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Netanyahu at the UN: Enter the twilight zone

To Israel’s prime minister, 1.2 million of his own country’s citizens do not exist. If that’s not living in an alternate reality, then what is?

By Amer Zahr

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during UN General Assembly speech, October 1, 2013. (Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO)

It’s hard to describe what it felt like listening to Benjamin Netanyahu speak Tuesday at the United Nations. Many phrases came to mind: “alternative reality,” “parallel universe,” “clinical denial,” and the list goes on.

Then I remembered one of my favorite TV shows I used to watch as a kid:

You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!

Netanyahu introduced himself:

I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the state of Israel. We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have journeyed through time. We’ve overcome the greatest of adversities. And we re-established our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.

Of course, 1.2 million of Israel’s citizens are Palestinians. About 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jews. Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that he does not speak for them. We Palestinians kind of already knew that.

In America, about 13 percent of the population is black. In today’s world, we cannot imagine an American president, even a white one, explicitly stating that he does not include them in his ranks.

But to Netanyahu, these 1.2 million people do not exist. If that’s not living in another dimension, I don’t know what is.

He then started talking about Iran. And he kept talking about Iran. And kept talking. In fact, he spent 2,535 of his 3,015 words talking about Iran. I counted. That’s 84 percent. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani didn’t even spend 84 percent of his time talking about Iran.

He then went into the background of Hassan Rouhani. We learned that Rouhani was a member of Iran’s National Security Council for some time. He was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator for a couple years. He has been involved in Iran’s government at different levels for a really long time. I didn’t know any of that. Who needs Wikipedia when we have Bibi?

Rouhani is worse than Ahmadinejad, he says, because as his predecessor was a “wolf in wolf’s clothing,” Rouhani is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” One can see Bibi’s point here. If you remember, Ahmadinejad’s beard was dark and scraggly. Rouhani’s is white and lush. He does look more like a sheep.

Rouhani, according to Netanyahu, is cold, calculating, and deceptive. We would be making a huge mistake if we trusted him. Bibi backs up his argument by telling us that one of Rouhani’s devious tactics is to “smile a lot.” Is he telling us that smiling Muslims can’t be trusted? I guess I should forget everything my grandfather ever told me. Or is it just that smiling Iranians can’t be trusted? No more Maz Jobrani shows for me. Or maybe he means that smiling politicians can’t be trusted. Then we can definitely trust Bibi. He never smiles.

Now I’m sure Netanyahu has never met a smiling Muslim. It’s hard to smile when you have a M-16 in your face.

Netanyahu went on to detail how Iran is building a nuclear weapon. He talked of warheads, percentages of uranium enrichment, stockpiles, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. In fact, according to him, Iran will soon have missiles that could reach New York City. And they’re doing all this in secret. Scary stuff indeed.

And Netanyahu speaks from some authority on this subject. If anyone knows how to build a secret nuclear weapons program, it’s Israel. Israel has had a stated policy of “nuclear ambiguity” for over 50 years. That means no admissions, no inspections, and no accounting. In fact, despite international calls, Israel has never signed nor ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In his speech to the General Assembly, Netanyahu said, “facts are stubborn things.” Israel has at least 200 nuclear warheads. They even have those scary intercontinental ballistic missile things Bibi warned us about. But in Israel’s alternate dimension of existence, everyone should follow the rules, except her.

Rouhani has stated that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. He even told American news outlets that Iran will never seek to build weapons of mass destruction. But this is not enough for Israel’s prime minister. It’s almost as if Netanyahu doesn’t know how to live in a world where Iran does not want to obliterate Israel from the face of the earth.

Now I guess no one really knows for sure whether or not Iran actually wishes to develop nuclear weapons capability. Maybe they’re trying. But Netanyahu asked, “Why does Rouhani think that he can get away with it?” Well, he doesn’t need to look far.  Just about three countries to the west.

Then Benjamin Netanyahu did something that might have been worse than any of the human rights violations that Israel has ever committed. After describing how the new Iranian president was duping us all, he said, “Rouhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too.” Oy vey, Bibi. I know there is a long tradition of Jewish comedians. But please, for God’s sake, leave the jokes to us professionals.

