Invited by Speaker Boehner, snubbed by President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress today.
His speech was welcomed with raucous applause, cheering and several standing ovations. In fact, his speech was interrupted by applause 43 times. To say he was well-received would be an understatement, even though some Democrats chose to boycott the speech.
Mr. Netanyahu started by praising the US as an ally, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. “The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics,” he said. “It must always remain above politics.”
He praised President Obama for help that is widely known, help that is less known and help that will never be known.
Netanyahu then launched in to the real purpose of his speech – the threat of a nuclear Iran and a “deal” currently being negotioted.
He started with the story of Esther.
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
He also addressed some of his critics who claim threats against Israel aren’t actually threats against the Israeli people. “For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people,” he said, “listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.”
He calls the deal currently being negotiated a sure path to nuclear weapons in Iran and reminds America that “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”
He then spoke at length about his concerns about the deal being worked on. While some pieces of that negotiation have not been discussed, others have been openly talked about. Netanyahu says we have heard for years that no deal is better than a bad deal – “well, this is a very bad deal,” he says.
The area of concern for the Prime Minister are three-fold. First, the deal would leave the nuclear infrastructure intact. Second, the deal expires in ten years. “Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life,” he said. “But it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation.” Finally, he expressed concern that Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not even on the table, leaving Iran the means to reach every corner of the world.
He said that “Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.”
The deal that Netanyahu suggests has 4 parts:
First, “insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.”
Second, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.
Third, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And finally, stop threatening to annihilate Israel.
He asked for support from Israel’s allies – after all, that is why he made the pitch directly to Congress. But – the days of remaining passive “in the face of genocidal enemies” are over.
“This is why — this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing,” he said: “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
Did I mention the 43 bursts of applause? And sustained standing ovations?