From the perspective of the craft of speechwriting, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress was a masterpiece.
The speech started out appropriately high-minded and gracious. It laid out Mr. Netanyahu’s case with logic and care, offering a crisp and indisputable indictment of the Iranian regime and, especially, the fundamental flaws in the deal President Obama wants to strike with Iran. The conclusion of the speech–where the Israeli prime minister said “I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over”–was stirring and evocative. So was Mr. Netanyahu’s obvious love and affection for America. (Unlike President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, when he describes America, isn’t inclined to criticize her.) And the speech itself included some terrific and memorable lines:
- At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
- So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
- That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.
- This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control.
- If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn’t change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
- Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
- For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel.
In watching the speech, one could not help but feel that this was not only a dramatic moment–thanks in large part to President Obama’s pre-speech campaign to smear the Israeli leader–but a remarkable one, thanks to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He was fully in command.
As someone who is a lifelong lover of words and the power of words to persuade and reveal the truth of things, it was a relief to finally have a leader of a nation speak to a joint session of Congress and demonstrate intellectual integrity. Unlike President Obama, who never engages the argument of his critics in an honest manner, Prime Minister Netanyahu fairly (if briefly) stated the arguments of those with whom he disagrees. And he proceeded to deal with them in a methodical, empirical, logical way, which of course explains why Mr. Obama fought so hard to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from speaking in the first place. The president knew his position would wither when exposed to reality. There was a maturity and seriousness of purpose in the Israeli prime minister that is missing from our president.
It’s a shame we Americans have to wait for a foreign leader to speak to us in a manner characterized by intellectual excellence and moral seriousness. But such are the times in which we live.