Yitzhak Rabin made his most important pleading in 1992 to the Israeli parliament: “Israel is no longer a people that dwells alone,” he said in his inaugural speech to the Knesset in his second term as prime minister.
Benjamin Netanyahu says his most important pleading will be to the American parliament, and when he addresses Congress on March 3, his message will be as clear as Rabin’s was, if also its polar opposite in tone: Israel faces extinction.
“I'm going to Washington because as Prime Minister of Israel, it's my obligation to do everything in my power to prevent the conclusion of a bad deal that could threaten the survival of the State of Israel,” he said February 16, addressing American Jewish leaders and referring to the Iran nuclear talks backed by the Obama administration.
The differences in style, in outlook, indeed, in Zionisms, are well known: Rabin was the cautious optimist who embraced Yasser Arafat, reviled for decades in Israel as a terrorist. Netanyahu is the pessimist who abides by a certainty that the neighborhood he lives in is not ready for peace.
Equally as telling, however, is the venue each man chose for what they hoped would be pronouncements that would shift the gears of history: Rabin, his beloved home turf, the cradle of Zionism; Netanyahu, the Washington whose language and customs he has embraced with preternatural fluency.
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