Dennis Prager: Netanyahu’s U.N. speech

In the eyes of many, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly was a masterful statement of the moral state of the world, not to mention the existential threat Iran poses to Israel.

In the eyes of many others, the speech was gratuitously bellicose and provocative. 

Here are highlights from that speech. You judge.

“Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear.”

Netanyahu began with a response to Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had said in New York earlier that week that the Jews have no roots in the Middle East. Three thousand years would seem to qualify as “roots.” Indeed, there were two Jewish states in modern Israel 1,500 years before there was one Muslim on earth, let alone in the Middle East.

“Throughout our history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destructionIt’s their ideologies that have been discarded by history.”

Every group and ideology, no matter how powerful, that has sought the Jews’ annihilation has disappeared. It is the Jews who are still around. Something Mr. Ahmadinejad should reflect on.

“A great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval. … The medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East … are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.”

Someone has needed to tell the United Nations, an organization of “surpassing … mendacity,” as Charles Krauthammer described it last week, this truth: Islamists represent the most morally backward force on earth today. Leave it to the head of the Jewish state to say the truth that the world is too afraid to say.

“I think the relevant question is this: it’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated. It’s how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated.”

The importance of this point cannot be overstated. It is true that eventually all evils are overcome (and then replaced by newer ones), but to those who were tortured, raped and murdered, that provides little consolation. Hitler lost, but only after 6 million Jews and 40 milllion to 50 million others were killed in World War II.

“Some 70 years ago, the world saw another fanatic ideology bent on world conquest. It went down in flames. But not before it took millions of people with it. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end they triumphed, but at [a] horrific cost. My friends, we cannot let that happen again.”


“To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed al-Qaeda.”

You cannot get much clearer than that.

“There are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union. That’s a very dangerous assumption. Militant jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet suicide bombers. Yet Iran produces hordes of them.

“Deterrence worked with the Soviets because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival. But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.”

Nazis and communists liked life. Islamists revel in death. An enormous difference. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that whereas Israel could be destroyed with an Iranian nuclear weapon reinforced by attacks from
Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, Iran and the Muslim world could easily survive an Israeli nuclear reprisal attack. 

“For nearly a decade, the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy. That hasn’t worked. Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disagrees. She believes that sanctions will lead to “good-faith negotiations.” To put “good faith” and Ahmadinejad’s Iran in the same sentence takes a Neville Chamberlain-like naiveté.

“At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war.”

How, exactly, is that wrong? Wouldn’t a red line in the 1930s have stopped Hitler? Didn’t a red line over Cuba end the Cuban missile crisis?

So, dear reader, you judge Netanyahu’s speech. Was it irresponsible or was it as responsible a statement as the leader of the Jewish state could make at this time?

And once you do make your judgment, please bear this in mind: The Wall Street Journal and the country’s conservatives thought the speech masterful. The New York Times and the rest of the left, Jewish and otherwise, thought it bellicose and irresponsible for saying such things during an American presidential election.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and founder of His latest book is the New York Times best-seller “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” (HarperCollins, 2012).