After meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on to address Congress before heading home. Apparently eager to reiterate Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of Obama’s pleadings for him to give diplomacy more of a chance, Netanyahu implored Congress that Israel will act if in the best interest of itself and no other. He went on to point out some of the reasons he feels that the United States is unable to understand the position that the Jewish state is in at all times. He lauded America as a global superpower with a global superpower’s interests. He said that the United States looks at everything in an international sense. For Israel, it is much different. They are not a global superpower, they are much more vulnerable, and at the end of the day, there are those out there that hate Israel, whatever the reasons, and Israel always looks at everything from the standpoint of protecting itself from threats.
Netanyahu pointed out that Israel has acted against the United States’ wishes before. In 1981, Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, a move which the United States opposed at the time. Israel felt that Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein were simply a threat to their very existence if they gained the ability to develop nuclear weapons. Unapologetic, Israel has long promoted its right to protect its own existence, and if that means a preemptive strike, then they will do what they have to do.
The Israeli leader left little doubt about whether he regards a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to his country. He goes a step farther, in fact. He says that a nuclear Iran will affect the world, not just Israel. Congress responded with John Boehner, the House Speaker, assuring Netanyahu that the United States will never back down with its support of the Jewish state. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chimed in as well, saying that preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities was in the best interest of the United States, Israel, and the Middle East as a whole.
The Israeli Prime Minister also spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference on Monday night. Even hours after speaking with President Obama about the crisis, Netanyahu assured the AIPAC crowd that he will not let Israel be bullied by anyone:
“As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
While Israel continues to make it clear that it will attack Iran if it feels it is necessary for its national security, there are absolutely no indications of when, how, or where such an attack would take place. Will Israel listen to Obama and give peace a chance? Or will they decide that enough is enough and be the lone gunman? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure here. Israel is certainly paving the way to make sure that whatever it does, no one can say they didn’t warn them.