On Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, used the U.S. Congress to stage a most elaborate campaign commercial in the run-up to Israel’s elections in two weeks. He did so at the behest of GOP leaders, and damaged every conceivable metric he claims to be invested in save one: his own suddenly-rising poll numbers back home.
With his speech, Netanyahu damaged U.S.-Israel relations by turning Israel into a political football. He caused the collapse of Democratic support for the Iran bill in Congress he claimed to support. And he was abandoned as ‘dangerous’ by his own security establishment.
Additionally, by claiming to represent “the entire Jewish people” before Congress, Netanyahu fed into a dangerous anti-Semitic trope, conflating Israel and all Jews. It’s a conflation many American Jews rejected, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who had this to say:
“He doesn’t speak for me on this. 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.”
Jon Stewart added his voice to the growing number of American Jews upset by Netanyahu’s proclamation by mocking the Prime Minister’s conflation:
Netanyahu’s solipsism as a politician is understandable, no matter how undignified. After all, his primary goal is to retain power, no different than most politicians. However, when such solipsism causes him to confuse his political appointment with some form of ethnic divinity, it’s not just offensive, but dangerous.
As an American Jew, I stand not with Netanyahu, but with Stewart, Feinstein, and countless others who have stood up to say, “No, Netanyahu, you do not 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.