(JTA) — John Boehner, the Republican from Ohio who is the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is quitting politics.
Now that he’s going, maybe Boehner may feel free to elaborate on his role in the secret that launched the ongoing U.S.-Israel crisis — and perhaps permanently changed the relationship between the two countries.
We know that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer agreed to keep secret Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress — at the speaker’s request.
Boehner and Dermer have confirmed that the ambassador, who had consulted with Netanyahu, agreed to keep the secret, from the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC. Boehner has said he asked for secrecy to keep Obama from nixing the speech.
But once you keep the secrets of one party in a two-party democracy, you become partisan — and in this case you do some damage to the decades-long tradition of bipartisan support for Israel.
Dermer’s “yes” meant Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, had to enter the trenches in the effort to push back Boehner’s effort to kill the deal — which was ultimately successful.
Going forward, his “yes” means Democrats on Capitol Hill are no longer so eager to return calls from the Israeli embassy.
It means there’s discussion on the Hill about whether the “Israel is GOP territory” tag will die when Netanyahu leaves office, or outlast him.
Given the echoes of Dermer’s “yes” in Washington’s halls of power, many would like to hear what it sounded like. And Boehner is one of the few people who knows.