On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the State of Israel reset the agenda for the Western world in a speech before a joint session of Congress.
For weeks, the Obama administration has attempted to direct attention away from Netanyahu’s actual agenda – stopping the Iranian nuclear deal – and toward petty political maneuvering over permissions to speak and Democratic boycotts. All of that fell away in the wake of a clear, powerful, and emotional call by Netanyahu for the United States and Israel to stand united against the evil terror of Iran.
Netanyahu opened by expressing his humility for the invite, calling Congress the “most important legislative body in the world.” He then apologized for the speech itself becoming controversial. “That was never my intention,” he stated. “I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade. I know that on whichever side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.”
That clever gambit – an attempt to kill the Obama administration and the boycotting Democrats with kindness – placed President Obama’s puerile spitefulness on Israel in stark contrast. That, of course, was the point. Every time Netanyahu spelled out the ways in which the Obama administration had helped Israel – instances that were, by and large, pro forma commitments every American president makes to Israel – he forced Obama into a corner. Turning the other political cheek turned out to be a powerful weapon.
Netanyahu got to the heart of his message: absolutely devastating Obama’s reported Iranian peace deal. In the shadow of the Jewish holiday of Purim, when a Jewish woman pled for the survival of her people from the genocidal intentions of a Persian anti-Semite, Netanyahu echoed Queen Esther’s language:
I feel profound obligation to speak to you about a threat to the survival of my country and the survival of my people, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. In nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people.
Netanyahu expressed that the threat was not only to Israel, but to the West, explaining, “Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem…Iran’s regime poses a grave threat not only to Israel but to the peace of the entire world.”
And, he said, to understand the nature of the deal being cut, the key lay in understanding “the nature of that regime.” Netanyahu described Israel’s enemies, funded by Iran, as “clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror.” He described Iran stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. “At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations,” he stated, “Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation, and terror.”
But that was his point: Obama is forwarding Iran’s march, despite Iran’s obvious intention to destroy the West. Many commentators have described Netanyahu as the true leader of the free world, given President Obama’s unwillingness to speak on behalf of a free world. He made that case today before Congress:
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever. Its cries of Death to America, the same nation it calls the Great Satan, are as loud as ever. This shouldn’t be surprising…[Iran’s] ideology is rooted in militant Islam. That’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
“Militant Islam.” The two words Obama refuses to say in that order.
Netanyahu continued by leveling the Obama argument that America must cut a deal with Iran in order to stop ISIS:
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam…Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire, first on the region, then on the entire world. They just disagree who will be the ruler of this empire. In this deadly game of thrones, there is no place for America or Israel…When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
And, Netanyahu pointed out, Obama’s negotiation would end with Iran gaining a nuclear weapon.
That is exactly what could happen if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal won’t prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee Iran gets those weapons. Lots of them.
Netanyahu laid out his two major critiques of the proposed deal. First, he explained, the deal would protect Iran’s “vast nuclear infrastructure,” placing them within a short period of developing nuclear weapons. Iran could cheat, Netanyahu pointed out – after all, “Inspectors document violations. They don’t stop them. Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb. But that didn’t stop anything.”
Second, and more importantly, he said, even if Iran complies with the deal, after the ten year period, they would be free to develop nuclear weapons without restriction. A decade, Netanyau pointed out, is a “blink of an eye in the life of our children.” And when that decade ends, “The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire nuclear arsenal, and this with full international legitimacy.” Furthermore, no deal will include a stop on Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles, leaving Europe and the United States vulnerable.
Netanyahu summed up, “It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” He also explained that such concessions would only embolden Iran to pursue more terror with more money and more legitimacy. “Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both worlds, aggression abroad, prosperity at home?” Netanyahu asked, pointing out that in response, other Middle Eastern countries would go nuclear.
Then Netanyahu truly turned brutal, eviscerating the Obama administration’s strawman-laden defense of the deal. “We’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal,” Netanyahu averred.
Iran, Netanyahu said, could be held to account. They could earn their way to legitimacy, rather than being given legitimacy without making any concessions. They could be forced to stop regional aggression, stop supporting terrorism, stop threatening to “annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.” And, he continued:
If the world powers aren’t willing to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least, insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires. If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted. If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
What could the West do? Netanyahu suggested, “call their bluff”:
They need the deal a lot more than you do. And by maintaining the pressure on Iran, and those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more. My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.
Finally, Netanyahu invoked the Holocaust. He gave a tribute to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, stating, “Standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is.” Then he warned the world:
I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrificed the future for the present, not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. But I can guarantee you this: the days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over!
Netanyahu vowed, “as PM of Israel, I can promise you one more thing. Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone, I know that America stands with Israel, I know that you stand with Israel.”
Netanyahu concluded by citing the Bible, in Hebrew. He quoted the parting words of Moses as the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel, from Deuteronomy 31:6:
Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years…Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them. My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute, may we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead, may we face the future with confidence, strength and hope. May God bless the state of Israel, and may God bless the United States of America.
The controversy over the politics of the speech is over. Now the world must answer Netanyahu’s question: will Israel have to stand alone?
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.