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Israeli diplomat to Midwest defends Netanyahu speech to Congress

Feb 19, 2015

Credit Tim (Timothy) Pearce / Flickr

From attacks on Jews in Paris and Denmark, to controversy over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to the U.S. Congress, Israel is in the news.

Roey Gilad is the consul general of Israel to the Midwest. He represents the interests of the state of Israel in the Midwest.

Gilad enjoys living in the Midwest, saying, "people are very open, very friendly. Even if people don't agree with you, they always listen."

Israel has made headlines recently for House Speaker John Boehner's controversial decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress -- a move seen by critics as a maneuver meant to undermine President Obama as he gets ready to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program.

"I think I can appreciate and understand the protocol blunder that was made. And maybe things could have been done differently," Gilad says.

However, Gilad believes the speech is still worth the possible political price.

"We didn't want to create this blunder with the White House. The White House is extremely important for us, as is the Congress, as is the American people. But we do feel, as they say in the legal world, that we want to have our day in court," Gilad says.

Netanyahu has also made controversial remarks following the attacks on Jews in France, calling for Jews in Europe to come live in Israel.

Gilad calls Israel a "safety net" for Jews who don't feel safe in other countries.

He says they don't impose their agenda, but Jews from around the world who emigrate to Israel will be welcomed "with open arms."