I just watched Prime Minister Netanyahu’s UN speech again. I liked it even more than the first time.
I liked the way he kept referring to ‘Jews’ and ‘the Jewish People’. Israel is not just a arbitrary construct based on geography. The Holocaust that Ahmadinejad denies didn’t happen to arbitrary people, it happened to Jews (I don’t deny that Hitler killed a lot of non-Jews, but the machinery of extermination was built for the Jews, who were murdered only because of their genes).
The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.
Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more.” These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.
I liked the way he stood firm on his demand for recognition as a Jewish state:
We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people.
This is the absolute bottom line, far more important than delineation of borders or the settlement issue. The fact that the Arabs have never accepted a Jewish state in the Land of Israel has been the cause of the conflict since the beginning, and is what drives it today.
Netanyahu clearly understands — as so many Jews, even some Israelis, do not — that the real and only adequate justification for the existence of the state of Israel lies in its being the state of the Jewish people. Give up on this point, and you might as well book passage back to Poland, Russia, Morocco, Iraq, etc. and let it be replaced with yet another Arab craptocracy.
Finally, he made one other demand:
The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel. That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don’t want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.
Is this so unreasonable?
The Arab reaction was predictable. Robert Spencer summarized it thus:
In Saudi Arabia, the state newspaper Al-Nadwa lamented that “every paragraph of Netanyahu’s speech makes us more pessimistic.” In Jordan, the pro-government newspaper Al-Rai huffed: “Netanyahu offered rotten merchandise. Nobody will buy it.” Mohammed Sobeih, the Arab League’s undersecretary general for Palestinian affairs, said that while “extremists in Israel” might like the speech, it was “too far from what peace needs.” The President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, said that the speech was “intransigent when it comes to dealing with peace or regarding the solution for Palestinian refugees.”
And that was just the beginning. Others charged that Netanyahu had brought the region closer to armed conflict. Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, said that Netanyahu’s call to “recognize Israel as a Jewish state complicates things further and scuttles the possibilities for peace.” Apparently an Arab state is just fine, but a Jewish state, no. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, meanwhile, asserted that Netanyahu delivered “a war speech that practically torpedoed and crippled all possibilities for a compromise,” and that “makes the region susceptible to great dangers that might explode in different directions.”
Palestinian Saeb Erekat complained that Netanyahu’s speech “left nothing for negotiations….Netanyahu wants to put us in a situation where he looks like he offered something, and we said no.” And he attempted to cast the onus back upon Netanyahu: “Netanyahu’s speech was very clear. He rejects the two-state solution.” He warned about Netanyahu’s crafty rhetoric: “I hope that the world will not be fooled by this gentleman using the term ‘come and negotiate’ and ‘a Palestinian state.’ He actually tonight destroyed the two-state solution and destroyed the permanent settlement negotiations.”
“Netanyahu,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “is defying the world. The international community should reply by pressure to isolate Netanyahu and his policies and force Israel to submit to the peace process.”
They are absolutely hysterical with anger because they thought that President Obama was their guy, and he would force the Israelis to finally give up. They thought that the delegitimization campaign they orchestrated by activating the antisemitic Europeans with their boycott/divestment strategy, as well as the laughable “United Nations Human Rights Council” with its cut-and-paste report on the Gaza war, had weakened Israel to the point of cooperating in its own dismemberment.
But look: Netanyahu spoke like the leader of a nation, a proud and fully legitimate nation that can and will defend itself. He didn’t surrender! How dare he?
The Arabs, in their supreme self-righteousness, switch rapidly back and forth from squealing about their victimization and demanding intervention, to threatening mayhem.
Now let them face an Israel with a leader who is confident of the justice of his position, an Israel which is prepared to wait as long as necessary — and to make the Palestinians wait as long as necessary — for a settlement which will finally establish what should have been established in 1948: that the Jewish people, like Germans, Russians, even Palestinians, have a right to self-determination in their land.