The international delegitimization campaign of Israel need not cause Israel to “bow it’s head,” ask where it erred and justify itself, but rather to continue to tell the truth and be proud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu’s comments came at the start of the weekly cabinet session, and two days after the Palestinians failed in their attempt to get Israel kicked out of the international football association, FIFA.
The prime minister acknowledged that Palestinian efforts to exclude Israel from international organizations will continue, and that Israel will need to act across a broad front to deflect these measures.
“But the first thing that we will arm ourselves with is the truth, and also internal pride and that we know who and what we are and what we represent,” he said.
Netanyahu said that Israel will not surrender to libels, and will not allow itself to be ousted from important sports organizations, nor those that are less important.
The international campaign to delegitimize Israel, he said, is not about Israel’s actions, but rather its very existence.
“It doesn’t matter what we do, but rather what we symbolize and represent,” Netanyahu said. “This is a phenomenon that we know from our history. What hasn’t been said about the Jewish people?” he asked.
“They said we were the source of all evil in the world, that we poisoned humanity’s wells, that we drink the blood of small children. They are saying the same things about us today. It was not true then, and it is not true now. There is not a shred of truth to it.”
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Citing a poem by Nathan Alterman, the prime minister said, “The most important thing is that we don’t believe the awful things directed against us, because that would be their victory.”
“As long as we don’t believe, as long as we reject these things and don’t engage in self-flagellation, we will be strong and steadfast,” he said.
Netanyahu said there was no justification in the delegitimization campaign against Israel, and “the last thing we need to do is to bow our heads and ask where we went wrong, where we erred. We have done nothing wrong and we have not erred. We are not a perfect country; we do not pretend to be such, but they are setting standards for us that are both twisted and higher than those for any other country, any other democracy.”
Netanyahu said that no other democracy in the world is facing the challenges Israel faces.
Yet, he said, Israel, is preserving human rights, pluralism and humanity in the worst war situations, and even as thousands of missiles are being fired at its cities.
Netanyahu said that the delegitimization campaign’s true aim is to deny Israel’s right to exist.
“These things are not because we are not nice or generous enough,” he said. “We are very generous, we put forward many proposals and made many concessions, and that did not change anything. The reason is because what is at issue in the delegitimization campaigns has to do with something much deeper – denying our right to live here.”
The prime minister also referred indirectly to an effort by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s special envoy for children and armed conflict, Algeria’s Leila Zerrougui, to add Israel – because of last year’s war in Gaza – to a blacklist of countries causing harm to children that includes Islamic State, Boko Haram, Hamas and al-Qaida.
How, he asked, can Israel be blamed for taking steps to protect itself, when there are “a hundred times” the number of casualties in Syria and elsewhere, and there is no international outcry.
“We are accused, IDF soldiers are accused of killing children,” he said. “I saw IDF delegations in Nepal saving children, delivering babies, bringing them into the world – I didn’t see delegations from Boko Haram, or Iran, al-Qaida or Syria.”