"In 1938, Chamberlain bought time to rearm. In 2013, Obama gives Iran time to go nuclear. To adapt Churchill : Never in the field of global diplomacy has so much been given away by so many for so little." -Bret Stephens "Worse than Munich" column in the Wall St. JournalIn addressing a Zionist banquet by StandWithUs in Los Angeles on Sunday, 8 December, Mr. Stephens augmented this theory, echoed by other experts. Listen to the speech audio here: "Now, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I want to spend most of my time tonight talking about Iran, but I think that it is also fitting feel that I should begin by speaking about Nelson Mandela and the meaning of his legacy and its meaning for us as Americans- for us as Jews."
Click the CC button on the lower right of the frame to display sub-titles. To read the edited transcript of the first half of this speech, see companion article on DemocracyBroadcasting.TV. The second half of the transcript appears below.
Bret Stephens: (transcript by Nurit Greenger): "There is one skill that every dictatorial regime, every tyrant needs in order to survive in power as long as the Islamic Republic and the Ayatollah Khamenei has survived. And that is the ability to sense the weakness of others and to take advantage of that. That is exactly how Iran is behaving towards us today. So now we have this interim agreement and the pressure is going to be powerful, almost overwhelming to make a go of the final, any final, agreement.
I do not think that there is much that I can do that will change the administration's views. But let at least be smart about what we, in this room, can do. For starters, we can support Mark Kirk and Senator Menendez, in pushing to increase sanctions, now, immediately to send a signal to the Iranian regime that we are not simply folding. But I want to bring another idea to this room. In September the president decided that the issue of military strike on Syria required congressional approval. I am not sure that this was really true, but let us concede that point for now. If the president thought congress's approval was necessary back then, should congress also demand that any deal the administration reach with Iran require the approval of the senate, just as all international treaties constitutionally require the agreement of two thirds of the United State senate. Now is the time to tell Senator Boxer and Feinstein from California, and Senator Schumer and Gillibrand in New York that they should demand an up and down vote on any agreement the administration reaches with Iran. We know these senators are pro-Israel and pro-Iran sanctions when they are giving speeches at AIPAC policy conference or before audiences like this one. We, let us make them go on the record. Are they seriously prepared to stand up against the bad nuclear deal with Iran, to stand with us, even if it means crossing the administration? Let us see if all of those friendly speeches are anything more than simple donor's maintenance.
So let us see how it plays out. Because part of the problem that Israel faces in the world today isn't just that it is surrounded by enemies who are sworn to her destruction. A large part of the problem, perhaps the equal part of the problem, is that Israel suffers from a surfeit of phony friends, whose ideas of friendship is to profess that friendship right up until the point when it actually counts and the chips are down. Now, I do not mean to say by this that a true friend of Israel can also be a sympathetic and loving critic of Israel. And one of the ugliest and dumbest accusations launched against organizations, like Stand with Us, or against columnists like me, is that our notion of being a friend of Israel is demanding 100% agreement of everything Israel does or stands for or asks for. But how about, at a minimum, 60% agreement; how about even 51% agreement, how about agreement on some of the basics, like treating Hamas as the terrorist organization that it is? Or showing some understanding of why Israel might be just a tiny bit frustrated with the way Mahmoud Abbas as approached peace negotiations. How about 51% agreement that maybe the Palestinians should make some real concessions of their own for the independent state they claim to seek by conceding the point that Israel is and will forever remain a Jewish state? How about not simply demanding that Israelis, or Jews, apologize for any Israeli mistake real or imagined, and start demanding that the Palestinians apologize for some of their, mistakes and outrageous, beginning with Ma'alot. And how about agreeing that the US should not be advocating a nuclear deal with Iran that does not insist, and demand and require that the regime absolutely abandon its enrichment capability and absolutely abandon its plutonium breeding facility, that does not insist on supporting terrorists organizations around the world, and insist that it starts stop calling for Israel's destruction. Can we at least agree in this room on that. Because if we cannot agree on that, I do not think that I do not think you are a really a friend of Israel. Yes, let us welcome as many people as we can into the circle, the big tent of Israel's friends. But let us not pretend you can honestly call yourself a friend to Israel just because you do not actually profess or advocate its destruction or accuse it of being a criminal state. Friendship is not free. But friendship, as the saying goes, it also has its benefits.
