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October 2, 2013 2:21 pm

Netanyahu’s Powerful UN Speech is Being Distorted by the Media

avatar by Alan Dershowitz

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Prime Minister Netanayhu at the United Nations.

I was in the General Assembly when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his speech about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s nuclear program.  I heard a very different speech from the one described by The New York Times and other media outlets. Not surprisingly, the Iranians described it as “inflammatory.” More surprisingly, the Times described Netanyahu’s speech as aggressive, combative, sarcastic, and sabotaging diplomacy, while the only expert it quoted called the speech ineffective and pushing the limits of credibility.

What I heard in that chamber bore little relationship either to the Iranian or the Times characterizations.  What the people listening to Netanyahu heard was a compellingly persuasive speech using Rouhani’s own words to prove convincingly that his friendly smile is a cover for far more malignant intentions. Herein are a few excerpts not quoted in the Times report. First, with regard to Iran’s nuclear weapons program:

“There are those who would readily agree to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rouhani said in his speech to Iran’s…Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council. This was published in 2005. I quote:…”

‘A country that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90        percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons.’

“Precisely. This is why Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled. And this is why the pressure on Iran must continue.”

Next, he quoted  several statements Rouhani made with regard to human rights, terrorism, and constructive engagement:

“Rouhani spoke of, quote, ‘the human tragedy in Syria.’ Yet, Iran directly participates in Assad’s murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Syria. And that regime is propping up a Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.”

Finally, Netanyahu’s answer to Rouhani’s assurance that his country does not engage in deceit and secrecy:

“Last Friday Rouhani assured us that in pursuit of its nuclear program, Iran — this is a quote — Iran has never chosen deceit and secrecy, never chosen deceit and secrecy. Well, in 2002, Iran was caught red-handed secretly building an underground centrifuge facility in Natanz. And then in 2009, Iran was again caught red-handed secretly building a huge underground nuclear facility for uranium enrichment in a mountain near Qom.”

Nor did Netanyahu reject diplomacy. Indeed he welcomed it, so long as the diplomatic solution “fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevents it from having one in the future.”

The New York Times was particularly critical of Netanyahu’s oft repeated statement that if Iran were to be on the verge of developing nuclear weapons designed to wipe Israel off the map, “against such a threat Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.”

But this statement reflects not only Israel’s longstanding policy but American policy as well.  President Obama has told me, as he has told others, that Israel must reserve the right to take military action in defense of its own civilian population.  It cannot be expected, any more than we can be expected, to outsource the ultimate obligation of every democracy to protect its citizens from nuclear attack. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy made it clear that the United States would not accept nuclear weapons pointed at our cities from bases in Cuba. Does anybody really expect Israel to accept nuclear missiles directed at its cities and towns from an even more belligerent enemy sworn to its destruction?

Those of us who were in the General Assembly chamber to hear Netanyahu’s speech heard a rational call for diplomacy backed by sanctions and the ultimate threat of military force as a last resort. We heard the leader of America’s ally Israel carefully analyze the words and deeds of the leader of a nation that still describes the United States in the most bellicose of terms. It was one of the most compelling and effective speeches ever delivered at the United Nations. It should be read—or watched on YouTube—by every American, who should then compare what they have seen and heard with what the media told them was said.

Several media outlets misinterpreted President Rouhani’s speech to make it sound far more acceptable than it would have been had it been correctly translated. The media claimed that Farsi is a difficult language to translate. There was no such excuse with regard to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, which was delivered in crystal clear English. The distortion of the Israeli’s Prime Minister’s speech was a deliberate attempt to portray him in a less favorable manner than his actual words warranted.

The question remains why would the American media bend over forwards to place Rouhani in a positive light while bending over backwards to present Netanyahu in a negative light?  Is it because we place our understandable hope for peace over the reality that difficult barriers still exist?  Is it because a “friendly” Iranian head of state is a more interesting story than a realistic Israeli head of state?  Whatever the reason, distorting reality is neither in the interest of good reporting nor in the interest of peace.

If diplomacy is to succeed, it must be based on realpolitik and a hardnosed assessment of both our friends and our enemies.  Judged against those standards, the media reporting on the Rouhani and Netanyahu speeches did not meet the high standards rightly expected of American journalism.

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  • C

    alan i hope you realise there is a supernatural component to the fight for the legitimacy of israel and for a love for the jewish people. antisemitism is not rational – as you have felt on your skin in this case.

  • Perla

    The sad truth is that too people, my family included, who believe in the sanctity of the NYT. More fools they!

    • HaDaR

      Dershowitz COMFORTABLY OMITTED something VERY IMPORTANT: it is the Obamista media, that is HIS PARTY FRIENDS, who are distorting Netanyahu’s speech to suit the White House line of “America should not be the world’s policeman”, “leading from behind” and appeasing islamic fundamentalists.

