Emanuel Shahaf

The King’s Speech

Now that a few days have passed and everybody has had the opportunity to hear the speech, read the speech or watch the speech, let’s have a closer look at Prime Minister Netanyahu’s masterpiece of demagoguery, which is what it was.

Netanyahu, who loves history and loves to lecture on history — as President Obama knows so well — started his speech with an ode to King David and our eternal capital, Jerusalem. He probably put that in as part of the Foreign Ministry’s campaign on the city. Here I am thinking that no country in the world recognizes this, but hey, who cares ?

After his historical excursion he praised the Jews for their perseverance and defiance and their will to realize the dream to return to our eternal homeland. Mentioning the Maccabees, he then talked about modernity, explaining that we are modern and they (the Muslims, that is) are medieval. I am thinking of kapparot in Jerusalem, chickens and all, the separation of women in buses and their exclusion from  public events, the lack of a core curriculum and the absence of civil marriage in Israel. OK, all things considered, on average we are more modern than they are. OK, I admit, a lot more.

Feeling an urgent need to praise us again (I guess he expects us to vote for him), Netanyahu talked about our Nobel prizes, the Technion (pride enveloped me at the mention of my alma mater) and our great scientific achievements, to make it stick. To give this a much needed emotional impact (after all, until now it was all facts) he followed up telling the world how we help everyone, Muslims and Christians alike, in times of emergency. I am thinking of how our policies in the territories cause damage to many Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike.

He then addressed the speech of Mahmoud Abbas (wow, he actually included something about the Palestinians), calling it libelous. Nevertheless, apparently willing to forgive the libel, Netanyahu graciously called on him to negotiate. He then reverted to lashing out at radical Islam and the intolerance of Islamic militants. I am thinking, wow, that’s really going to help. I mean the radicals are out there listening and the world hasn’t realized that they are a problem..Lucky we have Netanyahu to explain it so cogently.

He then explained how the invention of the printing press caused enlightenment in Europe and how fanaticism will end, the question only being how many victims it will take. Seamlessly he moved into, surprise surprise, Holocaust territory and reminded us that in these days, 70 years ago, the world missed all the cues and didn’t act in time. I am thinking true, the Holocaust is so rarely mentioned these days, it’s important to remind us all again (and again). I feel just like a persecuted Jew at the gate to the camp…

Netanyahu then connected effortlessly with Iran and it’s nuclear program expanding on the brutal actions and policies of the present Iranian regime and scaring us about what will happen should that regime go nuclear. I am thinking that Ahmadinejad’s moustache reminds me of somebody.

Netanyahu then claimed that deterrence like there was during the cold war is futile and invoked prominent Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis’ sound bite that “for the Ayatollas mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent but an inducement”. I am thinking of how peaceful we are and always emphasize our love for our neighbors and how many of us are even becoming vegetarians now.

Netanyahu expanded on the Iranian nuclear threat and explained how he has worked for years to counter it and get the world to act upon it in unison. He claimed that sanctions don’t work so red lines must be drawn regarding Iranian Uranium enrichment. Failure to draw red lines invites aggression. He then speculated that red lines could have stopped Saddam in Kuwait, supposedly stopped the Russians in Cuba and helped NATO to prevent attack on its member states.  I am thinking we don’t know if red lines would have stopped Saddam in Kuwait, we do know that in Cuba there were no red lines and with regard to NATO, that’s actually a great example for something else entirely: The value of a coalition and being under the nuclear umbrella of the US.

Then Netanyahu scared the wits out of me and explained that by spring or summer 2013 time will be up. Time will be up ? I am thinking time up for what ? Let’s look again carefully at what he said: He said that Iran must be stopped before the final stage of nuclear bomb development and it will reach that point in spring or summer 2013. So now we know. If Iran doesn’t stop on its own volition or if the US will not attack, Netanyahu commits Israel to attack. That is the implication of his words. That’s a red line if I ever saw one. I am thinking, now if I was Iran I would just go tell Netanyahu: Too late, we are already beyond that stage. Let him figure it out…

Post scriptum: During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 the premise for US moderation and the eschewal of an immediate attack on Cuba, was the assumption, based on the best available intelligence estimate, that there were no Soviet nuclear warheads on the island. In 1999 when former US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, one of the main actors during the crisis in 1962 visited Cuba and met with Fidel Castro, the latter told him that during the days of the Cuban missile crisis in Oct. 1962,  there were more than 100 Soviet tactical nuclear weapons and bombs ready for use on the island. Lucky US intelligence had it wrong…


About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".