To speak or not to speak

To speak or not to speak

A controversial topic in the news is whether or not Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should give his planned speech on Iran to Congress.

It is important first to acknowledge how far we have come in limiting Iran economically. The Iranian currency has plummeted, its exports and GDP have suffered, and its currency reserves are dangerously close to default.

Congress deserves credit, but so does the Obama administration. This president embraced the Iran sanctions legislation passed during his first term in office, and worked with other countries to make it effective. No other president has enforced sanctions against Iran as competently as President Barack Obama. By contrast, during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, not a single Iran sanctions bill even got to the floor for a vote, despite President Bush’s well-known affection for Israel

Iran is an expansionist terrorist state, with proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Even thought it is crippled economically, it is advancing its WMD program and has managed to support the wars in Syria and Yemen. A faulty agreement with Iran would undo all our hard work, and likely result in even more aggressive behavior throughout the region.

Since the P5+1 negotiations with Iran began about 2 years ago, the Obama administration has taken great pains to squelch any opposition to their sole jurisdiction and management of these negotiations. They have chastised members of Congress who support additional sanctions, accusing them of pushing America to war. Of course, the opposite is true. If the negotiations are progressing after almost two years of Iranian stalling, it is because a more damaging sanctions bill just passed the Senate Banking Committee, 18-4.

As it has excluded Congress, the administration largely has shut Israel out of the negotiations process.

We implore the leaders in Washington to remember the stakes. Iran has stated its goal – the destruction of America and Israel – repeatedly and in certain terms. For Israel, the threat is very palpable. With just one bomb, Iran can do to the Jews in 12 minutes what Hitler did in 12 years. The most devoted and knowledgeable strategists on this issue are our Israeli counterparts, who understand that only a zero enrichment agreement is verifiable.

The P5+1 negotiations with Iran are scheduled to produce a political agreement, similar to a letter of intent, on March 24. This is why PM Netanyahu believes he must speak out now against the dangers of a faulty agreement. Rescheduling this after the Israeli election may be too late.

We believe it would improve the outcome for President Obama to be inclusive, so the Israeli leadership can have more input into the agreement. The House speaker’s invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress, and the speech’s timing, close to the Israeli election, may break typical protocol, but there are life-threatening issues at stake. While it is heartbreaking that some members of Congress with whom the pro-Israel community has had deep friendships plan to miss the prime minister’s speech, we hope and expect that most members of Congress will attend. We likewise would ask the president to consider meeting with the prime minister. By meeting now with the prime minister, President Obama will elevate the president’s office and enhance the administration’s bargaining position with Iran.

Netanyahu’s upcoming address to Congress is not about insulting the honorable president. No Israeli leader would do that gratuitously. It is about a desperate Israel trying to save itself and the world from Iranian terror and its messianic ambitions. The Israeli prime minister will travel 6,000 miles to be heard, and the March 24 P5+1 negotiations deadline with Iran makes this time of the essence.

We would ask the president and all members of Congress to take a few minutes to show solidarity with our trusted ally in this perilous time.