WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- On the eve of Purim—the Jewish holiday commemorating the biblical story of Esther and the foiling of a Persian plot to exterminate the Jewish people—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of Congress his nation's survival is in jeopardy should a nuclear agreement allowing Iran to enrich uranium move forward.
"Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us," Netanyahu said.
"Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated – he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed."
Netanyahu said the deal currently being pursued by the United States, which would allow the country to keep 6,500 centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium, would not remove Iran from the path to a nuclear weapon but instead "pave" it.
"The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short breakout time [to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium] for a nuclear bomb.
"According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed."
Netanyahu said if Iran's nuclear facilities and centrifuges were left intact, Iran could possess a nuclear weapon within one year (according to the U.S. assessment) or less (the Israeli assessment). This progress toward a nuclear weapon would continue in spite of international inspections.
"You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them," Netanyahu said.
As an example, he pointed to North Korea which defied inspectors and covered up its program's progress and now could have an arsenal of up to 100 nukes; and, he accused Iran of playing the same game of "hide-and-cheat."
"Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel," he cautioned. "As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013,'If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one.'"
Iran cannot be trusted, he said, and cannot be left with the capabilities to develop nuclear weapons simply "by violating the deal."
He also objected to a proposal by Secretary of State John Kerry that would allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons in a decade simply by keeping the deal.
He called a decade a "blink of an eye" and said "we all have a responsibility" to look ahead to consider what would happen after restrictions expired in a decade.
"Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could produce many, many nuclear bombs," Netanyahu said.
He said the vision of a peaceful Iran is unrealistic and not supported by modern history, during which Iran has been responsible for killing Jews all over the world and also for killing many Americans.
Iran had been tied to the bombings of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut and the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its links to the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania have never been publicly discussed by the U.S. government. But in 2011, in an under-reported story, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the bombers dispatched by Osama Bin Laden received "direct assistance" and material support from Tehran.
Now, Netanyahu said, Iran dominates the capitals of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
"So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations" and competing with the Islamic State for the "crown of militant Islam."
"In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone," he insisted.
In closing, Netanyahu said the world, and America in particular, was at a crucial crossroads and the deal being pursued by the United States "will not be a farewell to arms. It will be a farewell to arms control."
He argued three actions should be demanded before any consideration of lifting restrictions, saying Iran must:
-- stop its aggression against is neighbors in the Middle East;
-- stop supporting terrorism around the world; and,
-- "stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state."
Regardless, Netanyahu said his country would not wait for a better deal if the Iranian regime intended to harm Israel.
"We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves," he said. "We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves."
And he promised "one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand along, Israel will stand.
"But I know that Israel does not stand alone," he said. "I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel. You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors."
Near the end of his remarks, Netanyahu pointed to the image of Moses in the chamber and reminded those in the chamber what Moses told the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land: "Be strong and resolute; neither fear nor dread them."
"My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope."
Today's speech marks the third time Netanyahu has addressed a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu called Congress "the most important legislative body in the world."
Gregory Tomlin is a writer based in Fort Worth, Texas.