The Conservative Political Action Conference released its second round of invited speakers today, and there’s a surprising name near the top of the list. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited, along with Canadian PM Stephen Harper.
Netanyahu actually spoke at CPAC back in 2001, as Phil Klein pointed out on Twitter. But that was in between premierships, which is a very different case. While Netanyahu will probably already be in Washington for AIPAC’s Policy Conference the week before, and it would be great to see him speak at CPAC, there’s no way it will actually happen. It would be silly for him to attend now, right after being accused of siding with the Mitt Romney campaign and while he still needs to maintain a veneer of cordial relations with President Obama.
The invite itself is interesting, though. First, it’s another example of how support for Israel has become ingrained as a conservative value issue. And second, it’s a subtle snub against the libertarian and paleoconservative anti-Israel and anti-war activists who have tried unsuccessfully to hijack CPAC for the last several years–including jeering Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as “war criminals” in 2011. I can only imagine the reception Netanyahu would get from this small but vocal group of hecklers, so CPAC is brave extending the invite, even if the Israeli PM is unlikely to accept.