The United States is a close ally, but Israel must speak out against the danger of a negotiated deal with Iran, because the ultimate responsibility for securing the Jewish state rests on the government’s shoulders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
“We are especially grateful for the bipartisan support for Israel across the United States, our great ally,” Netanyahu said at Yad Vashem during a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“We share a special bond with the United States, which is built on common values, and it’s reflected in our expansive cooperation, especially on matters of security,” he said. “Yet it is the government of Israel that holds the ultimate responsibility for the security of the one and only Jewish state. We must speak our mind about the dangers to our people and our state. This is something we could not do at the time of the Holocaust.”
It was the third day in a row that Netanyahu spoke publicly about the danger of the interim agreement that six world powers – the US, Russia, China, France, Great Britain, and Germany – are negotiating with Iran in an attempt to halt the latter’s nuclear program. The world powers hope to finish negotiating by March 24 and follow with a permanent agreement by June.
Netanyahu has opposed the deal, which he said would allow Iran to remain a nuclear-threshold state. He has advocated increased sanctions instead.
He has been harshly criticized for playing partisan American politics and harming his relationship with US President Barack Obama by accepting an invitation by Republican House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress on the need for more sanctions.
Netanyahu has said in response that he would go anywhere to protect the State of Israel.
On Tuesday at Yad Vashem, the prime minister drew a link between Nazi Germany and Iran. The regime in Tehran, he said, poses a genocidal threat to Jews akin to the Holocaust.
“The ayatollahs in Iran, they deny the Holocaust while planning another genocide against our people,” Netanyahu said.
“Israel will reject any agreement that leaves Iran as a nuclear- threshold state. Regrettably, our understanding is that the offer made by the P5+1 does exactly that,” Netanyahu said, referring to the world powers negotiating with Iran.
“It would enable Iran to break out a nuclear weapon within a few months, and many more bombs within a short time. The capabilities of Iran to produce enriched uranium for atomic bombs are left intact,” Netanyahu said.
“The Jewish people will defend itself by itself against any threat. That’s what the Jewish state is all about,” he added.
The prime minister also spoke about the growing threat of anti-Semitism, both to Jews around the world and to the State of Israel.
People believed that anti-Semitism would disappear after the Holocaust, he said. Instead, it has returned in “full force in Europe and around the world.
Jews live in fear as they are slandered, vilified, and targeted just for being Jews.”
The Jewish state, he continued, has similarly been assaulted with the “same slurs and libels that have been leveled at the Jews since time immemorial.”
Islamist extremists have incorporated anti-Semitism into their doctrines, Netanyahu continued, noting that the Hamas Charter reads like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The charter calls for “the murder of Jews and the destruction of their state,” he noted.
“Just as classic anti-Semites portrayed the Jew as the embodiment of all evil in the world, today’s anti-Semites portray the Jewish state in the same twisted manner,” he said.
In Syria, a quarter of a million people have been slaughtered so far in the civil war. Dictatorial regimes and brutal movements in the region have attacked their own people, enslaved women, lynched gays, and forced Christians to live in fear, he said, adding that Hamas had used its own people as human shields while firing thousands of rockets at Israeli citizens. Nevertheless, the international community, through the United Nations, has focused its attention on Israel.
The United Nations Human Rights Council concentrates on condemning Israel, and the International Criminal Court is weighing a request to open a case against the Jewish state, he said.
“No rational examination of the facts could justify this assault on Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, the most beleaguered democracy on Earth,” he said. “This obsession with the Jewish people and its state has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.”
But Jews have changed since the Holocaust and are no longer a stateless people dependent on others to protect them, he said. Today, Jews can speak out and defend themselves against their enemies.
“Nonetheless, we appreciate the support of our friends around the world who reject the spreading of the twin diseases of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. They’re one and the same,” Netanyahu said.
In a related event, US President Barack Obama, in Saudi Arabia for King Abdullah’s funeral, issued a statement in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The American people, he said, pays tribute to the six million Jews and the millions of others who were murdered by the Nazis.
Honoring the victims and survivors “demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred,” Obama said.
“The recent terrorist attacks in Paris serve as a painful reminder of our obligation to condemn and combat rising anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust,” Obama said. “We pledge never to forget, and recall the cautionary words of the author and survivor of Auschwitz, Primo Levi: ‘It happened, therefore it can happen again.... It can happen anywhere.’ Today, we come together and commit, to the millions of murdered souls and all survivors, that it must never happen again.”