Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did us proud when he addressed the UN General
Assembly this week. True to form, he again employed his extraordinary
communication skills to superbly present the case for Israel.
focused, factual, logical and persuasive as he implored the US administration
and world leaders not to be deluded by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s charm
He interspersed his address with sensitive Jewish historical
and biblical references – citing the Maccabees, the prophets, Jewish
powerlessness and pogroms and the determination of Jews to live in their own
land. As a Jew and as an Israeli, I was proud to be represented by a leader
presenting our case with such dignity and eloquence.
neutralized the critics who accused him of opposing or “spoiling” diplomatic
efforts. But he warned of the dangers of letting the duplicitous Iranians off
the hook unless they genuinely abandoned their nuclear ambitions.
declared that the fate of the Jewish state would not replicate that of
Czechoslovakia in 1938. In his words, Israel would “never acquiesce to nuclear
arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the
map. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to
stand alone, Israel will stand alone.” His speech may well prove as prophetic as
Churchill’s warnings about the Nazis.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly
– other than to Israelis, Diaspora Jews and our close friends – Netanyahu’s
words appear to have fallen on deaf ears. The applause at the conclusion of his
address was noticeably muted, a predictable response from an international body
which only hours after Netanyahu’s speech elected Iran as rapporteur for its
Disarmament and International Security Committee.
The attention of the US
Congress is centered on the federal government lockdown.
Americans are weary of wars and have lost confidence in Barack Obama’s
leadership qualities, especially after his appalling handling of the Syrian
In general, world leaders are in denial and seek to avoid facing
the Iranian nuclear threat and to resist the possible need to resort to military
action. In this as in many other issues, Israel remains “a nation that dwells
In contrast, President Rouhani was practically embraced at the
General Assembly and by the global media. He smiled and talked about diplomacy,
with global leaders grasping his empty gestures and hailing his purported
moderation, despite his public record of cheating and his blatant lies from the
UN podium denying that Iran had ever sought to obtain the nuclear bomb. Aside
from sweet words, Rouhani made no concessions. The response to his glib
assurances of Iran’s peaceful intentions was chillingly reminiscent to the
behavior of world leaders following Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 “peace in our
If only those world leaders were right.
Israel, the nation
on the front lines, which Iran repeatedly describes as a cancer to be
eliminated, would have the greatest cause to celebrate if diplomacy could
persuade Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to abort his country’s nuclear
But as Netanyahu has so well-articulated at both the UN and
elsewhere over the past several years, diplomacy alone will not suffice to stop
the Iranians. Netanyahu can claim the credit for having persisted in a global
campaign to warn the world of the dangers of Iran becoming a nuclear power. He
has not been “warmongering,” as his critics accused, but facing reality as he
urged world leaders to impose sanctions and threaten military action unless the
centrifuges stop spinning.
Netanyahu has left the door open to
He simply reminded the US and the world of Rouhani’s
duplicitous record, referring to him as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
recalled that when Rouhani was Iran’s chief national security adviser and head
nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005, he lied and stalled, and subsequently
even boasted about his success in “creating a calm environment.” Rouhani
occupied the role when Iran orchestrated the terrorist bombings of the Jewish
Community Center in Buenos Aires.
Netanyahu has appropriately warned that
unless there is a dramatic turnabout (which Rouhani has never intimated he would
make), the Iranian strategy is to procrastinate with negotiations and con the US
and euphoric global leaders into providing them the time required to achieve
As it now stands, the US has yet to receive an Iranian
response to Obama’s efforts to “engage” and the delays could take us into
Netanyahu reminded world leaders that this was precisely the route
successfully traveled by the North Koreans who delayed and duped the US until
they achieved their goal.
He warned that a nuclear Iran would be like
“another 50 North Koreas.”
Netanyahu also cautioned against “partial
solutions” which Israel would not accept. He urged that until such time as an
agreement is set in stone and implemented, there should not be the slightest
easing of sanctions which, if prematurely lifted, would be almost impossible to
re-apply in the current climate.
He also called for the imposition of
strict deadlines and demands for total transparency in terms of
President Obama has, in a sense, given a nod to
Netanyahu’s demands. In a joint press conference prior to Netanyahu’s UN
address, both parties took care to avoid recriminations or display tensions. In
fact, Obama told Netanyahu what he sought to hear. He gave assurances that he
was “very clear-eyed” and that Rouhani’s charm offensive and nice words would
not bring about an end to sanctions.
He promised to implement “the
highest standards of verification in order to provide the sort of sanctions
relief they are looking for.” However, he declined to provide any assurance not
to ease sanctions until the Iranians demonstrated that they had fully dismantled
their nuclear weapons program. Yet, he made it clear that “as president of the
United States... we take no options off the table including military options” –
expressions he had not used in the course of his UN General Assembly
Nevertheless, in light of Obama’s behavior over the past month
and the virtual groveling to Rouhani, many will view his statement about the
military option remaining on the table as yet another hollow threat. However,
should Obama achieve a genuine resolution of the problem by diplomacy, Netanyahu
and the people of Israel will be cheering him all the way. But we should not
hold our breath. The odds of this happening are exceedingly
Netanyahu is also painfully aware that the Israeli military
option is off the agenda as long as the US is engaged in diplomacy with the
Israel therefore faces a daunting diplomatic and political
challenge over the next few months. Our prime minister will once again be
walking a tightrope and facing increasing pressures to make further unilateral
concessions toward the Palestinians – posing security risks for our
Netanyahu’s challenge is to convey his message directly to
Congress and the American people. He must continue on his mission and penetrate
the American psyche until they accept that the threat Iran poses is real and
immediate, and if left unchecked will allow history to repeat itself in a most
terrible way.The writer’s website can be viewed at
www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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