An American friend supplied me with an amazing journalistic scoop: After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech last week the members of the U.S. Congress decided to hear Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif because “it is, after all, our responsibility as objective people to hear the other side too.”
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Zarif started his speech with the words: “I bless the exalted people of America on the occasion of the Easter holiday, which they will celebrate shortly. As is well known, two thousand years ago the evil leaders of the Jews told a blood libel about Jesus Christ, your holy prophet and ours. As a result he was viciously tortured and crucified alongside thieves. The world continues to lament his horrible suffering and sacrifice until this day.”
Zarif continued: “This rebellious group did not make do with just incitement to kill him, they also tried to transfer the responsibility for the act on to a foreign power, the Roman Empire.”
Faced with the shocked looks on the faces of the members of Congress, Zarif added: “The Jews, most of them, are peace seeking, but every few generations evil ones come out from amongst them, and drag the world into wars. A few of them urged you to attack Iraq, and as a result, the region — and also your exalted people — are still suffering from the consquences. “Today they are trying to drag you into a war against our people. And just as then they hung the blame on the Roman Empire, today they will place the blame on the American Empire.”
According to my friend’s report, not only was there no cheering or applause heard after this speech, but the only ones who stood up during Zarif’s address were those who left the hall in protest.
Great, I said to my friend. After all racists, who select from religious texts only the things that arouse hate and fear, should be boycotted. Just because of this slanderous speech, he answered, we should attack that wicked country, which for 2,500 years has never stopped inciting against the Jews and trying to exterminate them. Spontaneously the two of us conducted a comparison between the hate speech of the Iranian foreign minister and Netanyahu’s speech of conciliation, in which it was impossible to find any mention of dark components such as scare-mongering and incitement against the Iranian people.
The presence of Elie Wiesel in the chamber during Netanyahu’s speech, my friend remarked, was not a coincidence. It was an expression of the determination of the Prime Minister of Israel not to be tempted to act toward others as they acted toward his people. After all, Netanyahu understands that the lessons of the Holocaust are universal.
A clarification behind the scenes revealed that the Iranians sent Zarif to speak to the Congress because of the eloquent English he speaks. They learned from the Israelis that excellent English is the most important quality on the road to the job of prime minister, while fluent English combined with Israeli chutzpah is the very embodiment of Churchillianism.
To my great regret, it now turns out that the heroic speech Netanyahu gave was actually a response to a Saudi invitation; the fact is that except for Likud and its allies here only the Saudis and the Gulf state emirates are praising him.
The consolation is that if the ungrateful Israeli public does not, God forbid, reelect Netanyahu, he has a position waiting for him in the Saudi royal court or in one of the emirates.
With sadness I told my friend that Netanyahu’s speech was destined, even before it was delivered, for failure. After all, Netanyahu crossed the ocean in order to convince the “family of nations” of the level of danger facing his people from Iran, while the “family” at home is turning its back on him. How is it possible to convince foreigners if your own family members do not believe you — not Benny Gantz, the outgoing Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff; also not Gabi Ashkenazi, his predecessor; not even Yuval Diskin, the former head of the Shin Bet security service; nor Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad. The good old boys abandoned him.
What’s left? I asked sadly. The speech is left, answered my friend. Instead of photographs as mementos, we have a speech as a souvenir. At least for the grandchildren. Was it really worth all the bother of traveling to America for that?