RUSH: We have former Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone with us from his Knesset office in Jerusalem. We only have ten minutes, so I want to get right to it. First, welcome to the program, and great to talk to you again, sir.
NETANYAHU: Well, it’s very good to talk to you, Rush.
RUSH: All right. Some observers in the United States are sensing a new Israel here: less willing to commit to total victory as in the past, on the basis of the way the current conflict with the Hezbollah group’s being waged. Is that true?
NETANYAHU: I hope not. I’ve given my support as opposition leader to the government. The people of Israel, overwhelmingly, have given their support for victory, that is to remove the threat. Much as the US during the Cuban missile crisis said, “Those missiles have to go,” we say, “Hezbollah and those missiles have to go,” because otherwise there will be no peace for Lebanon, no peace for Israel, no peace for anyone.
RUSH: We’re hearing — I’m hearing — some discontent in this country. There’s some concern that the current prime minister isn’t willing to unleash the full complement of Israeli ground forces. If that’s true, what’s the reason?
NETANYAHU: I don’t know. We’re in the middle of a war, and I don’t want to start second-guessing. I think the important thing is to fix your eye on the goal. The goal set by the government is to remove — eliminate the missiles and eliminate and break Hezbollah’s fighting ability — and whatever means are required, then those means should be used. Land, air, sea, you name it. I think it’s important to understand, Rush, that we’re not just dealing with a Hezbollah Islamic militant threat. We’re dealing with an Iranian-backed assault on a western country, and we’re just the first target, and they openly say that we’re the first target.
We’re the small state. You are the big states. Europe, though it doesn’t understand it, is a middle sized state, so it doesn’t really side up with us, but two million of our people are hunkered down in bunkers, when our cities are rocketed, our children are murdered, and when we respond against these terrorists who are hiding deliberately in civilian areas, they attack us. They actually, in doing so, attack themselves. I don’t think that the US has any such misunderstandings, any such lack of clarity. I hope that the Israeli government doesn’t have lack of clarity. We need clarity in our target, and the target is to remove our common enemy committed to our destruction and something that we have to remove as a clear and present threat to our future, to our security.
RUSH: I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not trying to foment discord between you and the prime minister, either. It’s just that so many of us who support you remember past Israeli involvement — Six Day War, Yom Kippur War — and it just looks different this time, and so we ask questions: Why? Because like you, we all know that the focus of this is Syria and Iran. We don’t hear our government talking to us like that. We don’t hear our government telling us that in this country. Do you ever sit there wondering, as an individual… I know these are maybe tough questions for you because you’re leader of the Likud Party, and you all are very united today in this latest battle with Hezbollah. Do you ever wonder to yourself, why the US doesn’t act now to take out the regime in Iran? The entire world knows who’s behind this. They’ve been helping Al-Qaeda, attacking troops in Iraq. They’re not far from getting nuclear weapons.
NETANYAHU: Well, I think this is the greatest question of our time. It is not only of monumental importance to Israel, because Iran, while denying the Holocaust took place, is openly declaring its intentions to make another Holocaust with the six million Jews of Israel that they intend to eliminate. Iran also intends to become a nuclear power, an empire, with long-range missiles that now reach every capital in Europe and within a decade would reach the Eastern Seaboard, and they have a crazy, particular Shi’ite conception of a grand apocalypse that’s supposed to be taking place right about now, in which millions will die on all sides, on both sides, and this band of Shi’aism will rule the world. Now, you may ask: “How is it possible? Religious wars died in the Seventeenth Century.”
Not for them. Not for them, not for the likes of Al-Qaeda who smashed into buildings in New York, and not for Iran that is building an atomic arsenal for that effect. But what they’ve really done here as far as the first test salvo, and the question of our response — and by “our response,” I mean not only Israel’s response to Hezbollah, but the international response to Iran and its way station Syria. I think that’s a crucial question that you’re raising. Now, President Bush has said something very important just recently, a month ago. He said that he would not let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. That is very important. How he plans to do it, what means he plans to use, of course, he leaves with himself. But there’s no question right now that there ought to be a division of labor. The US and the responsible members of the international community — if you can find them — they should press Iran and Syria to cease and desist the support and arming of Hezbollah, and Israel should be left to do the job that it must do, that is to disarm Hezbollah and destroy its missile arsenal.
RUSH: Has anybody…?
NETANYAHU: That’s what needs to be done.
RUSH: Is anybody stopping you from doing that? Is anybody putting the brakes on you?
