Leaders Don’t Use Teleprompters

Netanyahu JFNAGA standing next to podiumLast night Bibi Netanyahu gave a speech to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America. The #JFNAGA on twitter. I was there in the main hall a few rows back. You can read the news reports and I’m going to reproduce the entire text below. I’m going to highlight a couple of key details I felt and observed.

Bibi was introduced by Michael Siegal. To the best of my knowledge JFNA is usually highly reluctant to get involved politically or to rock the US boat. I felt he directly attacked  the proposed deal with Iran which Obama is desperately trying to achieve. This was fairly strong.

The first thing Bibi did was have the teleprompter screens put away. I’m not sure anyone used them but the first part of Bibi’s speech was delivered with nothing more than perhaps some bullet point notes. He stood next to the podium not behind it.

He spoke eloquently and succinctly about the threat from Iran, what sanctions have achieved to date and how bad the proposed deal is.

Netanyahu JFNAGA standing behind podium

When he got to the part listing friends in the JFNA he moved behind the podium. Other than his list of people to thank, he continued with what appeared to talk using only notes. His office has put up a transcript of his speech which also indicates that even if he did have a prepared speech going up there, he did not read from it.

After thanks he spoke some more about Iran. The ICBM’s Iran is building? They’re not meant for us in Israel, Iran’s existing missiles and rockets can reach us. ICBM means Inter Continental Ballistic Missile: that’s to reach America.

I mentioned Iran, and I mentioned those ICBMs. What is Iran targeting when it’s building those ICBMs? Not us. They already have rockets to reach us and missiles. They need those ICBMs to reach North America. It’ll take them a few years – not many by the way. And they could be nuclear tipped ICBMs. That’s the plan coming to a theater near you. Do you want that? I don’t hear you. Well, do something about it. We are.

He then moved on to talk about our peace partners. I think the following section is strange:

We also want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I am ready for a historic compromise. We need to end this conflict once and for all, and to end it, there’s a simple principle. That principle is: two nation-states, two states for two peoples. Not one state for one people, the Palestinians, and then another state for two peoples. No. Two states for two peoples, which means that if the Palestinians expect us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, they must recognize the Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Am I wrong in thinking this means two peoples living in two states? Because all the Palestinians seem to want is one state of their own with no Jews and one state begrudgingly run by Jews, but filled with more Arabs. Is he saying they need to accept a Jewish presence on Jewish land in Judea and Samaria, even in places that eventually form part of a Palestinian State? Sounds like it to me.

He really laid into the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state issue. He drilled on the point that Arabs have been attacking Jews since long before there were settlements in Judea and Samaria. He even made a sly reference to the recent invention of the “Palestinian

And that was followed by systemic efforts by the Palestinian leadership, led by the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini,  during the war years in Berlin with Hitler to advocate the Final Solution. Don’t expel the Jews, he said, destroy them. And that was followed finally after the tragedy that befell our people, with a declaration and a resolution by the United Nations for two states – a Jewish state. They didn’t say a Palestinian state, by the way. They said an Arab state, but that’s all right. We accepted and they refused. And then from 1947 until 1967, system attacks on us, an attempt to snuff out the life of the Jewish state by three Arab countries and several Arab armies in May of 1967 that we foiled in the great victory of the Six Day War.

Of course: because back then Jews were calling themselves Palestinians because they weren’t yet Israelis!

So from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century – 46 years – there were systemic attacks on the very nature of a Jewish state. Not on settlements – there weren’t any. Not on our presence in the territories – we weren’t there. What was this conflict about? Not on the absence of a Palestinian state. They rejected it; we accepted it. This conflict was not about settlements, about territories, even though these issues will have to be resolved. It wasn’t even about a Palestinian state. It was and still is about the Jewish state. They have to recognize the Jewish state.

Read the whole speech. To my mind it’s another fine one by a true world leader and delivered in the old school way: largely from memory aided by notes. I can’t tell you how much I respect this. I’ve said it before, and it’s damn obvious. If there is one person Netanyahu tries to emulate when speaking, not in mannerisms or any particular style, it’s Winston Churchill. And Churchill didn’t have Teleprompters.

The Hall waiting for Netanyahu to speak JFNAGA


Finally a big thanks to The Times of Israel for helping bloggers get in to this shindig. Excellent to be granted such access.


Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.