Taking the podium of the United Nations General Assembly to educate world leaders about Israel’s impassioned defense of human rights and contributions to the international community, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to guidance he received from the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, and called on that body to turn away from the injustices of the past and finally confront Islamist terror head on.
“It’s here, year after year, that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation,” Netanyahu said Friday afternoon in New York. “It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined.
“This is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It’s the theater of the absurd,” he added. “It not only casts Israel as the villains. It often casts real villains in leading roles. … Hizbullah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. So you could say that a terrorist organization now chairs the [organization pledged to preserve security].
“You couldn’t make this stuff up,” he said incredulously.
Throughout the second half of the week, heads of state attending the 66th session of the General Assembly frequently referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many of them representing countries with questionable human rights records and accusing Israel of subjecting Palestinians – despite their refusal to accept a UN partition plan back in 1947 and setting off more than 64 years of war against Israel – to, in the words of Djibouti President Ismaël Omar Guelleh, a “colonial rule” that was “morally wrong and politically unstable.”
In many ways, Netanyahu came as the leader of a minority to a chamber packed with those hostile to his country’s existence and Jewish majority. When Abbas took the podium and charged Israel with poisoning the well of peace with a “racist annexation wall,” he waved proudly the official application of the PLO to full membership of the United Nations. Hundreds of diplomats gave Abbas a standing ovation, endorsing a view that ignored hundreds of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror bombings, thousands of Palestinian missiles launched from the Gaza Strip on homes, schools and hospitals throughout Israel, and decades of Arab refusals to honor their government’s commitments.
But even in such a place, Netanyahu said, “the truth can sometimes break through.”
Almost 27 years ago, Netanyahu arrived in the United States as the new Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations. In keeping with a custom begun in the 1960s for members of the Israeli diplomatic mission in New York, he entered the brick edifice housing the Rebbe’s synagogue in Brooklyn to celebrate the second night of the holiday of Simchat Torah.
He encountered thousands of Chasidim eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Rebbe and the beginning of festivities, but when Netanyahu went up to him, the Rebbe spent 40 minutes talking to him about Israel.
“You’ll be serving in a house of many lies,” the prime minister told UN delegates the Rebbe said to him. “Remember, that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.”
In his speech, Netanyahu laid out his case that Israel’s primary desire was peace and that it would do anything to protect its people against a rising tide of Islamist terror that could “turn the Arab Spring into an Iranian Winter.” He also expressed the hope that “the light of truth will shine if only for a few minutes in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.”