Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is calling on Democrat President Joe Biden to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House for a formal visit.
“The president should invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House,” Cotton told Breitbart News in an interview on Wednesday afternoon. “He’s one of our closest partners in the world.”
Cotton’s direct call on Biden to invite Netanyahu to the White House comes after Biden this week contradicted the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, by saying Netanyahu will not be invited to the White House anytime soon, citing concerns over Israel’s judicial reforms that are under consideration.
Cotton told Breitbart News there seems to be something more sinister going on here, where Biden seems to be continuing what Cotton says has been a decades-long effort by U.S. Democrats dating back to the 1990s under former President Bill Clinton and earlier this century under former President Barack Obama to undercut Netanyahu.
“We would always welcome our close allies, whether it’s Israel or the United Kingdom or Japan, but I think this is yet another piece of the Democratic Party’s now 27-year campaign to undermine Benjamin Netanyahu’s political standing in Israel and his governments,” Cotton said. “It’s an open secret—it’s not even a secret, it’s well-known that Bill Clinton worked to undermine Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud in 1996. He dispatched his campaign advisers there and it failed. In 1999, he did it again, and he lost—I don’t think that was a result of Bill Clinton’s meddling, I think that was a result of Benjamin Netanyahu’s own success in diminishing the Palestinian terror threat so Israeli voters were no longer focused on it as much. But then you saw it again time and again throughout the Obama administration—they acted like Benjamin Netanyahu was more of an adversary than an ally. Now you see it again under Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s understudy.”
Cotton ripped the Biden administration for funding with Americans’ tax dollars leftwing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Israel, helping organize protests against Netanyahu and the democratically-elected government there. Cotton also criticized Biden’s hypocrisy, noting that if he cared so much about protecting democracy on the world stage his silence about French president Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to raise the retirement age there—which he is doing despite the French parliament rejecting his proposals, whereas the Israelis’ democratically elected government is pursuing policies its parliament was elected to do—speaks volumes.
“We’re still giving money to leftwing NGOs in Israel and they’re helping to organize these protests,” Cotton said. “Democratic politicians are sticking their nose in Israel’s business. Look, I have opinions about Israel’s judicial system and what reforms are needed in the country but I don’t think Israel needs the help of American politicians on their own domestic matters. They need our help to stop a nuclear Iran or to stop terrorism or to help broker peace deals—they don’t need our help on domestic matters. For that matter, I have not yet seen Joe Biden condemn the policies of and launch a campaign against Emmanuel Macron who also has hundreds of thousands of his citizens marching in the streets for imposing on his country a law that was rejected by his own parliament—something far more contrary to customary democratic practices than the majority-elected parliament of Israel’s government trying to achieve more balance with its judiciary. Again, I think the reason for that is Joe Biden and most Democrats don’t like Benjamin Netanyahu and they want to undermine him—and they do like Emmanuel Macron.”
Cotton also said that the U.S. should immediately cut off funding of NGOs in Israel or any other developed, industrialized nation like those in western Europe.
“Why are we giving money to NGOs of any stripe in Israel? It’s an advanced, industrial, wealthy democracy,” Cotton said. “When Benjamin Netanyahu in the early stages of his career took the lead on reducing American economic assistance to Israel, he recognized this very point: Israel can stand on its own two legs. That’s doubly true now that its economy has taken off over the last 20 years. We should not be providing funding to NGOs in Israel or for that matter in western Europe or other industrialized countries. We certainly shouldn’t be providing funding to NGOs that are meddling in partisan politics. Now, I’m sure that there are many other Israeli organizers behind a lot of these protests and a lot of them I’m sure are organic, as Benjamin Netanyahu said, of patriotic Israelis who see this issue in a different light. Thank God Israeli citizens get to do that because they don’t get to do that in Syria. However, it is highly inappropriate for U.S. tax dollars to be going to NGOs that are organizing opposition to the elected leaders of Israel. American politicians do not need to meddle in Israel’s domestic politics.”
Part of the reason why Biden’s refusal to invite Netanyahu to the White House is so important is because the Islamic Republic of Iran is on the brink of procuring a nuclear weapon. Cotton warned that Biden’s administration is “paralyzed with indecision about Iran.”
“They know how dangerous it would be for Iran to get a nuclear weapon—though some of them think it would be manageable,” Cotton said. “Obviously, it would be a catastrophe of the highest order. But at the same time, they’re not willing to take the steps necessary to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. They won’t even impose sanctions under Barack Obama’s flawed nuclear deal. They certainly never would think of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities if it came to that. Look what the Secretary of Defense admitted yesterday. Iran or its proxies have struck American positions in the region 83 times since Joe Biden became president—almost once a week—and we’ve only fired back four times. Currently, they’re still holding serve. They killed an American and wounded other Americans on Thursday morning. We struck back Thursday night, they struck back again on Friday, and we have not retaliated. If we won’t protect our own citizens and our own troops in the region, then of course the Ayatollahs don’t fear anything from America to stop their nuclear program.”
Cotton said that Biden’s weakness has invited the Iranians to step up their nuclear ambitions, something that can be traced by even Biden officials’ own admission to November 2020.
