Joseph Lieberman, a former leading Democratic Party U.S. Senator, bucks the incumbent Democratic president and says Prime Minister Netanyahu should be heard in Congress.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post on Monday, Lieberman – who was nearly elected Vice President of the U.S. Party in 2000 – addresses members of Congress and outlines several reasons for them not to boycott Netanyahu's speech on March 3.
Firstly, Lieberman says that the upcoming speech "is about determining how best to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and not just another Washington test of partisan and political loyalty."
Lieberman states that it is "absolutely clear that [Speaker John Boehner] will neither postpone nor rescind his invitation. The prime minister will be there to speak." He therefore appeals to Congressmen who are undecided as to whether or not to attend to go and "hear what the prime minister has to say."
They should go, writes the four-term senator from Connecticut, because "regardless of what you think of the leaders involved or their actions in this case, you are a strong supporter of America’s alliance with Israel, and you don’t want it to become a partisan matter."
Lieberman also notes that Netanyahu is likely to have things to say that will help Congressmen inform their exercise of the powers granted them by the Constitution to “regulate commerce with foreign nations,” “define and punish… offenses against the law of nations,” “declare war,” and “raise and support armies.”
Lieberman made history by becoming the first Jew to run for President or Vice President of the U.S. He and presidential candidate Al Gore in fact won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes, but lost the electoral vote to the Bush/Cheney ticket only after the Supreme Court ruled that a recount in Florida must be stopped in mid-count.
Lieberman advocated listening to Netanyahu's speech also because "Israel is one of our closest and most steadfast allies and you feel a responsibility to listen to its leader speak about developments that he believes could threaten the safety, independence and even existence of his country, as well as that of our closest allies in the Arab world…. [It] is not just the security of Israel and the Arab nations but the security of the United States that will be threatened if a bad agreement is made with Iran that enables it to build nuclear weapons it could put on its increasingly capable long-range missiles."
"In sum," Lieberman concluded, "there is too much on the line in the negotiations with Iran for members of Congress to decide not to listen to what Netanyahu, or any other ally, has to say on this subject. Just as British Prime Minister David Cameron deserved respectful attention when he called individual members of Congress recently to ask them to delay adopting more sanctions on Iran, and the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain deserved respectful reading when they made the same appeal to Congress in an op-ed in The Post, so too does the prime minister of Israel deserve to be listened to respectfully by members of Congress when he speaks next week.
"At this very unstable moment in history, we cannot and must not avert our attention from what remains the greatest threat to the security of America and the world."