“As far as I can tell, there was nothing new.” With those ten terse words, President Obama casually and callously dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress.
In an interview after the speech, the President noted that he did not watch Netanyahu’s address. However, after stating that he read the transcript of the remarks, he declared that Netanyahu failed to “offer any viable alternatives” with regard to a possible deal with Iran, which is intended to address the rogue state’s nuclear program.
The President completely missed the point. In order for his efforts to be deemed successful, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not have to come to the United States and propose alternatives to the deal currently being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 countries, which are the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. Netanyahu was in no way required to lay out a detailed plan on how to best address the Iranian nuclear threat in order for his remarks to be effective.
All the Prime Minister had to do in order for his mission to be considered efficacious was raise a red flag, spotlight the specter of a bad deal, and sound the alarm. Looking at it from that perspective, Netanyahu’s unquestionably accomplished his goal.
The Prime Minister entered the House Chamber to a reception that was reminiscent of the incredible ovation that greets the President when he enters that same majestic room each year to deliver his State of the Union address. Lawmakers clamored to shake Netanyahu’s hand and the applause for the Israeli leader was quite vociferous. Despite the politics that had enveloped Netanyahu’s visit, there was a palpable sense of excitement and intrigue as he took to the rostrum to deliver his remarks.
And then the Prime Minister did exactly what he needed to do—he sounded the alarm.
During his speech, which generated two-dozen standing ovations and frequent sustained applause, Netanyahu pointed out that we are not dealing with a nation comprised of boy scouts—we are dealing with Iran. Referring to it as “[t]he foremost sponsor of global terrorism,” the Prime Minister rightfully reminded the world of Iran’s past transgressions of terror.
Besides citing its “goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, (and) its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu recalled the hostage crisis in Tehran, the murder of American soldiers and Marines in Beirut, and the deadly role Iran played in the bombing of the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Argentina.
After rehashing Iran’s notorious track record of terror, Netanyahu explained why the deal presently being negotiated is a bad deal. He mentioned two major concessions that he believes make this deal fundamentally flawed. First, the deal reportedly would leave Iran’s “vast nuclear infrastructure” intact. Netanyahu voiced his concern that “[t]housands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning,” thereby making it fairly simple for Iran to continue stockpiling enough uranium which could be used to develop a nuclear bomb in a relatively short period of time. Second, the Prime Minister expressed his dismay at the fact that the proposed deal purportedly contains a sunset provision, which provides that the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will expire in ten years.
In addition, the Prime Minister set forth a number of conditions that he believes Iran must meet prior to having the sanctions eased, independent of its nuclear program. Netanyahu said that at the very least, Iran should be required to “stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East,” “stop supporting terrorism around the world,” and “stop threatening to annihilate…Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”
With his historic address to Congress, Prime Minister skillfully and successfully sounded the alarm. He used what was perhaps the biggest stage available to him to broadcast the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and to caution against entering into “a very bad deal.”
Telling Congress that the deal could ultimately lead to “a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare,” Netanyahu said that the proposed agreement “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
As the negotiations with Iran continue and the train hurtles down the track at an extraordinary rate of speed towards a possible deal, Netanyahu did everything he could to convince the United States and the world that the train desperately needs to slow down and reassess the direction in which it is headed.
“The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal,” said the Prime Minister.
With the future of his country at stake and the safety and security of his people at risk of being compromised even further, the Prime Minister did exactly what he needed to at this critical juncture. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was not about politics, it was about perseverance in the face of tremendous adversity for the sake of his nation.
Despite the warm response that Netanyahu’s speech engendered from many members of Congress, there were certainly those who were not as enamored with his remarks.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said after Netanyahu’s address that she “was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech—saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”
In addition to being somewhat puerile, the remarks by the House Minority Leader summed up what I believe to be the core of the issue. Rep. Pelosi and others apparently view the Iranian nuclear issue through a lens that is clouded by politics. What she failed to comprehend is that Prime Minister Netanyahu views this issue through a lens that is clearly focused on survival.
Israel and the world cannot afford a deal with Iran that comes about just because some folks want to be able to say that they reached an accord. A bad deal with Iran that fails to adequately address the salient points raised by Netanyahu is not worth the paper that it is written on. Anyone who truly listened to the Prime Minister’s address and heard him effectively sound the alarm knows that to be the case.
N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler
By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.