There’s a bunch of things I’ve been trying to find time to blog about, but the post-holiday catch-up has been making it hard. In the mean time…
Today, a congregant forwarded me a transcript of the speech given by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN last year. You can find the full text of it here.
I’m certainly not Bibi’s biggest fan, but I think that this is one case where he gets it exactly right. Pretending that an oppressive, Islamicist regime like Iran getting a hold of nuclear weapons is not a crisis – we'll, that just sounds like lunacy:
But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.
The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?
Pretending, at the same time, that Israel is the most immoral actor in the international community – well, that’s just hypocrisy taken to a new level:
Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.
That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.
We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way.
Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.
The speech isn’t that long, and it’s worth reading the whole thing.
It’s very closely tied in to what I spoke about at Kol Nidrei, just a couple of weeks ago. I’m most certainly not in the “Anything Israel does is de facto right” camp (I’m not sure I know anyone who actually is), but I think that a reasonable look at the history of the current conflict will show that Israel has, for the most part, acted remarkably morally, and with astounding restraint, against an enemy which seeks not victory, but destruction.
If you’d like to read the full sermon, just follow the link above. As always, I’d love to hear your comments – one of the main advantages of blogging, over sermonizing!
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.