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September 29 Netnayahu's Speech to the UN

by Marc Schulman


Sitting in Tel Aviv tonight and watching Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the Untied Nations was an interesting experience. On one hand, as someone who has never been a supporter of Netanyahu, it was clear to me (and all the other people sitting in the room), why he keeps being elected Prime Minister – and why he is likely to be re-elected again next time. Israelis prefer hearing Benjamin Netanyahu speak for them at the U.N. over any other possible candidate. It's not just his command of the English language, but rather, his ability to tie together and communicate all of the threats facing the Israel into one neat package.

Netanyhu’s speech was clearly aimed at a domestic audience. The address was covered live on all of the Israeli television channels, in the middle of the prime-time. The Prime Minister knew what he was doing, and there is no question that this speech helped him politically in Israel. The problem with the speech is that almost everything he said was true – However, so what? It is impossible to translate all the truths he stated into policy, either for Israel or for the rest of world.

There is no question Netanyahu was correct when he tied the militancy of the Islamic State to the ideological militancy of Hamas, and to the ideological militancy and revolutionary fever in the Iran. All share some of the same theoretical goals. All share some of the same militancy. Of course, in politics, one does not always judge a state by its ideology, but also on its actions, its interest and its immediate intentions. If policies were drafted solely based on ideology then Nixon could never have gone to China, and the Nuclear Disarmament treaties could never have been written.

Netanyahu is correct when he says that Iran as a nuclear threshold state (a status it might obtain in current negotiations) is a terrible reality. He is also right that if Hamas could wipe out the State of Israel in the blink of an eye, it would. Though, then Krushchev might have done the same to the United States in the 1950’s as well (if he were able). However, he could not, and neither can Hamas do so to Israel today.

Yet, sitting in Tel Aviv, working to fund a new start up that I am involved in whose whole premise is based on travel and a connected world, I find it hard to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu. With three children I have to believe that the world will continue to move toward becoming a better place. I need to believe that all of the threats facing Israeli will be overcome. I want to believe that despite that fact that until now the Palestinians seem unwilling to make the necessary concessions to bring about peace, (as do our own leaders), we will eventually achieve that peace.

Netanyahu gave an excellent speech at the UN today. It was a speech that I am sure much of the world did not appreciate. It was a speech that I did not appreciate. Was it the speech of a man willing to stand up to conventional wisdom and tell the truth? Or was it a speech of a man who sees threats everywhere (whose world is full of glasses that are half empty)?... A man unable to seize what’s positive in the world and find solutions? I know that I, and most of my fellow Tel Avivans want to believe it’s the latter. A little voice nagging inside of me, however, keeps on wondering – maybe Netanyahu is right and our world is as bad as he says.

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