Treating Netanyahu Like Winston Churchill

When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Congress for his second time in 2011, both parties competed in jumping up and down to applaud. Now, Netanyahu’s fans want him back a third time, an honor only bestowed on Great Britain’s Winston Churchill, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Since the wise setting aside of a negotiation-undermining bill that would have imposed still more sanctions on Iran, some members of Congress have been feeling itchy as a result of not getting their regular fix of votes that they can portray as support for Israel. Their unease is perhaps a testimony to the continued strength of the lobby that pushes for such votes, despite its recent setbacks on the sanctions bill and a couple of other issues.

So some members of the House of Representatives have sent a letter to their chamber’s leadership asking that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be invited to address a joint session of Congress when he is in Washington next month to speak to AIPAC’s annual mass meeting. “Doing so,” they say in the letter, “would send a clear message of U.S. support to Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Actually, the support involved would not be to Israel but instead to a particular Israeli government. In any event, one noteworthy attribute of the letter is the partisan make-up of the signatories: 79 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

It is another indication of the increasing association of the lobby with only one side of the aisle, which cannot be very reassuring to the lobby. Possibly once the composition of the signatory list started to become clear some Republicans refrained from signing on to avoid making the partisan split appear even more lopsided.

If Netanyahu were invited to address Congress next month it would be an extraordinary instance of honoring someone who has repeatedly been poking a stick in the eye of the country bestowing the honor. Among other things, he has been doing everything he can to sabotage the current negotiations with Iran, which is one of the most important foreign policy initiatives the United States and its five foreign partners currently have going.

He also has been pursuing policies — including continued colonization of occupied territory and the adding of new demands — likely to ensure failure of another set of negotiations important to the United States, the one involving the Palestinians.

Even if members of Congress were to ignore these factors, one might expect them to be mindful of not cheapening the currency when it comes to one of the few symbolically important ways that Congress can make a foreign policy statement. Ever since the Marquis de Lafayette became in 1824 the first foreigner to address Congress, the privilege has not been profligately bestowed. President Park Geun-hye of South Korea was the only foreign dignitary invited to do so last year. None were invited in 2012.

Now get this: Netanyahu already has addressed Congress twice: in 2011 and during his earlier stint as prime minister in 1996. Only one person has been given the honor of doing so three times: Winston Churchill — twice during World War II and again in 1952. People want to put the stick-poker on the same level as Churchill?

The preferences of the foreign government Netanyahu heads will get more than enough attention in Washington when he rallies his loyal troops at AIPAC.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)


  14 comments for “Treating Netanyahu Like Winston Churchill

  1. Hillary
    February 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    The Bible probably wasn’t written down in something like its present form until the Babylonian exile ( 586-539 B.C.)
    The writers of the Bible have people riding camels before camels were domesticated when camels were not domesticated anywhere in the region before 1000BC.
    Bible Scribes reworked the folk tales of the Canaanites and have people riding camels before camels were domesticated thus projecting sixth-century BC realities back into the past.
    Why is there complete silence when Netanyahu continually refers to a 4,000 year Jewish history with its exaggerated claims.

    • lexy677
      February 22, 2014 at 3:25 am

      Why is there complete silence?…. Well who will “bell the cat?”. If you speak up, you are an anti-Semite; although none of these people look Semitic to me. You are up against a horde of organizations who would destroy your life or in extreme cases even murder you. The news media will excoriate you, you might even lose your job. Most people have an extreme interest in living their lives without having to face these kinds of unpleasantness….that’s why.

  2. rosemerry
    February 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    It really is disgraceful, and no other country has a hope of this pandering. How can someone so extreme, with such illegal actions in his “own land” and such lies when anyone dares to criticise any aspect of his policy, continue to influence a superpower?
    Peace and/or justice in Palestine/Israel cannot be reached when such a leader is encouraged to behave without any attempt to negotiate or follow the rule of law.

  3. February 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Personally this Zionist war criminal should be addressing a tribunal in the Hague along with all those war criminals that are in the US Government today, and AIPAC.

    Israel is the land of opression and aparthied which is even worse than South Africa ever was. These bastards are Charlatans and Thieves and deserve nothing less than life in prison with no possibility of parole.

    February 21, 2014 at 1:37 am

    If the Media picks up video being circulated about the Drug Trail and Secret Government with the list of names involved, this Nation may finally concentrate on the danger we are facing and those Neo con may decide time to lay low. But we need help promoting those tapes. What is interesting is that one tape was prepared from the Far Right “The Patriot” Radio, the other right here. We can work together if we concentrate on taking back this Nation instead of Political Party Power.

