WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has addressed the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference, focusing exclusively on Iran.
Given the events that have transpired over the past 10 months since Netanyahu last spoke at AIPAC – namely, a diplomatic standoff between Israel and the Palestinians which saw the latter bringing to the United Nations a resolution calling for Palestinian statehood; the siege of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and the subsequent American involvement in securing the safe passage of Israeli diplomats; the ongoing onslaught in neighboring Syria that has resulted and is still resulting in a refugee crisis for Israel’s other neighbors – one might be forgiven for thinking that the Israeli prime minister might use his time at this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference podium to address these issues. But speaking before some 13,000 American Jews and their allies, who claim to be concerned about Israel and the region, these topics did not even get an honorable mention. Instead, Netanyahu chose to focus his entire speech on Israel’s perceived threat of Iran.
And the winner for best actor in a political drama is…
It was too be expected. Even Netanyahu joked about the topic du jour. And he was naturally at his best: charming, persuasive, or as one AIPAC-goer referred to his speech, “powerful, assertive, inspiring.” But the depth, the honesty, the humility were all missing. Instead, Netanyahu used the opportunity to shamelessly beat the war drum. Onwards. If only AIPAC had invited as a keynote speaker Iran’s Supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, who has staked his religious supremacy on vowing there’ll never be a nuclear-armed Iran, there might have actual been a genuine discussion. Instead, anyone not fooled by Netanyahu’s spotlight dance would have recognized this to be a classic “wag the dog” moment.
Fortunately and aptly-timed, the political satire The Daily Show, with host Jon Stewart – himself an American Jew with a loyal following among liberals – aired a pre-recorded segment that included an interview with Riyad Mansour, the “Permanent Observer of Palestine” to the United Nations. It was broadcast just minutes after Netanyahu’s speech on the cable channel Comedy Central (watch it here if you are unable to play the video):
Netanyahu may not believe in honorable mentions, but I do. Thank you Jon Stewart for reminding Netanyahu and AIPACers that there is still a stateless Palestinian people. And they’ll still be there even after you bomb Iran.
**** The full text of Netanyahu’s speech is available HERE. Note the word “Syrian” is mentioned only once (and it is referenced in regard to Iran), and the word “Palestinian” appears zero times. Even Obama, in his speech the day before, use the “P” word five times.