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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Netanyahu’s speech elicits mixed reactions from Americans

Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, cordially accepted John Boehner’s invitation to speak to the U.S. Congress on March 3.

A number of Democrats did not attend, while many Republicans supported Netanyahu’s speech. Despite this mixed reception, the prime minister made a point of mentioning connections between the two nations.

“This Capitol dome helped build our Iron Dome,” said Netanyahu, to cheering from the House floor.

The main point of the speech? The current negotiations to cut the Iranian nuclear threat will not work.

“It’s a very bad deal,” said Netanyahu. “We’re better off without it.”

He spoke to the Congress about how his perception of the Islamic threat, including ISIS, Iran and Hamas, to the Israelis, who he described as an ancient people that have gone through peril and tribulation for more than 4,000 years.

“Even if Israel stands alone, we will stand up,” said Netanyahu. He also said that preventing a nuclear Iran is an issue for humanity.

“No matter what side (Democrat or Republican) you are on, this is above politics,” said Netanyahu.

Many however felt that his speech was anything but above politics.

“As one who values the U.S.-Israel relationship and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech — saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States,” said Nancy Pelosi after Netanyahu’s speech.

Criticism came from all angles as to some Netanyahu sounded more like he was selling himself instead of convincing Congress.

“After running down the list of Iran’s offenses, it came time for Netanyahu to offer his own alternative,” said Mathew Duss of Slate Magazine. “And it was this: ‘the alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.’ That’s it. Negotiate harder, threaten more and increase the pressure. Then Iran will capitulate. We talked about this speech for a month — for this?”

Netanyahu and his supporters were described as fear mongering and attempting to create hysteria by the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.

Others, though, still think his speech has a positive message.

“I think if the prime minister really makes his case, the Kirk-Menendez bill — increasing sanctions against Iran should there not be a deal — could pass,” said 2012 congressional campaign runner Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. “They’re close. They almost have enough senators to override a promised presidential veto, and maybe that’s what the prime minister is aiming for more than anything else.”

Regardless of what his speech achieved, most have agreed the speech has shaken the U.S. and brought bipartisan issues to the forefront.

“We (Palestinians) knew nothing was going to change … It was obviously a publicity stunt,” said sophomore and Students for Justice in Palestine President Walid Musarsaa. “Americans are more mature now then how there were in 2001 politically. They understand that fear mongering doesn’t get them anywhere …  Maybe Israeli politics will change too in result.”

At the moment, though, this does not seem likely.

“If Israel feels threatened, we are going to assume the worst from someone like Iran,” said Teddy Weinberger, Israeli citizen and writer for the Jewish Journal, to The Guilfordian. “No one here (in Israel) is talking about the speech … we have bigger things to deal with like Hezbollah and Gaza.”

It seems that the turmoil and disruption of Netanyahu’s speech is for American ears. Netanyahu won the recent elections for his third term as prime minister in Israel. He only briefly mentioned the Iranian nuclear threat in his acceptance speech. Between his speech and other recent comments, however, this election may have hurt his relationship with the White House more than it helped him politically.

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