Updated on February 25, 2015, 8:45 a.m. EST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to meet with a group of ardently pro-Israel Democratic senators next week in Washington, but he very much wants to see the faces of Arab ambassadors in the audience during his controversial address to Congress.
Netanyahu's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, has tried, without success, to recruit Arab ambassadors to come to his boss’s speech, e-mailing them personally to plead for their attendance. Dermer, who is not a trained diplomat, is the man who helped engineer the invitation to Netanyahu to speak to Congress in opposition to President Obama’s (so far theoretical) Iran nuclear deal.
Israeli sources tell me that Dermer in recent days has e-mailed at least two Arab ambassadors, those of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. He made the case in these e-mails that Sunni-majority Arab states and Israel have a common interest in thwarting a nuclear agreement with Shiite Iran—and that presenting a united and public front on Capitol Hill will help convince Congress to stop the Iran deal before it’s too late.
It is true that Israel and such countries as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait see Iran as an enemy, and believe that the Obama administration might be inadvertently (or, for the more conspiratorially minded, advertently) setting Iran on the path to nuclearization. It is also true that no Arab ambassador would allow himself to be used as a prop in Netanyahu’s controversial address, and I'm told that neither ambassador will be in attendance. (A related, subsidiary question is this: Just who from the diplomatic corps will actually attend the speech? Will any ambassador show up?)