by DR. PHYLLIS CHESLER, 3 Mar 2015
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a passionate, inspiring, thoughtful, and “game changing” speech before the American Congress which lasted for about 45 minutes, during which time he was applauded 43 times, often for 15 seconds at a time. His words elicited many standing ovations.
The only other foreign leader to have spoken to Congress three times was Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. In honor of that, Speaker of the House, John Boehner plans to present Netanyahu with a bust of Churchill.
Netanyahu received wild applause when he said: “The world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”
Israel’s Prime Minister again received rather thunderous applause and a standing ovation when he noted that Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was in the audience—and when he said: “My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, ‘never again!’ And 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.”
At this point Congress outdid itself in term of applause and a standing ovation.
PM Netanyahu was greeted with a thunderous ovation when he first arrived and again after he was introduced. He recognized Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who had suffered an exercise-related accident. Netanyahu said “You can’t keep a good man down.” He carefully and jovially greeted both Democrats and Republicans.
The House was packed. The absence of all those who chose to stay away was barely noticed. In fact, the demand for seats in the gallery were overwhelming.
PM Netanyahu praised America’s support for Israel, including President Obama’s support, both in terms of military aid and the Iron Dome. He referred to aid that cannot be discussed.
“Thank you America for everything you have done for Israel.”
And then, Netanyahu brought in the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins tomorrow night, and which commemorates a time long ago when another Persian state wanted to annihilate the Jews.
“Again, another Persian potentate wants to destroy us. Khamenei tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.”
But Netanyahu understands that the threat is bigger than one leveled only against the Jews. Iran threatens the entire Middle East, America, and the world as it gobbles up country after country. He reminded the assembled that Iran’s leaders and their Revolutionary Guard cry “Death to America;” that “Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam;” that “both want to impose a militant Islamic empire.” “In this deadly game of thrones there is no place for America or Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews, or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.”
“When it comes to Iran and ISIS the enemy of your enemy—is your enemy!”
Netanyahu explained that the deal President Obama was working on will only pave the way to a nuclear Iran, that it will never stop it. This “bad deal” will guarantee that Iran develops nuclear weapons.”
It was clear that the Senators and Congressmen who were listening to Netanyahu’s speech agreed with every word he said.
In my opinion, PM Netanyahu won the moment and President Obama’s absence and hostile attempts to minimize or demonize Netanyahu’s upcoming speech as “partisan” failed.
We must contrast Netanyahu’s graciousness and respectful tone toward Obama with Obama’s peevish, hostile, and petty nastiness towards Netanyahu. Clearly, Netanyahu, not Obama, is the world-class statesman.