I have never heard a politician speak truth without regard to consequences like Benjamin Netanyahu did today at the U.N. Summit. I don't know a significant amount about his politics or how Israelis feel about him, but I only wish that our leaders had this kind of boldness and fire.
Israeli prime minister blasts Iranian leader at U.N. summit
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took aim Thursday at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the "terrorist" Iranian regime, deploring Ahmadinejad's "anti-Semitic rants" and his repeated claims that the "Holocaust is a lie."
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly's annual debate, Netanyahu denounced the Iranian leader's remarks to the assembly Wednesday evening.
He said Ahmadinejad's comments were a disgraceful "mockery of the charter of the United Nations." He said people who listened to Ahmadinejad gave "legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of 6 million Jews, while promising to wipe out the state of israel, the state of the Jews."
"Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come and to those who left in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity, and you brought honor to your countries.
"But to those who gave this Holocaust denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere, have you no shame? Have you no decency?"
Noting that the United Nations was founded "after the carnage of World War II, after the horrors of the Holocaust, it was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events."
"Nothing has undermined that mission. Nothing has impeded it more than the systematic assault on the truth."
Netanyahu showed a copy of minutes of senior Nazi officials when they met to discuss how to carry out the extermination of Jewry and noted plans to construct concentration camps. Are such plans "lies?" he asked.
And he wanted to know whether the tattoos branded on the arms of Auschwitz survivors are lies as well.
As for the Iranian regime, he said it "is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries."
"In the past 30 years, this fanaticism has swept across the globe with a murderous violence that knows no bounds and with a cold-blooded impartiality in the choice of its victims," he said.
He said "women, minorities, gays or anyone else deemed not to be a true believer is brutally subjugated," and he said "the most urgent challenge" facing the United Nations is "to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
"Are the members of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom? Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and then gunned down Iranian protesters who died on the sidewalks, on the street, choking on their own blood? Will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?"
Netanyahu challenged the United Nations to stand by the side of Iranians protesting the Ahmadinejad regime.
Will the United Nations "stand by their side?" he asked.
"Well, ladies and gentlemen, the jury's still out on the United Nations, and recent signs -- recent signs are not encouraging."
He cited the U.N. Human Rights Council report on Israel's Gaza offensive, which he said was "falsely equating terrorists with those they targeted."
He said Hamas militants fired rockets into Israel from Gaza "for eight long years," but a resolution hadn't passed condemning those criminal attacks."
He said Israel had hoped for peace when it withdrew from Gaza a few years ago.
As he called attention to the militants' strikes on Israel, Netanyahu noted the warfare during World War II, when Nazis rocketed British cities and then the allies leveled German cities, a choice made by British and American leaders "fighting an evil force in World War II."
But he said that under the "twisted standards" of the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would have been "dragged ... to the dock as war criminals."
"Israel chose to respond differently" than the allies, Netanyahu said.
"Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime, of firing on civilians, while hiding behind civilians, Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes directed against the rocket launchers themselves."
He said it was "no easy task" since the militants were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and carrying explosives in ambulances. He said Israel worked to inform Palestinians via fliers and text messages to vacate targeted areas.
"Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way, yet faced with an absolutely clear-cut case of aggressor and victim, who do you think the United Nations Human Rights Council decided to condemn? Israel."
Netanyahu, noting that the United Nations in 1947 voted to establish a Jewish and an Arab state, said "Arabs rejected it and invaded the embryonic Jewish state with the hopes of annihilating it."
"We asked the Palestinians to finally do what they refused to do for 62 years: say yes to a Jewish state. As simple, as clear, as elementary as that, just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the land of Israel. It is the land of our forefathers.
"We are not strangers to this land. This is our homeland. But as deeply connected as we are to our homeland, we also recognize that the Palestinians also live there. And they want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples, living in peace, living in prosperity, living in dignity. Peace, prosperity and dignity require one other element."
He said Palestinians must have the power to govern themselves, but it must be "effectively demilitarized."
"I say 'effectively' because we don't want another -- another Gaza or another south Lebanon, another Iranian-backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv. We want peace."
Netanyahu made reference to Iran again at the end of his speech, saying "peace can be achieved." But there needs to be an effort, he said, "to roll back the forces of terror led by Iran that seek to destroy peace, that seek to eliminate Israel and to overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or to accommodate them."
Netanyahu's comments come a day after the Iranian and Libyan leaders lit up the U.N. General Assembly floor with sharp critiques. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fiery speaker in his own right, is also scheduled to address the assembly Thursday.
The leftist and populist Venezuelan leader, whose friendship with the Iranian regime and Cuba has spurred antagonism with the United States, is not shy about speaking his mind. And he has launched his share of fiery diatribes against Washington, once referring to former President George W. Bush as the "devil."
Wednesday's session was punctuated by the performance of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who delivered a blistering, wide-ranging 96-minute rant, reserving most of his ire for the United States and the U.N. Security Council.
Also on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad slammed a variety of targets, including capitalism, the United States and Israel. Ahmadinejad said he had won "a large majority" in the June 12 elections that his critics say were rigged. Before his talk and near the United Nations, more than 400 anti-Ahmadinejad protesters demonstrated.