Israeli journalists and public policy voices spent Tuesday live-tweeting Benjamin Netanyahu’s fiery speech in front of Congress, which argued against a nuclear deal with Iran. While opinion was for the most part divided neatly along ideological lines, there was some interesting analysis of how the speech might successfully achieve its two main apparent goals of derailing the Obama administration’s current nuclear negotiations with Iran and getting Netanyahu re-elected.
Netanyahu defenders and critics alike were quick to note that the boycott of the speech by more than 50 Democratic members of Congress didn’t have much of a visual impact in a raucous full house.
I just can't believe how EMPTY that chamber is I mean it is so EMPTY while in the past it was FULL -- sorry looking at Knesset channel— David Hazony (@davidhazony) March 3, 2015
Gotta tell you the volume of cheers for Netanyahu in Congress much louder than at AIPAC #NetanyahuSpeech— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) March 3, 2015
Bibi never had such a warm welcome in the Knesset.— Nathan Guttman (@nathanguttman) March 3, 2015
Bibi looks so much more at home at Congress than in the Knesset #BibiSpeech— Dimi Reider (@dimireider) March 3, 2015
A big topic of conversation was Netanyahu’s shout-out to the Purim holiday, which starts Wednesday. Key figures in the Purim narrative are a princess named Esther who saved the Jewish people from a genocidal tyrant named Haman.
Whenever someone starts with “we’re an ancient people” prepare for long biblical diversion— Nathan Guttman (@nathanguttman) March 3, 2015
Big difference between Haman and Khamanei according to Bibi - Haman couldn't tweet, but Khamanei has Twitter.— Allison K. Sommer (@AllisonKSommer) March 3, 2015
Soon a game started of counting the standing ovations Congress gave Netanyahu, though there was debate about the final number.
Five minutes, three standing ovations ...— Allison K. Sommer (@AllisonKSommer) March 3, 2015
Whoa 3 street ovations in a less than a minute! Some senators seem to be working up a sweat! #NetanyahuSpeech— Ami Kaufman (@AmiKaufman) March 3, 2015
.@GidonShaviv is keeping official count of Standing O's. This is like Michael Jordan territory— David Hazony (@davidhazony) March 3, 2015
Final standing ovation count - 24. 25 if you count standing ovation when he walked in...— Gidon Shaviv (@GidonShaviv) March 3, 2015
Unofficial count: 23 standing ovations, 13 interruptions for seated applause— Herb Keinon (@HerbKeinon) March 3, 2015
25 standing ovations for Bibi— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) March 3, 2015
There seemed to be a general consensus, though, supporting the critiques of the Iranian regime broadly.
Good line: If Iran wants to treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) March 3, 2015
Netanyahu makes point that Iran is gaining power, not playing by international rules, threat to region— Nathan Guttman (@nathanguttman) March 3, 2015
But in terms of impact, opinion was split. Some saw it as an effective piece of rhetoric:
Very Good Speech, now lets see if history sees it as a turning point or a low point.— Gidon Shaviv (@GidonShaviv) March 3, 2015
We're done here: to sum up, a strong speech, lots & lots of applause & cheering. Heart: Let Iran halt all nuke activities, then get a deal— Tal Schneider (@talschneider) March 3, 2015
You know exactly how effective the speech was by how pissed off the Administration is HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA— David Hazony (@davidhazony) March 3, 2015
Others saw it as an effective, if cynical, bit of electioneering:
Likud campaign now has 13 days to use clips of #NetanyahuSpeech to make sure he gets a record-breaking 4th invitation to address Congress.— Anshel Pfeffer (@AnshelPfeffer) March 3, 2015
And several saw it as a big ball of nothing:
Forgive instanalysis:Don't know how speech plays in Congress/America but most Israelis have heard this before and are already bored to tears— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) March 3, 2015
We can sum this up like this - one big nothing— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) March 3, 2015
I heard Nothing. New. Altho that may be because admin preempted his "reveal" (10 year limit) at aipac. #NetanyahuSpeech— Ron Kampeas (@kampeas) March 3, 2015
Feeling deflated, as I've been waiting months 2 watch a horror movie that didn't deliver the goods. No surprising denouement in #BibiSpeech.— Ilene Prusher (@IlenePrusher) March 3, 2015
I guess we’ll be able to tell more in two weeks when Israeli voters actually go to the polls.