As the media continues to pepper 2016 Republican presidential candidates with questions on obscure topics ranging from evolutionary biology to medieval Christian theology, Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not yet been asked, nor has she offered, any word on where she stands regarding the most pressing foreign policy and national security story of the past few weeks: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly controversial address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress scheduled for tomorrow.
President Obama’s outraged reaction opposing the invitation issued by Speaker John Boehner has provoked a firestorm of vitriolic criticism against Netanyahu by pro-Obama and anti-Israel Democrats that includes partisan calls for members of Congress to boycott or disrupt the Israeli leader during his address. The high-stakes speech has bitterly divided a dwindling pro-Israel Democrat contingent from an ascendant anti-Israel wing, as well as from Republicans and Conservatives much more supporting of Israel.
“Where is Hillary? Does she stand with the boycotters or with Israel”, asks Bill Kristol, President of the Emergency Committee for Israel. “Will the media really just let her duck and pay no price for avoiding issues that every other candidate has to take a position on?”
So far, the answer appears to be “yes.” The Emergency Committee for Israel is trying to raise the stakes in the so far ill-fated effort to draw out Mrs. Clinton in a just-released web ad called “Where’s Hillary?”.
Mrs. Clinton, who calls herself a longtime and loyal defender of the State of Israel, is scheduled to be in Washington during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit but has given no word whether she will attend the speech or even meet the Israeli leader.
The speech to Congress is drawing such attention not because speeches to joint sessions of Congress by foreign leaders are rare– they are anything but– but because President Obama has so publicly opposed the speech.
President Obama, who is refusing to meet with the Israeli leader during his visit to the nation’s capital, first claimed Speaker Boehner’s invitation violated protocol. When that charge only increased attention to Obama’s serial violations of protocol on untold matters over the years, the White House switched gears, claiming Obama would not meet Netanyahu for fear of interfering in Israel’s national elections scheduled for March 17.
When that explanation fell flat following reports that the White House secretly dispatched senior campaign aids to help Israel’s opposition parties defeat the Prime Minister in those elections, the White House shifted gears yet again, arguing that the visit might disrupt the secret nuclear talks with Iran.
In a letter to Mrs. Clinton, the Emergency Committee said, “As a longtime supporter of Israel, you’ll want to be in attendance to show support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. You’ll surely want to show that you have no sympathy for the unfortunate boycott by some politicians of the Prime Minister’s speech, a boycott that plays into the hands of the enemies of the Jewish state.”
Mrs. Clinton’s office did not respond to the letter nor has it offered any expressions of any kind regarding the visit.