In the coming weeks and months, the threats to Israel will surely only increase. And with these escalating threats will come also the escalating need for strong and certain leadership.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was hoping to avoid his clash with US President Barack Obama this week in Washington.
Four days before his showdown at the White House with the American leader, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset. His speech was the most dovish he had ever given. In it, he set out the parameters of the land concessions he is willing to make to the Palestinians, in the event they ever decide that they are interested in negotiating a final peace.
Among other things, Netanyahu spoke for the first time about "settlement blocs," and so signaled that he would be willing to evacuate the more isolated Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. He also spoke of a longterm military presence in the Jordan Valley rather than Israeli sovereignty along the militarily vital plain.
Both strategically and ideologically, Netanyahu's speech constituted a massive concession to Obama. The premier had good reason to believe that his speech would preempt any US demand for further Israeli concessions during his visit to Washington.
Alas, it was not to be. Instead of welcoming Netanyahu's unprecedented concessions, Obama dismissed them as insufficient as he blindsided Netanyahu last Thursday with his speech at the State Department. There, just hours before Netanyahu was scheduled to fly off to meet him in the Oval Office, Obama adopted the Palestinian negotiating position by calling for Israel to accept that future negotiations will be based on the indefensible - indeed suicidal - 1949 armistice lines.
So, just as he was about to board his plane, Netanyahu realized that his mission in the US capital had changed. His job wasn't to go along to get along. His job was to stop Obama from driving Israel's relations with the US off a cliff.
Netanyahu was no longer going to Washington to explain where Israel will stand aside. He was going to Washington to explain what Israel stands for. Obama threw down the gauntlet. Netanyahu needed to pick it up by rallying both the Israeli people to his side and rallying the American people to Israel's side. Both goals, he realized, could only be accomplished by presenting his vision of what Israel is and what it stands for.
And Netanyahu did his job. He did his job brilliantly.
Israel today is the target of an ever escalating campaign to demonize and delegitimize it. Just this week we learned that a dozen towns in Scotland have decided to ban Israeli books from their public libraries. One Scottish town has decided to post signs calling for its residents to boycott Israeli products and put a distinguishing mark (yellow star, perhaps?) on all Israeli products sold in local stores to warn residents away from them.
Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the Scots? In San Francisco, there is a proposition on the ballot for the fall elections to ban circumcision.
The proposition would make it a criminal offense to carry out the oldest Jewish religious ritual. Offenders will be punished by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the people of San Francisco? It seems that everywhere we look we are told that we have no right to exist. From Ramallah to Gaza, to Egypt, to Scotland, Norway, and San Francisco, we are told that we are evil and had better give up the store. And then Obama took to the stage on Thursday and told us that we have to surrender our ability to defend ourselves in order to make room for a Palestinian state run by terrorists committed to our destruction.
But then Netanyahu arrived in Washington and said, "Enough already, we've had quite enough of this dangerous nonsense."
And we felt things we haven't felt for a long time. We felt empowered. We felt we had a voice. We felt proud. We felt we had a leader.
We felt relieved.
The American people, whose overwhelming support for Israel was demonstrated by their representatives in both houses of the Congress on Tuesday, also felt empowered, proud and relieved. Because not only did Netanyahu eloquently remind them of why they stand with Israel, he reminded them of why everyone who truly loves freedom stands with America.
It is true that the American lawmakers who interrupted Netanyahu's remarks dozens of times to applaud wanted to use his presence in their chamber to send a message of solidarity to the people of Israel. But during the course of his speech, it became apparent that it wasn't just their desire to show solidarity that made them stand and applaud so many times. Netanyahu managed to relieve them as well.
Since he assumed office, Obama has been traveling the world apologizing for America's world leadership. He has been lecturing the American people about the need to subordinate America's national interests to global organizations like the United Nations that are controlled by dictatorships which despise them.