On Tuesday, March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered arguably one of the most historic speeches by a foreign leader to Congress. His speech to Congress was widely publicized by both the American and Israeli media, for two reasons. The speech was scheduled by House Majority Leader John Boehner (R, Ohio) without approval by President Obama first, and the speech came incredibly close to Israel’s election. Netanyahu’s speech was incredible, as he spoke with poise, power, confidence and with a speaking ability that foreign leaders such as Merkel and Cameron only wish they could have. His speech to Congress was an attempt to persuade the P5+1 not to pursue a deal with Iran, and the speech was excellent.
I believe that Netanyahu’s speech was amazing and essential. Netanyahu’s voice and the voice of Israel must be valued in the vital, yet dangerous conversation of Iran and its nuclear weapons program. With possibly the exception of Neftali Bennett, no politician in Israel is a more powerful speaker than Netanyahu. And Netanyahu delivered. Netanyahu was given 25 standing ovations in his effort to persuade Congress about the dangers of a potential deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. His speech was powerful, strong and realistic. In the speech, Netanyahu made numerous things clear: Iran is a dangerous, rogue and terrorist Islamic theocracy seeking to “wipe Israel off the map”, Iran is a global exporter of terrorism around the globe, a P5+1 deal with Iran would be extremely naive and dangerous, and Israel will stand up against Iran even if no other country does.
Some key quotes of Netanyahu’s speech cemented it as a speech that will be remembered for a while. The iron fisted, hawkish nature that Bibi is known for came out in his speech, as he stated, “As prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing. Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.” Netanyahu perfectly pointed out the similarities between ISIS and Iran, as he stated, “The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.” The marriage between militant Islam and a nuclear armed Iran could soon be a dangerous new reality for Israel and The West, as it is not impossible that a terrorist organization such as ISIS or Hezbollah could be armed with Iranian made nuclear weapons by 2020. Unfortunately, President Obama and the Obama administration, while continuously promising Israel that Iran will not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, truly does not take the threat of Islamic extremism seriously. President Obama and his administration simply do not realize Netanyahu’s quote that could not be more true, in that “Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world.” Finally, my favorite quote of his speech was, “The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.” Netanyahu, like no other Israeli politician, powerfully defended the Jewish people in Washington DC in front of hundreds of America’s politicians, as a resounding message of defiance, power and resiliance was met with a rousing applause. Regardless of what the Obama administration thinks, the Netanyahu speech was for the most part a success.
The aftermath was immediate.The American and Israeli media hyped Netanyahu’s extremely controversial speech on television channels for weeks leading up to his March 3rd address to Congress, and were eager to give their reviews after his speech. Newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and even Saudi owned al-Jazira (not to be confused with Qatari owned Al Jazeera) commented on Netanyahu’s speech. Interestingly, while several liberal newspapers and channels such as Slate, MSNBC and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart criticized Netanyahu’s speech, Saudi Arabia actually supported Netanyahu’s views on Iran. In an article in Saudi newspaper Al Jazira, Ahmed al-Faraj stated,”Who could believe that Netanyahu today has taken a better stand than Obama with regard to the Iranian nuclear file?” Conservative mediums such as Fox News, The Blaze and Breitbart heavily supported Netanyahu’s speech…and so did the Saudis to a large degree. The Saudi’s support of Netanyahu’s speech in DC displays a widening rift between the likes of Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia and Marco Rubio who truly want to see Iran not acquire nuclear weapons as opposed to the camp of Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, who want Iran to pursue their nuclear ambitions “peacefully”.
In conclusion, Netanyahu’s speech was much needed in stopping Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon. I deeply hope it had an impact on the U.S., the American public and everyone concerned about a nuclear armed Iran. I believe his speech was great and powerful, and it also gave the often left leaning American Jewish community a reality check in proving where the Obama administration’s loyalties truly lie (hint: not with Israel). However, unfortunately, while the speech was great, I fear it will do little in terms of changing the P5+1’s views on reaching a deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of global jihad around the world, Iran. I fear the P5+1 will continue negotiating with Iran in hopes of reaching a nuclear deal, disregarding Netanyahu’s warnings. On the positive side, Netanyahu, on March 3rd on Capitol Hill, became a messenger for all sensible, rational and concerned people around the world who are anxious over a nuclear armed Iran. Netanyahu became the man to answer the question of “If not me, who? And if not now, when?” to the world, and defied global opposition to him defending his country on Capitol Hill. Netanyahu’s speech, no matter how controversial, was a much needed reality check as to the dangerous, naive path the P5+1 is taking, and we need more voices to rise up and speak out against Iran’s nuclear ambitions before it is too late.