Prime Minister Netanyahu truly got it right-- and eloquently so -- when he spoke at the AIPAC Conference last night. For this I thank Heaven.
So much talk, so much worry, about the possibility of his caving to Obama's pressure. For naught. Actually, in the statement he made after he met with Obama earlier in the day, it was already apparent where he was going.
Below you will find a link that provides the text of his speech and a video of the entire speech (with appreciation to ElderofZion for putting it up).
He touched all of the right bases:
He stated unequivocally that we have a right to act in our own self-defense, and that we will not depend on any other nation. (This addresses the position taken by Obama in his AIPAC talk a day earlier, which I will get to.)
"In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. We are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people...
"As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live under the shadow of annihilation.
"...Today we have a state of our own. The purpose of the Jewish state is to secure the Jewish future. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. (Emphasis added)
"We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel's survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate." (Emphasis added)
And he did it in a politically adept way, not crossing swords with Obama or saying that his position was inadequate. Rather, he stated that the US and Israel had the same goal: to keep Iran from going nuclear.
His "thank you, but no thank you" was sufficient to deliver the message. No point in directly taking on Obama in a very public forum. The president has to be angry enough about Netanyahu's unwillingness to relinquish the right to unilateral action. And he will be more angry still if it should come to pass that we bomb Iran before the election.
In addition to which, Congress is quite solidly with us.
The prime minister was certainly forthright as he touched on a number of important bases in making the case (which is what this speech really was) for Israel to bomb Iran, and soon. He spoke about:
-- The failure of the world to adequately confront the reality.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it's a duck --but this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck."
-- The inadequacy of international efforts, which have not slowed Iran's nuclear development.
-- The dangers a nuclear Iran would present to America, as well as to Israel.
"So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you [meaning in America], you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s only carrying medical isotopes [which is the pretense Iran offers]. "
-- The foolishness of imagining that a nuclear Iran might be contained.
-- The nonsense of suggesting that the repercussions of stopping Iran would be worse than living with a nuclear Iran.
"A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. That means that Iran's terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack America, Israel, and others because they will be backed by a power with atomic weapons.
"A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormouz. If you're worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices will be when a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.
"If Iran gets nuclear weapons, this would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. The world's most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off."
"And the worst nightmare of all, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism. It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city."
I love it! Whose idea was this?
Netanyahu presented to Obama the gift of a Scroll of Esther. This is the Megillah -- it tells the story of the plot of Haman, in Persia, in the Fifth Century BCE, to destroy the Jewish people, and the way in which Esther foiled the plot, enabling the people to rise up and destroy their enemies: "And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction."
Persia is the modern day Iran.
The scroll will be read tomorrow night and Thursday morning in synagogue (and one day later in walled cities such as Jerusalem, where Shushan Purim is celebrated). Here you see an ancient illuminated scroll (beautiful, but clearly far more lavish then Obama's gift scroll):
If you are inclined, please take the time to write to Prime Minister Netanyahu, simply to express appreciation for his position at AIPAC. No long speeches, a simple "thank you" will communicate what must be said.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
The official Israeli position is that a decision has not been made yet about bombing Iran. Netanyahu, quite properly, says he will never talk about this.
What has been presented is the case for Israel to do so, should it finally be decided that this is the wisest road to take. What has been defended is the unequivocal right of Israel to do so.
But -- unless lightning strikes all of the mullahs soon, or they have an epiphany and turn pacifist -- it's difficult to imagine a situation in which this will not be necessary at some point not far away.
What I'd like to do here is backtrack by one day, and look at Obama's speech to AIPAC, which you can find in its entirety here: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=260434 .
While his words touch some of the right bases ("Four years ago, I stood before you and said that, 'Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable.' That belief has guided my actions as President..."), there is a great deal of grandstanding going on, and a huge gap between those words and his administration's record. There is also a lot of daylight between his pronouncements ("I will take no options off the table...I do not have a policy of containment...") and actual executable policy.
And in some places his logic is skewed -- by design, I believe. He said, for example, that, "Already, there is too much loose talk of war. Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear program." But he has left something out: Driving up the price of oil also affects the US economy, which affects his chances of re-election. Only a dedicated Obama devotee would fail to connect the dots here.
Of all the commentary on Obama's speech, I found none more incisive and bone chilling -- although much less so now that Netanyahu has spoken -- than what Caroline Glick wrote, in "Obama makes the case for an Israeli strike on Iran."
Please read this with careful attention because it spells out issues of enormous import with great clarity (all emphasis added):
"Obama's speech was notable for a number of reasons. First, this was the first speech on an Israel-related theme that Obama has given since the 2008 campaign in which he did not pick a fight with Israel. And it is due to the absence of open hostility in his address that Obama's supporters are touting it as a pro-Israel speech.
"While he didn't pick a fight with Israel on Sunday, his speech did mark a clear attempt to undermine Israel's strategic position in a fundamental - indeed existential - way. As many commentators have noted in recent weeks, Israel and the US have different red lines for the Iranian nuclear program. These divergent red lines owe to the fact that the US has more options for attacking Iran's nuclear installations than Israel.
"From Israel's perspective, Iran's nuclear program will reportedly become unstoppable as soon as the Iranians move a sufficient quantity of enriched uranium and/or centrifuges to the Fordow nuclear installation by Qom. Since Israel reportedly lacks the ability to destroy the facility, Israel's timeline for attacking Iran will likely end within weeks. The US reportedly has the capacity to successfully bomb Fordow and so its timeline for attacking Iran is longer than Israel's.