And if you still don’t believe that Netanyahu lives in a world of “wondrous imagination,” you only had to listen to how he scolded anyone who might take Rouhani at his word:

The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds.

Tell me about about it.

Of course, he addressed the Palestinian question briefly. He said he wanted to have successful negotiations where a new Palestinian state would be demilitarized. This is kind of like of saying a wife wants to have successful negotiations with her husband about how often they should go curtain shopping. He doesn’t want to go curtain shopping.

But just when I didn’t think Benjamin Netanyahu could sound any more cuckoo, he did:

In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized. As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit.

Now, in the real world, you don’t get credit for rebuilding ruined cities if you’re the one who devastated and emptied them, stealing their vineyards and looting their gardens along the way. But in Netanyahu’s alternative universe, these stubborn facts don’t exist.

We all loved “The Twilight Zone.”  It was beautifully imaginative and entertaining.  But after watching each episode, we were always mindful of one thing. It was all a fantasy.

Amer Zahr is a Palestinian-American residing in Dearborn, Michigan. He is a comedian and a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. This post first appeared on his website, The Civil Arab.

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    1. Danny

      Very good (and funny!) analysis of a deeply deranged man and the deeply deranged country he leads.

      I daresay that Rouhani is so head-and-shoulders above Bibi in manners, etiquette and tact that I’m sure it annoys the hell out of the former. Rouhani also comes across as a really smart guy, something I have no doubt keeps up at night the man whose name rhymes with PeePee.

      By the way, it is no coincidence that Netanyahu liked Ahmadinejad and feels sorry he is no longer there: Birds of a feather flock together.

      Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        As a speaker, Rouhani comes across very well, very collected. He doesn’t jab his finger like Bibi or Ahmadinejad. He wears his honest traditional clothing unlike Bibi or Ahmadinejad. He doesn’t spew about evil neighbors. Also his country is huge for the region, with huge resources and lots of coastline, and is the unofficial head of the Shia Crescent.

        Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      Yes, it is funny. How did you manage to leaven such leaden fare Amr Zahr?

      I read that Bibi insists on writing his own important speeches. That figures.

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      What’s frustrating from here is seeing the officials of my own government, the US, taking all this deranged hypocrisy with utter seriousness.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Average American

      Netanyahu does not go back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Land of Israel. His family is from Poland and their real last name is Mileikowsky. He changed it to sound local.

      Most of the population of Israel does not go back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Land of Israel. They are newcomers from the Lands of Europe and Russia and America. Being Jewish does not mean you can trace your personal bloodline back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      In fact the people who do go back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Land of Israel are a bit darker-skinned and sharper-featured: they actually look local.

      Not like the “cracker” Meleikowsky and other deceiving opportunist foreigners. Begin was really Biegun from Russia. Ben-Gurion was really Grun from Russia. Meir was really Mabovitch from Ukraine. Shamir was really Jeziernicky from Belarus. None of these have any right to imply that they are part of the Biblical people from the Land of Israel.

      What they really are is people from the Land of Zionism and that’s quite a different thing.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        While I agree with the genetic part of your argument (i.e. Miliekovsky the younger has no real connection to the biblical Netanyahu), today’s Jews do have a spiritual connection to the ancient Israelites and, by association, to the land as well. Does this mean that they can deny the Palestinians their connection to the land? Absolutely not! The land will eventually be shared between the two peoples. Unfortunately, when this will be is anybody’s guess.

        Reply to Comment
      • I thought one of the tragedies of the division of Israels into first and second class citizens was that both Palestinian Arabs and true Hebrews can claim Abraham as an ancestor.

        Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        OK then, Mr “Average”, read this:


        “Only bronze ‘Judaea Capta’ coins were struck in Caesarea, in the defeated Roman province of Judea. These coins are much cruder than the Roman issues, and the inscriptions are in Greek rather than Latin. The designs feature the Goddess Nike writing on a shield, Minerva with a spear, shield, trophy and palm tree, etc. Most such coins were issued during the reign of the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD).[1][3]”

        So the Romans conquered the Jews (Judeans) and exiled them to the four corners of the world. What happened to those Jews? Did they just disappear? We know they did not because we are here today. Unless of course you think that we are just the figment of everyone’s imagination? But if we ARE then who is it whom you guys so much love to hate????? Hmmmmm?????

