Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life, trying to fend off bogus charges of “corruption” that have been concocted by his political enemies–a group that includes, unfortunately, most of Israel’s political class. Earlier tonight he delivered a remarkable campaign speech that included a blunt assessment of Israel’s recent past and its relationship with the United States. I am tempted to reproduce the whole thing, as reported by Israel National News, as it is seamless, but will do my best to excerpt:
Without our homeland [Judea and Samaria], we have no existence, we are left hanging – we have no past, we have no future. This is our identity and our legacy, and our future is here. Therefore, our enemies are trying to uproot us from the heart of our homeland. They will not succeed. We are here, and we will always remain here.
After the great euphoria of the Six Day War, a dangerous perspective became entrenched in the left. According to this perspective, Instead of fighting for Judea and Samaria, we need to give them up. They claimed that if we give these lands to our enemies, they will do us a favor and make peace with our existence. They said ‘land for peace’ and we received ‘land for terror’ – buses exploding, restaurants exploding, hotels exploding. The wave of weakness reached a magnitude such that a Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, was willing to give the Western Wall to the Palestnians. The same Olmert, friend and close adviser of [Blue and White Chairman MK] Benny Gantz, is planning to go soon to [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas so that they can work together against President Trump’s ‘deal of the century.’
If for years this is what the Jews heard, what will the nations of the world say? They said and say the same thing exactly: Pull back, pull back, pull back. From my first day in public life I rejected this idea outright and I fought against it with all my strength from my first job in the United Nations. … But the demands for Israel to withdraw kept growing, and they reached their peak in the eleven years when I stood with my head held high against two US administrations. They worked against us, with the unending support of the left and Israel’s media, who always demanded that I withdraw and compromise.
I’ll tell you something I haven’t said until now. After the funeral of [former Israeli President] Shimon Peres, a senior US figure sent me a message: ‘If you want such a great funeral, you need to start giving in.’ I told her: ‘I’m not worried about my funeral, I’m worried about preventing the funeral of my country.’
I succeeded in standing up to all of the enormous pressure, because I have the ability to speak before tens of millions in the American public. For dozens of years, I’ve been speaking with them in their language, and they believe me and believe in me. Therefore, I can have an influence for the good of our country. The strongest influence in the US is public opinion, and anyone who cannot influence public opinion there will end up giving in to pressure.
Three years ago, we received a golden opportunity to change the path of history: President Trump was elected – a personal friend of mine for many years, and the greatest friend who Israel has ever had in the White House.
I saw this as an opportunity to move from defensive to offensive, and use a historic opportunity. Our rivals did not understand. When Trump wanted to visit Israel, three of Gantz’s party members signed an appeal calling to boycott Trump’s arrival. Benny Gantz’s senior advisers, Ronen Tzur and Joel Benenson, compared President Trump – the best president ever for Israel – to Hitler. …
For three years we have worked closely with President Trump and his staff. I have spoken with him about leaving the Iran deal, about Jerusalem, about the Golan Heights, about Judea and Samaria, and to my delight the policies did indeed change, thanks to his courage. At first he left the Iran deal, then he recognized Jerusalem, moved the Embassy, recognized our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and recently agreed to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria.
Last week we reached the climax: The deal of the century. It includes a historic revolution. Until now, all the diplomatic plans required Israel to agree to make real concessions. They called it ‘gestures.’ The Palestinians were not required to give anything. Now the exact opposite has happened: Israel is receiving real things, and the Palestinians are required to fulfill a list of demands. Whether or not they fulfill those requirements, Israel will receive US backing to apply Israeli law in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea areas and over all of the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria – all of them, without exception.
We’re in the midst of mapping the area that according to the Trump plan will be part of the State of Israel. It’s a lot of land. We will lead this, and President Trump will agree to it. I trust him completely, and I trust myself completely. But I don’t trust [Blue and White Chairman MK] Benny Gantz. If it were up to Gantz – it would not happen.
With Gantz, we will have the loss of the century, instead of the deal of the century. He wants to implement the deal of the century with international backing. Will the United Nations agree? Will the European Union? Will [Blue and White leader MK] Yair Lapid, who wants to expel 80,000-90,000 settlers? Let’s say all of them agree, which will not happen: Even then Gantz will need the agreement of Ahmad Tibi, with whom he almost formed a government and without whom he has no government.
Sounds like a winning platform to me. But Israel is like the United States in suffering from a powerful left-wing establishment that is essentially anti-patriotic. Let’s hope Netanyahu can pull out one more victory.