Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Netanyahu's American Speech Should Open Eyes and Shut Mouths

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday to the American Congress did reveal one very important thing about politics in the United States - it showed that politicians are willing to politicize just about anything and everything.

The Prime Minister of Israel gave a rousing, insightful and clear headed speech about why the current round of U.S. negotiations with Iran over their nuclear ambitions is not only a bad idea being led by a very bad plan but it is one in which the only nation on the planet that will benefit from it will be Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu convincingly spelled out what should be so apparent to not only the members of the House and Senate but also President Obama, the State Department and his team of negotiators ... Iran has a long and consistent track record of breaking the rules and ignoring any agreements when it comes to their nuclear ambition.

What I found equally interesting was how certain members from the Senate and House who are members of the Democratic party were so deliberate in their attempt at shooting down the Israeli leader. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who was among the packed room who gleefully applauded Mr. Netanyahu and then turned her back on him, refusing to even make eye contact once his speech was over. Her hatred for the illumination that came from his speech was so deep that she told anyone willing to listen that she felt the speech was “insulting to the intelligence of the United States.” I’m not quite sure what she meant by that, but then when it comes to Ms. Pelosi it’s never quite clear what she means by anything that slithers out of her forked tongue. I assume she meant that Netanyahu thinks the intelligence he receives about Iran from Mossad is more reliable than what President Obama gets from the C.I.A. Well, I got news for Pelosi, Israeli intelligence is several heads taller than what comes out of Langley, particularly where the Middle East is involved.

The liberal press has been attacking Netanyahu since it was first announced several months ago that he was invited by the Speaker of the House John Boehner to speak to the joint session of Congress. Politico believes Netanyahu has some kind of agenda or big plan by coming to the U.S. to make his case directly to the people and their elected representatives. If that was his plan can anyone fault him for it? He certainly hasn’t been getting the kind of warm reception from Obama and most Democrats, at least not publicly. Mr. Netanyahu tried to quell the rumors of a growing rift between he and Mr. Obama reminding those in attendance that while it is important that a public appearance of solidarity is important it is what happens privately and in secret between the two leaders that binds Israel and the United States together as strong allies. This may be true but Obama and his team certainly have gone out of their way to make it look like the space between the two men is getting wider every day.

If one were to believe the headline from The Huffington Post right after the speech the reader would have been misled into thinking the day didn’t go well for the Prime Minister on Capitol Hill today. There blazing headline in 6-inch letters proclaimed “BUPKIS” with a picture of Netanyahu giving his speech just below it. Bupkis is a Yiddish word that means - nothing at all. Huffington would have us believe that the Prime Minister’s speech of 45-minutes in length, that was interrupted 43 times with thunderous applause and standing ovations was nothing more that hyperbole. That may carry weight with brainless liberals willing to let the likes of Arianna Huffington, Ali Watkins, Akbar Shahid Ahmed or Daniel Kurtzer do their thinking for them. They may really believe deep down in that damp, dark, cold place they call a soul that Netanyahu changed nothing by coming here and giving a speech that did call into question the wisdom of the U.S. policy to sit down with the thugs in Iran and basically give them everything they desire with no real accountability, and a plan that Iran will totally disregard anyway - remember, they have a long and dependable track record for doing just that.

It is true that the current talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and the leadership in Iran will likely go on unimpeded by the Prime Minister’s speech today. But what the folks on the left don’t realize is that Netanyahu has now come public and shed light into that darkness and has shown these negotiations for what they really are - a bad plan leading down a bad road that ends with a nuclear Iran. Mr. Obama and his trailed out band of mouthpieces will not be able to shower the American public with lies about the success of the plan. Oh, the plan will succeed in getting accomplished, make no mistake about that, but that same plan has been exposed for the lie it is and it took a statesman from another country to make it legible to the American public. That should have been the job of the U.S. President, but since he is either incapable of knowing a bad plan when he sees it or is culpable in its creation there will be no honest discourse coming from him or out of his White House.

