Bennett calls those criticizing Israel ‘just plain lazy’ without knowing the facts
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the international community to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, thanked allies old and new for standing by the Jewish state, and punishing those who ignorantly oppose Israel.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since taking office, Bennett commended the United States for its recent vote to provide $1 billion in funding for its Iron Dome missile defense system. Welcomed the support of 38 countries that rejected Durban. convention due to its anti-Israeli history, and called on those who continue to condemn their country.
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“Attacking Israel doesn’t make you morally superior,” Bennett said. “Fighting the only democracy in the Middle East doesn’t wake you up. Adopting clichés about Israel regardless of knowing the basic facts is, well, that’s just plain lazy.”
Bennett called on the international community to join him, particularly in addressing the growing pressure from Iran and the Islamic nation toward nuclear weapons.
“Iran’s noble goal is clear to anyone who wants to open their eyes,” Bennett said, claiming that Iran seeks to dominate the Middle East “under the nuclear umbrella”. He pointed to the funding of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah by Iran and the use of proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen.
Bennett also discussed the history of the new Iranian president, Ibrahim Raisi, who earned him the nickname “Tehran’s Butcher” after participating in a panel overseeing the executions of political activists in 1988.
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Today, he warned, Iran is getting closer than ever to having a nuclear capability, and is ignoring inspectors and international agreements. Despite this, he claimed, the world has failed to act, either in the sense that an Iranian nuclear is inevitable, or simply by being “tired of hearing about it”. He said Israel does not have the luxury of sitting idly by.
“Israel will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” he said.
The prime minister then called on other countries to join him, claiming that Iran is vulnerable to its failing economy and isolation from its people because of his regime.
“If we are serious about stopping this, if we use our resourcefulness we can win,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Bennett made it clear from the start of his address that he no longer wanted the narrative surrounding Israel to focus on disputes with the Palestinians, noting that Israel does not see itself through that lens.
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“For too long Israel was defined by wars with our neighbors. But this is not what Israel is about, it is not what the people of Israel are about.” Bennett said. “Israelis don’t wake up in the morning thinking about conflict. Israelis, like everyone else, want to live a good life, care for our families, and build a better world for our children.”
He said this meant that Israelis, including him, should sometimes be called upon to defend their country. Still, he said, “Israel remembers the dark wars of our past but is determined to look ahead.”
Bennett said Israel “is eager to contribute to the world despite being in the toughest neighborhood on earth,” before discussing how Israel has handled the coronavirus pandemic and vaccination efforts.
“We are in a race against a deadly virus and we have to stay ahead of it,” Bennett said, explaining that Israel’s model is based on widespread home testing and early vaccination (including third booster shots).
“The country must remain open,” Bennett said, stressing the need to revive the economy and send children to school, and insisted that “lockdowns, restrictions, quarantines are not the way.”