Netanyahu: Whole world is ganging up on us. It’s a combination of ignorance and antisemitism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a press conference at his office in Jerusalem, March 31, 2024. (Screenshot, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a press conference at his office in Jerusalem, March 31, 2024. (Screenshot, GPO)

In the final minutes of his press conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns to an earlier partial question put to him about why it is that the world is apparently siding against Israel.

“What has happened in the past few months was that the terrible massacre” of October 7 “was quickly forgotten,” he says, “and the whole world is ganging up on us. And there are people here and abroad who say maybe there’s something to this; maybe we’re really not ok.”

He says the criticism, including international and US criticism, focuses on the claim that Israel and the IDF are “not doing enough to minimize civilian casualties. That’s simply not so,” he insists. “And it’s not just me saying this.”

He cites world-renowned experts in urban war like David Petraeus and John Spencer who, he says, argue that “there is no army in the world that has done and does what the IDF has done to minimize the number of casualties and achieve achievements no other army has managed.”

Speaking more passionately than hitherto, he asks how it can be that “good people” in the world are teaming up against Israel, that there are major demonstrations in world capitals, and yet “not a word was said about the millions massacred or uprooted from their homes in the Syrian civil war, or in Yemen’s internal war and elsewhere? And on the much smaller number — every dead civilian, every such loss is, of course, a tragedy, but it can’t be compared; we are talking about very small numbers, compared to the massacre of millions… how can it be that the worst things are believed: genocide, those claims against the state of Israel?”

He says, “I once asked that question of my father, a world-renowned historian who dealt at length with antisemitism. I asked him, How can it have been that they believed, in ancient times, 500 years before Christianity, the worst against the Jews; in the Middle Ages, that we used the blood of Christian babies to bake matzah; and in the modern era, what the Nazi disseminated? How can it be that millions around the world believed this? It must be ignorance, I said.”

His father, says Netanyahu, answered: “Not only ignorance.”

“Ignorance can’t explain why a great French philosopher like Voltaire believed the antisemitic allegations,” Netanyahu recalls his father saying, “or a great Russian writer like Dostoevsky believed the antisemitic lies.”

“There is a virus that has accompanied us for millennia now,” says the prime minister, “a virus of antisemitism” that changes shape but abides. “The question is what do we do about it.”

Two things, he answers.

“First of all, we established a state to be able to physically fight against those who would kill us. And second, we also need by every means to rebuff these attacks — and if we don’t stand together to rebuff these attacks, then nobody else will for us.”

So, he concludes, “We have to unite in the physical defense, and in the moral defense against the accusers — and accuse them of the lies, the hypocrisy, the falsehood. That, I’d say, is our mission, the fight against antisemitism in our generation.”

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