America has a long history in the struggle for civil rights for all. We have not always lived up to the concept that all men are created equal. We are fortunate that the founding fathers of our nation, in their genius, realized that there needed to be a way for America to correct herself when she stumbled. It has not always been smooth sailing, but we have done just that many times.
So many Americans, both black and white, joined in the fight for civil rights for black Americans in the 1960’s as young people. Many of them have gone on to have successful careers in public service, including Congress, but many of those champions of civil rights for African-Americans seem to have a hard time extending that same desire to others, namely Israelis.
A large number of the Congressional Black Caucus have said that they will not attend an upcoming speech to Congress given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3. While almost all of the Congressmen will express support for Israel, they say that the speech is somehow disrespectful of the President.
The speech comes just two weeks before elections in Israel, and the secret that Obama campaign operatives have been in Israel for some time helping Netanyahu’s opponent is really no longer a secret. So what is truly the purpose of Prime Minister Netanyahu addressing Congress?
Well, at its most basic level, civil rights. In the strong tradition of “leading from behind”, the Obama administration is feverishly working on a diplomatic deal with Iran that would give them nuclear capability. Most have no illusions about what a nuclear-ready Iran would mean for the rest of the world, most apparently, but the Obama administration. One of those realities, stated time and again by other terror sponsoring nations and terrorist groups is the total destruction of Israel. At a time when the president and those around him will not name the true nature of the enemy, much less tell the American people any details regarding this dangerous potential agreement, Benjamin Netanyahu has one goal in mind, the preservation of his nation and his people. He fully intends to tell Congress exactly what such an agreement will mean, not just for Israel but for the entire world.
For the Congressional Black Caucus and its members, who will tell anyone willing to listen stories of their tireless work in the civil rights movement, the defense of a president who will barely lift a finger to defend the only democracy in the Middle East is much more important than the civil rights of Israelis. People who were willing to be beaten, arrested, sprayed with water hoses, and anything else that they felt was necessary 50 years ago, now are willing to deny others the chance to do what they feel needs to be done. Martin Luther King was a fierce supporter of Israel. Just days before his assassination he said that, “Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy”.
While the CBC will not say that a boycott of the speech is their official response, more and more of its members are saying they will not attend.
All Prime Minister Netanyahu will have to do to see who not just supports Israel, but civil rights for all, is look at his audience on March 3.