PM gave a televised address to AIPAC from Israel where he is dealing with the ongoing security situation with Hamas; Netanyahu highlights stronger bilateral ties under the Trump Administration, Iran and global anti-Semitism.
Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from Israel in a televised address on Tuesday. The prime minister returned to Israel on Monday, cutting his visit short in the United States to deal with the ongoing security situation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. His annual address to the lobbying powerhouse was centered on the unwavering, strong bilateral ties between Israel and the United States under the Trump Administration, the rise of anti-Semitism and nuclear Iran.
Beginning with an update on the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) efforts in the Gaza Strip, he reported following a meeting with the IDF Chief of Staff, “In the last 24 hours, the IDF destroyed major Hamas terrorist installations on a scale not seen since the end of the military operation in Gaza four years ago… We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state.”
The prime minister then spoke of President Trump again making history for the State of Israel and global community in recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He stated, “The Golan Heights is indispensable for our defense. It’s part of our history… Jews lived there for thousands of years and the people of Israel have come back to the Golan. Israel holds the high ground, and we shall never, ever give it up. It is part of Israel.”
Netanyahu then spoke of the “genocidal regime in Tehran that vows to destroy the one and only Jewish state,” referring to Israeli and American efforts to expose the world to Iran’s deception and intentions, from his historic address before the US Congress in 2015 to AIPAC’s ongoing lobbying efforts in Washington and abroad and the Trump Administration leaving the nuclear deal. On the “rise of forces who want to pull America and Israel apart,” he assured, “I guarantee you this. They will fail… Our shared values are too deep. Our shared interests too strong. Our shared destiny too intertwined.” He added, however, “we must never take anything for granted. Those who seek to defame this great organization AIPAC, those who seek to undermine American support for Israel, they must be confronted… Despite what they claim, they do not merely criticize the policies of Israel’s government… They spew venom that has long been directed at the Jewish people.”
He then shifted to the global rise of anti-Semitism, reporting that Israel and the Jewish people are again, “cast as a force for evil… charged with disloyalty… the Jews are said to have too much influence, too much power, too much money.” On this, he stated, “The best way to respond to those who hate the Jews is not to bow down to them. It’s to stand up to them,” referring to the Book of Esther and Mordecai’s confrontation of Haman as Jews worldwide just celebrated Purim last week. He gave a direct message to anti-Semites in the United States and abroad, that “whether they live in modern Persia, in the palaces of Tehran or the bunkers of Beirut; whether they march through the streets of Charlottesville or murder worshippers in a synagogue in Pittsburgh; whether they voice their hatred in political parties in Britain, or Europe, or the United States… The Jewish people do not bow down. We stand up. We fight. And we win.”
Netanyahu then took a jab at US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has spouted out anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment. He stated, “Take it from this Benjamin, it’s not about the Benjamins.” He added, “The reason the people of America support Israel is not because they want our money, it’s because they share our values. They just don’t get it.”
He boasted on Israel’s “vibrant democracy” where “no one is a second-class citizen… whether Jew or Arab, Muslim, Christian, or Druze, [we] have exactly the same individual rights.” He also highlighted Israel as the national and legal homeland of the Jewish people, where citizens “exercise our collective right of self-determination… a right [that] is expressed in the Star of David that is on our flag, in the Hatikvah (meaning “The Hope”) that is our national anthem, in Hebrew, our official language and most powerfully, in the right of every Jew across the world to automatically immigrate to Israel and become a citizen if they choose to do so.” He disputed global condemnation of Israel’s recent Nation State bill that is now constitutional law, amidst claims it is racist and denigrates citizen’s rights. He reiterated “Israel will always be a democracy, just as Israel will always be the Jewish State, a place where all Jews anywhere can always call home, no matter how they pray or how they wish to conduct their lives. Israel is the home of all Jews,” adding, “And I am as confident as ever, that as Israel takes its rightful place among the nations, you will be there by our side. You’ve always been there by our side. America will be there by our side.”