  • Could it be because P.M. Netanyahu ridiculed a 2005 editorial celebrating how diplomacy solved the N.Korean Nuclear problem.What happened a year later N.Korea detonated a nuclear device.The Times editorial board look like fools

  • Avishai

    Coming Soon!!!
    Video chat with Alan Dershowitz to discuss this article and more…

  • Lawrence Kulak

    The problem is that the media is so inherently anti-semitic that when there is the slightest opportunity to misinterpret (such as here when confronted by the false optimism of Obama and Rouhani) the media flies with it. The subconscious hope is that the world will abandon Israel. Just look at who the media is made up of. I wonder how many of these media personalities have stable marriages. Most of them are fly by night egotists who are also leftists, and that combination makes them hate the Israreli state which stands for the very opposite. Enough said.

  • How can the media be anti-Israel when the Jews control it? It must be Orwellian thinking: up is down and down is really up! And, of course, Dershowitz is a hateful person.

    • Len

      Nonsense about Jews controlling the media. You don’t address any of Dershowitz’s arguments or dispute any of his facts. You are simply driven by your stereotypes and prejudices, your preconceived ideas.

      • Eve

        This stupid idiot is ALWAYS making anti-semitic comments. I don’t know why anyone responds to him. They’ll stop when he’s dead (which, clearly, can’t be soon enough).

    • Jerrold L. Sobel

      Michael, if idiocy were a crown of stupidity it would easily fit on your head. What in the world would ever make a person even pertending to be intelligent say such a thing.

      I’d be curious for you to share your other views with this blog on: African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other groups of your choosing?

    • Clive Kaplan

      It seems clear to me that the NYT and the media are upset with Bibi. That is why they have responded the way they have. Bibi made a fool of their editors by quoting the NYT’s view on North Korea’s agreement to disarm their nuclear program. They naively believed that North Korea was being truthful about their intentions. Needless to say NK exploded their 1st bomb one year later.
      Your belief that the Jews control the media is a ruse to cushion you from the truth – the Iranians and their threat are not going away.

  • Jessica

    Very well said, thank you! The speech was honest, direct and overall amazing. The ongoing blantant anti-Israel media coverage (particularly in the NY Times) is astounding.

    • HaDaR

      The Stuulzbergs, who are NOT Jewish and haven’t been for generations (all intermarried a long time ago with non Jewish women), who have owned the NY Times for decades, are the same assimilationist people who were SILENT ABOUT THE SHOAH not to make waves and have CONSTANTLY been pro-PalestinIST

  • Mel

    To maintain its editorial independence, MAD Magazine publisher William Gaines early on made it official policy to never accept advertising. Spoofing the New York Times motto fifty years ago, “All the News that Fits We Print” never said it better.

  • David Hoffman

    It’s more than just anti-Israel bias. As Netanyahu pointed out, Iran’s nuclear program threatens not only Israel but many other nations in and beyond the Middle East.

    The NY Times, and most of its readers, simply cannot bear to accept the fact that there are truly evil people in this world. In 1940, as Nazi Germany’s bombs rained down on London, Neville Chamberlain pitifully exclaimed that “none of this need have happened, if only Hitler hadn’t lied to me.”

    Chamberlain was not a coward or a fool, but he was certain that another European leader was a reasonable man that he could do business with. The alternative was too awful to contemplate. Same here. The “will not to believe” will not be argued with, even if the bombs (may Heaven forbid!) rain down on Tel Aviv.

    • Len

      Good points!

  • Monty Lasovsky

    Why is the NY Times so anti Israel that blatantly misreports anything to do with Israel? Would the US like to become a caliphate with it’s current President suitably bedecked with a Turban and a nice white flowing “kapota”?
    I get “cheap offers” every week to subscribe to what used to be a good newspaper. I would rather read and listen to Algezeera which is “accurate” compared to the NY Times.

    • Steven Kalka

      “Why is the NY Times so anti Israel that blatantly misreports anything to do with Israel?”

      You have to understand where the Sulzbergers come from. They feel a need to hide their Jewish backgrounds so well as to always oppose Israel. Previous editor Abraham Rosenthal was listed as A.M. Rosenthal. What more can you about them. Their slogan should be “All the news that fits our worldview”. Then maybe I’d respect them.

    • Gee

      The New York Times has a very long history of anti-Semitism.

      They were strong supporters of the Nazis in the 1930s and early 40s.

  • Shalom Freedman

    The truth is that the comment of Mr.Bookspan is unfortunately true. The ‘Times’ historically has a shameful record in regard to reporting on Israel. They are obsessed with Israel and very often report in a distorted way about it. Their bias is clear in almost every report they make.
    I am surprised that Mr. Dershowitz is surprised. But I share his outrage, the outrage of all those who care for the Jewish state, and care that the truth of its story be told.

  • Joseph

    I watched the video recording of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech from start to end. Mr. Dershowitz’s description of the speech is right on the money. If the N.Y. Times and other media depicted the speech as described in this article, that is outrageous. Isn’t there a way to confront these media with the video recording and force them to retract their reports?

