Netanyahu to U.N.: Iran is vanguard of Islamic militancy


NEW YORK (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said militant Islam seeks to dominate the world like the Nazis did and fingered Iran as the vanguard of militant Islam.

Speaking Monday at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu sought to link ISIS to Hamas and Iran — all part of what he described as the “cancer” of militant Islam.

“It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamist armed with weapons of mass destruction,” Netanyahu said. “Saying Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees.”

He said ISIS, Hamas, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and the Nusra Front are all cut from the same cloth — and one that recalls Nazism.

“Militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad. But so, too, did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago,” Netanyahu said. “The Nazis believed in a master race; the militant Islamists believe in a master faith.”

Of Hamas, the terrorist group in Gaza that fought a 50-day war with Israel this summer, Netanyahu said, “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.”

He said, “Hamas’ immediate goal is to destroy Israel, but Hamas has a broader objective: They also want a caliphate.”

Netanyahu also struck back at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his unity government with Hamas. Last week, Abbas used his own General Assembly speech to accuse Israel of genocide and war crimes against the Palestinians, and to argue that the Israeli government is not really interested in peace.

“I say to President Abbas: These are the war crimes committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government that you head and you are responsible for,” Netanyahu said.

Recalling his U.N. speech in 2012, when Netanyahu brandished a cartoon image of a ticking time bomb to underscore Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the Israeli prime minister also did some show and tell this year: He held up a photograph from footage shot by France24 TV in Gaza that showed a rocket launcher positioned in a civilian area with children nearby.

Netanyahu’s speech was interrupted by occasional applause from the Israeli delegation, which included Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s U.S. and U.N. ambassadors, Ron Dermer and Ron Prosor, and the prime minister’s wife, Sara.

There was little in Netanyahu’s speech that he didn’t say before in other contexts, but one new area of emphasis was the declaration that Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia should play a constructive role in advancing Palestinian-Israeli peace.

“I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries,” Netanyahu said. “The old template for peace must be updated. It must take into account new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors.”

Recommended from JTA