"History proves that whoever wants to erase us from the map fails in that task" – these are the words written by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a letter released on Wednesday, hours before he is scheduled to depart for the UN General Assembly in New York and take the podium on Thursday.
Netanyahu's comments came in response the speech made by to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN earlier on Tuesday.
Despite Netanyahu's harsh response and his use of terms related to the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad's speech did not in fact directly address Israel or call for its disappearance or destruction. The Iranian president did, however, address the Israeli government's threats to strike the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.
"Arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass-destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent," stated Ahmadinejad. "Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality."
Ahmadinejad's speech was his last as president. Most of it was dedicated to history and philosophical musings on the state of the world. He called for the creation of a "new world order" and attacked Western powers for oppressing and exploiting most nations around the world.
In his letter, Netanyahu made clear that he is departing for New York with a feeling that all Israeli citizens are united behind the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Addressing Ahmadinejad's statements, Netanyahu highlighted the fact that they were made on Yom Kippur.
"On the day on which we pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life, the stage was given to the tyrannical regime of Iran which seeks at every opportunity to sentence us to death," Netanyahu said, while comparing the Iranian president to Adolf Hitler. "On Yom Kippur eve, sacred to the Jewish people, the Iranian tyrant chose to call publicly before all of the world for us to vanish. This is a black day for those who chose to remain in the auditorium and hear these hateful words." "I am working in every way in order that Iran does not have nuclear weaponry," he added.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and members of the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly boycotted the Iranian president's speech. Erin Pelton, the delegation's spokeswoman, said that "Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the UN not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel," she said, adding that for that reason, the U.S. delegation chose not to be present.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney, who was asked about the possibility of an Obama-Netanyahu meeting on Friday, said that "I have no scheduling announcements to make. As you know, the President had a productive and lengthy phone call with the Prime Minister recently, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu later this week in New York."