Former Israeli Opposition Leader Puts Bibi-Boehner Ploy Bluntly

by Jim Lobe

Yossi Sarid, the former head of Israel’s Meretz Party and leader of the opposition in the Knesset from 2001 to 2003, has just written a very blunt—far too blunt for “acceptable” political discourse in Washington, DC—op-ed published Sunday by Haaretz. Unfortunately, it’s behind a pay wall, so the most I can do is extract a few excerpts. The title is straightforward: “Beware: Republican Jews on the Warpath,” and Sarid, who also served as minister of education under Ehud Barak, doesn’t pull any punches about what Boehner’s fraudulent invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is really all about.

Now it’s no longer a “crisis in the relationship” that they try to paper over; now it’s no longer just “tensions with the White House” that they’re making every effort to reduce in between meetings; now, it’s an open war with the United States. It’s Sheldon Adelson versus Barack Obama, and Israel is caught in the cross-fire.

After Vice President Joe Biden, our greatest friend over there, announced an unspecified trip abroad that will prevent him from being in Congress at the fateful hour, Republican Jewish organizations launched a campaign of intimidation against those lawmakers who had already announced their intent to skip the joint session: Their political fate will be bitter.

…Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer, in the service of his master, is rallying his troops and launching a combined assault on Capitol Hill. Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to show the president once and for all who really rules in Washington, who is the landlord both here and there.

One Matthew Brooks – the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who does the will of its financial backers – explained over the weekend, “We will commit whatever resources we need to make sure that people are aware of the facts, that given the choice to stand with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu in opposition to a nuclear Iran, they chose partisan interests and to stand with President Obama.” Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, added unambiguously, “We will, of course, be publicly condemning any Democrats who don’t show up for the speech — unless they have a doctor’s note.” Doctor, this man is sick and urgently needs tranquilizers.

Israel, which until now was a cornerstone of bipartisanship, has become loathsome to its traditional supporters. Benjamin Nitay Netanyahu, the Israeli-American, has made it into something that reeks, even among its longtime supporters.

In these very moments, the protocols are being rewritten. Rich Jews are writing them in their own handwriting. They, in their wealth, are confirming with their own signatures what anti-Semites used to slander them with in days gone by: We, the elders of Zion, pull the strings of Congress, and the congressmen are nothing but marionettes who do our will. If they don’t understand our words, they’ll understand our threats. And if in the past, we ran the show from behind the scenes, now we’re doing it openly, from center stage. And if you forget our donations, the wellspring will run dry.

You’ll remember that Obama, during an off-the-record meeting with Democratic senators three weeks ago, reportedly appealed to them to resist “donors and others” who opposed a deal with Iran and were pushing for new sanctions legislation that risked sabotaging the nuclear-focused talks with Iran and an eventual deal. Sen. Robert Menendez, who has been pushing for such legislation for more than a year, reportedly replied that he took “personal offense” at Obama’s remarks about donors, apparently interpreting Obama’s comments as suggesting that Menendez’s position was motivated by his desire and need for campaign cash.

The New York Times helpfully noted in a profile of Menendez that the New Jersey senator had received $341,170 from hard-line pro-Israel groups over the past seven years, “more than any other Democrat in the Senate.” (In fact, he received more money than any other Senate candidate—Democratic or Republican—in the 2012 elections, while his Republican comrade-in-arms and co-sponsor for sanctions legislation, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, has received more campaign cash from pro-Israel political actions committees (PACs) associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) than any other member of Congress over the past decade. And that doesn’t necessarily include all the much-harder-to-track money provided by donors like Adelson, who chairs Brooks’s RJC, through super PACS and other vehicles.)  Indeed, there’s no doubt that Obama’s reference to “donors” touched a very sensitive nerve with Menendez.

Sarid, whose op-ed is most unlikely to appear in any mainstream U.S. publication, has now pounded it with a sledgehammer.

Photo Credit: Jolanda Flubacher

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. For what it’s worth, if this post doesn’t cry out for the end of PAC’s, financial reform, eliminating the continual begging for funds, which only come from those with the most to give, then I don’t know what does. We seem to be at a crossroads in our Congress-in fact-the whole of our Government, where it’s either corruption or cleaning house, bar none.

  2. Quite arguably, there is more to the story than a simple breach of diplomatic protocol in Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Mr. Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress with a goal of scuttling the Administration’s negotiation with Iran. 18 U.S. Code § 953 provides in relevant part:

    “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

    That prohibition raises the question of whether Mr. Boehner had the “authority of the United States” to issue his invitation. He did not. The Supreme Court explained:

    “Not only, as we have shown, is the federal power over external affairs in origin and essential character different from that over internal affairs, but participation in the exercise of the power is significantly limited. In this vast external realm, with its important, complicated, delicate and manifold problems, the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great argument of March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, ‘The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations.’ Annals, 6th Cong., col. 613.”

    United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 299 US 304, 320-321 (1936).

    Speaker Boehner violated the Constitution’s separation of powers when he invited Mr. Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress. Any such invitation to a foreign head of state can lawfully issue only from the Executive.

    Mr. Boehner, conceivably because he is aware of section 953, has been careful to seek refuge in Congressional power to investigate in regard to the invitation. But his true purpose would be for a jury to decide and the circumstatial evidence is compelling that the purpose was to further a goal of blowing up the Administration’s Iran negotiation. (After all, that is the topic of Mr. Netanyahu’s scheduled speech that Boehner himself announced.) Accordingly, there is a strong argument that Speaker Boehner’s invitation was a felonious violation of section 953.

  3. As an American I am offended that a foreign country has so much sway over foreign policy. As an Iranian-American I am horrified that how easily the fate and lives of 70 million Iranians is so casually discussed by some members of congress; has there not been enough wars initiated by US in Mid-East and left to fester and make locals suffer indefinitely?
    Thank Mr. Lobe for posting the Israeli article.

  4. Firstly, donors and lobbyists are present in every nationality and interest group, including the very wealthy and oil rich Arab nations, and state sponsors of terrorism like Qatar and Turkey and Hamas are receiving huge handouts from this administration. Secondly, Obama has proven himself from the beginning to align politically and geographically with extremist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, backstabbing Israel and Netanyahu at every opportunity. Thirdly, and most important, Israel and many Jews probably see this as a life and death matter with an “enemy” in the White House and Iran threatening to use their deadly weaponry, acquired with the complicity of Obama and much of Europe to obliterate Israel. Evidence of this goal is in Iranian sponsorship of terrorism attacks on Israel and Jews world wide, and at present amassing their proxy troops with Hezbollah on Lebanese and Israeli borders. Hence, the huge and perhaps ill conceived risk Netanyahu and his supporters have taken to address the American people through Congress directly.

  5. Cathy Cherian – It is still the President who decided who to deal with outside the borders.. Netanyahu may be the most paranoid jealous in medicated looney out there in the world who hears the voices of Iranian and Hamas and Hizbullah threatening him and his flock of sheep but the solution is not to invite and let him rant but to treat properly .
    There are many lobbies in US. There are even lobbies for the homeless people . But to equate all other lobbies including NRA or AARP with AIPAc is like comparing Papua New Guinea with Australia and then trying to justify that on the ground of proximity or some other features.

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