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Spinning Netanyahu’s Stunt

The Israeli government is eager to pin the blame for the controversy over Netanyahu’s speech on John Boehner:

A senior Israeli official suggested on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been misled into thinking [bold mine-DL] an invitation to address the U.S. Congress on Iran next month was fully supported by the Democrats.

That seems hard to believe, but if true it would make Netanyahu look no less foolish in accepting the invitation. Netanyahu likes to make people in his country think that he understands how to manage relations with U.S. and knows how to navigate American political currents. According to this story, his government is now claiming that he is so clueless about the partisan divisions in Congress and so gullible that he can be “misled” into making an exceptional diplomatic blunder. How else could he be “misled” into thinking that a president’s party would be happy to welcome a foreign leader to speak before Congress to trash the president’s major diplomatic initiative? Supposing that this latest story is true, how incompetent must Dermer and Netanyahu have been to have failed to check with any of the Democratic leadership about this before accepting?

I don’t think anyone will buy the story that Netanyahu was so unaware of the Speaker’s intention to rebuke the president on Iran that he really could have believed it was a bipartisan invitation. Even a minimally-informed follower of American politics would be able to see through the pretense that this was a bipartisan offer. This story is an odd sort of spin, since it actually manages to make Netanyahu look worse in some respects than he did before.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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