Show-and-tell is a well-known elementary school activity where children bring particular items to class and then proceed to tell the class about them.
First show the items, then tell about them.
The IDF’s interception Wednesday of a ship bound for the Gaza Strip laden with Iranian-supplied missiles, just a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s strong condemnation of Iran for standing on the “other side” of the world’s moral divide – the side “steeped in blood and savagery” – is show-and-tell in reverse.
First tell – in this case, first present the indictment – and then show the evidence.
“Did you ever hear about Iran sending a humanitarian delegation overseas? No?” Netanyahu said during his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “You know why? You know why you haven’t heard anything about that? Because the only thing that Iran sends abroad are rockets, terrorists and missiles to murder, maim and menace the innocent.”
And then, less than 24 hours after delivering that message, the IDF intercepted a ship loaded with strategic weaponry to fire at Israel’s civilian population.
Coincidence? Obviously not.
This was not a case of Israeli commandos just happening to come across a ship laden with “game-changing” weaponry some 1,500 kilometers from Israel’s shores.
This was a mission that was based on intelligence information that took months to acquire; which the security cabinet discussed a number of times; which Netanyahu approved before he left Sunday morning for America; and which the prime minister discussed with US President Barack Obama in the White House the day before.
So when Netanyahu stood at AIPAC and, using language he has not employed before, contrasted the way Israel sends humanitarian aid to countries in need with Iran sending lethal weapons to terrorist organizations that want to kill civilians, he knew what he was doing. He knew well that within a short period his words would be backed up by very hard evidence.
The mission to intercept the ship had two aims, Netanyahu said Wednesday from Los Angeles.
The first, obviously, was to protect Israeli citizens. The second was to reveal Iran’s “real face.”
This theme, of revealing the true nature of the Iranian regime, is a tack Jerusalem is actively employing to muster world public opinion against Iran. It is a direct response to the success Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his ever-smiling Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have had trying to convince the world that they represent a softer, gentler Iran.
Netanyahu has set for himself the goal of continuously reminding the world that there is nothing softer nor gentler about Iran, and that it is the same regime that terrorizes its people at home while spreading death and destruction around the world.
“This is who you want to trust in negotiations,” Netanyahu chides the world over and over in various different ways. He views it as his duty to “rip the mask” off Rouhani’s face and show the world what Iran is doing, and what it is capable of.
For that reason Netanyahu visited a field hospital Israel set up on the Golan Heights last month, the day before the world powers began negotiations in Vienna with Iran over a long-term nuclear agreement.
“On the day that the world powers are opening talks in Vienna with Iran, it is important for the world to see pictures from this place,” he said. “This place separates the good in the world from the evil in the world.”
He repeated that theme Tuesday at AIPAC – talking about the “dividing line between decency and depravity, between compassion and cruelty.” But unlike his visit to the Syrian field hospital, those words – as artfully crafted and eloquently spoken as they may have been – were not backed up by visuals. At least not immediately.
Those visuals, the pictures of the ship with its deadly cargo of missiles, came on Wednesday.