J Street Letter to Congress on Netanyahu Address

February 10th, 2015

The below letter was sent from J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami to members of Congress on February 10, 2015:

Dear Senator/Representative,

We are writing to draw your attention to this item that appeared in the New York Times today which reinforces our belief that it has become crucial for the sake of the US-Israel relationship that Prime Minister Netanyahu postpone his upcoming speech to Congress until after the March 17 Israeli elections.

One of the chief objections to the visit--and the reason so many supporters of Israel including prominent American Jewish leaders like Abe Foxman and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the leader of the Reform Movement, have asked the Prime Minister to postpone his appearance--is the possibility that the speech will be used to advance the Netanyahu campaign. As the attached video clip clearly shows, this is exactly what happened in the last Israeli election two years ago when Netanyahu’s Likud Party used his 2012 speech to Congress as the basis for a campaign ad.

The ad begins with a view of the US Capitol. It shows the Prime Minister receiving standing ovations from Members including Vice President Biden and ends with the Likud Party logo and the slogan: “When Netanyahu speaks, the world listens.”

Our Congress should not be used as a prop in another nation’s election. One of the central elements that underpins the alliance between our two nations is our common commitment to democracy and elections. That means that both nations stay out of the other’s democratic process. We urge you to convey to Speaker Boehner that the speech should be postponed until after the election, when Congress could welcome Israel's next leader speaking on behalf of all of Israel's people.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Ben-Ami