“In Israel, self-criticism is on steroids.”
That quotation is from Netanyahu’s recent speech to the AIPAC. In his speech, ‘Bibi’ often played on words. For example, in praise for the Jewish-American actress, Scarlett Johanssen, he said, “Scarlett, I have only one thing to say to you: Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn.” In another quip, Netanyahu reminded the audience of a commercial for Budweiser Beer which boasts: “this Bud’s for you.” ‘Bibi’ paraphrased: “This scud’s for you.”
There’s a full transcript of his speech online, so there is no need to discuss the content of his speech. But its style emphatically demonstrates that Netanyahu is as much an American as he is Jewish. His affinity with American culture is far greater than that of any of our geopolitical allies. I’m sure his playful statement about steroids resonated with his American audience at the AIPAC exactly as it would have with an Israeli audience.
Although he was born in Tel Aviv, he lived in Philadelphia during part of his youth. So, apart from his Philadelphian accent there’s nothing foreign about him.
Self-criticism and debates are healthy and integral to free speech. The same is true of the other freedoms in America and Israel. Basically, we breathe the same political air. And Americans also overdose on political steroids, especially in foreign affairs. I remember a time when discord about foreign affairs stopped at our shores. That is no longer true. The world has shrunk since then and airing our views on foreign affairs responsibly and reasonably can do America no harm. Yet, being categorically against censorship, I cringe when robotic individuals use the media as a forum to disgorge themselves of anti-American venom or display their profound ignorance and confusion in debates about foreign affairs. But, for freedom’s sake, I would not have it otherwise.
[A note about debates: Redundancy is inevitable when posting hundreds of blogs as I have done, but this is an instance when I feel it’s necessary to quote myself. In a one-sentence blog that I posted on March 29, 2011, titled The Ultimate Stone Wall, I wrote: “I have heard thousands of political debates on TV through the yearsnot once have I observed even the slightest change of mind on-the-spot from any debater in response to the other guy’s slightest point.”]
I think of Netanyahu as an American who happens to be a major leader for Israel. Had I read his speech without knowing that he is its author, I would have assumed that an American had written it. “Gone With the Wind” and “This Bud’s for You” are as American as apple pie.
Netanyahu is exquisitely bicultural. He fully realizes that America and Israel are in a one-way ideological war that a great number of Muslims consider a holy war, with Israel at the front line of battle. Beyond that, his mind-boggling and extensive political experience combined with his universality distinguish him as a champion not only for Israel but for Western Civilization itself.
I hear him when he says that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a free press, three branches of government, and civil rights; that Israel protects Christians and the right of worship for everyone; that Iran stands on the wrong side of the moral divide and that he hopes that Palestine will stand on the right side of the moral divide with the United States and Israel; and that Iran stands for death but America and Israel stand for life.
It is his voice I hear above the voices of bickering politicians, misguided students, university professors, and recalcitrant political partisans of all stripes. It is his voice that resonates with my conviction that Jihad is not merely regional but is dedicated to the destruction of Western Civilization.
What is needed when Netanyahu addresses congress in March is not ‘protocol.’ What is needed are receptive ears.