If the president’s speech was one of the more embarrassing and shameful displays by a U.S. President before the UN, then today brought a reminder of the power of moral clarity. Bibi Netanyahu delivered a scathing condemnation of those who sat and listened to Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad. And he brought some visual aids:
“Last month I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee,” Netanyahu recalled a visit to the pastoral villa, where over just a few hours on January 20 1942 the Nazis devised the Final Solution—the decision to exterminate the Jews from Europe.
Netanyahu then dramatically showed a facsimile copy of Final Solution documents drafted in Wannsee.
“Is this protocol a lie?” he asked. “Is the German government lying?” “The day before I was in Wannsee,” Netanyahu continued, “I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. “These plans I now hold in my hand,” he said, as he was showing the worn-out blueprints to the assembly. “They contain a signature by Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s deputy.
“Are these plans of the camp where one million Jews were murdered a lie too?” he asked.
Netanyahu then turned to attacking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying “Yesterday, the man who called the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. For those who refused to come, and those who left in protest—I commend you, you stood up for moral clarity.’
“But for those who stayed—I say on behalf of the Jewish people, my people and decent people everywhere—have you no shame? No decency? What a disgrace, what a mockery of the charter of the UN.”
Netanyahu then told the assembly “perhaps some of you think that this man and his regime threaten only the Jews—well, if you think that—you’re wrong, dead wrong.
“In the past 30 years, this fanaticism spread across the globe with a murderous violence that knows no bounds,” he said, noting that Islamic terrorism hurt Muslims, Christian and Hindus as well as Jews.
“Wherever they can,” the prime minister said of Islamic fanatics, “they enforce a backward system of government.” He called the struggle between the modern world and extremist Islamism a struggle between “the 21st Century and the 9th Century.”
But, he noted, “Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And our future promises magnificent bounties of hope.”
Naming some of the technological achievements of the last hundred years, Netanyahu finished “We will find an alternative to fossil fuel, and yes, we will clean up the planet. But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history can be reversed” for a lengthy period of time, he warned.
“This is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and weapons of mass destruction.”
“Is the UN up to that?” Netanyahu asked. “Will the international community stand up to the despotism of a government against its own people?” he asked, referring to the recent elections in Iran. “The jury is still out on the UN. Recent signs are not encouraging.”
A more important question is whether the Obama administration is up to that. And again, sadly, the signs are not encouraging.