Bibi is the Leader of the Free World

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Normally what politicians say matters much less than what they do. But sometimes at a critical moment in history, a great speech by a great leader can bolster resolve to do what must be done.

“Our policy … is to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime,” said Winston Churchill on May 13, 1940, three days after he’d replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of Great Britain.

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,” he said a month later.

There were echoes of Sir Winston’s 1946 warning that “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across (Europe)” in Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday.

The Israeli prime minister “had something of surpassing importance to say, and he said it with force, with strength, with conviction and with grace,” wrote Commentary editor John Podhoretz.

Mr. Netanyahu: “Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.”

He went on to say that the treaty the Obama administration is negotiating with the mullahs “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner wrote, “With a mix of passion and steadfastness combined with a detailed prosecutor-like approach, Netanyahu exposed the deal.” The Washington Post editorialized that his arguments “deserve a serious response from the Obama administration — one it has yet to provide.”

Instead, ever since House Speaker John Boehner invited Bibi Netanyahu to speak, the president and his aides have been hurling personal insults at Israel’s prime minister.

After failing to dissuade Mr. Netanyahu from taking the invitation, the White House was fine with Democrats boycotting his speech.

“President Obama’s dislike for Netanyahu is intense,” said Haviv Rettig Gur in the Times of Israel. That’s because “those who do not confront evil resent those who do,” said radio talk host Dennis Prager.

Sixty-two percent of Israelis in a Jerusalem Post poll said they thought Mr. Obama is meddling in their election. Most resent it.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the president actively supports regime change, said columnist Charles Krauthammer.

The “unprecedented” hostility expressed toward the head of state of an ally backfired, because it made the Netanyahu speech “the most important political event of 2015 by far,” Mr. Podhoretz said.

Democrats were split by White House encouragement to boycott it. About 50 did, but more didn’t. Many who didn’t praised Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks.

Mr. Netanyahu was sharply critical of the Iran deal, but he had words of praise for Mr. Obama personally. “Embarrassingly, the American president could not find it in his conniving heart to rise above his innate political pettiness,” wrote Andrew Malcolm of Investor’s Business Daily.

Mr. Obama thinks his scorn will turn public opinion against the Israeli prime minister. He’s been misled by a mostly sycophantic news media, or by his enormous self-regard.

Mr. Netanyahu’s “favorable” rating has risen sharply despite — or maybe because of — all the snark directed at him, according to a Gallup poll in February. The development of nuclear weapons by Iran would pose a “critical” threat, said 77 percent in a Gallup poll last month. They’d support military action to stop Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail, said substantial majorities in polls in 2012 and 2013.

Barack Obama is (alas) the U.S. president. But the leader of the Free World is Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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