Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: YOAV DAVIDKOVITZ / POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged foreign diplomats to speak out against the Islamic Republic.
“Iran is the enemy of us all – of the Arab world, of civilization,” the prime minister declared, in a wide ranging address on Thursday to heads of diplomatic missions in Israel, ambassadors to the United Nations who were brought to Jerusalem by Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, spiritual leaders of Christian communities, honorary consuls, military attachés and an international delegation of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Saying that a murderous tyrant must be opposed from the beginning, Netanyahu warned that Iran wants to conquer the whole of the Middle East.
He was speaking in his capacity as foreign minister at the annual Independence Day reception that the president hosts for the diplomatic community.
Netanyahu said that this was not only the 70th anniversary of the birth of the State of Israel, but also the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the Jewish people, which he said had nearly died. Taking a quick leap through Jewish history from the time of the Exodus from Egypt, including heroic and creative periods for some 2,000 years prior to centuries of exile, Netanyahu said: “When we lost our land we lost our capacity to defend ourselves.”
Jews were subjects of pity or derision and victims of many pogroms, the worst of all being the Holocaust.
More than half a century before the Holocaust, a new Moses had appeared in the person of Theodor Herzl. In the beginning people ridiculed his ideas, Netanyahu acknowledged, but the prime minister’s own grandfather had been captivated by Herzl though he did oppose him on the Uganda plan, which had been suggested as an alternative to a return to the Holy Land.
“If we had not built this state in this crucial point of history, the whole future of the Jewish people would have been in doubt,” said Netanyahu.
The creation of the State of Israel rekindled the spirit of the Maccabees, he said, and even though Israel was surrounded by seven hostile Arab armies in 1948, “we prevailed.”
Since then, Israel has built a powerful army and an amazing economy, he said.
Listing some of Israel’s many innovations, Netanyahu boasted that Israeli intelligence, technology and innovation have helped to thwart terrorism, conquer disease and produce water in many countries, and have contributed to Israel’s diplomatic relations. When he entered the foreign service in 1982, he said, Israel had diplomatic relations with around 80 countries. Now it’s close to double that. “Israel’s technology and security prowess has given us diplomatic prowess,” said Netanyahu, adding that “power has given us peace.”
AS LONG as Israel’s neighbors regarded the nation of Israel as ephemeral, and thought that they could drive it into the Mediterranean, there was no peace, said Netanyahu. But now he’s optimistic about peace, not only because Israel and the Arab states have a common enemy, but because people in Arab countries want a better life.
“Technology and innovation will bring peace,” he predicted. “I have hope and I intend to pursue peace,” he pledged.
Netanyahu also made the point that countries working with Israel toward peace could hasten the process by moving their embassies to Jerusalem. “Recognizing reality is a way to build peace,” he insisted as he pointed out that all of Israel’s major state institutions are in Jerusalem.
He praised Guatemala for being quick to follow the example of the United States and said that some half dozen countries were considering moving their embassies to the capital.
President Reuven Rivlin, who spoke before Netanyahu, addressed similar subject matter, saying that Israel would always be willing to share its know-how and experience. With regard to Iran, Rivlin said that it was a challenge for the whole world which “we must face together.”
He was heart-broken about what is happening in Syria, he said.
If the world does not work together, “future generations will ask what we did to stop crimes against humanity,” he cautioned.
Relating to Israel’s building of walls to keep out terrorists, Rivlin said that even with the construction of such walls, “we will never close the door to peace.”
World leaders including the queen of England and the presidents of the United States and Russia sent congratulatory messages to both Rivlin and Netanyahu, with President Donald Trump adding that he was looking forward to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem next month.