Here are five reasons Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should politely decline House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address a joint session of Congress:
● It’s inappropriate. It doesn’t matter what good allies the United States and Israel are, and it doesn’t matter how bad relations may be between Netanyahu and President Obama. Allies don’t go big-footing around in each other’s politics. It also doesn’t matter how worthy the cause. In 1793, when Citizen Genêt traveled through the United States, drumming up support for revolutionary France (and overtly violating President George Washington’s policy of U.S. neutrality), he no doubt thought it was a worthy cause — and so did the many Americans, including numerous Jeffersonian Republicans and Washington opponents, who welcomed him with open arms. But it was an unacceptable intrusion into the U.S. political system. Thomas Jefferson himself, then secretary of state, took Washington’s side.
● It will damage Israel’s image in the United States. Israel enjoys a great deal of sympathy among Americans, but there is such a thing as overplaying a hand. Even among those who may be enjoying the spectacle of Obama being defied (and, by the way, patriotic Americans should not be enjoying that spectacle, no matter how they feel about Obama), when all is said and done, Netanyahu’s visit may leave a sour taste. Genêt’s visit ultimately did more to discredit than help France in the eyes of many Americans, even some who had otherwise been sympathetic or neutral toward the revolution.