Elchanan Poupko

The Speech Netanyahu Should Give in Congress

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, President Pro Tem Senator Patty Murray, Senator Minority — Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Hakeem Jefferies, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise

My friends, nine years ago, I stood right here and warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential danger to Israel. I promised right here that even if Israel must stand alone, it will still stand. 

Nine years later, I am here to report that Iran has indeed acquired nuclear weapons and that, short of hollow speeches and symbolic actions, I have failed to prevent that; some would even argue I accelerated that process. While my complicity in enabling the growth of Iran’s nuclear program can be debated, there is no question that no Israeli leader has played a greater role than me in the funding, expansion, and success of the Hamas terrorist organization. 

In this hallow chamber, I faced Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. I promised him that “the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.”

Since then, I have overseen the greatest massacre committed against Jews since the Holocaust. It was under my leadership that for the first time in its history, a sovereign territory of Israel was conquered and overtaken by terrorists; children have seen their parents massacred, parents have seen their children massacred, and those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust, have relived those horrors and the day of October 7th. 

Ellie, I know that as the ultimate man of conscience, you are looking down at me from heaven, certain that I have tended to the wounded, comforted many families, attended the many funerals, and been supportive of the families of the hostages. Perhaps you think that at least I have taken responsibility for the horror that has befallen Israel under my leadership or at least resigned from leading a people who now loath me; clearly, you did not know me well enough.  

Standing here in Congress, I assured the world that “We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves.” For the first time in history, Israelis have found themselves utterly powerless and unable to defend themselves. The Jewish people’s generational trauma of pogroms, expulsions, and the Holocaust has been reignited under my very own leadership.

While speaking in front of a joint session of Congress is a great honor, I have come here to do so with great personal sacrifice. Behind me in Israel, I have left more than 100,000 internally displaced Israelis who have no idea when they will return to their homes. Israel’s north and south are under attack, entire cities on our northern and southern border have become abandoned ghost towns, tens of thousands of children do not know where they will be going to school in September, and countless parents are left without answers. I have left those children and their parents behind with no answer because I would never miss an opportunity to speak here in Congress. 

As you look around today, you see here many empty seats in this chamber as so many Democrats have boycotted my speech. Even strong pro-Israel centrists like my dear friend Jim Clyburn have announced their boycott of my speech. This is because I have personally worked very successfully to make Israel a partisan issue in the United States. No one knows better than me how vital Israel’s alliance with the United States is for our very existence and security; this is why I went out of my way to pick fights with Democrats and was even smart enough to bring into my government Itamar Ben Gvir, my minister who tweeted “Biden loves Hamas.” Why? Because it is our base above all. After all, what is Israel’s security and future if we can be seen as more hard-core by our base, which is made up of the fringes of Israeli society? In fact, this very speech, I was told, would worsen support for Israel in the United States, and still, here I am giving it. It’s my base, above all. 

Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this chamber, is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land. And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today: “ “O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance, which You have redeemed in Your greatness, and which You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” (Deuteronomy 9)

Yet I, unlike Moses, know which people of Israel vote for me–and which do not. During my term, I have shown the world that even a Jewish leader can look his own people in the eye and disregard the very lives of those who did not vote for me. In fact, many residents of northern cities abandoned by me and my government did indeed vote for me, and are being equally ignored by me and my government.

Under Israel’s left-wing governments, we restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, we able defend ourselves. Yet it was under my government that things have been restored to the bad old times. I let the monsters of Hamas and Hezbollah grow on our borders while playing politics, and now Jews are once again helpless in the face of rockets and missiles against I have failed to defend my own people.

May God bless whatever is left of the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. Thank you very much to the few members of Congress who made the time to be here today. Thank you all.

You’re wonderful.

Thank you, America. Thank you.

Note: this speech is partially based on the text of the speech Netanyahu gave in Congress in 2015



About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
Related Topics
Related Posts