Netanyahu Warmly Received In Congress
A standing ovation and warm handshakes on both sides of the aisle greeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he entered the Halls of Congress closely, escorted by House Majority leader Eric Cantor. Expressing admiration for America and gratitude for the ongoing support of “democrats and republicans alike,” and unwavering alliance, and shared national characteristics, Netanyahu called Israeli security “a wise investment in our common future as the battle between tyranny and freedom is waged.”
When hecklers interrupted his presentation, the PM responded with pointed humor, saying “this is real democracy.” “We must protect the political spring (n Arab lands) from being cut short by tyranny.” “Israel stands out – he said. Quoting nineteenth century writer George Elliot “the Jewish State will shine like a bright star of freedom amid the despotism of the East.” “Israel.” he said “is not what is wrong about the Middle East, Israel is what is right.”
The containment of Iran was major focus of the Prime Minister’s words – words that found favor among the American lawmakers. The common enemy that brutalizes its own people, supports attacks against American troops and supports Hezbollah” was described as “the greatest danger of all…a fanatic, militant Islam (that) could exact a horrific price before its eventual demise…the threat to Israel cannot be overstated.”
The outrage is the lack of outrage, he said. “Much of international community is simply silent. One of his 26 standing ovations followed his next statement “Not you, America!” “When we say ‘never again, we mean never again: Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.
The strong speech reiterated a number of themes stated in his earlier speech to the AIPAC conference including the requirement of direct negotiations with a partner that clearly acknowledged Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State of the Jewish people and an unqualified demand for a united Jerusalem: “We will never give up our quest for peace. We want peace. We need peace” he directly stated. Peace “should be bolstered by economic and political support to all those who remain committed to peace.”
Calling on the Palestinians to join Israel’s commitment to a two state solution and join Israel in being “willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace.” The Prime Minister recounted recent growth and development in the area slated to become a Palestinian State, asking “if the benefits of peace are so clear, why has peace eluded us?” He stressed the “4000 year old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish Land and called for President Abbas to stand before his people and say “I will accept a Jewish State” – “six words that will change history”- instigated loud cheers and yet another standing ovation.
Perhaps the two most important concepts of the historic presentation were the Prime Minister’s absolute admonition that Israel “will not return to the indefensible borders of 1967″ followed by his anticipation that “Palestinians should have a right to immigrate to a Palestinian state” as Jewish have the right to return to a Jewish state. “The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel. Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiation peace with the Palestinian Authority to …negotiate a brilliant future for our children.” Israel, he assured “will be the first to welcome a new state.”
Concluding by thanking America for its “unwavering support” Netanyahu exited to the last of the twenty six standing ovations – and other applause interruptions – he received.
Benjamin Netanyahu came to Congress at a most delicate political juncture. Turmoil throughout much of the Middle East has multiple countries in political disarray. The Prime Minister laid forth “very important elements” said spokesman for the Israeli government Joel Lion: “”It was,” Lion told the Algemeiner, “a very important speech….The moment they recognize Israel as part of the region, as the state of the Jewish people, the root of the problem will be solved, it is not territorial; rather, it is a matter of recognition of the rights of the Jews to a state with a Jewish character.”