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In Ohio, Mixed Reactions To Netanyahu's Speech

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio's 8th District, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Flickr/Talk Radio News Service
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio's 8th District, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following his address to Congress Tuesday, Cleveland-area critics and backers of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are speaking out about his warning on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Members of Congress, including many Republicans, gave Netanyahu a rousing ovation after his controversial address to Congress Tuesday.  In his 45-minute speech, the Israeli Prime Minister urged the U.S. to stop any potential deal-making with Iran, expressing concerns it could open a window for the country to develop an arsenal of atomic weapons.

“We’ll face a much more dangerous Iran…a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs….and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare,” said Netanyahu.

Among those in attendance and applauding the speech was Amy Kaplan of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.  She says Netanyahu’s speech was powerful.

“I hope the partisan divide that developed leading up to the speech will disappear, because the bipartisan support for Israel is incredibly important,” said Kaplan.

Dozens of Democrats, including Ohio Representatives Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge, planned to skip the joint address, asserting that the Israeli Prime Minister’s initial invite was a breach of protocol since it was not vetted by the White House.

Locally, others feel the event was a political spectacle, designed to bolster Netanyahu’s re-election prospects.

“We have enough problems, we don’t need to get in any deeper,” said Jeffrey Kassouf of the group Cleveland Peace Action. He says Netanyahu is exaggerating the threat, and should focus instead on making peace with Palestine. “We need to make peace where the opportunity exists.”

But Ohio Senator Rob Portman says he looks forward to further developing a U.S.-Israel alliance, calling it good for both nations’ security. Ohio Governor John Kasich was also reported to be attending the speech as a guest of House Speaker John Boehner.