  5. Anonymous
    February 21, 2014 at 1:57 am

    ERROR on my message above. The second tape was in ICH Information Clearing House yesterday.

  6. February 21, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Churchill was technically Prime Minister three times, counting the “Caretaker Government” he headed in May-July 1945 after his WW2 coalition broke up. But he became PM only once as the result of an election (1951). In any case he’s hardly the only three-time Prime Minister. There was Margaret Thatcher, for example–and three times as the result of elections.
    –Richard Langworth, Editor, Finest Hour,

  7. borat
    February 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Two mortar shells exploded in the Golan Heights at the Israeli-Syrian border on Tuesday shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had visited the area with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz.
    No injuries were reported.
    The Israeli dignitaries were visiting a field hospital where IDF medics and soldiers risk their lives to treat wounded Syrians caught in the brutal fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels.
    “I visited today the base where people who have been wounded in the fighting in Syria are being treated,” Netanyahu said. “On the day when talks between the major powers and Iran are being opened in Vienna, it is important that the world sees the pictures from this place, which divides the good that is in the world from the bad.
    “The good part is that Israel is saving the lives of those who have been wounded in the daily slaughter that is being perpetrated in Syria,” he continued. “This is the true face of Israel. The bad part is that Iran is arming those who are carrying out the slaughter. This is the true face of Iran.”
    “All of the children who have been injured, to say nothing of those who have been killed, were injured as a result of Iran’s arming, financing and training the Assad regime in the massacres that it is perpetrating,” the Israeli leader stated.
    “From here, I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime which is slaughtering its own people. This is the true face of Iran. The world cannot forget this.”

    • lexy677
      February 22, 2014 at 3:33 am

      Who do you think you are fooling? Israel is the prime mover behind the mayhem in Syria. They want to weaken the surrounding regimes, steal the Golan heights and reduce the Arabs to a bunch of squabbling tribes. Some Arabs are helping them such as the Saudis. Pathetic!!!

  8. February 22, 2014 at 6:21 am

    To be fair Winston Churchill was nearly as much of an arsehole as Netanyahu is. Churchill said he was very much in favour of using poison gas on uncivilised tribes (he was talking about the Iraqi Kurds at the time – Saddam later took up the suggestion). He also wanted to use anthrax and gas on German civilians during World War Two but was over-ruled by his cabinet and generals.

  9. Sarfaraz Abbasi
    February 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    ..Like Winston Churchill!!! :-) The guy is warmongering, venom-spilling freak!

  10. borat
    February 26, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Netanyahu is Churchillian, by looking out for his country, protecting it against the hordes of radical islam sworn to its destruction. Show me a leader of any country doing less than that. The vicious anti Israel posters and this site will never stop in their obsessive fixation on Israel. Never discuss the subjugation of women, anti gay laws, medieval punishments like stoning, beheading, executions of teenagers, a press that spews anti-Semitic hatred to the right of josef Goebbels, support of terrorists worldwide. This is the legacy of most arab countries today.

  11. borat
    February 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Less than a week before Israel Apartheid Week opened on college campuses across the U.S. and UK, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired the first shot in Israel’s defense. Referring to the founders of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) as “classical anti-Semites in modern garb,” Netanyahu said the time has come to delegitimize those who delegitimize Israel.

    Netanyahu was likely referring to people such as Omar Barghouti, one of the main founders of the BDS movement and its chief ideologue.

    Barghouti claims his movement is opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. His own statements, however, demonize Israel and fall well beyond the scope of legitimate criticism. At a speech in Los Angeles earlier this year, for example, Barghouti claimed that IDF soldiers shoot Palestinian children “for sport” just because they are “bored.”

    Still, criticism of Netanyahu’s statement came quickly. The Forward published a piece the following day with the unambiguous headline, “BDS is Not Anti-Semitism.” The writer, Emily Hauser, dismissed Netanyahu’s accusations as a cover for Israel’s presence in the West Bank.?
    And yet, Hauser also adds, “I do not doubt that some members of that movement are unrepentant anti-Semites — just as some members of the Greater Israel movement are unrepentant racists and Islamophobes.”

    It’s not just Hauser who acknowledges that a portion of the BDS movement is, indeed, anti-Semitic.

