Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his long-held belief on Thursday that Iran poses the “greatest danger” to Israel and predicted that the world’s silence in the face of the Islamic Republic’s threats to annihilate the Jewish state will end now that US President Donald Trump is in office.
Speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem in an address for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu said “the greatest danger that we face, of hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state … comes from Iran. It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning [the] flames [of anti-Semitism] and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
Netanyahu lashed out bitterly at the world’s “deafening silence” when the Iranian regime “merely calls to wipe out every Israeli,” and expressed confidence that this approach would change with Trump as president. “I believe it will change,” he said.
Netanyahu referenced the phone call earlier this week between the two leaders in which they discussed the Iranian nuclear deal, a source of tension between Netanyahu and former president Barack Obama, among a host of other issues.
“I spoke a few days ago to President Trump and he spoke about the Iranian aggression. He spoke about Iran’s commitment to destroy Israel. He spoke about the nature of this nuclear agreement and the danger it poses. We spoke about it together,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said the resurgence of anti-Semitism and of calls to destroy the Jewish state must “encounter forceful consistent powerful resistance, in words and also in deeds.”
His comments seemed to be aimed at least in part at Obama, who signed off on a nuclear deal two years ago that saw international sanctions lifted on Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear ambitions. The agreement was inked over Netanyahu’s vociferous objections.
In his speech Thursday, Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to stop Iran attaining nuclear weapons. “As prime minister of Israel, I will not be silent … and we don’t intend to be inactive either,” Netanyahu said. “We will take all the measures we need to defend ourselves, and we will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from getting the means of mass murder to carry out their horrible plans.”
Netanyahu also denounced the rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents around the world, warning that “the hatred and intolerance that drove [the Holocaust]” has not been eradicated, even as he seemed to praise European leaders who have spoken out against the phenomenon.
“Anti-Semitism… is experiencing a revival in the enlightened West; you can see this in European capitals, just unbelievable. The rise of anti-Semitism, the resurgence of anti-Semitism. That is happening. And few would have imagined that this would be possible a few years ago,” he said.
“It’s true that governments have shown responsibility, and on the whole have taken this up, in Eastern Europe and in Western Europe alike. But it is also true that this hatred is bubbling, coming out of these cracks, coming out in the open again.”
Netanyahu warned that “the regime that spawned the Holocaust ended up in the dustbin of history” and said that this should be “a lesson for Iran” and for “every enemy of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”