Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was stymied this year from addressing the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference in person as originally scheduled Tuesday due to the latest round of hostilities initiated by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization a day earlier.
However, Netanyahu address the conference via satellite instead, upon his arrival at the IDF Kirya military base and defense ministry in Tel Aviv. Although the satellite kept cutting out, those gathered in the hall waited patiently to hear what the prime minister had to say.
He began with the rocket fire from Gaza that had forced him to return to Israel days earlier than planned, and the military response by the Israeli Air Force, which struck 15 terror targets in the enclave Monday night, killing no one.
“We are prepared to do a lot more,” he said. “We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state.”
But Netanyahu focused particularly on bipartisan support for Israel, saying there has always been support from “Democrats and Republicans alike – that is how it has always been, and that is how it must always be.”
He thanked President Donald Trump for publicly signing an historic proclamation on Monday formally recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory:
“Yesterday, at the White House, President Trump again made history. He formally recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Now that decision deserves enormous applause.
“The Golan Heights is indispensable for our defense. It’s part of our history. When you put a shovel in the ground there, what you discover is the ruins of ancient synagogues. Jews lived there for thousands of years and the people of Israel have come back to the Golan. Israel holds the high ground, and we shall never, ever give it up. It’s part of Israel,” he said.
He underlined the shared values of Israel and the United States, the “unbreakable bond” between our two countries and said those who try to divide the two would fail. “Our shared values are too deep, our shared interests are too strong, our shared destiny too intertwined.”
Netanyahu then addressed the issue of anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism – also that cloaked as anti-Zionism – and that which has recently been spewed by some members of the U.S. Congress as well, including Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, although he did not mention her by name.
“We must never take anything for granted. Those who seek to defame this great organization AIPAC, those who seek to undermine America’s support for Israel, they must be confronted. Despite what they claim, they do not merely criticize the policies of Israel’s government. In Israel that happens every five minutes. They do something else. They spew venom that has long been directed at the Jewish people.
“Again the Jews are cast as a force for evil. Again the Jews are charged with disloyalty. Again the Jews are said to have too much influence, too much power, too much money.
“From this Benjamin, it’s not about ‘the Benjamins,’” he added with a reference to the anti-Semitic trope tweeted by Omar several weeks earlier, implying Jews were wielding influence in Congress with $100 dollar bills. “It’s not about the money.
“Ladies and gentlemen, do you know what the best way to respond to this kind of hatred is? We read it just a few days ago in the book of Esther, when Mordechai confronted Haman of Persia. The best way to respond to those who espouse this kind of hatred is not to bow down to them, it’s to stand up to them!
“The Jewish people do not bow down. We stand up, we fight, and we win!”
Netanyahu has been meeting with the IDF chief of staff, the head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency and other heads of the defense establishment at the IDF Kirya headquarters and defense ministry in Tel Aviv since his return from the U.S.
A senior government source dismissed claims by Gaza officials that a cease fire had been reached between Israel and Hamas. “There is no agreement regarding a cease fire; we are prepared to strike with even harder blows,” the source was quoted as saying, according to Ynet.