Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a brief homecoming—of sorts—last night at the 92nd Street Y, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he apparently learned to swim as a kid. “This was where I had my first immersion into American Jewish affairs,” Netanyahu joked to the thousand or so people who turned up, at relatively short notice, and waited two hours at security to see him give a 20-minute speech about, of all things, an encounter he had with the Lubavitcher rebbe in 1984, while serving as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Netanyahu, fresh from addressing the U.N. General Assembly yesterday morning, had a plane to catch, so he raced through the tale of how he was summoned to spend the Simchat Torah holiday in Crown Heights by a former soldier who had become Lubavitcher. Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson wanted to tell him to “light a candle of truth” in the U.N.’s “house of lies,” Netanyahu recounted, referring specifically to Holocaust denial and reports criticizing Israel as the aggressor in the conflict with the Palestinians. “We’re not conquerors and we’re not colonialists!” Netanyahu declared, after explaining that he keeps a 2,000-year-old signet ring in his office inscribed with the name of some other Netanyahu who lived in ancient times. “That is my name!”
Then the prime minister asked the crowd—which included a smattering of black-hatted men—to do the same, this Yom Kippur, and “light one more—the same candle of truth.” There was applause. A little girl presented the politician with a bouquet of flowers, the crowd sang The Star-Spangled Banner and Hatikvah, and then Netanyahu waved and went home.
Bibi: U.N. as ‘House of Lies’ [Politico]
Netanyahu Recalls Rebbe’s Advice: Dispel Lies, Darkness, With Truth [Lubavitch.com]
Previously: Netanyahu at U.N.: If They Recognize Us, We’ll Recognize Them