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Netanyahu speech: Neither unprecedented nor unwise

Op-ed writer Frederic Hill ("Netanyahu invitation unwise," Jan. 28) faults House Speaker John Boehner for inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress two weeks before Israeli elections. "Democratic nations usually do not interfere in another country's vote," Mr. Hill says.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton hosted Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, whom the administration was said to favor, at the White House two weeks before Mr. Peres lost to Mr. Netanyahu in Israeli balloting. British Prime Minister David Cameron lobbied senators on President Obama's behalf against new Iran sanctions legislation earlier this month. Now, according to several reports, Jeremy Bird, a top official in President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, is heading to Israel to help organize grassroots opposition to Mr. Netanyahu.

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Mr. Hill impugns Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican and a chief sponsor of new sanctions, as a "posturing politician … who has accepted more than half a million in campaign contributions from pro-Israel lobbying groups in the U.S. between 2008 and 2014." Could it be that Mr. Kirk, a former State Department official and 24-year U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer who's served in Congress since 2001, may have an honest difference of opinion with Mr. Hill? Certainly, some senators opposing Mr. Kirk's legislation, not to mention the president himself, also have received contributions from pro-Israel sources.

Mr. Boehner's invitation and Mr. Netanyahu's acceptance may or may not be diplomatically wise. But contrary to Mr. Hill, there's no congressional "mirror image" of Iranian hard-liners who want to kill negotiations. There are many members of Congress who believe Iran when it says the American "Great Satan" must be driven from the Middle East and the Israeli "Little Satan" destroyed. Along with Israelis, they want to make sure the ayatollahs can't deploy nuclear weapons, especially not soon and by surprise.

Eric Rozenman, Washington

The writer is Washington director of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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