There is a delicious cinematic quality to the entire “speechgate” drama. Prominent pro-Israeli lobby groups have attempted to frame the scene as being something out of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie: a noble, far sighted, embattled president vs. a rude, uncouth, divisive Israeli leader who is little more than a mouthpiece for a cabal of grim, narrow minded, manipulative Republicans.
In fact, the lead up to Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3 more closely resembles the plot to The Karate Kid.
Much like the Ralph Macchio character, Daniel LaRusso, the Israeli premier has drawn the ire of J-Street, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC and other members of the pro-Israel Lobby by cozying up with someone considered to be off limits.
In the Karate Kid, Daniel starts dating Ali Mills (Elizabeth Shue), an attractive high school cheerleader who happens to be the ex-girlfriend of the arrogant Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). In real life, Netanyahu has seemingly abandoned Israel’s traditional American allies by cultivating a growing list of conservative Democrats, American rabbis, and Christian pro-Israel groups.
Indeed, the shrill reaction of some self-proclaimed pro-Israel political lobby groups to an Israeli leader who has the temerity not to kowtow to its wishes brings to mind a line from Bob Dylan’s ‘Tombstone Blues’: “The hysterical bride in the penny arcade. Screaming she moans, ‘I’ve just been made.'”
Johnny and his Cobra Kai gang torment Daniel repeatedly, savagely beating him until the wise and wonderful Mr. Miyagi intervenes and single-handedly defeats the attackers with ease. Amazed, Daniel asks Mr. Miyagi to teach him to fight.
Over the last few days, a real life hero and sage has stepped in to defend Netanyahu from the unremitting onslaught of supposed pro-Israel advocates in the United States who claim that the Israeli leader’s address to millions of American on the greatest national security issue of our time — the inking of a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran — should not be open to debate.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has taken out full page ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post, warning President Barack Obama not to sign an agreement with Iran that would allow it to develop its nuclear program.
In addition, Wiesel has implored Obama to “put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made. Surely it is within your power to find a solution that will permit Israel’s Prime Minister to deliver his urgent message. Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”
In The Karate Kid, Miyagi proposes that Daniel enter the All-Valley Karate Tournament, where he can compete with Johnny and the other Cobra Kai students on equal terms.
On March 3, Benjamin Netanyahu will enter another lion’s den of sorts: a United States Congress where a growing list of Democrats are threatening to boycott the Israeli leader’s speech.
This real life drama will have one of two endings.
If successful, Barack Obama, with the support of America’s ‘pro-Israel’ groups, will turn America’s Israel policy into a partisan issue after nearly a century of bipartisan Congressional consensus.
Or, the American public will protest, using a scissor leg technique to trip up an Obama administration Middle East policy that strayed far from the American consensus.
The secret to how this story will end lies in the minds and hearts of America’s good and decent citizens, not in the hands of a few unaccountable pro-Israel lobbyist who are, despite loud protestations to the contrary, merely carrying water for the Obama administration.