“They’ve gotten to the precipice of a nuclear breakout since Joe Biden took office as well,” Cotton said. “The Democrats like to claim this happened when Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal. It did not. Iran was scared for the first year. They began to take preliminary steps to breach the terms of that deal in 2019. Then we killed Qassem Soleimani, their terrorist mastermind, and they were scared straight for the rest of the year. You had the Director of National Intelligence testify a couple weeks ago saying they’ve begun a nuclear breakout since November of 2020 after the death of their godfather of their nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. I asked her—‘well did anything else happen in November 2020 that might have influenced Iran?’ They just looked at me like a deer in the headlights and were like ‘no I can’t think of anything else senator.’ ‘Nothing else, no big global event? Nothing happened here in the United States?’ ‘Oh you mean like the election of Joe Biden?’ ‘That’s exactly what I mean.’ The Ayatollahs are not scared of Joe Biden in any way. They know they can get away with trying to kill Americans—79 out of 83 times, that’s a pretty good percentage.”
While the Iranian regime laughs off Biden, Cotton said the regime does fear the Israelis under Netanyahu—but that Biden’s actions treating Netanyahu more like an adversary than an ally, much like how Obama did during his presidency, “constrain” the Israelis in responding to Iranians.
“I do think they’re about Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu and the capabilities of the Israeli Defense Forces, but that means America can’t restrain Israel and America has to provide Israel the tools it needs to defend itself from this existential threat,” Cotton said. “Again, that worries me as well—the pressure they bring to bear on the prime minister, just like Barack Obama did in 2011 and especially in 2012 when he was up for reelection, is designed in part to constrain Israel’s freedom of action.”
What’s more, recent deals between the Iranians and Saudi Arabia—brokered by China—are yet another sign, Cotton said, of a receding and weakened America in the region and on the world stage under Biden. Cotton noted that just a couple years ago, after former President Donald Trump had led the way in negotiating the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab nations, a possible long-elusive deal between the Saudis and Israel seemed plausible—but now Biden has fast-tracked a descent into chaos as the Saudis and Iranians link up at the behest of China with the U.S. vacuum in the region left behind by Biden’s mishandling of these matters.
“It’s very disappointing that two years ago we all hoped Saudi Arabia and Israel might achieve a peace agreement brokered by the United States,” Cotton said. “Rather, what we got after two years of Joe Biden is a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran brokered by China. That goes to show how far American prestige has fallen in just two years under Joe Biden. As I routinely warn my Democratic colleagues in the Senate, if we continue to give the cold shoulder to our friends in the region—not just Israel, but countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—we shouldn’t be surprised if they start hedging their bets. Every time the Democrats proposed to punish Saudi Arabia—or make it a pariah state as Joe Biden once claimed—I remind them that Saudi Arabia has legitimate security needs on threats from almost all directions and that if the United States doesn’t help it with those security needs it will have to look elsewhere. Maybe it will look to the United Kingdom or France, but if it has to it will look to China. We should not be surprised if they have to turn that direction to fulfill their legitimate security needs if our government is not helping them to secure their own territory and protect their own people.”
Cotton said, too, that the U.S. needs a secure and stable Middle East. While the U.S. does not rely on Middle Eastern oil as much as it used to economically, U.S. allies and partners do, and Cotton argues that what happens in the Middle East will play a major role in whether the United States is ready for more looming threats from the nation’s greatest adversary, the Chinese Communist Party.
“I do think it undermines America’s national interests and national security. We need a stable, secure, peaceful Middle East,” Cotton said. “Thankfully, we’re not as dependent on Middle Eastern oil as we once were, but China is. A lot of our allies are. Invariably, in any kind of conflict with China—an economic conflict, and, if China should go for the jugular in Taiwan, a military conflict—the Middle East will be implicated. Although it’s no longer the primary theater in which the future of America will be determined, we have a vital interest there. By undermining our relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, by giving the cold shoulder to countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, we are weakening America’s power in the world and we are emboldening our adversaries—not just places like Iran and terrorists in the Middle East, but emboldening China as well.”
What’s more, Cotton also warned that while independents and Republicans in America have only gotten more stridently pro-Israel in recent years, Democrats have as a party slid the other way—more and more against Israel. He warned that this shift among Democrats, who previously supported Israel enthusiastically, can be traced to public opinion polling that seems to be driving the party’s leaders further against Israel—and to be driving fringe elements of the party like the “Squad” members, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) among others, to open anti-Israel sentiments.
“It’s not just Biden. It’s Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and others who for decades have been trying to undermine Benjamin Netanyahu politically,” Cotton said. “And unfortunately, if you look at opinion polling too, elected Democrats are sometimes representing the shifting opinions of Democrats across the country. Basically, since the Oslo process started in the early 1990s, support for Israel among Democrats at large has declined. By contrast, support for Israel among independents and Republicans has continued to increase. So, regrettably, I think elected Democrats are just reflecting the views of Democrats at large and you see that, I think, with people like Joe Biden and Barack Obama not inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House or taking other little petty swipes at him, but you also see it more virulently with people like the ‘Squad’ in the House.”