Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to AIPAC 390.
(photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)
WASHINGTON - Intoning the mantra “never again,” Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said Monday night in an impassioned speech to AIPAC that “as
prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow
Just hours after meeting US President Barack Obama for some three hours, much of the time spent
discussing Iran, Netanyahu adopted a tough tone toward the Islamic
Republic, drawing on the tragic history of the Holocaust to argue that
the world, and the Jewish people, cannot “accept a world in which the
Ayatollahs have atomic bombs.”
While expressing appreciation for Obama’s efforts to impose tougher sanctions, he said that Tehran’s “nuclear march goes on.”
“We've waited for diplomacy to work,” he said. “We've waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.”
are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,”
Netanyahu declared. “We leave all options on the table. And containment
is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those
seeking our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal.”
forcefully asserting Israel’s right to defend itself, and spelling out
the dangers Iran poses the world, Netanyahu stopped well short of
providing any indication of how or when Israel might act.
day, I open the papers and read about these red lines and these time
lines,” Netanyahu said in reference to weeks of speculation on
differences between the US and Israel about how to deal with Iran. “I
read about what Israel has decided to do or what Israel might do. Well,
I’m not going to talk to you about what Israel will do or will not do. I
never talk about that.”
Instead, the speech focused on Israel’s historical imperative and justification to act if it felt the need to do so.
said he has warned against a nuclear Iran for 15 years, the
international community has tried diplomacy to stop it for the last
decade, and the world has imposed sanctions over the last six years. But
none of it has worked, he stated.
Netanyahu chastised unnamed
“commentators” for saying that stopping Iran from getting a bomb is more
dangerous then letting it have one. “They say that a military
confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway,
that it would be ineffective, and that it would provoke even more
vindictive action by Iran,” he said, adding that he has heard, and even
read those arguments before.
Then, dramatically, he displayed
copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and
the US War Department at the height of the Holocaust in 1944 that
implored the US government to bomb Auschwitz.
Netanyahu read from
the letters: “Such an operation could be executed only by diverting
considerable air support essential to the success of our forces
elsewhere," he read, “and in any case would be of such doubtful efficacy
that it would not warrant the use of our resources. And here’s the most
remarkable sentence of all,” Netanyahu said. “And I quote, ‘Such an
effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.'”
about that, ‘even more vindictive action, than the Holocaust,”
Netanyahu declared. “My Friends, this is not 1944. The American
government today is different. You heard it in President Obama's speech
yesterday. But here's my point. The Jewish people are also different.
Today we have a state of our own. The purpose of the Jewish state is to
secure the Jewish future. That is why Israel must always have the
ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat...”
reiterated what he said earlier in public statements before meeting
Obama: “We must always remain the masters of our fate.”
made mention of the upcoming Purim holiday, saying that in every
generation there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. But,
he added, “In this generation we are blessed to live in a time when
there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.” Those
words were met by a thunderous ovation.