Senator Dianne Feinstein today blasted Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, for claiming that he will be speaking on behalf of “the entire Jewish people” before Congress on March 3, calling Netanyahu “arrogant.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu called his trip to Washington “a fateful, even historic mission” that he is undertaking as “the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish people.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) knocked Netanyahu for suggesting that he represents all Jewish people on the topic of Iran.
“He doesn’t speak for me on this,” Feinstein said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”
Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed, as Israel’s Prime Minister, to speak on behalf of all Jews. And it’s a claim he’s been articulating with troubling frequency as he prepares to attack President Obama’s Iran diplomacy before Congress. However, not only is his claim both preposterous and dangerous, it’s not even true with regard to the issue of Iran. Indeed, 52 percent of American Jews embrace Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran, the same efforts Netanyahu is coming here on Tuesday to undermine.
Netanyahu’s claim has been bothering many American Jews, Senator Feinstein included. And for good reason. As I’ve written in the past, this claim to represent all Jews is both ridiculous and a dangerous conflation which borrows from anti-Semitic tropes:
From a purely political perspective, Netanyahu’s claim to be the voice of world Jewry, by virtue of being Israel’s leader, is preposterous. In Israel alone, only 23 percent of the 6.1 million Jews who live there voted for Netanyanu (Likud), while the world’s remaining 7.7 million Jews did not cast a ballot for the man as citizens of other nations. For those keeping score, that’s 1.3 million Jews out of the world’s 13.8 million who voted for Netanyahu.
From a socio-religious perspective, what Netanyahu has done is not just offensive, but dangerous. As I’ve written in the past, conflating Israel and all Jews is an anti-Semitic trope that the world’s most vile hate-mongers often use. For by conflating Israel with world Jewry, anti-Semites can use Israel’s disastrous policies (such as its ongoing occupation & oppression of Palestinians) as occasions and motivations to target and attack random Jews.
Netanyahu, by casting himself as the leader of “the entire Jewish people” due to his seat in Israel’s government, simply strengthens this anti-Semitic trope.
While Netanyahu barely represents the Israeli electorate due to Israel’s parliamentary system, he no longer represents much of the country’s security establishment, which considers him a danger to Israel’s security.
With Netanayu’s shameful speech set for Tuesday, the more who speak out, saying that Israel’s Prime Minister does not represent them, the better.
I’m certainly one of them, for Netanyahu doesn’t speak for me.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.
I think that the Israeli PM is treading in uncharted waters that do not bode well for Israel.While enjoys the support of the U.S.government, its support of the U.S.population is slipping due to changing demographics. This bush league stunt,as well as the obvious disrespect shown to the President of the United States with some racial undertones isn’t playing well with the U.S. population.Race relations in the United States is a family affair that foreigners must not allow themselves to be duped into being involved. Many people such as myself whom strongly support the Jewish State do so with reservations. Ally? Maybe,more of a client state? I would say the latter. While Israel enjoys the support of the government, the American people have grown weary of this 67 year dance with the Palestinians.
No, Ms. Feinstein. Your spin of an outdated 2013 Pew Report to suggest what Jews think of Obama ignores the appeasement the administration has shown towards Iran in the past year. You claim to speak out for the majority of Jews when you speak only for your party. In 2014 your party lost both chambers of the Congress. Your attacks show that you are nothing more than a shill for this, yes, arrogant, lame duck administration. If Obama was truly in tune with what Jews want, he would be welcoming Netanyahu with open arms.
I’m not a particular fan of Netanyahu, but I’m appalled by the rudeness of many of our elected officials toward him. Direct your invective toward John Boehner who invited him. I have yet to see anyone in the press–and I live in greater Washington, DC–as to who may and may not invite a head of state (or head of an opposition group) to address Congress.