Netanyahu’s speech on Iran infuriates Democrats

Washington D.C., Mar. 3, 2015 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress over what is rapidly becoming the most divisive political issue in America: the Iranian nuclear deal.

While ISIS continues to make news, the controversy over U.S. military intervention in regards to the self-proclaimed caliphate has been muted by the great degree of scrutiny currently focused on Iran and its capability to make nuclear weapons.  Perhaps the greatest reason for the intense public focus on this sole issue, a rare concept in a nation of progressively more apathetic civilians, is the political maneuvering that nearly brought an ex-Speaker of the House to tears, or, more specifically, the Netanyahu speech.

First things first: who is Benjamin Netanyahu?  He is the current (ninth) Prime Minister of Israel.  He was recently reelected to another term as Prime Minister.  He is the chairperson of the Likud Party, the main center-right political party in Israeli politics.  A veteran, MIT and Harvard grad and highly influential politician, Netanyahu was asked by the Republican majority in Congress to speak to them on the Iranian nuclear issue.  This proceeded to infuriate Democrats, who cited that diplomacy was typically conducted through the president.

Despite the bitter resentment of the American-left, Netanyahu remained unphased and still delivered a speech before the Congress.

This did not exactly help the political division.

After a gracious and unbiased thank you to Congress for inviting him and attending his speech that elicited applause and laughter from both sides of the aisle, Netanyahu got down to business.  He started by delivering a pain-killer, a compliment before the strike.  While expressing his gratitude towards America for our support of Israel since its inception, he directly focused on some of what the current President of the United States of America has done for his country.

“Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well-known.  I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.  In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.  Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.”

At this point, Congress applauded.  Netanyahu continued, saying that, “In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.  And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.  But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.”

The kind words could not last forever, though.

The subject at hand was first mentioned as “an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people.”  Linking the current situation to the Biblical account of Queen Esther, a Jewish woman who married King Xerxes of Persia and ultimately saved the Jews from the schemes of another Persian plotting to have them all killed, Netanyahu spoke of another powerful man from Persia threatening the existence of the Jewish people.

“Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet in Iran. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.”

Going on to argue that Iran is a global problem and not simply a Jewish one, Netanyahu cited examples across the Middle East where Iranian-backed militants are making progress in destabilized nations.  He further recalled instances of Iranian aggression, such as when “Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network.  It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.  It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa.  It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.”

Complaining about how “at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations,” Netanyahu made a point about Iran’s failure to “moderate”, as was expected in the past few years.  Netanyahu referred to the complete absence of change, especially in Iran’s persistent love of referring to America as the “Great Satan” and chanting “death to America.”

In fact, he went so far as to say that “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy,” arguing that Iran’s hatred for ISIS is not a sign of goodwill towards others, but rather a sign of the bitter competition between two nations vying “for the crown of militant Islam.”

“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. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war.”

And to Netanyahu, that is exactly what will happen if the current proposal is accepted by Iran, because it includes two concessions: the fact that Iran’s already vast nuclear infrastructure will be left untouched and that this deal only holds Iran back from a decade.  Even then, Netanyahu says, Iran plays a good game of “hide-and-cheat,” not just defying inspectors but keeping whole facilities’ existence secret from them.  Netanyahu used the remainder of the speech to argue against this deal, and that those hoping Iran will change its mind in the 10 years until the expiration of the deal are deluding themselves.  This was likely why many Democrats refused to attend the speech.

What was the response?  As expected, the applause was loudest from Republican congressmen, but that’s not to say Democrats did not applaud.

But where are the tears earlier promised?  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, said that she was “near tears” during the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech because she was “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”

Put into perspective by the fact that she is one of President Barack Obama’s most ardent supporters, it does not seem surprising that Pelosi was offended by a speech so highly critical of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal.  Regardless, this speech will not soon be forgotten.