UNITED NATIONS – In a dramatic speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged the silence of the world community in the face of the imminent threat posed by Iran gaining nuclear weapons was “deafening.”
Netanyahu then paused his speech for an unusually lengthy moment of silence in which he stared from the podium. Television cameras panned to show a General Assembly hall conspicuously absent of many delegations.
“Thirty-one years ago as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I stood at this podium for the first time, speaking against a resolution sponsored by Iran to expel Israel from the United Nations,” Netanyahu said, beginning his address.
“Then as now, the United Nations was excessively hostile to Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. Some sought to deny the one and only Jewish state a place among the nations,” he said.
“I ended that first speech by saying, ‘Gentlemen, check your fanaticism at the door. More than three decades later, as the prime minister of Israel, I am privileged to speak from this podium. For me that privilege has always come with a moral responsibility to speak the truth.”
Netanyahu said that after “three days of listening to world leaders praise the nuclear deal with Iran, I begin my speech by saying, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, check your enthusiasm at the door.”
In the 40-minute speech, Netanyahu devoted fully 30 minutes to railing against the nuclear pact the Obama administration has concluded with Iran.
He charged the agreement provides Iran with the resources to continue to fund terrorism while failing to block Tehran’s ultimate path to obtaining nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu vowed Iran will never have nuclear weapons, pledging that Israel will stop the mullah-led regime, regardless of the consequences, whether or not the world community supports Israel’s self-defense of the Jewish state.
“In the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran is spending billions of dollars on weapons and satellites,” he continued. “Do you think Iran is doing that to advance peace? Do you think hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief and fat contracts will turn this rapacious tiger into a kitten?”
He criticized the Iranian nuclear deal for giving Tehran international acceptance and a path to developing a nuclear weapon.
“As a leader of a country defending itself every day against Iran’s growing aggression, I wish I could take comfort in the claim that this deal blocks Iran’s path to nuclear weapons, but I can’t, because it doesn’t,” Netanyahu said. “Here’s the catch. Under this deal, if Iran doesn’t change it’s behavior, if Iran becomes more dangerous in the years to come, the most important constraints will still be automatically lifted by year 10 and again by year 15.”
Netanyahu said that 70 years after the murder of 6 million Jews, Iran’s leaders “promise to destroy my country, murder my people, and the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here has been absolutely nothing – utter silence, deafening silence.”
He then paused.
“The Jewish people have learned the heavy price of silence,” he said, continuing his speech to the General Assembly. “As the prime minister of the Jewish state, as someone who knows that history, I refuse to be silent.
“The days when the Jewish people remained silent in the face of genocidal enemies are over,” he stressed. “Not being silent means defending ourselves against those dangers and we have, we have, and we will. Israel will not allow Iran to break in, sneak in, or walk in the nuclear weapons club.”
He said one should question Israel’s “determination to defend itself against those who seek our destruction.”
“For in every generation, there were those who rose up to destroy our people.,” he said.
“In antiquity, we faced destruction from the ancient empires of Babylon and Rome,” he continued. “In the middle ages, we faced inquisition and expulsion. And in modern times, we faced pogroms and the Holocaust.
“Yet the Jewish people persevered,” he concluded.
“And now another regime has arisen, swearing to destroy Israel,” he said, referring to Iran.
“That regime would be wise to consider this: I stand here today representing Israel, a country 67-years young but a nation-state of a people nearly 4,000 years old,” he said. “Yet the ancient empires of Babylon and Rome are not represented in this hall of nations, and neither is the ‘1,000-year Reich.’ Those seemingly invincible empires are long gone. But Israel lives.”