Hillary can’t hide forever

WASHINGTON — The political grudge match between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heats up this week with the Israeli leader’s controversial speech to Congress tomorrow, but it’s Hillary Clinton who is feeling the punch.
The first televised attack ad of the 2016 presidential season targeting the presumed Democratic presidential front-runner doesn’t focus on donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation or the Benghazi embassy attack. It’s about Clinton’s silence over Netanyahu’s address to congressional lawmakers at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner and over the opposition of the White House — the event that is dividing Democrats and causing a growing number of them to declare their intentions to skip the speech in protest.

“Where’s Hillary Clinton? Does she support the boycotters, or is she too afraid to stand up to them?” the ad’s narrator asks as an image of the former secretary of state disappears from the screen.

The cable television ad from Emergency Committee for Israel, a pro-Netanyahu group helmed by neo-conservative pundit Bill Kristol, was denounced by Netanyahu yesterday. But it brings to light the tough political position Clinton is in as Obama continues to hold talks with Iran over its nuclear program over Netanyahu’s vociferous objections.

If Clinton backs the president, she risks looking anti-Israel. But if she criticizes his approach, she may jam the a wedge deeper within her own party. Avoiding the issue altogether will likely cause her to draw more fire from the right, who will be quick to label her as a coward.

The speech has already forced Democrats to choose sides. Among the Bay State delegation, two lawmakers — U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark and Jim McGovern — have chosen to skip the speech while averring their support for Israel. Others, including U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano and Joe Kennedy III, plan to attend, though they condemned both the timing and politicization of Netanyahu’s appearance just weeks before he faces re-election in Israel. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has yet to disclose whether she will attend.

To make matters trickier for Clinton, Netanyahu’s speech is scheduled on a day Clinton, too, will be in Washington to accept an award from Democratic pro-choice group Emily’s List. A Clinton representative did not answer an inquiry as to whether Clinton planned to meet with Netanyahu while she’s here.

But Clinton will have to face the growing firestorm eventually, especially if Netanyahu is re-elected later this month. As the attack ad demonstrates, even if Clinton remains silent on the issue, her critics won’t.

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