Lane: "Meddling" in politics

BY JOE LANE | MARCH 10, 2015 5:00 AM

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On the evening of March 7, tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, in a self-described “Anti-Netanyahu Rally,” according to several sources. The Guardian explains that “One Million Hands,” a pro-two state ad-hoc campaign founded by three Israelis, organized the event.

Even by American standards, the rally was larger than most political events; with Israeli elections drawing near, the affair attracted substantial attention from local and international media outlets.

With elections just over a week away (March 17), the latest polls have shown Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party — Likud — neck and neck with its biggest rival, the Zionist Union.

As a Jew, I have spent the past six years constantly watching Netanyahu’s Israel out of the corner of my eye — at points more closely than others. Amid the conflict from this past summer, however, as tensions ran high and Israel once again had a target on its back, there was one constant reinforced in my mind. I knew that at the helm would be Netanyahu. Speaking with his booming, fervent, Mufasa-like voice, I knew that “Bibi” would never turn his back on the citizens of Israel and the Jews of the world. The one thing I didn’t consider is now happening, however — many are turning their backs on him.

Maybe it was Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last week or maybe it was how Israeli citizens perceive his harshness on foreign policy. Whatever has caused the Israeli public to become disillusioned by Netanyahu, however, is confusing to me. But this is not for me to decide. Just as I have no say in which candidates any other foreign country elects as its leader, I have no say in the election of Israel — despite my heritage. Many, however, do not share this viewpoint.

As the Netanyahu Congress speech approached, a new hashtag made its way to twitter feeds of American Jews and non-Jews alike: #Bibidoesntspeakforme.

Although the newfound distaste for the prime minister from some Israeli citizens is at their discretion, it is misplaced when coming from the Twitter handles of Americans. Not because Americans don’t have a right to voice their opinion on foreign administrations — which they do — but because they’re being hypocritical following Netanyahu’s latest actions.

When Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress about the Iran nuclear deal, many Americans were not happy. The Internet exploded with people expressing their anger over Netanyahu “meddling in U.S. politics.” They talked about how Boehner’s actions were a deliberate attempt to go over President Obama’s head and that it would do nothing to advance the deal while simply fueling the deterioration of bipartisanship in U.S. politics.

Less than one week later, Americans are taking to Twitter with the hashtag voicing their strong opinions on matters pertinent to Israeli elections. Are they not aware of the double standard they have created?

I love to see the involvement of U.S. citizens in the daily life of Israel. The alliance between the two countries is one of the strongest and is undoubtedly the most important in the world. Despite Obama and Netanyahu’s relationship being strained at best, there is still strong support between the two countries.

American non-Jews taking notice of what is going on in Israel is paramount to the future success of the alliance. But this cannot come at the cost of hypocrisy.

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