Live Blog: Netanyahu Speech to Congress


This morning at 10:45, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress. You can watch it on C-Span. I might try watching for awhile to see what kind of reaction he gets.

I plan to put up another post a little later. There’s another far more significant event happening tomorrow. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in King vs. Burwell, a lawsuit based on a ludicrous misreading of the ACA law. It will be up to John Roberts to decide if he wants to throw 8,000,000 people off their health care plans, and that’s exactly what Republicans are hoping for.

The other “issues” in the news are a tempest in a teapot over Hillary Clinton using private e-mail when she was Secretary of State and another fuss over when the State Department properly vetted contributions to Bill Clinton’s foundation. If we want Hillary to run for president, we are going to have to get used to this garbage.

For now, here are some quick links on the Netnyahu speech and the negotiations with Iran.

CNN: White House warns Netanyahu not to reveal Iran details.

The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s controversial address to Congress Tuesday.

The White House is uncertain what precise details may come out but aides spent Monday frantically mobilizing after Israeli officials said that the prime minister planned to disclose sensitive details of an agreement taking shape in talks between six world powers and Iran, which has entered a delicate final stage.

Concern and anger among American officials about the nature of what Netanyahu might expose heightened already roiling tensions between the two countries. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned about the damage such revelations might have on the negotiations and President Barack Obama himself attacked Netanyahu’s judgment.

Netanyahu is expected to use the details to bolster his argument before Congress that the deal under discussion will not prevent Iran from getting a bomb and could therefore threaten the Jewish state’s existence.


From the AP via Kerry working on Iran nuke deal, Netanyahu to criticize in speech to Congress.

As Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and their teams sought to hammer out an agreement at a luxury hotel in the Swiss resort of Montreux, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to make his case against one 4,090 miles away in Washington.

The U.S. and Iranian sides met for two hours on Tuesday morning before taking a break, according to U.S. officials. The officials said they expected the talks would resume later and likely continue through Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress, which will be delivered in the late afternoon local time in Montreux.

“We’re working away, productively,” Kerry told reporters.

“We are moving and we are talking to be able to make progress,” said Zarif. “There are issues and we want to address them. But there is a seriousness that we need to move forward. As we have said all along we need the necessary political will to understand that the only way to move forward is to negotiate.”

However, in a sign that Netanyahu’s speech is resonating outside Washington, Zarif decried comments that President Barack Obama made on Monday — as part of an administration-wide effort to push back on the Israeli’s criticism — in which he said that Iran would have to suspend its nuclear activities for at least a decade as part of any final agreement.

“It is clear that Obama’s stance is aimed at confronting propaganda by Zionist regime’s prime minister and other extremist opponents of the negotiations,” Zarif told Iranian reporters, calling it “unacceptable and threatening.” Zarif’s remarks were carried by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

This speech that John Boehner and Netanyahu cooked up is causing all kinds of mischief.


According to John Ferziger at Bloomberg Politics, Netanyahu Risks Diplomatic, Political Pain If Speech Is Flat.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes to Congress on Tuesday gambling that disclosing compromises the U.S. made in trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran will delay or derail any agreement.

Netanyahu, a former Israeli army commando, has further damaged his frayed relationship with the White House by ignoring administration warnings and trying to undermine President Barack Obama’s effort to resurrect ties with the Islamic Republic. If his speech to a joint meeting of the House and Senate proves unpersuasive, Israelis may vote him out of office.

The Israeli leader, running for his fourth term in a March 17 election, will seek to “reinforce doubts that people have” and raise congressional pressure to better answer “the legitimate questions that are out there,” said Dennis Ross, a former special adviser to Obama on Iran and the Middle East.

However, said Yoram Meital, a political scientist at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel: “If he doesn’t reveal something significant or provides little hard evidence for his claims, it could affect the vote. Israelis are, by and large, afraid of Iran’s nuclear program, but they are ready to punish Netanyahu if he doesn’t deliver in this speech.”

