I hope many of your were able to listen to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech today before a joint meeting of Congress. I also hope my Berean colleagues will weigh in with their comments on the speech and the context for it. As you may know, Prime Minister Netanyahu was invited by Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner to speak to that body. President Obama was almost immediately and vehemently opposed to the Prime Minister’s coming and speech. About 50 members of Congress (out of 535 total, Senate and House) were also opposed. The opponents were quite vocal and sometimes a bit more than that. Netanyahu came and gave his speech today, March 2, 2015.
My take on the speech may not be perfect, but it is after all my own analysis. First, the Prime Minister laid out a clear and compelling argument against what he knows about Obama’s peace plan with Iran—the principal point of contention here. He marshalled his facts well, and logically made his case. It was passionate but not overly emotional nor rhetorical. In summary the plan, as he knows it (and Obama did not let him know any details—and still has not) is dangerous for the survival of the State of Israel because it gives away too much (for example, after ten years Iran would be allowed a nuclear bomb—as it stands now) and it is non-enforceable in effect. If that is what Obama finally proposes, then the Prime Minister is correct. And not only that, but it would also be dangerous for the Middle East, for the United States and for the world.
I am not suggesting that the United States needs to get entangled in a war with Iran. But neither can it sit idly by as Iran, a very hostile nation, does whatever it wishes. Moreover, if one accepts that it is possible to “defend others” legitimately, when they are threatened, then do we not owe Israel aid of some kind? This would be a just war principle that has long been accepted. And Israel is after all the only truly democratic nation is the entire region—that counts for something.
I have tried to listen carefully to the ideas of the President on this because I do believe it is worth talking as long as one can. Beneficial results might emerge. But Iran has had a long (36 years) history of acting aggressively and sponsoring terrorism. It has not been trustworthy with the United Nations. And it continues to vow to destroy Israel and Jews. That is not a record to be trusted.
Prime Minister Netanyahu did not suggest there should be no negotiations and no peace plan. He explicitly said he wanted something if possible. But he did not want the current plan by the President. Perhaps the United States might want to actually consult Israel a bit more. Perhaps also Congress may decide to take matters into its own hands an restrict the President’s ability to possibly sell Israel out. Unfortunately, it has looked more and more like the President simply does not like Israel all that much, or at least does not want to appear that he does. That doesn’t show very strong leadership. But worse, his ideas seem to be skewed against Israel and for other Middle Eastern nations that oppose Israel. I am not in a position—no one is—to analyze the inner motivation for his ideas. But that doesn’t matter. One doesn’t have to know why the President is doing what he is doing to know that is not a good deal.
One more point. Many Christians view Israel as a “favored” nation be virtue of being founded by a chosen people—the Jews (see Genesis 12 and 15). My purpose here is not to get into the theological discussion on that issue, simply because even if one did not believe Israel is specially favored by God, the deal at hand is nevertheless a bad one.