An advocate for Orthodox Jews worldwide says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an opportunity on Tuesday with his speech to Congress to calm the controversy surrounding his visit and get everyone focused on the real issue: the threat of a potentially nuclear-armed Iran.
"There are many, and I would include myself among them, that wish that the invitation and the setting up of this speech, the scheduling of the speech, had been handled somewhat differently, and that we were not in the middle of this political circus surrounding the speech," Nathan J. Diament of Orthodox Union told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV
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"With that being said, you can still believe that the Iranian nuclear threat is the critical national security issue of our time, both to the state of Israel and to the United States and to our western allies in general, and that it's really important for the prime minister of our leading ally in the region — the prime minister of Israel — to be able to make his case," said Diament, Orthodox Union executive director of public policy.
Diament said he hopes that Netanyahu, when he speaks,"finds a way to calm the waters and to get people off of the political circus sideshow, and more importantly, that he's able to return the focus to the substance of the issue of Iran."
Netanyahu is expected to warn against against removing economic sanctions and the threat of military action against Iran in favor of a negotiated settlement, which the Obama administration wants in order to dissuade Tehran from acquiring the bomb.
Critics of the upcoming speech complain that Israel's leader went behind the president's back to get it when he accepted an invitation to Capitol Hill from House Speaker John Boehner.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said last week that it is "destructive" of Israel's leader to bypass the White House and go to Congress with a message that contradicts official U.S. foreign policy.
The White House, State Department and some congressional Democrats are boycotting the address
as a slap at President Barack Obama.
Netanyahu told Jewish leaders in Washington on Monday he has a "moral obligation" to explain why a negotiated nuclear deal threatens Israel's existence
and why Iran cannot be trusted to abide by any pact.
Diament, attending the same conference as Netanyahu, called the whole episode "dumbfounding."
He said a White House official, United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, told the conference on Monday that negotiations are preferable to "the alternatives, which I presume by that they mean military action."
"They're making it an either-or choice: Either we negotiate a deal or we go to war," said Diament. "Many of us think there's some middle ground there, but that's their rationale."
"The underlying assumption they're making, even taking them on their own terms, is that if they negotiate a deal, it's a deal that the Iranian leadership will abide by and will not cheat upon," he said. "And many of us have good reason to believe that you really cannot trust the Iranian regime to in fact keep its commitments, even to a negotiated deal."
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