Will There Be a Fourth Speech to Congress by Netanyahu?
It would be a great thing for Congress — and all Americans — to hear from Israel’s likely next prime minister at this juncture, and not only on the Mideast.
One of the possibilities in the next congress to which we’re looking forward is that of Prime Minister Netanyahu being invited back to address a joint meeting of the House and Senate. This hasn’t been suggested — yet — but with the Democrats bent on appeasing Iran, the war in Ukraine growing more dangerous, Russia threatening to use an A-bomb, and the left in hysterics over being spurned by the voters in Israel, it’s hard to think of a moment more apt.
The first time Mr. Netanyahu, a center-right leader, addressed a Joint Meeting — in 1996 — the GOP controlled both houses. The second time, in 2011, the Democrats controlled the Senate and the GOP the House. The third time, in 2015, Republicans controlled both houses, and the visit was arranged without the involvement of the White House. The invitation to Mr. Netanyahu from Speaker Boehner sent President Obama into a category ten snit.
Vice President Biden made a point of skipping Mr. Netanyahu’s speech. Yet Mr. Netanyahu got a thunderous, bipartisan welcome and delivered one of the most substantive parleys ever to a congressional joint meeting. It might be that President Biden would try to block Mr. Netanyahu from coming to America for another such speech. White House sources are telling Israeli reporters that he has yet to call Mr. Netanyahu to congratulate him.
Yet maybe Mr. Biden would rise to the occasion. Mr. Netanyahu is, after all, one of only two foreign leaders to have addressed a joint meeting three times. Winston Churchill used his third speech to dilate on, among other things, how he had himself had become a Zionist early in the 20th century and to kvell on Israel’s progress. That speech was in 1952, when Truman was still in office. Were Mr. Netanyahu to be invited back, he’d be the only four-timer.
The last time the Israeli leader spoke, his remarks were focused on alerting Congress to the danger of appeasing Iran and to shortcomings in the pact that was then being negotiated. Seven years later, thanks to President Trump, we are no longer party to what’s left of the agreement, and the protocols seem more illogical than ever, particularly while a popular rebellion against Iran’s Islamist regime is being mounted by Iranians.
It would be a great thing for Congress — and all Americans — to hear from Mr. Netanyahu at this juncture, and not only on the Israel. Iran, with its drones, is, after all, now entering the fray on Russia’s side in Ukraine while prosecuting its war across the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen. Mr. Netanyahu could talk, too, about the Abraham Accords and what he thinks are the prospects, if there are any, for peace between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Netanyahu could also talk about Israel’s democracy, given the way the latest election is being portrayed in the pro-Democratic press. No less a scribe than Thomas Friedman has just brought out a column lamenting: “The Israel We Knew Is Gone.” The vote in Israel could lead to a “nightmare” government like, he imagines, one led by Mr. Trump, and the ilk of Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, the Reverend James Dobson, and the Proud Boys.
So Mr. Netanyahu could pick up from where he ended his speech last time he addressed Congress. That was where he gestured to the bas-relief of Moses, whose exodus from Egypt helped inspire America’s own early settlers and whose image now overlooks our legislature and whose laws have served as a kind of constitution of the Jewish people. We don’t want to press that point to any inappropriate degree, but neither would we ignore it.
We are struck that in recent years not a single world leader — including Presidents Biden and Macron, say, or Prime Minister Johnson or Chancellor Merkel — has given a major strategic speech or call to global action. Who better to do that than Mr. Netanyahu, a combat veteran, a son of one of the West’s greatest historians and, by time in grade, a senior statesman? What an opportunity for the 118th Congress to get off on a historic footing.