Weekly Columns

Stand With Israel

Mar 13 2015

I recently gathered in the chamber of House of Representatives with my Senate colleagues to welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington. Members of Congress from both parties listened intently as he painted a very vivid—and very real—picture of the danger a nuclear Iran poses. 

A nuclear Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but to the international community as a whole. Yet it seems of little concern to President Obama who dismissed the Prime Minister’s speech as "nothing new" and refused to meet with him while he was in Washington. 

This is disappointing to say the least. Instead of taking the opportunity to join with us to reaffirm our support for the state of Israel, the President chose to send the wrong message to our strongest ally in the region. Unfortunately, this has become a pattern with this Administration. 

While the Obama Administration’s official policy has been supportive of Israel, actions speak louder than words. Regrettably, this Administration’s actions are often too quiet. When the President or his advisors do speak up, it is too often to chastise and rebuke Israel, instead of in defense of our ally. 

In fact, it seemed that the Obama Administration was intent on sabotaging the Prime Minister’s address before he even arrived in Washington. Prior to his visit, the President’s national security advisor called his speech “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.” Accepting an invitation from the Speaker of the House, to address Congress on the severity of the nuclear threat posed by the regime in Tehran, is only destructive for U.S.-Israeli relations in the President’s eyes because he wants to keep Congress in the dark about the ongoing negotiations. 

As the talks extend on, and Tehran engages in more delay tactics, it is apparent that the Obama Administration is pursuing a weaker deal with Iran that will allow the country to continue its illicit nuclear program. 

This agreement has become a must-win for President Obama, so he is willing to concede key requirements that Congress and members of his Administration have previously outlined, in order to get the Iranians to sign on the dotted line.  

Our longstanding policy that the Iranian regime must abandon its nuclear ambitions is itself being abandoned. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger noted in his recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the talks have long moved from eliminating Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to limiting and monitoring a smaller program that would be unable to produce the material for a warhead in less than a year’s time. 

This is a far cry from the starting point Secretary of State John Kerry once argued  when he said “No deal is better than a bad deal” with Iran. 

The President seems to be moving the goalposts from the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program to containing it, which is not what he told us these talks were going to accomplish. Nor is it what six United Nations resolutions intended to prevent. 

Nothing short of full elimination of Iran’s nuclear program can honestly be considered a victory. If these talks fail to produce an agreement that requires that of Iran, Congress must have the authority to reject it.