Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned that the world cannot wait much longer to keep Iran from reaching nuclear-weapons capability and stressed that the Jewish state reserves the right to “defend Jewish lives.”
“As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation,” Netanyahu vowed.
He addressed assessments that a strike on Iran may provoke an even greater response by holding up copies of letters that he keeps in his desk — dated 1944 — in which the World Jewish Congress implores the U.S. War Department to strike the Auschwitz death camp.
Reading from the documents, Netanyahu noted the response from the U.S.: besides diverting military equipment from other operations, “such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.”
“My friends, 2012 is not 1944,” he said. “The American government today is different. You heard that in President Obama’s speech yesterday. The Jewish people are also different. Today we have a Jewish state.”
And that state exists to ensure that the slaughter of the Jewish people will “never again” happen.
“That is why Israel must always have the right to defend itself — by itself — against any threats,” the prime minister said.
His speech, which was punctuated by 14 standing ovations, capped off a day in which he had “several hours” of bilateral talks with Obama, according to the White House. After an extremely long ovation upon his entrance, he quipped, “Wow, just like in the Knesset!”
“Tonight I’d like to talk to you about a subject that no one’s been talking about recently,” Netanyahu then quipped shortly into his address. “Yep, Iran.”
“Every day I open newspapers and read about red lines and timelines,” he said. “…I’m not going to say what Israel will do or might do. I never talk about that.”