Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not go the United Nations with a set of gimmicks. The prime minister chose a serious, tough and disillusioned speech; almost extraordinary during a time when the world seems to be more interested in fantasy. Iranian President Hasan Rouhani provided that in spades in his speech last week. Netanyahu took it upon himself on Tuesday to do the unpleasant thing and show us the harsh reality that is the Iranian nuclear program.
It was not the speech the world wanted to hear, but it was the speech it needed to hear. Netanyahu was not looking to make friends in his speech Tuesday. He was looking to give the world the truth -- and the truth sometimes hurts. Clearly, the world would rather live in the Iranian bubble, which Netanyahu came to burst Tuesday.
The world decided to give Iran a chance. It has nothing to do with Israel's foreign policy, but with other nations' internal affairs. As in 1938, today as well the citizens of the world prefer to hear a tune that is not war, threats and conflict, and it does not matter if today, as on Tuesday, there are good guys and bad guys. And frankly, that is understandable, we too, would prefer that.
In such a reality Netanyahu had no choice but to fall in line as well -- to a point. Want to talk? He said, by all means, but ...
The prime minister expects the world to adhere to a certain set of conditions: The sanctions must remain in place, no partial agreements, and Iran must not be allowed to suspend its nuclear program as North Korea did. We know where that ended, with North Korea now having nuclear weapons. As Netanyahu sees it, without those three conditions, Iran will soon become a threshold state.
Netanyahu could have chosen a more gentle approach. He could have appealed directly to the Iranian people and told them how much Israel felt their pain, when in the name of the "democracy" Rouhani mentioned, the Iranians were denied their rightful freedom in June 2009. He could have also appealed to the Persian Gulf states, at the head of which is Saudi Arabia, and reminded them how ironic it is that suddenly, despite Israel and their countries not having any formal ties, they share the same threats and even the same interests.
But Netanyhau opted for a much tougher speech, because Israel did not come to the U.N. on Tuesday to schmooze. It came to expose the painful truth, and flex some muscle to Iran.
It is unlikely that those listening to Netanyahu's speech have read Rouhani's 2011 book, "National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy", where he candidly spoke about how he tricked the international community when Iran was building its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, smooth-talking the Europeans into thinking otherwise.
It is also uncertain if the audience remembered Iran's involvement in worldwide terror attacks, from Buenos Aires to Beirut, during Rouhani's term as the country's national security adviser; or the fact that the dream-peddling Rouhani plays an integral role in the conservative Iranian regime. Here in Israel things are clear, but the world needed a reminder.
Netanyahu did however have a productive meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, to the point which Iran's foreign minister denounced Obama's zigzagging the next day. Netanyahu came to the White House with a cotton swab, but he injected the shot to the U.N.
The bottom line is that if Israel has no choice, it will stand alone and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. How unfortunate that Netanyahu's speech happened during the U.S. government shutdown. He would have preferred that the U.S. would shut down the Iranian nuclear project instead.
Netanyahu chose to snap us out a midsummer night's dream. If only we could believe Rouhani. For almost 33 minutes Netanyahu gave the world a reason to believe him.