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.”
His purpose, he said, was to explain why Iran shouldn’t have a nuclear weapon and stress that the Jewish state wouldn’t allow those who seek its destruction to have the means to accomplish that goal.
He scoffed at Iran’s claim that it’s using enrichment for medical isotopes, quipping that when you see an intercontinental ballistic missile coming into your neighborhood, you can take comfort in knowing it’s only armed with medical isotopes.
“If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck … it’s a duck,” Netanyahu said. “But this duck is a nuclear duck, and it’s about time the world started calling a duck a duck.”
He said that “fortunately” Obama is among those who understand that Iran’s claims that it’s not developing nuclear weapons are ridiculous, and slammed those in the world who regard the nuclear program as “destestable but … deterrable.”
“I think it’s time we started talking about the cost of not stopping Iran,” Netanyahu said. “The terrorism we see today could grow tenfold, if not more.”