The New York Times reports on the friendly relationship between congressional Republicans and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The article, however, leaves out the long history of that relationship. His first stint as Prime Minister started in 1996, and one of his campaign advisers at the time was an American who had worked with Republicans. Soon after his victory, he spoke to a joint meeting of Congress. From USA Today, July 11, 1996:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded like a savvy American politician Wednesday as he vowed to invigorate Israel's economy with a mix of deregulation, downsizing and market economics.
To disparate audiences all day, Netanyahu continued to defend his view that Israel can give up no more land unless Arabs guarantee peace. But, in the American style, he tailored his delivery to fit the audience.
"I'm committed to reducing the size of government," he told Congress. Quoting President Clinton and parroting House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., Netanyahu said, "The era of big government is over. It's over in Israel too."
With Gingrich beaming, he added, "There is not a Hebrew word for deregulation. By the time this term of office is over in Israel, there will be a Hebrew word for deregulation."
The chamber erupted in applause. To many Republicans in the audience, the words were an international validation for the GOP agenda. "That's as Republican as it gets," said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. "I'm thrilled."
Netanyahu, 46, spent 14 years in the USA. He attended high school in Philadelphia and got two degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Unlike his predecessors, who read speeches haltingly in thick foreign accents, Netanyahu speaks like a native. "He seems like one of us," says Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill.
Here is his address to a joint meeting of Congress, July 10, 1996: