Talk is Cheap
Ladies and gentlemen, despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have a historic opportunity. After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together, we and they face many of the same dangers, and principally, this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world. Our challenge is to transform these common interests to create a productive partnership, one that would build a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East. Together, we can strengthen regional security, we can advance projects in water and agriculture, in transportation and health and energy in so many fields.
This is why I, Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and a representative of the Israeli government, hereby announce that Israel accepts the Arab Peace Initiative as adopted by the Arab League in 2007, and call for the opening of immediate talks with the Arab world.
The first paragraph above includes the exact words of Netanyahu spoken yesterday before the U.N. The second paragraph is what was missing from the speech. But this is merely wishful thinking on my part. Pure fantasy.
Netanyahu knows how to talk. You won’t find me arguing that fact. That setting – the U.N. General Assembly, fits him like a glove. Standing there, year after year, for the ninth consecutive time now, it almost seems that if he could he would stand there forever. With countless pages of big-printed words, facing a docile crowd, and with the ever changing gimmicks – diagrams, pictures, statistics. The words are the same, the man uttering them is the same. Only the gimmicks change.
It is precisely because of this wasted talent, and because it has being going on for so many years now, that I am left with a bitter taste and a heavy heart. Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we already heard these crafty texts and sharp monologues? Haven’t we heard these threats, dangers and promises before? Haven’t we already seen Netanyahu draw out the architectural plans of the Auschwitz death camp and the Iranian nuclear bomb at exactly the same moment and timing in which he drew out the picture of Hamas rocket launchers next to Palestinian children?
Nothing has changed since he gave these speeches five and two years ago. Iran is still the main topic of the speech, the only difference being that this time opaque equations accompanied the depiction of the great Satan: Hamas is ISIS, ISIS is Iran, Hamas is Iran.
There is a new Middle East stated Netanyahu, and how ironic is that statement in relation to the person who originally coined the term – Shimon Peres. In Netanyahu’s new Middle East there are opportunities and dangers, but as always with Netanyahu, we mainly heard the latter mentioned.
Yet again declared Netanyahu, there is a new historic opportunity in the Middle East. But yet again, it does not involve the Palestinians, but the Arab world. Ramallah – out. Riyadh, Abu-Dhabi, and Cairo – in. Thank you Abu Mazen for giving Netanyahu an excuse for totally ignoring the notion of a Palestinian state.
This speech was a great chance for Netanyahu to announce a new peace initiative. Since this is too much for him. he could have at least expressed his support for an existing initiative. But instead he stuck to the same old pattern of issuing threats and articulating the various dangers Israel faces. Antisemitism, the Nazis and the Holocaust, a nuclear war, ISIS, Islamic Jihad – they were all expertly used to help Netanyahu legitimize what he excels at, and what the government he has been leading for the last five years has been doing – doing absolutely nothing.
As I have said before, these speeches are aimed primarily at the public listening at home. If the purpose was to convince us, I imagine he succeeded. Most Israelis would agree with the doom and gloom depicted by Netanyahu. The rest of the world, though, is not easily convinced. Netanyahu can talk about the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter as much as he wants, but the U.S. and the international community is more interested in real actions, not just rhetoric. I’m sure the American President will remind Netanyahu of this during their meeting later on this week.
Obama by the way, is more of a basketball type of guy.