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Why I Welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu

March 2, 2015

The invitation by Speaker Boehner to have Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu come speak to Congress and the American people was immediately and repeatedly criticized by the White House, claiming it was inappropriate and untimely.  I say it has never been more appropriate or timely. 

The threats facing Israel and the United States, from a nuclear Iran to radical Islamists, are real, vast, and growing.  We have seen the continued rise of ISIS over the past few months.  This group has continued its barbaric ways, beheading Christians, burning people alive, and destroying invaluable cultural artifacts beyond repair.  Moreover, as the Islamic State spreads – now reaching beyond Iraq and Syria into Libya – its recruitment grows, adding to the numbers of terrorists determined to bring about the end of the world.  Graeme Wood, writing in The Atlantic, highlights that ISIS “rejects peace as a matter of principle [and that] it hungers for genocide.”

Hezbollah is another regional threat to Israeli peace and independence.  Getting support from Iran, Hezbollah routinely violates UN orders, and has strengthened its hold on southern Lebanon (just north of Israel.   According to a recent op-ed coauthored by my colleague, Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), Hezbollah has “amassed an arsenal of rockets and missiles estimated at close to 100,000, all aimed at Israel. According to recent reports, Iran has supplied Hezbollah with new advanced ‘Fateh’ missiles, with a range of 250-350 kilometers and capable of carrying a 500kg warhead.”  The threat of extremists is prevalent from almost every direction.

That brings us to Iran.  We have seen, on multiple occasions now, President Obama’s feeble attempt at negotiating with Iran for a settlement that prohibits them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  The line continues to move.   We have no reason to believe this will not continue, allowing Iran to inch ever closer towards its goal of attaining nuclear capability.  This is not just a threat to Israel, our strongest ally in the region, but to our interests and the world at large. 

Congress will continue to work on legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran.  The president will no doubt continue to unwisely threaten to veto them.  But with his first-hand insight into these threats, and the continued shortcomings of our president’s negotiating strategies, we would be just as unwise to not have Prime Minister Netanyahu come and speak to us.  Congress has an important obligation of oversight of foreign policy.  Mr. Netanyahu has agreed to come and tell us about the threats of radical Islamists and a nuclear Iran.  We should see this as an opportunity to gain real insight into what we are facing and explore effective ways of dealing with them.

Now is not the time to criticize our friends and allies – especially not our strongest democratic ally in a region rife with tumult and chaos.  Now, more than ever, is the time to listen and stand with Israel.