Some personal reflections on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address yesterday to a Joint Meeting of Congress – which I, along with OU president Dr. Simcha Katz (and his “first lady”) were privileged to attend as guests of the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
Of course, the Prime Minister said many critical things in his address yesterday. Some of those key principles were these:
– His insistence that Israel’s foes recognize Israel; “as the Jewish state”
– His commitment that Israel “will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967”
– His intention to ensure “that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River”
– His demand that “the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel”
– His solemn pledge that “Jerusalem must never again be divided” but “must remain the united capital of Israel”
– His readiness to “sit down today” and negotiate a durable peace agreement that assures Israel’s security needs are met.
But these were, if you will, “the words.” The music, which one might only sense by being in the august chamber, was this:
Prime Minister Netanyahu was only the fourth person to be honored to address a Joint Meeting of Congress for a second time; the others were Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Anwar Sadat.
He received 29 standing ovations – more than the President in his most recent State of the Union Address, and these were all bipartisan.
Many of the Prime Minister’s comments, especially some humorous asides (like saying to Vice President Biden: “do you remember when we were the new kids in town?) as well as how he handled a heckler in the gallery (a testament to the freedoms enjoyed in Israel and the U.S.) underscored the deep connections and familiarity America and Israel have with each other; akin to the Prime Minister’s comments last night at AIPAC in which he noted that the words of Jefferson and Lincoln and the Liberty Bell are rooted in the Bible and Jewish wisdom.
With all the “politics” of the moment – well, of the many moments of these past several days; it was refreshing and inspiring to experience this latest historic event which binds the nation of Israel and the Jewish people and the United States so closely together.
Posted by Nathan J. Diament