Speaker Johnson Counters Dem Attacks Against Netanyahu By Inviting Him to Address Congress

Kudos to House Speaker Mike Johnson, who yesterday extended an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the U.S. House of Representatives. This was an important and much-needed gesture to reassure the Israeli people that the vast majority of Americans stand with Israel in its war against the Hamas terrorists and do not agree with the surge in hostility toward the Israeli government by the Biden administration and some Congressional Democrats.

Johnson’s invitation was in response to the backlash over shocking comments made last week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, describing Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace and calling for new elections in Israel. Schumer also condemned how the Netanyahu government has conducted the war against Hamas and for its opposition to a two-state solution peace plan, which Schumer said will make Israel a “pariah.”

Schumer’s comments were condemned by Republicans and many Jewish groups. His criticism was so over the top that Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s chief political rival, criticized Schumer for meddling in Israeli politics when he said, “Israel is a strong democracy, and only its citizens will determine its leadership and future. Any external intervention in the matter is incorrect and unacceptable.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who usually avoids criticizing U.S. officials, lambasted Schumer in an April 17 CNN interview:

“It’s inappropriate to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something that Israel, the Israeli public, does on its own, and we’re not a banana republic.”

“The majority of Israelis support the policies of my government. It’s not a fringe government. It represents the policies supported by the majority of the people. If Senator Schumer opposes these policies, he’s not opposing me. He’s opposing the people of Israel.”

The firestorm caused by Schumer’s comments seemed to cause him to step back and hint yesterday that he might agree to the Israeli leader speaking to a joint session of Congress. According to Axios, a senior Israeli official said Schumer’s support for the address was essential because Netanyahu “isn’t going to come and speak in front of half of Congress.”

But in comments to the Wall Street Journal published on March 21, Schumer appeared to double down on his criticism of Netanyahu, claiming that he had to criticize the Israeli leader to save Israel because he believed “the policies of Netanyahu and his hard-right allies were causing an alarming decline in support for Israel in America.”

Despite Schumer’s flip-flopping comments about Netanyahu, I believe strong pressure on him from pro-Israel Democratic and Republican senators and Jewish organizations will force him to agree to allow Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress.

Schumer’s criticism of Netanyahu came amid growing tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli leader and demands by Biden officials that Israel end the war against Hamas and support negotiations for a two-state solution. Biden officials have also heavily criticized Israel for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza but have said little about how Hamas created this crisis and has made it worse by stealing the aid sent into the enclave.

And as I explained in my March 15 American Greatness article, the Biden Administration has also politicized the U.S. Intelligence Community by using it to publicly criticize the Netanyahu government. This criticism led an unnamed senior Israeli official—believed to be Netanyahu—to allege that the Biden administration was trying to overthrow the Netanyahu government.

Israeli officials have rejected U.S. demands to end the war before it destroys the remaining Hamas battalions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials have also made it clear that the two-state solution is dead until the Palestinians are deradicalized. Israeli officials believe they cannot make peace with an enemy that is determined to destroy Israel, and Israeli and Western leaders made a grave mistake after decades of believing otherwise.

This unprecedented hostility and public criticism by U.S. officials of a close ally while it is at war is being driven by the November 2024 U.S. presidential election. The Biden Administration knows the Israel-Hamas War is hurting it badly in two key swing states where there are sizable Muslim populations: Michigan and Wisconsin. The war is also dragging down Biden’s support from the progressive left, especially younger liberals on college campuses, some of whom have participated in pro-Hamas demonstrations carrying signs calling the president “Genocide Joe.”

The fact that Senator Chuck Schumer, the most senior Jewish member of the Senate, would strongly criticize Netanyahu and his government from the Senate floor shows how extremely worried the Democratic Party is that the war will lead to Joe Biden’s defeat this November.

Speaker Johnson’s invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the House (and hopefully a joint session of Congress) was the perfect response to these craven moves by the Biden administration and Schumer to throw Netanyahu under the bus to boost Joe Biden’s reelection chances. Such a speech will not only be a chance for Congress to show the Israeli people that they do not support the Biden/Schumer attacks on their government, but it will also be an opportunity for Netanyahu to get past the pro-Biden mainstream media and explain the state of the war and Israel’s security situation directly to the American people.

Speaker Johnson has an almost impossible job trying to run the House with the smallest majority in history, which makes it very hard to pass any meaningful legislation. With his invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress, Johnson has shown that he can use his position as Speaker in other ways to advance the interests and security of our country and Israel, one of America’s closest and most important allies.

Well done, Speaker Johnson!

Fred Fleitz previously served as National Security Council chief of staff, CIA analyst, and a House Intelligence Committee staff member.

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Photo: WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) (C) speaks during a news conference with Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) (L) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) following a closed-door caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on March 20, 2024 in Washington, DC. Congressional leaders announced Tuesday they had reached a deal on a FY2024 spending package that includes budgets for about three-quarters of all federal discretionary spending, including Defense, Homeland Security, Labor-Health and Human Services, and other bills. Without a deal, the federal government would be facing a partial shutdown at midnight on Friday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)