Netanyahu will reveal details of the agreement being negotiated with Iran against a late March deadline by the U.S. and five other world powers that will show why he’s afraid it could lead to Israel’s nuclear annihilation, an official who asked not to be named because of the trip’s diplomatic sensitivity told reporters aboard the prime minister’s flight to the U.S.

Isn’t that just ducky? Boehner’s decision to invite a foreign leader to speak to Congress without informing the White House is unprecedented in U.S. history. The next time Republicans control the White House, Democrats could now feel invite a foreign leader to speak against that president’s policies. It’s a terrible precedent.


Two days ago Diane Feinstein called Netanyahu “arrogant” and added that “he doesn’t speak for her.” CNN reported:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “arrogant” for asserting that he speaks for all Jews — and that he doesn’t speak for her.

The California Democrat’s comments to CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday’s “State of the Union” come days ahead of Netanyahu’s high-profile speech to Congress, in which he’s set to lobby against a deal to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“My responsibility is to worry not only about the state of Israel, but also the future of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said Saturday in Jerusalem. “And for that reason, we are strongly opposed to the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel’s very existence.”

Feinstein said she’ll attend Netanyahu’s speech — which President Barack Obama’s administration has heavily criticized. But she wasn’t happy with those comments.

“He doesn’t speak for me on this,” she said. “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”

From the Boston Herald: U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern blasts Netanyahu for ‘disrespectful’ speech.

Congressman Jim McGovern, one of a growing number of Democrats refusing to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before Congress tomorrow, ripped the foreign leader for turning Capitol Hill into a campaign “rally” point just weeks before his own county’s election.

“Joint sessions of Congress are not supposed to be political speeches … This is not a place for a foreign leader to do a re-election rally,” the Democrat said today in an interview on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” with hosts Hillary Chabot and Jaclyn Cashman.

“With joint session so close to his own reelection campaign and before we have reached a (nuclear) deal with negotiators with Iran, I think it’s disrespectful to our president, I think it’s disrespectful to our foreign policy leaders who are trying … to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” he added. “I don’t feel like I want to be a prop in a campaign ad for Prime Minster Netanyahu.”

McGovern, who called the speech’s timing “unprecedented” given the March 17 vote in Israel, also echoed Democratic slams of Speaker John Boehner, who has been criticized, including by the White House, for inviting Netanyahu to speak to the joint session of Congress without consulting the president.

The Worcester Democrat said Netanyahu should have sought a different avenue to speak with members of Congress, noting attempts by some Senate Democrats to arrange a separate meeting with him.

Fellow Bay State Congresswoman Katherine Clark has said she also plans to skip the speech, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren last month called on officials to postpone it, saying she sides with the Anti-Defamation League’s stance on the address.


From Slate’s Joshua Keating: What Does it Mean for the Leader of a Foreign Country to Be a Republican?

In his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected charges that he is injecting partisanship into the U.S.-Israel relationship. “The last thing anyone who cares about Israel, the last thing that I would want, is for Israel to become a partisan issue, and I regret that some people have misperceived my visit here this week as doing that,” he said. “Israel has always been a bipartisan issue. Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue.”

It’s a little late for that, Bibi. Tuesday, Netanyahu is giving what was billed from the moment it was announced as a rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Much of the controversy surrounding the visit has been over the perceived mutual snubbing and sniping between Netanyahu’s office and the White House and what it says about the relationship between the two leaders. (Nothing good.) But the bigger story is Netanyahu firmly aligning himself in the camp of one of America’s political parties to the exclusion of the other one—a strategy that could, in the long term, be extremely detrimental to Israel’s interests.

Given the “very real difference” between Obama and Netanyahu over Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli leader’s decision to accept John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress made some tactical sense. Netanyahu believes Obama is on the verge of making a historically dangerous deal with Iran and doesn’t see any prospect for changing his mind. Given that his officials say he’s “written off” Obama and doesn’t see any chance of changing his mind, why not reach out to Congress, the “last brake” to stop the deal, diplomatic niceties be damned?


