Prime Minister Netanyahu Before the U.S. Congress

He looked as if he belonged there. He spoke as if he was one of us. And in the ways that count, he was.

He looked as if he belonged there. He spoke as if he was one of us. And in the ways that count, he was.

Not because his English is impeccable, but because he spoke to the convergence of historical, religious, political, security, moral, and ethical views and values between the State of Israel and the United States. In the broadest and deepest sense, he came from where we come from. He came from the camp of deeply held core values that Americans understand. He came from the camp of compromise and political realism. He may not always have been in that camp, but he could not have been clearer about his membership now, and Americans relate to that.

He came from the pro-American camp in which most of us reside. (Can you imagine Abu Mazen saying, “God bless America”?)

On the merits, the speech turned the most important table, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said the conflict was not about forming a Palestinian state – which, he noted, Israel agreed to in 1947 and which the last six Israeli Prime Ministers have reiterated – but rather that the Palestinians are unwilling to accept a Jewish state. Congress applauded.

He called for an end to Palestinians teaching their children that Israel would disappear and an end to the glorification of terrorists. Congress applauded.

He said Palestinian refugees would not be resettled in Israel, but in their own country. Congress applauded.

He said Jerusalem would not be re-divided because only under Israel has the city been accessible to adherents of all religions including Judaism. Congress applauded.

He said Israel needs defensible borders, not arbitrary lines; the Jordan River Valley is one such line. Congress applauded and we think the King of Jordan did as well.

He called on the Palestinian Authority to end its relationship with Hamas – “the Palestinian version of al Qaeda” – and negotiate with Israel. Congress applauded.

Prime Minister Netanyahu invited the Palestinian Authority to join Israel in expanding and enhancing the economic improvements that have already come to the West Bank since Israel rooted out the terrorists who orchestrated the so-called “second intifada” and since the IDF works with the Palestinian Security Forces to maintain security there. It was a generous invitation and Congress applauded.

Netanyahu spoke the thoughts of the Congress of the United States and the Congress stood and applauded twelve times (in case you were counting). Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives made clear their appreciation of the difficult conditions under which Israel lives, the determination of Israel to be strong and defend its people, and the desire of Israel to find a way to give the Palestinians what they have been unable to take since 1948 – a peaceful, prosperous state next to Israel, the national home of the Jewish people.