Bibi at AIPAC: The PM Lays Out His Challenge to the Obama Administration
His goal was a durable peace obtained by mutual recognition of both a Jewish state and a Palestinian one, in which the rights of all citizens would be guaranteed. But for that to work, the Palestinians have to “stop denying history,” must be “prepared to recognize a Jewish state,” since territorial issues could be resolved, but the right of the Jewish people for a state of their own is something that is beyond dispute. Thus the Palestinians have to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees or amputating the country, giving regions that were part of Israel back to the Palestinians. They have to offer “no excuses and no delays,” Netanyahu stated, and thus have to offer recognition to a Jewish state.
That might take decades to filter down to the Palestinian people, and thus, any agreement had to guarantee long-term security arrangements on the ground, that would protect both Israel and the peace treaty. Israel must, he said, “look for the best and prepare for the worst.” He said that knowing that previously, international peacekeepers left when the going got tough, and proved ineffective. He realized that peace would come under attack from Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, and thus they needed a force with which to defend their own Jewish homeland. “I’m charged with protecting the security of my people,” he added, “and I will never gamble with the security of the one and only Jewish state.” That force would be the IDF, since they would fight to defend their own homeland, unlike the so-called international peacekeepers who withdrew when threatened.
Turning to the BDS movement (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) he quipped that its letters should really stand for “Bigotry, Dishonesty and Shame.” That movement, he said, would fail just as had the Arab boycott in Israel’s earlier days. But it needed to be vigorously opposed, because it was bad for peace and was just plain wrong. Its gullible fellow-travelers were supporting a movement whose leaders sought the dissolution of Israel, and not peace or reconciliation. Its effect would be “to set back peace by hardening Palestinian positions.”
Moreover, BDS was “morally wrong.” Israel, he said, was a healthy democracy, in which its citizens regularly dissented and loudly made criticisms of Israeli policy within the country. It had a free press and protected all religions, including Christians, who are under attack elsewhere throughout the region. BDS was not about criticism, but was an attempt to paint Israel as an illegitimate state, and was “nothing but a farce.” At a time when other nations in the Middle east were sending academics to prison for their beliefs, hanging gays on crane from public squares, BDS only called upon sanctions on Israel, a nation in which professors were free to say and teach anything they want. It was the only nation that had full rights for gay people, in which women headed three branches of government and with a free press. How, he asked, “can anyone fall for the BS in BDS?”
He was not surprised, because he concluded, throughout history people believed the most absurd things about Jews, and the most influential people had always spread lies about the Jewish people, which had become “ingrained in their consciousness,” and was part of “the long and dark chapter of anti-Semitism.” BDS thus had to be treated as we treat any form of anti-Semitism, exposed and condemned. Thus, he said, he supported those who argued that it was the boycotters themselves who now should be boycotted, and he applauded those who worked to stop the BDS movement from succeeding.
America and Israel, he ended, had to stand together on the right side of history.
His speech was interrupted at many points by huge applause, and by many standing ovations. The largely Democratic members of AIPAC, stood together with Republicans in defense of Israel, and in support of the Prime Minister who the left-liberals, the members of J-Street and the opponents of Israel regularly attack as a reactionary, a hawk, and a danger to Israel.
Those writers, who have recently argued that AIPAC’s role was diminishing and would be proved irrelevant, were clearly shortsighted. Its members were committed to intense lobbying, and to keeping up the pressure on behalf of Israel and against those who sought its weakening or demise.