But even if he’s not particularly interested in what the White House thinks of him at this point, what’s harder to understand is the cold shoulder Netanyahu has given congressional Democrats, some of whom have been willing in the past to push back against the White House on the Iran issue. The most striking moment in this whole mess was not so much Netanyahu accepting Boehner’s invitation, though that could certainly have been handled more deftly. It was when Netanyahu declined a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats. This would seem to have been a welcome opportunity for some fence-mending given that a number of prominent members of Congress, including the most senior senator, Patrick Leahy, and a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are skipping his speech over the perceived insult to Obama. Instead, Netanyahu dug in deeper, making the long-standing joke about Netanyahu being the “Republican senator” from Israel seeming not really like a joke anymore.

It’s certainly troubling. What kind of precedent is this going to set? What do you think? If you’re planning to watch the speech, I hope you’ll post comments about it with me below. And please check back later for a regular Tuesday post.


68 Comments on “Live Blog: Netanyahu Speech to Congress”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The speech should begin soon.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Boehner is at the podium. Repubs stand and applaud.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Orrin Hatch is up there with Boehner now. I see quite a few Dems filing in. Schumer of course, Patty Murray, Barbara Mikulski,

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Boehner calls joint meeting to order.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Calls names of House Committee that will welcome Netanyahu. Hatch calls name of Senate Committee including “Mr. Schumer.”

  4. bostonboomer says:

    I have to say, this looks ugly to me. It shows incredible disrespect to the Office of the Presidency, never mind Obama himself.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Camera on Nancy Pelosi now.

  6. Delphyne49 says:

    Thanks for doing this, BB – I have a bad feeling about this speech. It is incredibly disrespectful to President Obama and the office of the President.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    And here comes the Republican candidate for President, Bibi Netanyahu. He’s very short, I can say that much.

    • bostonboomer says:

      He’s moving very slowly so as to allow the Israeli people to see him being fawned over by U.S. Republicans.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Long conversation with Harry Reid in which they each touch each other multiple times. Next, friendly welcome from Patty Murray.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    And he steps to the podium. Lots of applause. Boehner introduction followed by standing ovation.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Netanyahu singles out Harry Reid for sucking up. “Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet. I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down.”

    No applause.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Bibi knows the speech has been subject of controversy. He says he never intended it to be partisan.

    (That’s probably why he kept it secret from Obama.)

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Israel and America relationship is above politics and it always has been and always will be. Says he appreciates all that Obama has done for Israel.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Still praising U.S. support of Israel. I’m not going to list it all here. I’m more interested in the politics and optics of this.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    He’s getting to the point now. “We are an ancient people.” Says many have tried to destroy the Jewish people–for centuries.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Says Iran’s supreme leader wants to destroy Israel. Spews the oldest hatred of anti-semitism. Says supreme leader “tweets that Israel must be destroyed.” Seems disgusted that Iran’s leader uses social media because the internet isn’t free there.

  15. bostonboomer says:

    Danger of Iran having nuclear weapons is directly related to the “nature of the regime.” Says Iranian people are OK, but leadership hates Israel.

  16. Fannie says:

    Good morning…………..lo, I don’t want to look at his face, but I can hear him. He’s into “fear, fear, fear,fear, Iran, fear,……………Iran fear.” He’s says we are about security, they are about survival. Wrong, the GOP is screwing us with our “security”.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks for coming, Fannie. It feels to me as if Netanyahu is lecturing Obama. I can’t record any of it. It makes me sick.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      The entire speech was FEAR, FEAR, FEAR. If he said the word BOMB once, he said it 100 times.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He’s a bomb thrower. That’s what he does and what Boehner enabled him to do today.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          Yes he is. As for Orange Man, he just does what his masters tell him to do. He’s a pompous, foolish lush, who thinks more about his golf score than what is right for Americans.

  17. Fannie says:

    Yeah, man, lets talk about inspectors…….talk about the inspectors in Iraq that he refuses to believe!