I don’t believe Mr. Netanyahu came to the United States with any delusion that his speech would alter Mr. Obama’s current direction in negotiations with Iran. He is a lot smarter than that. He came not with a plan to be divisive but to shed light on a really bad course of action on the part of this administration’s approach to Iran. Since the American people are not going to hear the truth from the one person they should be getting it from, the Israeli Prime Minister took it upon himself to be that harbinger of light. To make clear his true intent he reminded those gathered in the Congressional chamber, those watching and those in the administration that Israel isn’t the only one threatened by the ambitions of a nuclear Iran and its sponsored terrorist activities, but the entire world, especially the United States, are now the targets for the fundamental jihadist running that country. He was also quick to iterate that Israel is an ancient land and “an ancient people." In its nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people ... and, “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy!”

Israel is the greatest and closest ally that America has ever had and will ever have. The fate of these two countries are intricately bound to the hip with one another. But, Netanyahu, in one of the boldest and most revealing statements in his speech reminded the American President that “standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is” ... but, “history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.”

Mr. Netanyahu has given a call-to-arms for the U.S. and Israel to stand together and be strong against such an adversary. Not succumb to a bad deal just for the sake of having a deal. UN Ambassador Susan Rice was so terribly wrong when she told reporters “a bad deal is better than no deal at all.” Did you hear that pathos in her words? She speaks for an administration that is willing to place the fate of an entire world with words on a page that will be totally ignored by Iran knowing full well that the Ayatollah will take whatever advantage he can to usurp its progress at the same time he is signing it and shaking Mr. Kerry’s hand. Is this to be America’s Neville Chamberlain moment. Will this plan with Iran be the defining moment for the decline of American influence and steady hand in a world gone mad? It very well could be if the words spoken today by Mr. Netanyahu are not heeded by the American people and their leaders.

Israel and the United States remain strong allies. I have little doubt that once the Obama administration is a page in the history books come January 2017 that whomever sits in that Oval Office will do all they can to repair the breach so haphazardly created by this current U.S. President. However, until such time Mr. Netanyahu did have a reminder for America and its leaders. The Israeli people have learned the hard taught lesson of “Never Again!” Israel will never “sacrifice the future for the present; not ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.” Netanyahu, in humility reminds us that the Jews “are no longer scattered among the nations,” as they were for centuries. They are no longer “powerless to defend” themselves. They have restored their long awaited sovereignty in their 4000 year old ancient homeland. “For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.” “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand!”

Fortunately, at least for now, Israel still has a partner and will not need to stand alone. The support for Israel among the American people is stronger now than at any other time since it returned as a nation to the Land in 1948.

The Prime Minister’s final message to President Obama, America’s political leaders and to the citizens of the most powerful nation on Earth was quite remarkable. Closing with the final words of Moses to his people before they were to enter their promised land the great leader said - “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”

We the People need to be strong, without fear and willing to make our voices heard by our elected officials in Washington D.C. and throughout the nation to not take a bad deal for the sake of a short term and valueless battlefield victory when it is the war that is at stake.

Full Transcript of Benjamin Netanyahu Speech to U.S. Congress March 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress on March 3, 2015. Even though around 54 Democratic Senators and Representatives refused to appear in the House chamber their absence wasn't even noticed as the entire room was filled to maximum capacity and request for balcony seats exceeded 10% of its total seating allowed by law. There wasn't an empty chair in the room and fold-out chairs had to be brought in to help with overflow and even then many were left standing during the speech. In an address that lasted a little over 45-minutes the Prime Minister captivated the audience with revelation after revelation of the reality of the current Iranian negotiations. His speech was interrupted 43 times with thunderous applause and standing ovations.

Here is a complete transcript of the Prime Minister's remarks.

BENYAMIN NETANYAHU: Thank you.

Thank you......Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority -- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it's good to see you back on your feet.

I guess it's true what they say, you can't keep a good man down.

My friends, I'm deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.

I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.

I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.

I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.

The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.

Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American -- of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.

Now, some of that is widely known.

Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.

Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.

I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.

In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.

Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.

In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.

And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.

But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.

And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.

Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.

Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you've done for Israel.

My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.

We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.

For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.

But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.

The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots -- religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world."

I'm standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.

Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply.

Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.

Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.

In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.

So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.

Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!

Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.

Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that.

Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America," that same America that it calls the "Great Satan," as loud as ever.

Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America.

Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.

Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.

So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy!

The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember -- I'll say it one more time -- the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.

But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.

Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.

Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.

The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.

Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short -- about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's.

And if -- if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.

True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.

Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.

Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions -- 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.

Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock -- as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught -- caught twice, not once, twice -- operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed.

Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, "If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one." Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.

But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.

Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.

Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount -- 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.

My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.

Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.

And by the way, if Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.

So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb.

So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more.

Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?

Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors -- Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.

And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.

If anyone thinks -- if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future.

We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second...

Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.

And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

Thank you.

If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.

If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.

If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.

My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?

Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plan can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.

Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.

Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar -- call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.

My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.

Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true.

The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.

A better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends.

A better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country...

... no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.

The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.

You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.

My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.

Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, "never again."

And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.

But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.

I know that you stand with Israel.

You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.

Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.

And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW) - להיות חזקים והחלטיים, ואינו חושש מפניהן, "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them."

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.

May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all.

You're wonderful.

Thank you, America. Thank you.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Health Care Repair

When I was a young person buying health insurance on my own, the price was very expensive, as it is for many people. Given the cost, I chose a plan with a very high deductible. On one occasion, a very bad and lingering headache compelled me to seek medical treatment. To save money, I assumed it would be best to go straight to a specialist due to the intensity of the pain.

The Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor tried to diagnose my condition. She took an X-ray and said, “I can't determine your problem, so I need to do a CAT scan.” I responded by saying that I understood the difficulty with medical liability and the need to be thorough, but do you really need the test? She responded: "Why are you telling me this?" I said, "Because I'm paying for these tests!" She then paused and suggested we call both places in town, compare prices, and ask for a discount given that we didn’t need the intensity of a standard CAT scan.

Partnering with my doctor to better manage my resources, we found a place to provide the tests for much less. Perhaps more importantly, by asking a simple question, community resources were better allocated with no waste. This model, although not new, is the future of medicine—families in partnership with their doctors, asking the proper questions to get the right treatment while saving money.

Our current health care law has helped some but hurt many others. Costs are skyrocketing and one new government subsidized insurer has collapsed. With seemingly no way out of the problem, we need health care repair: a new framework for the right type of health care reform that will reduce costs, improve outcomes, and protect vulnerable persons.

Building on these principles I introduced a suite of health care bills that strengthens the opportunity for all Americans to acquire catastrophic insurance and health savings accounts. The Health Savings Account Act and Care for All Act provide better vehicles for the next generation to solve healthcare difficulties. The combination of a tax-advantaged savings account with access to guaranteed quality insurance is the right way forward for many Americans. This will make us better stewards of ordinary medical costs while protecting us if something significant goes wrong.

Another part of this new approach has to be price transparency. No one goes into a grocery store and asks for 20 bottles, 10 pounds, and a few sacks of whatever they stock. People look at prices first. The medical system has to adjust to this reality—and the government should incentivize that adjustment.

We should not return to the days when some Americans were excluded from buying quality affordable insurance. But our current model is flawed, creating anxiety and economic damage. A new architecture of health care repair is needed that combines the incentive to watch first dollar costs, with renewed vibrancy in the insurance market place. We can restore excellence in health care--and give peace of mind to you and your doctor.

About the Author:

JEFF FORTENBERRY has served as the U.S. Representative for Nebraska's 1st congressional district since 2005. He is the Chairperson for the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights and has a seat on the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a member of the following Caucus groups: Civil War Battlefield Caucus - Congressional Biofuels Caucus - Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus - House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus - International Conservation Caucus - Sportsmen's Caucus.

Congressman Fortenberry has become the most knowledgeable representative on Capitol Hill for nuclear security issues.