On my to the Starbucks which is located within walking distance of the Blair House, the official guesthouse of the White House, I came across a journalist from India who identified me because of the kippah on my head. “Iran is dangerous not only to Israel but to the whole world. Your prime minister is right,” he told me.
The comments of the Indian journalist, who stressed he has no special feelings for Israel, are an important point about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States.
Netanyahu managed to convince everyone about the danger which hovers over the world if Iran arms itself with nuclear weapons. Netanyahu managed to convince the American president and the heads of the U.S. security system, but the only problem Netanyahu had was with some of the Israeli reporters.
During the press briefing to Israeli reporters Netanyahu said, “Why do you refuse to understand that Iran has decided to destroy the people of Israel? I can understand other peoples or leaders refusing to believe it but we, the people of Israel, in every generation must rise against those who seek to destroy us, and yet you do not understand this.”
During the press conference, one Israeli journalist expressed his fear for the fate of his home if Israel decides to attack Iran. “Because the government you head will attack Iran, rockets will fly on my house. Did you take that into account?”
Netanyahu’s advisors were stunned by the question, and he himself did not have to think long before answering. “I did not come to the White House to say when we will bomb Iran and when we won’t,” Netanyahu told reporters. “This is not the question. The question is not whether we will bomb Iran, but what will happen if we don’t bomb it? What will be the implications?”
A hush fell upon the room and Netanyahu added, “Stop writing about what would happen if we bomb and write about what will happen if we don’t bomb.”
During the press conference, Netanyahu was asked several times about Jonathan Pollard, who has been in prison for nearly 10,000 days, but avoided the question. Some might say that secrecy is the correct approach, and some may criticize the lack of action against the fate of a Jew who worked in the service of the State of Israel.
Netanyahu understood in the conversation with reporters that he must provide some answer to the question and said, “I want to see Pollard home, I have worked and will continue to work for his release.” I then said, “Mr. Prime Minister, that’s not the question. The question is: Have you discussed it with Obama?” Netanyahu was silent and his aides suggested that there is no point in asking again.
During Netanyahu's meetings in Washington, the head of the National Security Council Yaakov Amidror and Netanyahu’s bureau chief Gil Sheffer, both observant Jews who wear a knit kippah, stood by his side. It seems that they were the ones behind the idea to give Obama a copy of the Book of Esther in the spirit of the times.
Whoever entered the convention center in Washington, where the annual AIPAC conference was held, felt that his Jewish heart was working overtime. Imagine 13,000 fans of Israel cheering and saluting Israel and the soldiers of the IDF. Everyone who attended was moved and could be proud of the support of the Jewish people in the Diaspora.
On my way to the airport I met a guy in his 20s with a black kippah on his head, which I could tell was not sitting properly on his head. He told me that he lives in Orlando and that he is going through a process of conversion to Judaism.
“How does a young boy like you become interested in the Jewish religion?” I asked. He responded that he is proud of the people of Israel, noting that his home page is Arutz Sheva’s English site and that he visits the yeshiva.org site on a regular basis. “Every day I fulfill more mitzvot,” he said.
Now, after his conversion, he hopes to build his home in Israel. “Israel is an eternal nation,” he told me, and we said goodbye to one another.
Hezki Ezra covered the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference for Arutz Sheva this past week. This article originally appeared on Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew-language website on Friday morning and was translated for Arutz Sheva English by Elad Benari, Canada.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)