by Alisa Roberts.
This past week will be recorded as the first visit of an Israeli prime minister to California in eight years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited President Barak Obama last week and made an appearance at AIPAC. After this, Netanyahu made the decision to visit LA. The Israeli Consulate proudly announced, “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s California trip is an important demonstration of the strong relationship between the US and Israel, and in particular, the Los Angeles community.”
The trip began on Monday with meetings between Netanyahu and Obama in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday the prime minister spoke before the annual AIPAC policy conference. He then travelled to Los Angeles to attend the premiere of a new CBS documentary, “Israel: Royal Tour,” which was screened at Paramount studios. The documentary is the latest in a new series and features interviews with Netanyahu alongside an in-depth look at Israel.
Wednesday brought Netanyahu north, where he met with tech industry leaders in Silicon Valley as well as California Governor Jerry Brown. Meetings included Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as Jan Koum and Brian Acton, founders of WhatsApp. While in the Bay Area, Netanyahu also signed an economic and research partnership agreement with Gov. Brown. The agreement is designed to boost cooperation between Israel and California in a number of ways, including water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agricultural technology, according to a news release from Brown’s office. “Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity, and climate change,” said Gov. Brown. It will also allow Israeli companies access to Californian technology research facilities.
Before returning to Israel, Netanyahu enjoyed a final stop in Los Angeles to visit the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, where he spoke. After describing a letter he had seen at the museum dating back to 1919 which told of a plan to liquidate the Jews, he said, “Now, we have paid a terrible price for the fact that the leading powers of the world did not heed that warning, nor did they act on it. As it turned out, the price wasn’t only to our people. We proportionately paid the greatest price of all, but it was a price that cost the lives of 15 million people and a convulsion in the world, a blow to the peace of the world, like no other. Today we are in a different situation because we have a Jewish state. We have someone to act on behalf of the Jewish people. But defending begins by calling it like it is, pointing at such intentions and also exposing the deceit. There is a regime today that calls daily for our annihilation. Openly, unabashedly, they call for the annihilation of the Jewish state. I think it’s outrageous that 70 years after the Holocaust this can be accepted with virtual silence. People say, ‘Well, you know, they mean it for internal consumption.’ Does this sound familiar? But we’ve already been there. Been there and done that. So first of all, we take them seriously. Our principle lesson in history is that when someone says they’re going to annihilate you, take them seriously.”
He went on to speak about current deceptions, particularly those of Iran – like the ship recently intercepted by Israel carrying Iranian missiles to be smuggled into Gaza. “We shall expose what Iran is really doing: building the weapons of mass death and dispatching the weapons of immediate death right now to the worst terrorist groups in the world.” He closed with this declaration: “There’s something that I can say here, at the Museum of Tolerance: we cannot be tolerant to the intolerant. We want a world of acceptance of others. We want a world of compassion. We want a world of humanity and humanism. These are the two things I would say: These people are out to destroy a section of humanity called the Jewish people. We will not let them. We will expose them, and we shall fight them. And I’ll tell you another thing – we shall beat them.”