"The reason this is important is because it tells us the true nature of Obama's demand that Israel give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to work. When one recognizes Israel's short timeline for attacking, one realizes that when Obama demands that Israel give several more months for sanctions to work, what he is actually demanding is for Israel to place its survival in his hands. Again, once Iran's nuclear project is immune from an Israeli strike Obama will effectively hold the key to Israel's survival. Israel will be completely at his mercy.
"To understand just how dangerous this would be it is worth considering the other issues Obama covered in his speech. Obama's speech essentially boiled down to three assertions, which he argued prove that he is the best friend Israel has ever had and therefore can be trusted to ensure its survival..."
Glick then dissects Obama's arguments regarding his friendship with Israel and Israel's ability to trust him. Obama stands on very shaky ground indeed with regard to his assertions. Consider:
"...while Obama touts the new anti-Iran sanctions that have been imposed since he took office as proof that he can be trusted to take action against Iran, the fact is that Obama has been forced to implement sanctions against his will by the US Congress and Europe. So too, Obama still refuses to implement the sanctions against Iran's Central Bank that Congress passed against his strong objections earlier in the year."
"The fact is that Obama's actions and his words have made clear that Israel cannot trust him, not on Iran and not on anything. The only thing that has been consistent about his Israel policy has been its hostility. As a consequence, the only messages emanating from his administration we can trust are those telling us that if Obama is reelected, he will no longer feel constrained to hide his hatred for Israel."
Other commentators I would recommend include Lenny Ben David, who writes in Times of Israel:
"The climax of President Obama’s [speech] was a promise to 'prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.' In fact, 10 times in his speech the President referred to preventing the ominous 'nuclear weapon.'
"As a former speechwriter for American and Israeli political leaders, I found the constant repetition of the phrase 'nuclear weapon' to be both calming and curious. The president elaborated on the threat of a weapon – to Israel, the Middle East, US interests and world peace.
"But a speechwriter tries to give some variety to his words, and Obama’s writers stuck with the phrase 'nuclear weapons' throughout the address, receiving tumultuous applause and the kudos of Israel’s media analysts...
"Was it just a rhetorical tool to repeat the phrase? Or was it a policy decision to limit American reaction only to the final act of a 'obtaining a nuclear weapon?' That happens when the model is finally rolled out, put on the display floor, and the Iranian National Guard figuratively kicks the tires and is handed the key.
"But there are many – too many — Iranian actions leading up to the final assembly and the 'obtaining' of the Iranian nuclear weapon: the building of long-range missiles and launchers, the development of precision guidance systems, the acquisition of the right alloys for the missiles, the preparing of computer programs to test the timing devices on the warheads,...(etc.etc.)"
"...Perhaps that’s why President Obama didn’t add other phrases to describe the Iranian threat. He never voiced opposition to a 'nuclear Iran,' or to 'Iran’s nuclear capability,' or to 'Iran’s uranium enrichment program.'"
Another reason not to put Israel's fate in Obama's hands.
Then there is Dan Senor writing in the Wall Street Journal about "Why Israel Has Doubts About Obama":
Senor provides potent reasons, based on the behavior of the Obama administration, not to trust him. Citing a few:
"October 2011: Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Israel, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta raised provocative questions about Israel. 'Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you're isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena?'
"This characterization of self-created isolation surprised Israeli officials. After all, for almost three years President Obama had pressured Israel to make unilateral concessions in the peace process. And his administration had publicly confronted Israel's leaders, making unprecedented demands for a complete settlement freeze—which Israel met in 2010.
"The president's stern lectures to Israel's leaders were delivered repeatedly and very publicly at the United Nations, in Egypt and Turkey, all while he did not make a single visit to Israel to express solidarity. Thus, having helped foment an image of Israeli obstinacy, the Obama administration was now using this image of isolation against Israel's government...
"[November 2011] an open microphone caught part of a private conversation between Mr. Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Sarkozy said of Israel's premier, 'I can't stand Netanyahu. He's a liar.' Rather than defend Israel's back [which is what Obama now says he will do!], Mr. Obama piled on: 'You're tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.'
"...January 2012: In an interview, Mr. Obama referred to Prime Minister Erdogan as one of the five world leaders with whom he has developed 'bonds of trust.' According to Mr. Obama, these bonds have 'allowed us to execute effective diplomacy.' The Turkish government had earlier sanctioned a six-ship flotilla to penetrate Israel's naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Mr. Erdogan had said that Israel's defensive response was 'cause for war.'
"February 2012: At a conference in Tunis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about Mr. Obama pandering to 'Zionist lobbies.' She acknowledged that it was 'a fair question' and went on to explain that during an election season 'there are comments made that certainly don't reflect our foreign policy.'" (Emphasis added)
It is not at all certain that I will post tomorrow, which is the Fast of Esther. Tomorrow night begins Purim: a time of joy and mandated silly celebration. It is unlikely that I will come back to post again until after Shabbat.
And so now I want to wish one and all a Chag Purim Sameach! A Joyous Purim.
You see here a gragger, a noise maker for drowning out the sound of the name of Haman. And hamantashen, a Purim pastry.
Here you have the classic Purim song, Chag Purim:
May the story of Purim inspire us to hope, and to proper action. May the Almighty watch over us, now as then.
Please, pray for Israel during these times.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.