On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of the US Congress. The speech, which took perhaps fifty minutes—with multiple interruptions for applause (and one heckler, who was ejected)—was even timed for a Regional audience: his speech started just after 6:20 pm Israel time.Mr. Netanyahu knows how to control stage- center. He speaks well. He understands American values. He used all the right the words repeatedly: peace, democracy, liberty, freedom.
He repeated what might be his signature phrase for this American trip: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East—democracy and freedom.From many points of view, he gave a good speech, built exactly for his American audience.
But it was also the wrong speech, because he lost an opportunity to tell the truth.Actually, there are four truths he missed.
First, the truth is, peace is not possible today in the Middle East. Peace is not possible among Arabs, and it is certainly not possible between Arab and Jew. The concept of a peace accord between Arab and Jew is not just an illusion or a fiction—it is a lie. There is simply too much Arab hate that has been directed at the Jew for too long by too many clerics and too many TV programs for peace to grow. The words, ‘kill’ and ‘Jew’ do not go together so often by accident. The hate is 24/7. There is no ‘off-day’ and no vacation from it; the Arab culture is soaked in it.The second truth is, there is no ‘Palestinian’ people. There is no Palestinian history, no Palestinian archaeology, no Palestinian science or technology, no historic Palestinian philosophy or music or art. The words ‘Palestinian people’ are an invention of Yasser Arafat circa 1967-69. Mr Netanyahu referred repeatedly to ‘Palestinians’ and to the’ Palestinian people’. He repeats—and by repeating, legitimizes—a myth, a political lie. The Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank have no distinct culture, and they have no historic, distinctive ‘homeland’. Their ancient history is the story of the nomad.
They may want a state. But they have no homeland.These people who have no homeland demand that we recognize them while they refuse to recognize us. They demand a state—situated on their maps, by the way, exactly where our state now is—as they call obsessively to ‘kill the Jew.’ They create legitimacy for their claims by lying about Judaism, Jews, and Jewish history.
Just ten days ago, Abbas declared that that Jews have no history in Israel, but that his Palestinians have a 9000-year history there.In case you missed it, there is no record to support this claim. But there is abundant record to support Israel’s claims.
This is how an honest peace partner behaves?The third truth is, Israel is not just about the democracy, freedom and Jewish homeland that Mr Netanyahu described; it is more. Israel is the cradle of Western religion and the nexus of Judaism. Israel does not exist because of the actions of US President Truman or the UN, or even because of its prowess at staving off war after war against attacking Arabs. Israel exists because that is the Will and the Promise of the G-d of Israel. The land of Israel is not an inheritance from G-d for us to dispose of as we please; it is a legacy from G-d, given to us to protect and preserve for the generations that follow us.
Israel is not just about Jewish people; it is about G-d’s Promise and G-d’s land.Israel is about G-d.
If you are a Jew, Christian or Muslim, this is what your Holy Text tells you. It is part of your Faith.The ugly truth is, in the public arena, when the Jew ignores his own story of Faith, he validates another’s story.
Finally, the truth is that if we continue to play this charade called ‘the peace process’, the world will suffer. We have already seen this game played before, between Neville Chamberlain and Hitler in the late 1930’s—and we all know how that game ended: six million Jews dead, perhaps another fifty million dead around the world, and as many as one hundred million refugees, displaced and dislocated from home and loved ones.The truth hurts. But in the end, the truth never hurts us as much as the lies we use to replace or hide truth.
I believe that many will judge that Mr Netanyahu gave a good speech. He spoke the right words for his audience—for America and for American Jews. But it was still the wrong speech—because he did not tell the truth.