NETANYAHU: I don’t think so. Not yet, I have to say. I don’t think that, you know, we’ve had — all wars have limited time. It’s not an unlimited amount of time anyway, and I’ve said that from day one, and the time that you have available you should use with the power that you have available. The more power you use, the less time you need. So obviously we don’t have unlimited time and therefore we should use more power, a lot more power to crush Hezbollah. That’s what’s required, and I think if Israel shows this resolve, if the Israeli government shows this resolve, then America — first of all America — would respect it. At the end of the day, so would the Arabs.
RUSH: Let me try this question. It’s a little bit of a lengthy question, and I know the phone connection here is not the best but I want to ask you this because it’s a topic that’s really roiling much of the American population, and that is that the war has two aspects: the PR spin war and the reality.
RUSH: The media, Mr. Prime Minister, suggest that Israel is losing the PR media war and has got to change its tactics so that it can win the PR media war. I don’t think that Israel can ever win a media war and I don’t think George Bush can ever win a media war, because the world’s media is not interested in the facts of reality in this current conflict. You can point out the reality of the Hezbollah people using civilian human shields all day long; it still will be ignored. Do you think you can lose the real conflict with Hezbollah if you also lose the spin war, or do you not care about that, just focus on the reality of actually winning the war as that used to be defined?
NETANYAHU: First of all, win the war. Win the war on the ground and win it quickly and decisively. That would be, always, my first preference. Secondly, you’re quite right that from the Twentieth Century on we’ve learned that to cement a military victory you must have a political victory. To have a political victory you must win the battle for public opinion. To win the battle for public opinion, you must convince that public that your cause is just and the cause of your enemy is unjust. There’s never been a more just war than this one, that’s obvious. We were fired upon from Lebanon and from Gaza when we left and vacated every square inch, in a totally unprovoked manner. Our soldiers were kidnapped and murdered; our cities were rocketed upon. So this is a just war. Now, can Americans understand that? I happen to think that Americans understand that very well and overwhelmingly so. I don’t believe that is the case in Europe — Western Europe, at least, perhaps in Eastern Europe where they understand power a little better. But Western Europe shows signs of debilitation, signs it’s not understanding where their interests are and where morality is. They view everything in a post-colonial prism as though to them we are colonialists. We, who are living in our land —
NETANYAHU: — who are gripping onto our land for 3,000 years, we’re supposed to be the colonials. But nevertheless I sense a crack in Europe, too. It is not that they support Israel. It is that they don’t support the Islamists, and they don’t support the Islamists because they are being plagued by the same plague. So for them it’s a pox on both your houses, but what America knows Europe doesn’t know. It’s our house. It’s the same house. Israel, America, the free societies of Europe, we’re the same house, and the likes of Iran and Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, they want to destroy our house. Israel, to be sure, will be their #1 target but we’re only their first target, and they say so. They want eventually to get you, and they have no problem and no inhibition firing upon civilians, hiding among civilians. These are, by the way, two war crimes, according to the Geneva Convention. Not only can you not deliberately fire on civilians, you cannot deliberately hide among civilians. You have here this criminal organization supported by criminal regimes with a criminal goal of destroying Israel, but ultimately destroying the West. Let’s not be fooled. Let’s gear ourselves and fight this battle and let’s win it.
RUSH: Well, we admire every effort you’re making. We really do. It’s tough to wage war on an enemy that considers the death of its own children a victory. Just one more question, because I know your time is limited and you have to go. But I’m trying to figure out how you have a ceasefire, how we can have a ceasefire with terrorists who are backed by Iran, which have as their goal the destruction of Israel. Has anybody, any country, anybody from the United Nations or anybody else explained to you in Israel how this ceasefire, a “sustainable, meaningful ceasefire” with a bunch of terrorists, would actually work?
NETANYAHU: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think a ceasefire by itself will work. I think it will work the other way. I think running away from terror or not finishing terror gets terror to come back and bite you, bite you even with greater bites. I think that the important thing is what are the conditions that lead to a ceasefire, and it seems to me that the most important thing is to dismantle Hezbollah’s fighting ability and destroy that missile arsenal. That’s when you should have a ceasefire —
NETANYAHU: — when they can’t fire anymore.
RUSH: All right, so what you’re subscribing describing here is a ceasefire that results from your victory?
RUSH: Exactly. Makes perfect sense to everybody. Well, look, I’m glad you made time for us today, Mr. Prime Minister. I know it’s hectic for you right now. We appreciate the time very much and the best to you.
NETANYAHU: Always good to talk to you, Rush. Thank you. Thank you for your support.
RUSH: You bet. That’s former prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.