GOP, Bibi Hurt Israel, USA

While the recalcitrant rightist government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has left Israel more isolated in the world than at any time since 1948, Bibi's ill-advised recent speech to a joint session of Congress could reduce a historically nonpartisan alliance between Israel and America to a hyperpartisan scheme between the Likud Party and the GOP.

With negotiations to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and triggering a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East reaching a critical moment, a junior Republican senator with only weeks of Senate experience, Tom Cotton, led 46 Republican senators in sending an ill-advised letter to Iranian leaders that was so grotesquely inappropriate the New York Daily News bannered photos of Cotton, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and two likely GOP presidential candidates with the word "traitors."

A few legal experts suggest the letter might violate the Logan Act, which bans unauthorized interference in diplomatic negotiations. I do not endorse these views, but they offer a warning Republicans would be well-advised to heed.

While America faces a terror threat from mass-murdering butchers who would behead our citizens, partisan Republicans suffer a distemper so severe they threatened a government shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security that was only averted through the wise bipartisan intervention of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader.

While six retired directors of the Israeli security agency Shin Bet are so concerned about the future of Israel they participated in the film "The Gatekeepers" to dramatize their support for a fair resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians, Netanyahu has sounded an uncertain and discordant trumpet to play to his far-right base before an election he fears he could lose, appearing to oppose a two-state solution after appearing to support one -- a matter that's vital to Israel's security and standing throughout the democratic world.

While nearly 200 retired leaders of the Israeli military and intelligence agencies pleaded with Netanyahu to cancel his bitterly divisive speech to Congress, fearing it would poison relations between America and Israel, Netanyahu unwisely forged ahead, falsely believing it would advance his reelection campaign.

Netanyahu had previously made a historically unprecedented effort to defeat an American president in the 2012 election. His Cabinet includes members who have publicly insulted President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, a faithful friend of Israel for decades and one of the most respected statesmen in the world.

Netanyahu's ambassador in Washington, in an unprecedented act of duplicity from an ally, met for two hours with the secretary of State without telling him about his covert planning with the Republican Speaker for Netanyahu's joint session speech, which appalled many Americans and violated core values of U.S.-Israeli relations.

On Tuesday, Israeli voters will make a momentous decision. Netanyahu's opponent, a coalition led by the internationally respected leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who would govern far more in the tradition of Israeli leaders since 1948 than Netanyahu, has a good chance of winning.

Many of Israel's most devoted friends throughout America and the democratic world privately hope Herzog and Livni prevail, and dread the damage and danger they fear would follow a Netanyahu victory.

They can't say it. I just did.

The free world must respond forcefully to the terror threat from the Mideast, firmly to the imperial ambitions of neo-Soviet strongman Vladimir Putin, and effectively to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Obama and America's European allies are clear: All options remain on the table. Diplomacy must be given every opportunity to succeed. The alternative to diplomacy with Iran is not only more sanctions but war, which Iranian leaders should understand may be inevitable and Republican leaders should understand must be avoided if possible.

Partisanship, extremism and obstructionism from the right in Israel or America that seeks to destroy our diplomacy only divides our alliance, endangers our security and damages America, Israel and the democratic world.