This letter is about the invitation you extended to my Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to address a joint Session of Congress a mere two weeks before the Israeli elections in March. I read your invitation and saw your tweet and immediately wondered why you had decided to involve yourself in our electoral process.
About 6,000 miles separate you, in your elevated Washington, D.C. office, from us, here in Israel, but the distance does not annul our will, aspirations or the right to make decisions.
It appears to me that your principal aim in inviting Netanyahu was to attack President Obama politically, a tactic that I, having covered politics for many years, including a long stint as Ma’ariv’s Washington correspondent (when I also covered you, though we’ve never met) can appreciate. You went for Obama’s jugular, not to say spat on him.
But at the same time you are crudely interfering in our affairs — 9 million citizens who are not the 51st state of the United States. We here in our special and volatile place in the Middle East don’t particularly want you to step in and set our public agenda.
The person who chose to call elections 34 months ahead of the end of his term is our Prime Minster, whom we elected a mere 24 months before.
Netanyahu wasn’t able to agree with his Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, about a 0 percent VAT Bill, and he dismissed Lapid plus five other ministers while calling for elections.
Mr. Boehner, Israel is undergoing such a severe housing crisis such that people feel they have no recourse, and the Finance Minister attempted to find a solution to the problem, albeit in a clumsy and odd way. Netanyahu at first agreed, then disagreed, in short zigzagged, and Israeli citizens are furious that in six years in office he has been unable to restrain galloping housing and cost-of-living prices. Did you know that going to the grocery store is much, much more expensive in Tel Aviv than it is in America?
Despite the fact that Netanyahu wants to talk about Iran and terror 90 percent of the time, polls here, in our little Zionist country, show that people are actually concernedabout how they will make it to the end of the month. A big social justice movement took over our streets a few years ago and Netanyahu promised to help the simple people, a promise he has failed to keep.
And then you show up, with a crassness I don’t remember, and shove Netanyahu’s Congressional address on Iran and extremist Islam onto our public agenda, despite the fact that Iran deadlines have come and gone for years now. Who knows this better than I, who has covered it for years?
In truth, what do you care? You come here on expensive junkets, stay — I’m sure — at top hotels, without so much as a thought for the difficulties faced by the chauffeur driving you or for the salary of the guard at the hotel’s entrance. Why don’t you speak sometime with the housekeepers or the reception desk clerks and try to understand why Israelis can’t stand to hear the word “Iran” again?
So now that you have become Netanyahu’s cheerleader (you know you’ll make an appearance in his campaign ads, right?) and you’re pleased that you managed to give Obama a black eye or embarrass the Democratic Party, I hope you receive this letter in which I want simply to deliver a message about an aspect you may have preferred to ignore: you are interfering with our democratic process in a blunt, unforgivable manner. I hope that our future leaders, whoever they may be, won’t forget it.
Translated by: Noga Tarnopolsky