As a first in American political history, a foreign prime minister has instigated an invitation for himself to speak before the U.S. Congress, despite the president and his administration making it clear that they did not want such a meeting. Despite the admonitions of the Obama Presidency, the Republican Party, through John A. Boehner, its speaker for the House of Representatives, almost staged a political show for Benyamin Netanyahu at Washington D.C. The address from the Israeli premier, although boycotted by nearly 50 lawmakers, including the vice-president and the secretary of state, still received 40 separate applauses and no less than 19 standing ovations.
This is the first time that Israel has become overtly involved in U.S. daily politics and partisanship. Netanyahu refused to meet the Democrat Senators, again a first in history, a gesture that deeply frustrated the U.S. political elite. The polarization attained its peak when "J Street," a pro-Israel group more aligned with President Obama's positions on Iran, started running a full-page ad in newspapers attacking Premier Netanyahu for coming to Capitol Hill just two weeks before his own election. "Prime Minister Netanyahu: Congress Isn't a Prop for Your Election Campaign," the ad declared.
On the other hand, Republican Party supporters and members did not remain inactive: Sarah Palin, the famous 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and a leading figure of the Tea Party, began selling $35 T-shirts that said "I Stand with Bibi," using Premier Netanyahu's nickname. "Obama and the Democrats refuse to stand with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu," her political action committee said in an email to supporters. "Will you?"
The whole speech by Netanyahu in Congress was an appeal to the U.S. administration to be less naïve and to never let Iran normalise its relations over the issue of nuclear research. Netanyahu sounded extremely condescending vis-à-vis the Obama administration, which responded very bluntly that U.S. intelligence did not need Israeli help to understand what is going on in the Middle East.
This time, the Israeli administration seems clearly to have crossed the Rubicon. Not only is there consistently an effort on the part of the Netanyahu government to sabotage any openings toward ending the strife in Gaza and the neighbouring regions, but the Israeli government also does not want "normalization" in the Middle East.
For the first time since 1948, there is a real opportunity for Israel to become "just another country" in the Middle East. The real strategy of the Obama Administration is based on an objective to secure the existence of Israel, but not to be "responsible" before Israel for U.S. foreign policy in the region. Netanyahu very bluntly reminded the U.S. administration that he has the power to interfere in U.S. domestic policy, and that Israel is definitely "not just another country in the Middle East." In doing so, the Israeli premier has definitely destroyed a large part of the trust existing between the Democrat party and his country. But more than that, he has also created a visible uneasiness among the American public, which will find all the insulting remarks on the part of a prime minister of Israel hard to swallow.
For the time being, U.S. policy is aimed at normalising relations with Iran and creating a consensus in the region to totally destroy ISIS and al-Qaida. Israel does not agree. In exchange, it does not offer any tangible solution other than war mongering. It is refusing to normalize its relations with Turkey despite Barack Obama's personal mediation. It will be difficult for future Israeli governments to mend relations with the U.S. and with the other allied countries in Europe and in the region, if the foreign policy of the Jewish State is not consistently overhauled.