American Jews Do Not Support Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress, Here’s Why

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Benjamin Netanyahu does not represent the Jewish people.

J Street New York Times ad opposing Netanyahu's speech

On March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to Washington D.C. and speak to the House of Representatives regarding U.S. policy on Iran. Netanyahu previously said that he is coming to Washington “not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people." Many Jews across the U.S. have taken issue with Netanyahu’s declaration as speaking for them. Scores of petitions have spread declaring that Netanyahu does not speak for the Jewish people. Jewish organization J Street released a petition entitled “I'm a Jew. Bibi does NOT speak for me!" that received 20,000 signatures and the NGO published a New York Times ad that called out Netanyahu’s speech as damaging to U.S.-Israel relations. Jewish activist organization Jewish Voice for Peace encouraged Congress members to boycott the prime minister’s speech with the hashtag “Skip the Speech.” And the radically political Jewish magazine, Tikkun, has a campaign running to publish a New York Times ad that protests Netanyahu’s speech believing it's a front for garnering U.S. approval for a war with Iran. While these organizations are part of a left-leaning niche that does not fully encompass the Jewish people, many American Jews are indeed wary of Netanyahu’s speech. As an American Jew myself, I strongly oppose Bibi’s speech. Here is why Jews and myself reject the speech:

Majority of American Jews are critical of Israeli policies

According to a 2013 Pew study and poll on last summer’s Gaza War, the majority of young Jews and Democrats are critical of Israeli policymaking. The Pew survey revealed that most American Jews disagree with the Israeli administration on a number of issues including Palestinian statehood, settlement expansion and Iran. Only 17 percent agree to continue constructing settlements in Palestine and only 38 percent believe Netanyahu is making a genuine effort to make peace with Palestinians.

Most American Jews support Obama

In the same Pew survey it was found that American Jews are overwhelmingly democratic and supportive of President Obama with 70 percent identifying as democratic. Jews’ strong support for Obama is mirrored further in their approval of Obama’s Middle East policies. A 2014 J Street poll found that a majority of American Jews agree more with the Obama’s administration’s efforts on preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons rather than the Israeli government’s approaches.

Bad for Israel

Many American Jews worry that Netanyahu’s speech is an attempt to pressure the U.S. into war with Iran. If the U.S. caves and provides military action against Iran, many Americans might blame Netanyahu and Israel as the cause. After the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority of Americans oppose military intervention by the U.S. If it is viewed that Israel was the reason for an unwanted war, Israel’s security interests might be harmed and anti-Semitism will continue to dangerously increase.