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By FORMER U.S. SEN. BOB SMITH
In the Spring of 2002 the nation was still reeling from the savage terrorist attacks on NYC and Washington, D.C. on September 11 . How many more terrorists were in our nation? Were there additional targets? Are we prepared for additional threats?
As a sitting U.S. Senator at the time, I felt immense pressure to learn as much as I could, and as soon as possible.
I had heard that, then-private citizen, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was going to be visiting America at this time. Through a mutual friend, I extended Mr. Netanyahu an invitation to come to NH and address a large group of NH residents on the threats of terrorism and how we might prepare ourselves for what was coming in the future.
Benjamin Netanyahu had a personal experience with the subject of terrorism, having lost a brother in the battle, and as the former leader of a nation who was on the front line of the battle in the Middle East. I was honored and delighted when Mr. Netanyahu accepted my invitation and spoke and answered questions for over two hours at a forum at Saint Anselm College. He was brilliant, blunt and truthful.
I was reminded of this extraordinary event when the recent controversy regarding now-Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel made national news. It seems as if the President and many Democrats have a problem with the Prime Minister of Israel speaking to a joint session of Congress.
Leading Democrats have threatened to boycott the speech and thus embarrass the Prime Minister. My question is: Why?
Netanyahu is an expert on terrorism, he is the leader of our strongest ally and friend in the Middle East, and he could give members of congress and the American public great insight into the threat we are now facing with ISIS.
I can only come up with one reluctant conclusion.
The President and certain Democrats in the House and Senate, want to make Netanyahu look bad in an attempt to influence the elections next month in Israel and elect a liberal Prime Minister by defeating Netanyahu.
I am tired of hearing the whining about how the Speaker of the House did something wrong by inviting the Prime Minister without first telling the White House. Does anyone really believe that if President Obama wanted to speak with Netanyahu while he was in America, he could not pick up the phone and ask him to come by and talk? If the President would simply make that call, this entire episode would fade away.
This is a shameful act of pure politics which could impact our national security and the stability of the Middle East as well. It is one of the most repugnant political actions in my memory and one that will not be forgotten by the American public and one that will be long remembered by Mr. Netanyahu, who in spite of the slight will win his re-election.
(Former Sen. Bob Smith of Tuftonboro served in the U.S. Senate from 1991 through 2002 and previously served in the U.S. House from 1985 through 1990. He ran for the U.S. Senate last year but lost in the Republican primary.)