By the time you read this, Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of a free people, will be in DC, having responded to an invitation. The inviter omitted to give the nod to the other leader of a free people, who expressed slightly narcissistic disapproval. The conflation of his visit with an election on the one hand and last-ditch attempts to get Iran to ease off on the other was either fortuitous or disastrous, depending on your point of view. Everybody then weighed in with their ten cent’s worth, accusation and counter-accusation flew, the air thick with outrage and rhetoric. It’s probably nothing more than convenient that John Kerry and Joe Biden are out of town, but a lunch date with Barack and Michelle hasn’t been forthcoming. People have just said they’re not coming to the party. Why so very flippant? Doesn’t the writer know that three billion dollars’ worth of US aid is on the line?
Oh, yes. He does. Which is why it’s a very big deal indeed. But, hey… Why should I care? I’m a goy, a Christian (dreadful word) and after all, what do they know? They chased after a ragged first century rabbi who got himself killed and then…well, you know the rest. Being a rabbi, he was fond of a good story, so, here’s one for you. A rich guy threw a party on his estate since his son was getting married. He sent out gilded invitations, hired a top chef, cracked open a lot of bottles, but response was a bit sluggish and people either threw the invite in the trash or mumbled some feeble excuse or other – mother-in-law’s visit to the dentist – you get the idea. He could have given up at this point and just scaled everything down, but, no. He sent word that anybody and everybody was to be invited. He said to his people ‘use a little persuasion, but pack ’em in. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the homeless guy with the penny whistle or that stinky old lady who sleeps in the doorway. My boy’s gonna have a full house.’
Good story, but what’s the point? A lot of people have been invited to hear the man on Tuesday. Some of them have mothers-in-law who need to see the dentist. Others feel that they have to make a choice between two Presidents and it might make them feel, well, a bit uncomfortable.
But, it’s those who weren’t invited, the great mass of ‘we, the people’, the politically unwashed, who get to hear and respond to what Bibi will have so say on their TV screens and on the Internet. It’s here where the standing ovations matter, not in a few Brooks Brothered suits sitting in committee chambers in Washington and liberal, wishy-washy drawing rooms.
He’s taken a huge gamble, just to be there, and he will spell out a danger, clear and present, about the threat to his country of a nuclear-armed, fanatically destructive and psychopathically malevolent Iran whose tentacles of destruction already extend to its proxies in Lebanon, Gaza and Syria, all of which just happen to be in Israel’s back yard. Anything new to tickle American ears? Any magical rabbits to bound, full-fledged, out of the hat? No, probably not. Yet, America will listen, because this time the balance of power could shift dramatically and even perhaps permanently against US interests in the region if Iran is allowed to proceed, or even, pretend not to proceed.
All the time, people tell us not to trust politicians, and most of the time, they’re quite right. But, on this occasion, in the words of the song, I think that it’s probably wiser not to ‘count your money when you’re sitting at the table – there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done’. And, to Israelis, you might like to offer a prayer of thanks for a leader who isn’t just a good poker player, but a statesman.