Rep. John Yarmuth says Republican House Speaker John Boehner inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to the House of Representatives is "close to subversion."
Speaking with the Stephanie Miller Show on Friday, the Kentucky Democrat added some Congress members' strong support for Israel "had to do with fundraising."
"I am totally outraged at Speaker Boehner for doing it, I think it's, it was deliberately
designed to undermine the president — that's close to subversion," said Yarmuth of Netanyahu's upcoming address to Congress.
"I mean, the president is supposed to be conducting foreign policy, not the Speaker of the House."
Yarmuth then said a lot of the strong support for Israel has to with fundraising and pressure from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
"And you know, a lot of it has to do with fundraising — I'm sure some of it is sincere support for Israel," Yarmuth said.
"You know, I'm a Jewish member of Congress, I'm a strong supporter of Israel, but my first obligation is to the Constitution of the United States, not to the Constitution of Israel. And unfortunately, I think, some of the demands that are made of members by AIPAC and some strong Jewish supporters are that we pay more attention — I guess we defer — to Israel more than we defer to the United States."
"And that's another thing, because if he's going to come over here and say 'well, my intelligence shows this' — you know, there's an implicit, I guess, admission — or not admission, I guess concession — that Israeli intelligence is superior to American intelligence. I'm not ready to sit there and endorse that kind of proposition, and I suspect he will, basically, talk about things like that — you know, try to match their assessment of the situation against ours. And I'm not willing to believe theirs is superior."
Yarmuth also said he found the reaction to Netanyahu's 2011 speech "inappropriate on so many levels."
"And, you know, I was there in the chamber in 2011, when Netanyahu spoke, and there he got I don't know how many standing ovations. And I was in Israel shortly thereafter, and believe me, the Israelis pay very, very close attention to events like that. And I just — the first thing out of virtually every Israeli's mouth was: 'What was with all the standing ovations?' And I said: 'Well, AIPAC was meeting in Washington that week, and the gallery was full of AIPAC members, and every one of the members all wanted to see — make sure that their constituents saw them stand up.' Well, that was kind of a phony reaction, but the Israelis took it very seriously. And so it can have an impact on the election — and, yeah — totally inappropriate on so many levels."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.