Netanyahu Confronts Anti-Israel Propaganda in U.S.

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Why would Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travel to the U.S. while President Obama was out of the country?

His latest U.S. visit appears to be part of a broad effort to stem the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiment in the U.S. government. America has traditionally been Israel's staunchest ally. 

During several scheduled stops on his U.S. trip, Netanyahu countered the rising anti-Israel propaganda by restating the facts on the ground.

His visit began with an hour-long meeting with Vice President Joe Biden Sunday evening in New Orleans, followed on Monday by an address to the Jewish Federations of America's General Assembly. 

The prime minister also met with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later in the week.

At each venue, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's position vis-à-vis the peace process and addressed broad-based efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state.

"We must fight these lies and slanders together to ensure that truth prevails," he told those gathered at at the General Assembly.

United Nations

On Monday evening, Netanyahu asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to speak out against UNESCO's recent attempt to erase the historical Jewish connection to Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron - the burial place of Israel's patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their spouses, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel.

UNESCO - United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization - recently designated both sites as mosques, claiming they are located in the "occupied Palestinian territories," a statement Netanyahu called "absurd."

"The Jewish nation has a deep connection to (these sites) for close to 4,000 years," he told the secretary-general.

"More than a billion people recognize this connection, which is documented in the Bible," he said, urging Ban not to "distort historical facts" to curry political favor.

"It will only harm the U.N.'s standing and the manner in which serious people treat it around the world," Netanyahu said.

Ban's spokesperson responded, saying the designation is vital to break "the current diplomatic stalemate, resume negotiations, and produce results."

He "expressed concern at the resumption of the settlement activity and recent announcements of further settlement {sic} construction in east Jerusalem."

And he "expressed hope for further measures by the government of Israel to ease the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza."

General Assembly

At the General Assembly, Netanyahu began with a warning about a nuclear Iran.

"The greatest danger facing Israel and the world is the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran," he said.

"Iran threatens to annihilate Israel. It denies the Holocaust. It sponsors terror. It confronts America in Afghanistan and Iraq. It dominates Lebanon and Gaza. It establishes beachheads in Arabia and in Africa. It even spreads its influence into this hemisphere, into South America," Netanyahu said.

Presenting more "facts on the ground," he also cited the recent admission by Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, that more than 700 of its "fighters" were killed during Operation Cast Lead two years ago.

"Such a high percentage of enemy combatants and such a low percentage of unintended civilian casualties are remarkable in modern urban warfare,"  Netanyahu said. "It is even more remarkable when fighting an enemy that deliberately and shamelessly embeds itself next to schools and inside mosques and hospitals."

Israel's accusers, including the committee that produced the Goldstone Report evaluating the conduct of the IDF during the Gaza incursion, owe an apology, Netanyahu said.

"The authors of the Goldstone Report owe the Israeli army an apology. And all those who supported and helped spread this libel owe the State of Israel an apology," he said.

Netanyahu returns to Israel on Thursday, Nov. 11.

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