YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Washington, D.C. drew members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
Those in attendance also included invited guests, including a Valley woman. Bonnie Burdman, the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation’s Director of Community Relations and Government Affairs, was invited to attend by 7th District Congressman Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio.
“The prime minister reiterated his respect for the United States, for the president and for the strong ongoing relations. In fact, he took a significant amount of time detailing all the aspects of the strong Israel relationship and everything that this administration has done to further that relationship, so that was good,” Burdman said.
Burdman said as it stands now, she does not foresee any problems with the Israeli-United States relationship moving forward, as a strong relationship remains between the two countries.
Netanyahu argued against a nuclear deal with Iran before Congress and others Tuesday morning. His speech is being deemed both controversial and political.
Burdman said the prime minister’s speech was powerful.
“He very strongly made his case for why a nuclear armed Iran is not only bad for Israel, bad for the Middle East, bad for the United States, but bad for the world. He did it in a way that was very clear and very powerful,” she said.
Youngstown State University Associate Political Science Professor Dr. Keith Lepak explained the dynamic of the situation.
“Typically, we have not dealt with Iran because of that kind of support of terrorism. But the nuclear program has become another issue and obviously because it is linked to American sanctions against Iran, Iran is interested in getting some sort of a deal to remove those economic penalties. Israelis remain very skeptical of this,” said Dr. Keith Lepak, an associate political science professor at Youngstown State University.
Lepak said the United States has been at odds with Iran and as well as Israel for almost 40 years.
Burdman said she saw support for Netanyahu from both Democrats and Republicans. Valley Congressmen Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and Tim Ryan, D-Niles, also attended the speech.
“It was an honor to attend Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress today. Israel and the United States have a long, proud history and commitment to one another, and we must remain dedicated to the common purpose of ensuring that Iran never succeeds in arming itself with a nuclear weapon. I’m disappointed in President Obama for not agreeing to meet with the Prime Minister during his trip to the United States. The president and his administration continue to negotiate with Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, while giving a cold shoulder to our closest ally in the region. Israel is a democratic island in a sea of dictators, political upheaval, and terrorism. America must remain a close ally of Israel,” Johnson said following the speech.