Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed the final leg of his three-day trip to California on Thursday, March 6, with a message for Iran and its proxy terrorist groups: “We will expose, and we shall fight them. And I’ll tell you the other thing: We shall beat them.”
His statement came at the end of an eight-minute speech at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles, during which Netanyahu repeated what he has said for years—that the world ignored Adolf Hitler’s threats in the years leading up to 1939, acquiesced to his demands, and the entire world, particularly Jews, paid a horrible price. “The leading powers of the world did not heed that warning, nor did they act on it.”
Today, Netanyahu said, as Iranian leaders call for the destruction of the Jewish State, he believes the West’s governments are not taking those statements as seriously as they should.
“I think it’s outrageous that 70 years after the Holocaust, this could be accepted with virtual silence,” Netanyahu told an audience of approximately 300 local Jewish community leaders. “People say, ‘Well, you know, they say it, they mean it for internal consumption.’ Does this sound familiar?”
In November, Netanyahu characterized as a “historic mistake” a deal reached between Western powers and Iran, that removes some economic sanctions in return for promises of partial and temporary uranium enrichment freeze by the Iranian government.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and its foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have since said that the agreement shows that the West recognizes Iran’s right to enrich, and that Iran will not shut down its nuclear program.
In Los Angeles, Netanyahu said that in addition to developing nuclear weapons, Iran is funneling “weapons of immediate death” to terrorist groups like Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
He referred to a March 5 raid by Israeli commandos, in which they seized a cargo ship in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan, and found Syrian-manufactured M-302 rockets, which Netanyahu said Iran was attempting to send to Hamas.
Israeli military intelligence determined that Iran flew the rockets in from Syria, shipped them to Iraq, and then sent them to Port Sudan.
“Now the government of Iran is saying it’s all lies,” Netanyahu said. “That ship will get to Eilat in a few days, and we shall see who is lying, and we shall expose what Iran is really doing.”
His speech at the museum was similar to many he has delivered in the past, including at the United Nations, in Washington, D.C, and elsewhere—in which he warns that the Iranian government is bent on destroying Israel, and declares that Israel will not allow that to happen.
“Make an issue of it,” Netanyahu said, explaining that simply calling out Iran’s leaders, again and again, is significant. When the world is silent, he said, “That goal entrenches and re-entrenches itself in the minds of these fanatics—and they think they can get away with it.”
The Israeli prime minister’s speech at the Museum of Tolerance came after he viewed a 1919 letter written by Hitler, in which the future Nazi leader called for the "removal of the Jews altogether. " The letter is part of the museum’s collection. Netanyahu was wrapping up a three-day California visit, in which he met with entertainment executives, actors, technology leaders and California Gov. Jerry Brown.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views a letter written by Hitler at the Museum of Tolerance on March 6. Photo by Peter Halmagyi
On Tuesday, March 4, Netanyahu was at Paramount Studios to attend the premiere of “Israel: The Royal Tour”—the latest in the television series hosted by CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg, in which heads of state—in this case, Netanyahu—give Greenberg a tour of their country.
Between his two Los Angeles events, Netanyahu flew to northern California on March 5 to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown and Silicon Valley executives. At the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Netanyahu and Brown signed a deal to promote trade and research between Israel and California.
The Prime Minister also toured Apple’s campus in Cupertino and met with Jan Koum, CEO of messaging service WhatsApp, which Facebook recently acquired for $19 billion.
On the evening of March 5, Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and his son Yair, visited Israeli movie producer Arnon Milchan’s home, meeting celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand, Kate Hudson and Keanu Reeves.
Staff of Israel’s consulate based in L.A. was absent throughout Netanyahu’s visit, due to a strike by international foreign-service workers that began Tuesday following a breakdown in wage negotiations between the Foreign Ministry’s labor union and Israel’s finance ministry. Responsibility for the trip, as a result, shifted from the local consulate to the Prime Minister’s office.