Brian of London here: A few years ago in 2009 Aluf Benn at Ha’aretz compared Netanyahu to Winston S. Churchill:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an admirer of Winston Churchill and views him as a role model, not only because of the cigar smoking, the love of history and the hobnobbing with millionaires.
Ouch! That’s what he leads with? That’s Aluf Benn’s above the fold impression of Churchill, without a shadow of a doubt Britain’s finest statesman and the man, single-most responsible for keeping the lights of freedom burning across Europe and probably the whole world? The aloof Aluff continues thusly:
Netanyahu compared himself to Churchill when he opposed the Oslo Accords and earned the hostility of the Israeli “elites” who supported the Oslo process. He saw his election in 1996 as a mission to save the nation and stop Oslo, as Churchill was appointed prime minister after his dark prophecies came true in World War II.
So far so good, Oslo was a mistake because it was founded on the principal of land for peace which is founded on the principal that the Palestinian Arabs want peace which is founded on the dream that they’re Buddhists.
In Netanyahu’s view, the Iranian threat against Israel resembles the Nazi threat on Britain. Like Churchill, Netanyahu hopes for American help to lift the threat; like Roosevelt, U.S. President Barack Obama demands the dismantling of Israel’s little empire in the territories and the liberation of the Palestinians from occupation. It will be interesting to see whether Netanyahu also learns this lesson from the leader he admires, or whether the analogy ends with bombing.
So enough of Ha’aretz. I wasn’t able to watch Bibi’s speech live but I followed Challah Hu Akbar’s tweeting of it and when I saw the following:
@ChallahHuAkbar : #Netanyahu: Time is running out, the hinge of history may soon turn #BibiSpeech
My ears pricked up because “The Hinge of Fate” is the title of Winston Churchill’s fourth book in his WWII history (the one that begins with “The Gathering Storm“). I’ve not found many people talking about “hinges of history”. From the full text of Netanyahu’s address to the joint session, (link to Yid With Lid and his emphasis):
When I last stood here, I spoke of the dire consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out, and the hinge of history may soon turn. For the greatest danger facing humanity could soon be upon us: A militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.
Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam. I have no doubt that it will ultimately be defeated. It will eventually succumb to the forces of freedom and progress. But like other fanaticisms that were doomed to fail, militant Islam could exact a horrific price from all of us before its inevitable demise.
Bingo! Just a couple of paragraphs before Bibi started making slightly oblique references to
.. powerful forces … [that] oppose modernity. They oppose democracy. They oppose peace.
When I hear that kind of talk from a politician, unless it’s Geert Wilders, I usually think that a cop out is coming but not with Netanyahu this time.
By clearly stating that these “powerful forces” are “militant Islam” he’s gone further, I think, than any other leader of Israel.
Many, many people are aware of a very famous quote of Winston Churchill when he wrote in the first edition of his book, The River War, “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!”. But he actually had quite a bit more to say on the subject of Islam. The following quote from Churchill appears in his book, “The Story of the Malakand Field Force” (which you can download in its entirety for free on the internet). I’ve added a few paragraph breaks to make it easier to read:
It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for the modern European to fully appreciate the force which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, warlike and Oriental population. Several generations have elapsed since the nations of the West have drawn the sword in religious controversy, and the evil memories of the gloomy past have soon faded in the strong, clear light of Rationalism and human sympathy. Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men’s passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination. But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance.
It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of death itself, are flung aside.
The more emotional Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational considerations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons, they become Ghazis–as dangerous and as sensible as mad dogs: fit only to be treated as such. While the more generous spirits among the tribesmen become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious bloodthirstiness, poorer and more material souls derive additional impulses from the influence of others, the hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting.
Thus whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is usually the better armed.
The bottom line is that Churchill was backing the enlightened West and the “religion of peace” against the “religion of blood and war” but only because the former was usually better armed than Islam. I agree with Netanyahu: that argument fails completely if the religion of blood and war gets a nuclear weapon.
But, just in case you think Winnie was all serious all the time, here’s another wonderful quote upon the occasion in 1945 of dining with King Saud. When told that the King, following Islamic norms, could not allow drinking or smoking in his presence, Winston Churchill replied thusly:
I was the host and I said that if it was his religion that made him say such things, my religion prescribed as an absolute sacred ritual smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after and if need be during, all meals and the intervals between them. Complete surrender. 1945, 17 February, Lake Fayyum, Egypt (Gilbert, Life, 825)
More seriously, Churchill asked the King’s assistance, “to promote a definite and lasting settlement between the jews and Arabs” in Palestine, through a Middle East Federation headed by Ibn Saud, in which Jewish Palestine would be an integral independent part. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.