Netanyahu: “The jury is still out on the United Nations.”
President Obama’s maiden speech at the UN wasn’t bad, though it was in places pedestrian and pedantic. There was an awful lot of “I did,” “I was inaugurated,” “I announced,” “I appointed,” “I prohibited…torture.” (Mr. President, it was illegal when you got there.) He said the United States would be humble, but scolded member countries for not meeting what he said were their responsibilities.
President Obama’s maiden speech at the UN wasn’t bad, though it was in places pedestrian and pedantic. There was an awful lot of “I did,” “I was inaugurated,” “I announced,” “I appointed,” “I prohibited…torture.” (Mr. President, it was illegal when you got there.) He said the United States would be humble, but scolded member countries for not meeting what he said were their responsibilities. He said the United States couldn’t go it alone, but then ordered the world’s priorities: “non-proliferation and disarmament; peace and security; the preservation of our planet; and the global economy.” There are many-for reasons good and ill-who would dispute the first, and the other three are so vague as to be meaningless. The four paragraphs about Israel and the Palestinians probably offended them both. He proclaimed America’s irritation with Israel in the world’s greatest repository of contemporary anti-Semitism.
If Mr. Obama set out to ameliorate what he thinks of as the irritation of the international community with American behavior-specifically the behavior of his predecessor-he likely succeeded.
It was left, though, to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to reach for the central question of our time: whether the United Nations-home to democrats, technocrats, dictators, kings and butchers-has, or can have, a moral center.
He addressed Holocaust denial (self-satisfied Europeans agreed) and Israel’s care to protect civilians in Gaza who were the human shields of Hamas (Europeans squirmed a little when he pointed out that by the standard applied to Israel, Churchill and Roosevelt would have been war criminals for saving Europe-saving them-from Hitler). He denounced Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the results of the 1979 Iranian revolution in specific terms (and reminded now-uncomfortable Europeans that Israel is the canary).
Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others…
In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times. Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated.
The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.
President Obama quoted President Roosevelt’s utopian, “The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation…. It cannot be a peace of large nations-or of small nations. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to quote Winston Churchill’s, “‘Confirmed unteachability of mankind,’ the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them. Churchill bemoaned what he called the ‘want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.'” He added, “I speak here today in the hope that Churchill’s assessment of the ‘unteachability of mankind’ is for once proven wrong.”
Echoing Churchill’s pessimism, he told the member nations, “The jury is still out on the United Nations and recent signs are not encouraging.”