Benjamin Netanyahu may not be the unifier that Israel — and the Jewish people — need in troubling times. He has stumbled in his partisan approach to U.S. politics, and left Israel, through inaction and hawkish rhetoric, vulnerable to the charge that it isn’t interested in peace.
But when it comes to defending Israel on the world stage, and putting aside coalition politics to remind one and all of the values on which Israel stands, he has few rivals. This was the Netanyahu who spoke before the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 1.
Whatever you may think about the Iran deal, his indictment of Iran’s leaders was right on target. “Just look at what Iran has done in the last six months alone, since the framework agreement [on nuclear research/weapons] was announced in Lausanne,” he said. “Iran boosted its supply of devastating weapons to Syria. Iran sent more soldiers of its Revolutionary Guard into Syria. Iran sent thousands of Afghani and Pakistani Shi’ite fighters to Syria. Iran did all this to prop up Assad’s brutal regime. Iran also shipped tons of weapons and ammunition to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, including another shipment just two days ago.” Added Netanyahu: “I’ve said that if Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.”
He called out the hypocrites at the UN for their anti-Israel bias, noting that “in four years of horrific violence in Syria, more than a quarter of a million people have lost their lives. That’s more than 10 times — more than 10 times — the number of Israelis and Palestinians combined who have lost their lives in a century of conflict between us. Yet last year, this Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel and just one resolution about the savage slaughter in Syria.”
And he celebrated Israel’s contributions to humanity, from microprocessors to flash drives, and from drip irrigation to cutting-edge drugs for Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. He even boasted about how Israel “perfected” the cherry tomato.
And perhaps Netanyahu was most eloquent when he said nothing at all. Reminding delegates that they responded with a “deafening silence” to Iran’s threats to destroy a member nation, he glared at the delegates for over 40 seconds without saying a word. It was a silence that spoke volumes.