  • Martin Bookspan

    Mr. Dershowitz is “surprised” by the New York Times’s coverage of Netanyahu’s brilliant speech at the sewer of the world, the United Nations. The Times, going back nearly a century, has been at the forefront of anti-Zionism anti-israel and (barely disguised) anti-Semitism—-a pathetic example of self-hating Jews spewing forth their poisonous venom. But we shall overcome!

    • Jonathan Cohen

      The Times used to have a logo “All the news that is fit fit to print”. Years ago it was replaced by “All the news that fits”. This is the key to understanding what they write. It has nothing to do with what was actually said!

  • Efram Paul

    The answer is simple. The politically-coerced censorship adhering media sees the world through a simple paradigm. Jews=bad, Muslims=good. No facts, no evidence, no proof, nothing will shake their narrow and absolute worldview. If, G-d forbid, Iran were to actually use a nuclear weapon, the bigots in the media would find a way to blame it on Israel. There used to be a sign which said:

    There are two rules here.
    1. I am always right
    2. If I am wrong, see rule number 1.

    That is the all encompassing mantra of the media.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    New York Times telling the truth? NEVER!

  • Julian Tepper

    Several years ago, Alan was a guest on my radio show in the Washington, DC area.

    Among the things that he and I discussed was the penchant of the liberal press to disfavor Israel at every opportunity.

    And so it goes. (Sorry, Kurt.)

    Julian Tepper
    Albuquerque, NM
    PS – God bless Alan Dershowitz!

  • mireille mechoullam

    The media has been bias against Israel for a long, long time. The world cannot stand a strong Israel. But tough luck I would have at anytime a strong Israel then have the world pity us.

  • Obama will be judged as a Chamberlain by history.

    • Lou Adams

      Chamberlain was sincere and navie, Obama is nothing but a corrupt dishonest villian with a nice smile and a mentally ill supporting media.

  • Absolutely right…however i would say that the New York Times regularly shows bias against Israel. More than just bias really, more like straight out lies and propaganda.

    Violence, a media designated public enemy #1, and controversial topics with shock-value type characterizations and headlines, are what sells.

    You have to be dramatic to gain interest and to sell your news, especially these days with all the bloggers and news outlets and tweets…etc etc.

    People love to hate Jews, so why not jump on the top of the dogpile if it helps you sell a couple papers?

    If we follow the ethics and motivations and agendas of the New York Times…the only hope for Israel to change the worlds perceptions is for Israel to elect some big titted blonde bimbo who wears skimpy outfits.

    Because the only thing that outsells hate and violence is sex. And what red-blooded male wouldnt buy a paper with big fake tits on the front page instead of the other paper which sports a pic of a greasy, bearded rhouani?

    And when sales start slumping..the NYT can show a little sliver of a nipple on the front page to gain those extra sales numbers

  • Amy

    Time for the United States to stop all the Billions given to other nations as “Foreign Aid”—bring home our troops scattered around the world to protect our own nation. This would eliminate Billions from the fiscal budget and better secure our country and people.

    Netanyahu wants our military and financial support to
    start and fight a war in Iran. Yet he talks down to our President for not jumping at his commands. We have no business to start a war in Iran or any other nation there. In fact, there is no reason for the USA to be in the Middle East.

    • Sasa Levi

      No, Middle East will be in the USA, may be with a bomb.

    • Hello Amy,
      I have great respect for your opinion. I’m sure it is very heart felt and sincere. Unfortunately, the world we all live in just isn’t that simple.
      The reality of the Middle East situation is that All the nations which surround the tiny little state of Israel have all vowed to destroy it, at all cost.(Thousands of years of history verify this fact as recently as the 1967 war.) What makes the situation even more complicated is that, communist Russia is now siding with the Arab countries which are bent on Israel’s destruction only because they want control of the vast oil deposits the Arabs now control.
      If we, (America), left Israel to it’s own problems, Russia and the Arab nations which surround it would surely wipe the 8 million innocent citizens who live there off the face of the earth, exactly as they have sworn to do since 1948.
      Let me ask you this, If you were to witness a group of bullies picking on a little kid; What would you do?… Well, the Arab/Israeli conflict is no different, just on a larger scale.

  • stuart singer

    The NY Times is a low class,rag paper which has no honor or class. It is a lying propaganda machine that smears truth and bends reality to reflect its insane views. Personally, I hope this paper goes out of business for it would not be missed by most upstanding people. And, I would never subscribe to it.

    • Vic

      I sent a letter to the NY Times in response to a subscription offer. In it, I said I would only subscribe to their yellow rag so I could cancel my subscription in protest and disgust.

  • jtb

    great. but why do you repeatedly refuse to say the obvious…the media are anti-Israel

  • Caleb

    There are at least two typos in your “quotes” from the Prime Minister’s speech: “agreed” and “county”. This undermines your credibility. Please proofread.