  18. Fannie says:

    Why doesn’t he tell us about his nuclear program, has somewhere between 60 and 200 weapons. Why has he signed on to the nonproliferation treaty? Why didn’t he support us in Iraq with material goods and soldiers?

    He’s a bandit, here to get money.

    • Fannie says:

      Hell, why HASN’T he signed the nonproliferation treaty. Tell us.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Not to mention that one of their spies stole the nuclear technology from the U.S., and they want the spy to be released.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Well, we’ve been supplementing their military for decades and we continue to supplement it. I get the “Never Again” attitude of Israel, but I also get that Israel is very dependent on U.S. TAX PAYER dollars and war machinery to mount it’s defense. Israel under Netanyahu will never like any deal with Iran, and I resent him meddling in our politics and using our Congress as his campaign platform. Israel would never be willing to give up it’s own Nuclear arsenal (which it has never confirmed), not even if Iran abandoned it’s nuclear ambitions. I don’t know why Netanyahu believes that Iran will use a Nuclear Weapon even if it had one. What would they gain, other than a guarantee of mutual destruction? The Middle East is a clusterfuck of monumental proportions. It’s a hotbed of religious warfare, with a “this land is mine” attitude by all who live there. If we stepped away, even for a month, they’d all destroy each other.

      And to the GOP that supports this type of hyperbolic, bluster and grandstanding, FUCK YOU!!!! The only reason you give a damn about Israel is because of your biblical interpretation of End Times, when jesus comes to get you and leaves the Jews and the rest of us behind….As in Left Behind!!! You crazy asses are going to get us all killed trying to bring your Armageddon Fantasies to fruition.

      And the worst part, or maybe the best part of all this is, Netanyahu speech lasted the entire time that The Price is Right was on, which means NO average American even watched the speech.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Great comment.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          Thanks…..As I watched the speech, I realized that only those of us who are Political Gym Rats were even paying attention to what Bibi had to say. Most Americans don’t give damn about Bibi, or about anything but taking care of their families, going to work and keeping their heads above water. The Fox News Viewers will believe anything Fox News tells them to believe, so for that relatively small group (small as compared to the population) Bibi didn’t even need to show up.

          And by the way, is it just me or does Bibi have Blue Hair? 🙂 Someone needs to tell him to go easy on the So Silver!!!

      • dakinikat says:

        Exactly. Since Bibi has become PM I’ve developed the attitude that they can do whatever they want but without my tax dollars. I don’t see them as a democracy. They’re a force for evil these days.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          This whole “unconditional” support of Israel is baffling to me. I know that historically the Jewish people have been persecuted for thousands of years, and that America wants to be seen by the world as the protector of Israel. Still, the cost of this support shouldn’t always come with a hefty price tag and the demand that our foreign policy always be shaped around what’s best for Israel. What’s best for America should be the primary focus of our foreign policy and Israel should expect us to put our National interest first. But under Bibi it’s been his way, or the highway. I’m tired of his threats and his posturing.

          My questions are and will always be, why can’t Israel survive in the environment on their own? Will they ever be able to survive in that environment on their own?

          • dakinikat says:

            They run a theocracy that is based on putting women and other religions into horrible conditions. These are the same things people scream about when it comes to the Islamic states like Saudi Arabia. It’s not at all like it used to be. It’s not a nascent little democracy. They commit genocide! They break peace treaties and commit genocide. They will never survive in that neighborhood by being mean little bullies to their neighbors and then playing the holocaust victim card. This weird marriage of dominionist christians with zionist jews is sick sick sick! He’s not even a majority candidate and his party only cobbles together enough to rule by drawing on the extreme right wing. He doesn’t even represent the majority of Israel let alone Americans and yet the Republicans love him because of this stupid awful Armageddon wish carried about by their crazy religious faction! It’s just a nasty mix of necons and religious fanaticism any more and we shouldn’t have to fund that!