We live in a world where the question where you stand on Israel is THE defining moral question of our day. Just as the question of where you stand on apartheid was the defining moral question of its own day. To stand with Israel is to stand for the right of small countries to live in freedom and peace against their much larger and more aggressive enemies. To stand with Israel is to take a stand for liberal democracy under siege from fanatical religious dictators. To stand with Israel is to stand for the values of human civilization, define by freedom and tolerance and pluralism and equality of the sexes and freedom of intellectual inquiry, and of science against the threat of 21st century barbarism.
To stand with Israel is also to stand for American interests, above all our interest in preventing terror sponsoring regimes from gaining weapons of mass destruction. Above all, to stand with Israel is to stand for the idea of truth, the inviolability of truth in the fact of the blizzard of lies that are told about it.
All civilizations ultimately rest on the belief that truth remains what it is, however unpopular, or inconvenient, or unfashionable it maybe in any given time. And if anyone in this audience comes from college campuses, you know personally just how unpopular, and inconvenient, and uncomfortable, and unfashionable it can sometimes be to stand with Israel.
Well, do not let it get you down. The margin between reason and un-reason, between the rule of law and the whims of the mob, between civilization and barbarism, has always been maintained by the person, the country and the statesman who is prepared to be unpopular and annoying, and unfashionable, for the sake of standing up for the truth. Today, in this room this person is YOU. Today, in this world, that country is Israel, and let us hope, and let us seek for the statesman, in this country, who is your equal and Israel's equal.
I have to say something frankly. I have never been more afraid in my life for Israel's future than I am today. I arrived in Israel as the editor of the Jerusalem Post at the height of the 2nd Intifada when there were suicide bombings in my neighborhood down the street from me, nearly every single day going on for three years. At the time I was not afraid for the country because I began to understand just how strong and resolute and resourceful it was. I was in Israel in 2006, for the War against Hezbollah, when, after a general call up for reserves, more than 100% of those called up answered the call. People beyond the age of service answered the call to stand up and fight for their country. And I was not afraid for Israel then. I was in Israel for the war with Hamas in 2009 and once again I did not fear for the future of the country. That is not the case today.
America is not a declining country but we are in a declines mood and now are in strategic-retreat across the globe, above all in the Middle East. And this is exposing a vulnerable allies and it is giving opportunities to adventurers enemies in ways the world has not seen since the 1930's. And the challenge of Iran is scary no matter how you look at it. But it is scariest most of all from the position of Israel that finds itself isolated, diplomatically and may soon find itself isolated militarily. I do not envy Benjamin Netanyahu this job.
And since I began talking about Mandela let me also approach my conclusion by quoting him. Mandela once was asked about the meaning of courage. He said that what defines the courageous man was not the absence of fear; fear is the reality whether you are courageous or not. What makes a person courageous is his ability to overcome his fears. And that is the example that is following a legacy which sharing whether you are in Johannesburg or Jerusalem, or Los Angeles.
Let me say one final thing, which I think is important. Earlier this evening one of the speakers talked about all the great things that Israel does, in science and technology, in the arts, rule of law, what it does for the environment, very, very long and extraordinary list for a country of barely 7 million people, not quite the size of New York city. All of us are proud of Israel because it is GOOD. But the reason we support Israel is not because it is good; Israel is good and will always be good. That is not why we support Israel.
And I think this is the last word I want to leave you with tonight. You do not support a country based on its performance, because, sometimes, that performance will fail. Israel is a country that consists of human beings. The reason we support Israel is because it is ours. And the State of Israel did not come into existence TO SHOWCASE Jewish vulnerability and Jewish victim-hood. The State of Israel exists TO END Jewish vulnerability and Jewish victim-hood! Thank you very much."