The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Netanyhu Comes to Congress

Rich Galen

Tuesday March 3, 2015


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The Pre-Game

  • I have been torn about this speech by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to a Joint Meeting of the Congress this morning.

  • On the one hand I don't have any doubt that the crack foreign policy team around President Obama that lists among its successes as: ISIS, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, etc. will be lied to by the Iranians who will continue to develop nuclear weapons even as the White House declares victory.

  • Netanyahu and the Israelis are correct to be very concerned about putting their existence into the hands of the Obama foreign policy apparatus.

  • On the other hand, I have thought that Netanyahu's coming to the U.S. to make his case against any deal with Iran is a little like inviting yourself to dinner at your cousin's house without telling your cousin's wife, and then spending that dinner complaining about what a bad cook your cousin's wife is.

  • Netanyahu is running for re-election - an election that is scheduled to be held on March 17 and which was too close to call as of this morning.

  • So, while I waited for the Prime Minister's speech with an open mind: I was not happy with either side.

    The Speech

  • At the start of his remarks, Netanyahu mentioned the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, but he appeared to have forgotten to mention Harry Reid (D-Nev).

  • In a nice piece of speech-craft, Netanyahu stopped, thanked Reid and said, "Harry, its good to see you back on your feet," which (a) crumbled any Democratic emotional resistance in the Chamber and (b) showed his Israeli domestic audience that he was on a first-name basis with the Democratic leader.

  • He then thanked President Obama for public aid to Israel and to help that he would not discuss because of the sensitive nature of intelligence sharing. He thanked the Congress for its help during last summer's operations against Hamas, "This capital dome helped build our Iron Dome" (the protective missile defense system.

  • Netanyahu used a brief description of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim in which Queen Esther "foiled a plot to destroy the Jews" as a pivot point to the main body of the speech: A nuclear Iran.

  • He said that the most dangerous challenge facing the world is "the marriage of nuclear weapons with Islamic terrorism."

  • After reciting a litany of Iran's lying to the international community about its nuclear activities, he summed it up by saying "Iran has proved time and again that it cannot be trusted."

  • He then detailed the Israelis' problem with the current (at least public) elements of the negotiations between Iran and the West, both the permission to continue developing enriched uranium over the next 10 years, and the lack of any discussion about Iran's ICBM system "that can deliver nuclear weapons to every corner of the Earth."

  • Going point-by-point over what is known about the on-going negotiations, and knocking each point down, he summarized: "This deal will not be a 'Farewell to Arms' it will be a farewell to arms control in the Middle East."

  • He said Iran must stop declaring its intention to destroy Israel, "If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country."

  • To make his final point about the existential threat to Israel that is a nuclear Iran, he introduced Elie Weisel, Nobel Prize winning Nazi hunter "and holocaust survivor" who, Netanyahu said, gives living meaning to the phrase, "Never Again."

  • Building up to an emotional finish, the Prime Minister said, "Even if Israel must stand alone, it will stand. But, I know Israel does not stand alone; America stands with Israel, you stand with Israel."

  • The emotional finish was a dandy. One of the friezes in the House chamber is one of Moses. Netanyahu quoted Moses saying first in Hebrew, then in English, "Be strong and resolute. Neither fear nor dread [your enemies]."

  • His final line, "God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America," brought the Chamber to its feet for a prolonged applause.

    My Take

  • Wow

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: The Wikipedia summary of the Israeli elections to be held later this month, also the list (as of last Friday) of non-attendees via the Wall Street Journal.

    Also a Mullfoto of my SUV covered with ice earlier this week.

    -- END --

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