Reactions to Bibis speech run from hot to hotter

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had barely finished his speech to Congress Tuesday morning before the reactions began pouring in.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking about Iran during a joint meeting of Congress, March 3, 2015. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In general, American Jewish groups were more supportive than the Israeli media, offering praise ranging from measured to enthusiastic.

 

The Anti-Defamation League said that it “applauds” Netanyahu and in a statement called his speech “a clear and passionate appeal for the strongest possible deal to remove the Iranian nuclear threat.”

B’nai B’rith International issued a statement saying that Netanyahu “made a compelling case” that Iran “cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons” and that the organization “welcome[s] his contributions.”

Not surprisingly, the Republican Jewish Coalition issued a ringing endorsement of the speech, with executive director Matt Brooks calling it “historic” as well as “substantive and convincing.”

Even more liberal Jewish organizations responded favorably.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he was “grateful” to hear from Netanyahu and said the prime minister “clearly and rightly made an effort to address and ameliorate the partisan tensions that surrounded the speech and detracted from the real issue, which is Iran.”

Yet Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said the speech left her “near tears,” and “saddened” by the “insult to the intelligence of the United States” and the “condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran.”

In Israel, the response was sharper still.

An oped by David Horovitz in the Times of Israel concluded that Netanyahu did “devastating, presumably irrevocable damage to his relationship with President Barack Obama.”

An analysis in the Jerusalem Post underlined the connection between Netanyahu’s speech and the upcoming Israeli election on March 17.

And left-leaning newspaper Haaretz decried the speech as presenting “a warped view of the Mideast.”