Heads of state who deliver speeches at the United Nations have a tendency to aim too broadly, sink into diplomatic sentences that are official to the point of tedium, and cover everything without saying anything in fact.
But this is not Netanyahu’s way. His speech Thursday was focused, clear, and pressed the buttons that the global media cannot ignore. They expected dramas from him, but he wasn’t dramatic. He did not rip up papers, he did not wave his arms, and he did not raise his voice. He was serious, grim, and incisive in appropriate measures.
Netanyahu performed many rehearsals with this text before he went up to the podium. The rehearsals paid off.
Some Israelis likely did not enjoy seeing the repeated references to the Holocaust motive. Netanyahu does not really think that the threat posed by Iran towards Israel is identical to the threat posed by Hitler towards European Jewry. Israel was established so that threats like that will not materialize. However, the Holocaust works in America. Criticism of the UN also works. The Americans despise the UN, and they know why.
The speech comprised four interwoven sections. Ahmadinejad as a Holocaust-denier gave substance to the first part. Iran as a fundamentalist state that aspires for weapons of mass destruction was the focus of the second section. An attack on the Goldstone Report constitutes the third part, and the willingness for peace with the Palestinians in its Bar-Ilan version provided the fourth part.
In the first three parts, Netanyahu placed the UN on trial: The UN is guilty of honoring a Holocaust-denier, the UN is guilty of the helplessness it shows vis-a-vis a nuclear Iran, the UN is guilty of the Goldstone Report, and the UN is guilty of not condemning Hamas’ aggression in Gaza.
The speech was received with unusual attention. It was cut off by applause once, when Netanyahu spoke about peace and the prosperity he offers the Palestinians, and ended with relatively long applause. Naturally, the applause from the section where Jewish activists sat were more enthusiastic than the others.
Netanyahu has good reason to positively sum up his visit to New York. This may have been possibly his best week since he was again elected as prime minister. The good news is that Netanyahu is self-confident to the point of haughtiness. This may also be the bad news.