Tuesday Morning March 3rd, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in front of a joint session of Congress, despite over 50 Democrats boycotting and general controversy over the event. His speech put President Obama to shame in the classiest and most respectful manner befitting a person of his position.
Benjamin Netanyahu once again has proven himself to be the bigger man in any situation. He was welcomed into the join session of congress with warm applause and hand shakes. Despite Democrat mudslinging Netanyahu muttered nothing of insult to anyone, not Democrats, not President Obama. In fact, after thanking a few people including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi he said “I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it’s good to see you back on your feet…I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t keep a good man down.”
The Prime Minister thanked those in attendance of his speech and addressed the issues surrounding it, “I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention. I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.” He went on to say that despite the differences among party lines that America stands with Israel, from Truman to Obama, America has Israel’s back.
Now, as he moved to speak about Barack Obama, he could have said something about President Obama’s rudeness. But instead Netanyahu took the high road and instead of criticizing President Obama, he decided to thank him, “We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” he told the joint session. Some of this included intelligence sharing, which some sources now say the Obama administration has stopped doing. Other such things that Obama has done for Israel include opposing anti-Israel resolutions in the UN, and security cooperation. All of this though, as Netanyahu states, is widely known. Some things that Obama has done are not so widely known. President Obama helped out the state of Israel, upon request by the Prime Minister during the 2010 Carmel Forest Fire, and in 2011 when Israel’s Embassy was in trouble in Egypt, as well as supporting missile interceptions during the fighting with Hamas last summer.
Even though Obama was highly critical of Israel’s response to Hamas over the summer he did show some support, so it warranted a mention. This illustrates Netanyahu’s deep respect for America and its leaders, whether they deserve it or not. He added that he is thankful for the president’s support. He also thanked Congress who’s financial support helped to build the Iron Dome system which protected Israelis (and tourists) from Hamas rockets over the summer.
Moving on to Iran, Netanyahu drew parallels to the story of Ester, and the holiday Purim (which starts Wednesday at sundown). She had foiled a plan by a man named Haman to slaughter the Jewish people of Persia. “Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us.” Iran! More specifically its theocratic leaders. Netanyahu made a note to specify that it is the radical religious leaders of Iran and not the people who are out to cause trouble. The people of Iran may be interested in peace with Israel, but their government continuously funds terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
He moved on to a brief history of Iran following the 1979 revolution and touched on the Holocaust. Ayatollah Khomeini the leader “exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.” Netanyahu then drew an ideological contrast between the founding documents of the American Revolution and the Iranian one. “America’s founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.” This is a key and powerful contrast.
Netanyahu talked about hostages in Iran, attacks by Iran-funded groups against Americans, Iran’s and radical Islam’s actions against their own people, and criticized President Obama’s plan with Iran. “We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror” he told the audience.
“Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State.” He said, which draws to the idea of radical Islam, which seeks to return Islam to its “glory days” by re-instituting a caliphate.
“The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.” Powerful words that moved the audience to multiple claps of applause and standing ovations. Netanyahu warned America of the dangers of Iran possessing nuclear weapons not just to a small Jewish nation, but to the world.
In attendance of the speech was Ellie Wiesel, author and Holocaust survivor who sat in the balcony next to Netanyahu’s wife. the Prime Minister addressed him directly, stating, “Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, “never again.””
Netnayahu called for a better deal, a deal that would ensure that Israel would be safe. He does not want a war, he wants a better deal than the one Obama is trying to secure with Iran; a deal that will not end up with Iran holding nuclear weapons. Weapons, they have made clear, they wish to use on Israel.
Israel may have to stand alone, should it come to that. But Netanyahu believes firmly that Israel will not have to because America will stand with Israel in the face of radical Islam. He ended his 44 minute speech with a quote from Moses, “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
“May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.”
The speech itself is strong and powerful, much like any speech of the Prime Minister’s. But not everyone was thrilled with the criticism he presented of this plan. No, Nancy Pelosi, who was in attendance was, and in her own words “near tears” during the speech and was “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.” Criticism does not mean insult; criticism does not mean that someone is trying to show you you’re stupid. Criticism is just that, a criticism that maybe this plan with Iran isn’t as perfect as Democrats seem to make it out to be, maybe there is a better plan.
Pelosi maintains that she, and President Obama are keenly aware that a nuclear armed Iran is bad and that as the President himself said, all options are on the table. As usual, however actions speak louder than words. “We have all said that a bad deal is worse than no deal…” A bad plan is worse than no plan because a bad plan can make things worse. So why then, do you propose a bad deal? Why then do you not, at the very least engage in a rational dialogue with the Prime Minister like the mature adults you are supposed to be? Respect, Representative Pelosi is a two way street and Netanyahu is more than willing to work out a descent deal that won’t threaten the safety of his nation.
Considering the amount of insults that have been thrown at Prime Minister Netanyahu over the past few week and multiple calls for boycotts and general displeasure, including one from the President himself, the speech given today was nothing short of respectful and showed Netanyahu’s determination to stand strong with America and stand strong to protect his people.
Many supporters stated firmly that it was nice to see what a real leader looks like.