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Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called out Iran during a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, accusing the Islamic nation of being behind an antisemitic campaign against Israel.
Lapid spoke of “two major threats” facing Israel, tying Iran to both.
“The first is the nuclear threat. The fear that terrorist states and terrorist organizations will get their hands on nuclear weapons. The second threat is the demise of truth,” Lapid said. “Our democracies are slowly being poisoned by lies and fake news. Reckless politicians, totalitarian states and radical organizations are undermining our perception of reality.”
Illustrating the second point, Lapid recalled publication of a 3-year-old Palestinian girl named Malak al-Tanani who was reportedly killed along with her parents in an Israeli Air Force attack.
“It was a heartbreaking image, but Malak Al Tanani doesn’t exist. The photo was taken from Instagram. It is of a girl from Russia,” he said.
“I can give you thousands more examples of similar fake news about Israel. The anti-Israel movement has been spreading these lies for years. In the media, on college campuses and on social media,” Lapid said. “The question is not why they do it, but why are you willing to listen?”
Lapid said it is all about antisemitism.
“Antisemitism is the willingness to believe the worst about the Jews, without questioning. Antisemitism is judging Israel by a different standard than any other country,” he said.
“Conducting this orchestra of hate, is Iran,” Lapid declared. He noted how Israeli and American flags are often seen being burned on the streets of Iran, raising the question of where these flags come from.
“The answer is: they are manufacturing them especially. Just so they can burn them,” he said. “This is what an industry of hate looks like.”
“Iran’s regime hates Jews, hates women, hates gay people, hates the West,” he continued. “They hate and kill Muslims who think differently, like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini. Their hate is a way of life. It is a way to preserve their oppressive rule.”
Turning to the other threat Israel faces – the nuclear one – Lapid said that Iran’s position on Israel is the only case of a UN member state openly calling for the destruction of another member state.
“If the Iranian regime gets a nuclear weapon, they will use it,” Lapid warned. “It needs to be made clear to Iran, that if it advances its nuclear program, the world will not respond with words, but with military force. Every time a threat like that was put on the table in the past, Iran stopped, and retreated.”
Lapid also made it clear that the Jewish state should not be taken lightly.
“The Jews today have a state,” he said in an unspoken contrast to the time of the Holocaust. “We have an army. We have great friendships, first and foremost with the United States. We have capabilities and we are not afraid to use them. We will do whatever it takes: Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. We will not stand by while there are those who try to kill us. Not again. Never Again.”