WASHINGTON—“If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then what is it?” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Monday as part of his address to a major organization of Israel advocates.
The answer is, of course, a duck. But, according to Netanyahu, using the duck as a metaphor for Iran, “this is a nuclear duck, and it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.”
While President Barack Obama favors diplomacy over force in dealing with Iran’s nuclear capabilities, Netanyahu made it clear to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that Israel holds the sovereign right to decide what is best for itself. Facing Iran’s “shadow of annihilation,” Israel must act soon in order to survive, he said.
“Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward,” he said. “Israel has waited, patiently waited, for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy. We’ve waited for sanctions. None of us can afford to wait much longer.”
Netanyahu’s speech followed his private meeting with Obama at the White House. While both agree that nuclear containment is not an option, the leaders continue to disagree on the next step against Iran. Leaving “all options on the table,” Obama has demonstrated a preference for increasing pressure on Iran before taking military action. Netanyahu appreciates Obama’s tougher sanctions. However, he says attempts at a diplomatic solution have been exhausted.
As an island of democracy in the Middle East, Israel can’t continue to examine options at Obama’s leisurely pace, Netanyahu said, because the clock is ticking and Israel must be able to defend itself.
“Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy. It’s detestable, but it’s deterrable,” Netanyahu called out to his boisterous audience, receiving 13 standing ovations throughout the speech.
The prime minister painted detailed descriptions of Iran’s history of sponsoring terrorism and as a government that “hangs gays” and “stones women.” Instead of focusing on the possible costs of invading Iran, Netanyahu said, AIPAC members should consider what will happen without a stop of Iran’s nuclear development. He fears a nuclear Iran would create a “nuclear umbrella” for terrorists.
“This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they’ll behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “Iran will be even more reckless. And a lot more dangerous.”
Following Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, Obama held his first news conference of the year. He remained firm on his statement that pursuing diplomacy in Iran is still a viable option, and criticized GOP presidential candidates for being too quick to beat “the drums of war” without weighing the costs.
Mitt Romney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that “the United States cannot afford to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Yet under Barack Obama, that is the course we are on.”
Netanyahu and Obama, despite their differences over Iran, acknowledged the magnitude of the alliance between the two democracies.
“We’re together,” Netanyahu told Obama, according to a statement released after the White House meeting. “So if there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it’s that Israel and America stand together.”