  12. borat
    March 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    This new research affirms the history that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s #1 concern is the welfare first and foremost of the Jewish State of Israel.

    The latest revelation about the Holocaust stuns even the scholars who thought they already knew everything about the horrific details of Germany’s program of genocide against the Jewish people.

    It’s taken more than 70 years to finally know the full facts. And what is almost beyond belief is that what really happened goes far beyond what anyone could ever have imagined.

    For the longest time we have spoken of the tragedy of 6 million Jews. It was a number that represented the closest approximation we could come to the victims of Hitler’s plan for a Final Solution.

    Those who sought to diminish the tragedy claimed 6 million was a gross exaggeration. Others went further and denied the historicity of the Holocaust itself, absurdly claiming the Jews fabricated their extermination to gain sympathy for the Zionist cause.

    But now we know the truth.

    The reality was much worse than whatever we imagine.
    The unspeakable crime of the 20th century, more than the triumph of evil, was the sin of the “innocent” bystander.

    It wasn’t just the huge killing centers whose very names – Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Majdanek, Belzec, Ravensbruck, Sobibar, Treblinka – bring to mind the ghastly images by now so familiar to us. It wasn’t just the Warsaw ghetto. It wasn’t just the famous sites we’ve all by now heard of that deservedly live on in everlasting infamy.

    Researchers at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have just released documentation that astounds even the most informed scholars steeped in the previously known statistics of German atrocities. Here is some of what has now been conclusively discovered:

    There were more than 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe from 1933 to 1945.

    There were 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1000 prisoner of war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.

    The best estimate using current information available is 15 to 20 million people who died or were imprisoned in sites controlled by the Germans throughout the European continent.

    Simply put, in the words of Hartmut Berghoff, Director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, “The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought; we knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was, but the actual numbers are unbelievable.”

    And what makes this revelation so important is that it forces us to acknowledge a crucial truth about the Holocaust that many people have tried to ignore or to minimize – a truth that has profound contemporary significance: The unspeakable crime of the 20th century, more than the triumph of evil, was the sin of the “innocent” bystander.

    For years our efforts to understand the Holocaust focused on the perpetrators. We looked for explanations for the madness of Mengele, the obsessive hatred of Hitler, the impassive cruelty of Eichmann. We sought answers to how it was possible for the criminal elements, the sadists and the mentally unbalanced to achieve the kind of power that made the mass killings feasible.

    That was because we had no idea of the real extent of the horror. With more than 42,000 ghettos and concentration camps scattered throughout the length and breadth of a supposedly civilized continent, there’s no longer any way to avoid the obvious conclusion. The cultured, the educated, the enlightened, the liberal, the refined, the sophisticated, the urbane – all of them share in the shame of a world that lost its moral compass and willingly acceded to the victory of evil.

    “We had no idea what was happening” needs to be clearly identified as “the great lie” of the years of Nazi power. The harsh truth is that almost everyone had to know. The numbers negate the possibility for collective ignorance. And still the killings did not stop, the torture did not cease, the concentration camps were not closed, the crematoria continued their barbaric task.

    The “decent” people were somehow able to rationalize their silence.

    Just last year Mary Fulbrook, a distinguished scholar of German history, in “A Small Town Near Auschwitz “wrote a richly and painfully detailed examination of those Germans who, after the war, successfully cast themselves in the role of innocent bystanders.

    “These people have almost entirely escaped the familiar net of ‘perpetrators, victims and bystanders’; yet they were functionally crucial to the eventual possibility of implementing policies of mass murder. They may not have intended or wanted to contribute to this outcome; but, without their attitudes, mentalities, and actions, it would have been virtually impossible for murder on this scale to have taken place in the way that it did. The concepts of perpetrator and bystander need to be amended, expanded, rendered more complex, as our attention and focus shifts to those involved in upholding an ultimately murderous system.”

    Mary Fulbrook singled out for censure those who lived near Auschwitz. But that was before we learned that Auschwitz was replicated many thousands of times over throughout the continent in ways that could not have gone unnoticed by major parts of the populace. Millions of people were witnesses to small towns like Auschwitz in their own backyards.

    And so Elie Wiesel of course was right. The insight that most powerfully needs to be grasped when we reflect upon the Holocaust’s message must be that, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

    That remains our greatest challenge today. If we dare to hope for the survival of civilization we had better pray that the pessimists are wrong when they claim that the only thing we learn from history is that mankind never learns from history.

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