  19. bostonboomer says:

    Says the deal Obama admin. is working on is horrible. Why would anyone agree to it? Say only reason could be that they naively hope Iran will change for the better, but that won’t happen. Says if sanctions are listed, Iran will just fund “more terrorism.” If deal happens, Iran will be “given a clear path the the bomb” and other ME countries will try to get nukes. Middle east will “turn into a nuclear tinderbox.”

    The heavy handed message is that Obama is naive, stupid, or evil.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      The heavy handed message is that Obama is all of the above!!! BiBi gives Obama some credit with his right hand, then slaps the shit out of him with his left. Who in the hell does he think he is?

  20. Fannie says:

    Talks about security, talks like he is the President of our Country. He is NOT, I hope he’s voted out of office, and a new slate can be put forth.

  21. bostonboomer says:

    Says Israel will stand alone if necessary.

    Good. Let them stand alone then–without our taxpayer dollars.

  22. Fannie says:

    In brings in the survivors – and I want to cry, they are old, and I am thinking of the kids in Newtown who cried out for their Mommy and their Daddy to come get them. Their cries were not heard, the NRA doubled down, and drove this country in a frenzy to buy AK47, and they
    too showed they are nothing but bandits, and the GOP supported them.

    Here we go from slavery to promise land…………….

  23. bostonboomer says:

  24. bostonboomer says:

    He leaves to standing ovation. Some Dems stayed seated, other stood at various points in speech.

  25. Fannie says:

    I notice strong ovation when he started out saying our congress was the strongest in the world, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. When the people he is looking at in the audience has time and time shut us down, and threaten to shut down Homeland security, he just doesn’t want to approach this issue on going, and instead to dealing with our financial problems, he’s up their begging us for more money. And the GOP is going to let him go behind our backs to get it.

  26. Fannie says:

    Also, before the start of speech, he is in the gallery, hall of fame, and all the walls are photos of Newt Gingrich, and the good old boys.

  27. Fannie says:

    Listening to Andrea Mitchell…….don’t know who the guy was but he nailed it: His main target was not Iran, but President Obama and John Kerry. Spot on.

    • bostonboomer says:

      And Bibi had the nerve to refer to Kerry as “my good friend.”

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Right after he shoved the knife into Kerry’s back. With friends like Bibi, who needs enemies

  28. Fannie says:

    What happens if Iran listening to all this, decides to go to Pakistan for materials. They haven’t signed the nonproliferation treaty either. What then? Did you hear anything about Pakistan in his speech?

    Thank you BB, I don’t know what is next, but it’s a big fucking deal.

  29. Sima says:

    Thanks for watching this. I was out shoveling manure, I think I had the better deal :P. It’s time to cut monetary and military support to Israel. Past time.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      You were shoveling manure, while those of us who watched were having manure shoveled on us. You definitely had the better deal. 🙂

    • bostonboomer says:

      LOL, Sima! I think you’re right that you had the better deal.

  30. dakinikat says:

    What Americans need to understand about Benjamin Netanyahu and his address to Congress, in which he sought to undermine the president’s effort to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran:

    1. Netanyahu, his Likud Party, and his allies in the United States, principally the religious right and neoconservatives, hate to waste time talking when we could get on with yet another war in the Mideast –- this time against a country with a powerful military. That explains why he proposed no plausible alternative to the ongoing negotiations in his speech.

    2. Like the neoconservatives and the religious right, Netanyahu was a most enthusiastic backer of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2002, when he also appeared before Congress, Bibi informed us all that “there is no question whatsoever that [Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] is seeking, is working, is advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons.” As everyone now knows, he was dead wrong about that warning – Saddam had no nuclear program at all. (And keep that false, fear-mongering prediction in mind when Bibi warns about the imminent creation of an Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal.)

    He also offered the following assurance: “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. And I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others, will say the time of such regimes, of such despots is gone.”

  31. NW Luna says:

    Thanks for blogging & commenting on this…I wasn’t free to listen to the fearmonger. I’m angry at Patty Murray for being “warm” toward this dangerous person who now epitomizes a nasty precedence.