Speaker of the House John Boehner will present Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a bust of Winston Churchill when he arrives to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, according to the Speaker’s office.
President Barack Obama famously returned a bust of the British wartime leader when he arrived at the Oval Office in 2009. The White House denied having done so, but later had to apologize to columnist Charles Krauthammer over the issue.
Obama’s gesture was seen as a slap against a staunch U.S. ally, much as his posture towards Israel is seen as a departure and a symbol of his administration’s foreign policy generally, which stresses empathy for enemies rather than strength.
The Churchill bust is being presented in acknowledgement of Netanyahu equalling Churchill’s three speeches before joint sessions of Congress. In context, however, it can also be interpreted as a statement in opposition to Obama’s foreign policy.