You may have seen the extremely tense, none too cordial nine minute meeting between President Obama and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu this week. The only word that describes that particular confab is awkward. But Bibi wasn’t done after one quick trip to the White House, moving on to accept a prestigious award from the American Enterprise Institute. Oddly enough, neither of those meetings seemed to draw nearly as much controversy as his next planned stop, however. The Prime Minister is going to address the very liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) this week, and to read some of the headlines running around the Left side of the media street you’d think he was heading out to a skeet shooting range to fire live kittens out of a target launcher.
Steven Mufson at the WaPo is sounding the alarm over how terrible this all is.
Should the Center for American Progress host a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?
Eighteen organizations and 117 individuals — largely from academia and non-governmental organizations — don’t think so, and they have signed an open letter circulated by the group Jewish Voice for Peace and the Arab American Institute saying they are “dismayed that CAP will sponsor an address by Netanyahu” during the prime minister’s visit to Washington this week.
The group Jewish Voice for Peace also has circulated a petition from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation that it says has garnered more than 26,300 signatures and was delivered to CAP last week.
Steve was hardly the only one noting the outrage. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post quickly jumped on the bandwagon, noting Bibi’s appearance for CAP and declaring that he’s destroying Israel’s relationship with American Jews.
Apparently even Netanyahu, or somebody in his entourage, recognized that he was doing more political damage. After announcing his acceptance of the AEI award, Netanyahu’s government also solicited an invitation for him to speak to the liberal Center for American Progress on Tuesday.
Polling of American Jews is difficult because of the small population, but there’s little doubt that Netanyahu’s heavy involvement in American politics has made many uneasy. A September poll conducted for the American Jewish Committee, though methodologically suspect, found that half of Jewish American respondents supported the Iran nuclear deal — more than double the overall support for the deal among Americans. Fifty-two percent of respondents said U.S.-Israel relations were getting worse, and only 5 percent said they were getting better.
The split on Israel, aggravated by Netanyahu, is worrying because it emboldens those on the left who really aren’t friends of Israel. More than 50 of them demonstrated outside the White House on Monday morning at the time Netanyahu was to arrive. Led by the antiwar ANSWER Coalition and including groups such as Code Pink and Veterans for Peace, they held signs proclaiming “Netanyahu War Criminal,” “Stop all aid to Israel” and “Boycott Israel.”
This is yet another example of how the tolerant left loves the idea of shutting down debate on the issues to avoid any unpopular opinions. It may be spilling over into political discourse even more so than on college campuses. (Well… perhaps it hasn’t gotten that bad yet, but it seems on track to get there.) Is the Center for American Progress really so frightened of hearing from someone who doesn’t think that Israel is the modern incarnation of the Devil on Earth that they would shut down the opportunity to hear from a world leader? We’re not talking about some hack who wrote a book about Hamas or terrorism among the Palestinians here. This is the Prime Minister of one of America’s strongest allies on the planet and a key figure in unfolding events which are front and center on the world stage. How is that not a fantastic opportunity whether you agree with his policies or not?
This is quickly turning into a bad joke. Check out the description of CAP and their mission straight from their own web site. (Emphasis added)
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country.
As progressives, we believe America should be a land of boundless opportunity, where people can climb the ladder of economic mobility. We believe we owe it to future generations to protect the planet and promote peace and shared global prosperity. And we believe an effective government can earn the trust of the American people, champion the common good over narrow self-interest, and harness the strength of our diversity.
Apparently the common good of all Americans and the strength of our diversity doesn’t include anyone who agrees with Israel about anything. I suppose it’s admirable of Netanyahu to go into the lion’s den and speak to people who generally despise him and his country, but it’s hard to see what benefit there is in this appearance.