        Reply to Comment
        • Elisabeth

          “and exiled them to the four corners of the world”

          That part never happened. That was not Roman policy.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            So are you saying that the Romans never exiled the Jews, Dr Irving … errr ummm sorry …. Elisabeth?

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Sorry to puncture your myth, Tzutz, but that’s right. The Romans never exiled the Jews from Palestine. They exiled themselves.

            The Romans did raze the temple and close Jerusalem to the Jews, to keep out terrorists, but they were perfectly free to reside in the rest of Palestine, and they did, where their descendants remained until they were expelled by the Ashkenazim.

            The Zionist mind is weird. On the one hand, it insists that “Jews always lived here” and on the other that “Jews were all expelled from here.” You can’t have both.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Ok then Aristo, the Romans caused the Jews to exile themselves by killing everyone who even looked Jewish or by taking them to Rome or elsewhere as slaves.

            All better now, Aristo?

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            And yes, Jews did live there before the Romans and they returned there after or even during the Roman rule after things settled down.

            Which bit of that is inconsistent for you?

            And you are probably right (although we don’t know for sure) that some Jews who lived in Palestine during the Arab invasion were coerced to convert to Islam and eventually blended in with the Arab invaders. Therefore, some Palestinians too may have Jewish ancestry. So what? We, most Zionists, were never the ones who said that Palestinian Arabs as they are now known have no right to be here. They were the ones who try to bar us from our ancestral homeland. So who exactly is being inconsistent, Aristo? We or you?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ilonj

            Wow. Revisionism is alive and kicking. But let’s just play along, shall we Elisabeth?

            What was Roman custom after they defeated troublesome enemies?

            Could we try extreme brutality? Could we try them making slaves of defeated enemies? Could we try them carrying away captives as slaves to Rome and elsewhere in the Roman Empire?

            And what of those who managed to escape? Do you think they stayed around so that eventually they too could be captured?

            That’s what happened to Jews too Elisabeth, after their rebellion was brutally repressed by emperor Titus. Now are you going to deny that too?

            Maybe you should visit Rome and some synagogues there. Some of them date back to Roman times. You might learn something.

            Reply to Comment
          • JG

            You really should start to read some books by HISTORIANS before repeating debunked mythology.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Which ones JG? The ones that deny what Romans did to conquered rebels? The ones which deny that they made slaves of them and took them to wherever it suited the Romans? Or the ones that deny brutal Roman retribution against rebels?

            I’ll leave you to read those revisionist books JG. After all, you lot thrive on mythology and the tales of 1001 Arabian nights.

            Reply to Comment
      • Mark Bernstein

        The Jews all go back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and can trace their lineage, or they were converts, which counts in Judaism and Jewish status as being a son/daughter of Abraham. The fact the Jews were kicked out of their land and so lived somewhere else for the time being does not change that fact. Moreover, wherever Jews were, they prayed 3 times a day, and Abraham, Issac and Jacob are mentioned in those prayers as their forefathers, and the Land of Israel is mentioned in those prayers as their true home, ignoramus. An Italian who lives outside of Italy does not suddenly lose all connection to Italy.

