By Byron Shehee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Congressman Mike Rogers recently made clear his opinion about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the United States in March.
Netanyahu’s visit comes without an invitation from President Obama and after the President has spent a lot of time cultivating a relationship with the Iranian government and addressing Iran’s belief that the country should be able to develop nuclear capabilities. However, the new relationship with Iran is not a welcomed change in policy to many Americans.
Rep. Rogers said, “I consistently hear how important Israel is to East Alabamians for many reasons – religious, historic, defense-related. Most Americans share this powerful connection and it should not be denied by US policy makers.
“These are incredibly tough times for our friend and ally in the Middle East, and it is vital that America does not turn its back on Israel in its ongoing hour of need.”
Most Christian Americans do believe Israel is a blessed nation and our relationship is one that should be strengthened, not neglected. Any relationship between the US and Iran may be difficult to explain to the American public due to the Iranian leaders openly stating that one of their goals is eliminating Israel.
“Their radical regime is desperately trying to develop a nuclear weapon. The Ayatollah, Iran’s supreme leader, has stated that Israel should be destroyed. But in his State of the Union Speech recently, President Obama warned Congress not to get involved with his Administration’s negotiations with Iran and even threatened to veto a tough Iran sanctions bill working its way through Congress,” said Rep. Rogers.
The Democrats in Washington seem to have conflicting interests and do not have a clearly defined stance on the visit as a party; some Democrats have even indicated that they will not be attending Netanyahu’s speech before a Joint Session of Congress. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry have both said they will not be in attendance.
To further complicate the matter, Israel is scheduled for an election March 17, 2015. Some pundits believe Netanyahu is simply visiting for a photo opportunity with Israel’s longest ally right before the election, but many politicians know this visit is about better defining the US and Israel’s relationship.
The United States has longstanding vital interests that is dependent on our relationship with Israel as Rep. Rogers points out:
“As most of us know, Israel is the only democracy in the volatile Middle East. The United States is connected both historically and culturally to Israel and her security is linked closely to our national security…I have had the unique opportunity to work closely with Israel on their Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system. This system serves as one of Israel’s main defenses against hostile rocket and mortar attacks like what they have faced most recently from terrorist groups like Hamas. I’m proud to note that production of Iron Dome parts, including on the Tamir interceptor, will begin to occur in Alabama because of bipartisan efforts I have led to begin co-production of this vital defense system.”
It is easy to understand why Netanyahu would be willing to loss favor with Obama. However, the manner in which this visit is been scheduled has left a bad taste in a lot of other Democrats’ mouths. The Republicans have not indicated that they view the prime minister’s visit in the same light and most Republicans will be seated before Netanyahu as he delivers his speech and look forward to a long lasting relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East.