Throughout modern history, the United States was home to such leaders. For a century or more, with few exceptions, those who led the United States have had so much faith in freedom and fortitude that through word and deed they clearly were true leaders of the free world. We had Presidents who spoke softly but carried big sticks and never made excuses for freedom or democracy.
Yesterday, such a man came forward once again, but it was not the leader of the world’s most powerful nation. It was not the President of the nation known as the world’s beacon of freedom. It was the democratically elected leader of a tiny nation in the Middle East.
In his first appearance before the global union, President Barack Obama excused America’s past and promised to not go it alone. He offered tyrants and terrorists a hand of friendship and a seat at the table. In essence, America’s President compromised freedom for the appeasement of those who oppose freedom.
And then came Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In what was one of the most frank, lucid and truthful speeches that the world’s diplomatic body has ever heard, this man of the tiny and young nation of Israel made it clear that freedom is not to be compromised and that the defense of freedom will never be apologized for.
Facing those who would rewrite history, Netanyahu took the general assembly gathered before him through a history lesson. He waved in his hands the very documents that described how his people would be exterminated. He spoke of the locations in Germany where Jews were slaughtered and where he was shown the pages that contained the orders which exterminated six million Jews. He presented before the world the written orders the set in motion the genocide of Jews. Orders which contained the signature of Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler.
Appearing after Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who once again denied the atrocities of the holocaust, Netanyahu said…
“Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries. But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?”
The question is one that requires an answer. Which nation’s of the world will accept those who deny the truth of history? Which nation’s are willing to overlook the truth in order to appease those who want freedom abridged?
Unlike President Obama, Netanyahu did not blur the lines between good and evil. Netanyahu did not apologize for standing alone in defending against the liars and terrorists who would repeat the worst of histories atrocities if given the chance.
Unlike President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not pretend that we are one, when clearly we are not. He did not put up a façade of false friendships between those who wish to be free and compassionate and those who seek to control and kill. In his own words, speaking of the radical religious fundamentalists and rogue regimes that dot the globe Netanyahu said…..
“Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.”
Few words uttered in the cavernous arena of the UN ever rang more true than those. Yet they were not the words of the leader of the superpower which saw three thousand of its own people killed in one day at the hands of those barbarians who hate civilization. They were the words of a tiny nation’s leader. A tiny civilized nation which lives in the shadow of barbarians. They were spoken by the leader of a small nation whose willingness to say the truth and deal with the truth showed him to be the true leader of the free world.
Without ignoring the truth, without blurring the lines between right and wrong or oppression and freedom, Israel’s Netanyahu brought the realities of the world we live in to the forefront and asked a simple question. It is one that he offered as the representative of a people and nation that confront the evils of freedom hating extremists everyday, but it is one that all true believers in freedom and democracy can ask of themselves. Sadly, it is a question that under President Obama’s leadership, we must even ask of our nation. Netanyahu asked….
“Will you stand with Israel or with the terrorists? We must know the answer to that question now – not later. If Israel is asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. We can take further risks for peace only if we have confidence that we can defend ourselves.”
Our own nation once asked the same question of others. We once knew that pursing peace was noble but that taking our security for granted in the pursuit of peace was stupidity. We once had leaders who offered trust but only after it was verified. We once drew a clear distinction between civilization and barbarism. Today our nation’s leaders seek to discount and disregard wrongdoing and acts of evil for the sake of harmony. They want global unity and ask us to hold hands even if the hand we are asked to hold is stained with the blood of freedom loving neighbors.
America no longer houses “the” leader of the free world. Today that person lives in Israel, and he is their leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.