        Reply to Comment
    5. zafarov

      The Jewish state of Israel is built on stolen land by terrorist colonial settlers, the Khazars, also known as Ashkenazi Jews They are not Semites but East Europeans who converted to Judaism in the 8th Century and have no connection with the Land of Palestine Their claim on this land is based on Biblical myths which describe events which never took place to people who never existed. Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, with archaeology historian Neil Asher Silberman, has just published a book called “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text.” I quote:
      “The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. The tales of the patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac and Joseph among others — were the first to go when biblical scholars found those passages rife with anachronisms and other inconsistencies. The story of Exodus, one of the most powerful epics of enslavement, courage and liberation in human history, also slipped from history to legend when archaeologists could no longer ignore the lack of corroborating contemporary Egyptian accounts and the absence of evidence of large encampments in the Sinai Peninsula (“the wilderness” where Moses brought the Israelites after leading them through the parted Red Sea).
      These statements correspond well with what was written by John Rembsburg:”In the 12th chapter of Joshua is given a list of 31 kingdoms which were conquered by Israel. This was in the fifteenth century B.C. From this time forward they are represented as a mighty nation by Bible historians. Rameses III overran Canaan and conquered it between 1280 and 1260 B.C. The Egyptian records give a list of all the tribes inhabiting it. The children of Israel– the Hebrews– were not there. In the 5th century B.C., when Herodotus, the father of History, was collecting materials for his immortal work, he traversed nearly every portion of Western Asia. He describes all its principal peoples and places; but the Jews and Jerusalem are of too little consequence to merit a line from his pen. Not until 332 B.C. do the Jews appear upon the stage of history, and then only as the submissive vassals of a Grecian king.”John E. Rembsburg, The Bible (1901), pg. 263.

      Reply to Comment
      • don

        Excellent comment- but would be treated as heresy by the ‘msm’ of course.

        Watching members of Congress, who are supposed to have the USA as their first interest, fellate Bibi is disgusting.

        Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik


        Reply to Comment
    6. Vadim

      I agree with your first point. The direct passage from citizens of Israel to the Jewish people was wrong. Though I disagree about the reasoning for him doing it.

      The rest of the points are very weak though.

      It’s pretty obvious that the Iranians simply switched tactics and Rouhani’s smiling face is part of that tactic. That’s what Netanyahu said cannot be trusted. Your “analysis” of smiling Muslims is wrong (and not even funny).

      The attempt to attribute to Israel both “aggression knows no bounds”, “global ambitions” and “awesome power” is simply crap. What awesome power?! What global ambitions?! What appetite for aggression?! Boy, you probably don’t know what aggression is.

      How bad of him to wish a demilitarized Palestinian state. The world doesn’t need another backward, corrupt and totalitarian Arab state. The world REALLY needs another backward, corrupt, totalitarian Arab state WITH AN ARMY. Another blazing success story, like Syria or Egypt.

      In the real world you get credit for creating a nation, withstanding a civil war and a joint attack by several neighbouring states and then allow for millions of people to finally have a home. You don’t get credit for being a refugee generations or for placing the destruction of another state above the well-being of your children.

      Natanyahu wasn’t funny and you are neither but at least he wasn’t trying so hard.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Piotr Berman

      Japanese government serves a direct descendant of a powerful and very cute goddess http://genzoman.deviantart.com/art/Amaterasu-126263744
      but they do not feel like belaboring that fact every time they go to UN. And when Israeli visit Chinese government, do they acknowledge that the latter has Mandate of Heavens? Do they care?

      Likewise, other nations do not care if Jews descent from Abraham, Wotan, Hercules or Amaterasu.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jax

      Utter nonsense, Zahr!

      I fully agree with what Bibi said.

      When the leaders of Germany, France, Sweden or Armenia make a speech about their own nation, they’re going to speak about the greatness of the German people, the French people, the Swedish people and the Armenian people.

      Is it “apartheid” or “racist” if Francois Hollande or Angela Merkel make references to the German people and French people, ignoring the Turkish citizens of Germany or the Arab citizens of France?

      Of course not, so why is Israel held to a different standard???

      Why don’t you also write articles about how Merkel and Hollande (or Sarkozy in the past) made references to their own people while ignoring the ethnic minorities within their nations?

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        The last “German” who talked about the greatness of the German people was a well known prick from Austria.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          Sigh ……

          Youu guys are all the same. Smearing others by intimating guilt by association. Is it a religion for you?

          Now try this quick quiz. Who said the following?

          “Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.”

          Note the last sentence. Do you still stand by your petty little story? Of course you do. Life just wouldn’t be fun without judging, hating and being sanctimonious and self righteous, would it JG?

          Reply to Comment
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