed as never before by a country whose Congress ordinarily stands strong with the president every time it is in confrontation with a foreign party.

Obama appeared weak. It seemed like a figment of the president’s imagination. Is this the same place from which Dwight Eisenhower requested, through Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a stop to the tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1956 so that Israel would withdraw immediately from the Sinai? Eisenhower did not need to intervene personally for his wishes to become more than orders …

Meanwhile, George Bush, Sr. and Secretary of State James Baker pulled Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Shamir by his nose to the Madrid Conference in 1991. Is this only a matter of U.S. weakness, or is it a difference in priorities between America and Israel?

Such a difference might have long-term results of the utmost importance for the future of relations between the two countries.

In any case, it is an American and Israeli downfall. It isn’t within Bibi’s capabilities to ensure his steps are fully effective if there is someone in the White House who is able to see the alternative perspective … Instead, Netanyahu’s speech was an “insult to the intelligence of the United States,” in the words of Nancy Pelosi, Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives — and Pelosi is not known for hostility toward Israel in any shape or form!

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