The strong opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on March 3 is making an important speech even more so. The address, on the eve of a grim nuclear deal with Iran, and against overwhelming political pressure at home and abroad, may be the most important speech on geopolitical affairs since Ronald Reagan’s remarks at the Berlin Wall in 1987. It is also already a turning point in Jewish history.
For thousands of years, suffering one terrible persecution after another, Jews had almost no voice, no way to plead for help–and no one who would listen. Now, as a new existential threat arises, a Jewish leader of a sovereign Jewish state is about to speak to the sovereign legislature of the most powerful country that has ever existed–not as a supplicant begging for aid, but as an invited and honored guest.
It is a pinnacle in the political history of the Jewish people. It could be a turning point that leads to a united front against Iran and radical Islam, to the defeat of Israel’s enemies, to the security and peace that have eluded Jews for millennia. It could also be a turning point for the negative–especially if Bibi cancels the speech, because the opportunity to speak out against the Iranian danger will never recur.
If Bibi cancels, obeying op-eds and opinion polls, he will show weakness on the global stage. His support in Israel will fade, and he will lose the Mar. 17 election. History will judge him harshly, as one who could have spoken out but declined in a vain attempt to save himself. If Netanyahu goes ahead, as promised, he may still lose the elections–but he will win his place in history, and win a secure future for his people.
Those in the American Jewish community and in Israel who are actively attempting to sabotage the speech, or who are pushing Netanyahu to cancel it, will regret the role they are playing. They are amplifying the split between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government–a split that the Obama White House has cultivated and exacerbated at nearly every opportunity, in the hope of forcing Israeli policy concessions.
Though Obama likes to imagine that his opponents are on the “wrong side of history,” on this issue the opponents of Netanyahu’s speech–even the well-intentioned ones–are repeating the history of governments that turned a blind eye to the danger of antisemitism, and of Jewish leaders that tried to minimize conflict with the ruler. For the first time in the history of the Jews, there is a chance to do otherwise.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak