Despite his support of the Israeli leader’s remarks, Rabbi Marvin Hier said in a telephone interview from Washington D.C. with City News Service that the political controversy surrounding the speech “could have been handled better.”
Hier, who joined a “large contingent” of Jewish leaders from throughout the nation, including Nobel Prize winner and famed Nazi-hunter Elie Wiesel, said he was glad to have Netanyahu explain to the American people that the Jewish state faces an “existential threat.”
Netanyahu said a U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal, as currently contemplated, would aggravate the threat.
“If we were dealing with a country willing to give up terrorism, that’s one thing,” Hier told City News Service as he was about to board a plane on his way out of the nation’s capital. But that’s not Iran’s stance, and “we can’t afford another mistake,” he said in a reference to the Holocaust.
“The days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.” #NetanyahuSpeech
— בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) March 3, 2015
“The State of Israel thinks it’s a bad deal,” Hier said. “The prime minister felt he had to come.”
Hier expressed some misgivings regarding the tension created between the Israeli government and the Obama administration by the invitation extended by House Speaker John Boehner and Netanyahu’s acceptance of it.
“The issue could have been handled better,” he said, adding that one way to avoid discord would have been for Netanyahu to ask for senior Democratic leaders to immediately be invited to join his conversation about the speech.
But the salient element, to Hier, was that Netanyahu delivered “a strong speech. It was amazing.”
Hier is dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which describes itself as a global human rights organization established to research the Holocaust and confront anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Paris, Buenos Aires and Jerusalem. It also operates L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance.
— City News Service
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