Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic speech before Congress today focused solely on Iran’s nuclear program, as the White House primes for a possible sanctions easing that the Israeli prime minister says could have dire consequences for the Jewish state.
The address, which has been the center of much controversy for weeks, was skipped by 55 Democrats, including at least six Jewish representatives. It was an indicator many insiders have called the first time Israel has become a partisan issue among US Congressmen.
Netanyahu paid credence to that tension, opening with, “I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for the third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the US Congress…I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my purpose in being here as political.”
Keeping in that tone, Bibi spent much of his opening in thanks to American politicians.
“I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support of Israel, year after year, decade after decade. I know that no matter which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.”
“[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@Jspace_News” suffix=”-Bibi at Congress”]America and Israel—we share a common destiny. [/inlinetweet]Israel is grateful for the support of America’s people, and America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. We appreciate all that Israel has done for America.”
“Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel res at the UN…Some is less well known.”
The prime minister then went on to note Obama’s help in recent crises like the Carmel fire and the Israeli embassy in Cairo coming under siege, and mentioned Obama’s support for more missile interceptors during Operation Protective Edge.
“In each of those moments I called the president, and the president was there. Some of what the president has done, the world might never know…but I know it. And I will always be grateful to president Obama for that support.”
Gratitude toward the president wasn’t Bibi’s only thanks—he also took a moment to acknowledge American citizens, in particular the American tax dollars that have gone far to support Israel’s defense programs.
“Last summer millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capitol dome helped build our Iron Dome.”
Moving on, the Israeli leader primed his Iran remarks with an opener pointing out that Jews are “an ancient people” with 4,000 years of threats.
“[The Ayatollah] spews the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated. In Iran there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be annihilated.”
“[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@Jspace_News” suffix=”-Bibi at Congress”]Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem[/inlinetweet], anymore than the Nazis were merely a Jewish problem.”
“At a time when many hope Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the community of nations. We must all work together to stop Iran’s subjugation and terror!”
Netanyahu took aim at popular claims that the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate, saying that since the election Iran “hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.”
“When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy…the difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, whereas Iran could soon be armed with…nuclear arms.”
“To defeat ISIS but let Iran gain nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war.”
The prime minister broke down his concerns into two branches—that a possible US deal with Iran could leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, and that reports of the deal indicate restrictions on uranium enrichment would expire in about a decade
“Iran’s supreme leader says openly he plans to have 190,000 centrifuges,” Netanyahu said. “I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an arsenal of weapons.”
Netanyahu concluded by demanding Iran do three things: stop its aggression against its neighbors, stop supporting terror around the world, and stop threatening to annihilate Israel.
“The one and only Jewish state,” he added, to much applause. “If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.”
Elie Wiesel, who was in attendance at the address, was seated next to the prime minister’s wife, Sara.
“Elie, your life and work inspire us to give meaning to the words, ‘Never again,'” Netanyahu said, addressing the Holocaust survivor. “I can guarantee you this. The days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies…those days are over.”
“For the first time in history, we the Jewish people can defend ourselves. This is why as prime minister 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. Thank you, may God bless Israel, and may God bless the United States of America.”