Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
In speaking to the AIPAC Policy Conference the Israeli Prime Minister was speaking to pro-Israel supporters who were clearly of an opposite ilk from Senate Dianne Feinstein who yesterday had challenged Netanyahu’s claim that he represents all the Jews. Considering the character of the response Bibi received, in the eyes of this audience he indeed was “representing” and speaking for all the Jewish people.
The actual speech was short, moderate, and rather apologetic; or as far as he could go—at this time–in trying to begin an effort of rapprochement with the President. He spoke to the substance of U.S. support for Israel, the crisis in Iran, and the need for Israel to address the concerns of the Jewish people throughout the world. (He even gave a shout out to the wonderful work of his Ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer; who was reportedly the architect of the Boehner invitation.) It was clear that in light of the fact that AIPAC reportedly had tried to convince Bibi not to accept Boehner’s invitation or at least to postpone it until after the election, the Prime Minister did not want to rub his host’s nose in the mud.
Bibi’s big speech is on Tuesday morning in the Capitol. It will even present a conflict for some of the AIPAC delegates who had appointments scheduled with their Members of Congress in the late morning. In these congressional visits they will be lobbying precisely on the issue of Iran sanctions as well as supporting legislation requiring the President to obtain congressional backing for any Iran Agreement he might reach with Iran concerning sanctions’ reduction and nuclear material production. It should be an interesting day but not one that will produce any surprises.