Netanyahu Likens ISIS to Iran at U.N. General Assembly

The Israeli prime minister also said ISIS and Hamas are 'branches of the same poisonous tree.'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Policy Conference at the Walter Washington Convention Center March 4. (National Journal)

In 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu urged the United Nations to draw "a clear red line" to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capability, pointing to a homemade, cartoon graph of a bomb illustrating the threat. At the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, the Israeli prime minister continued the penchant for theatrics that have come to define his speeches to the annual caucus.

Playing on recent Western concerns about the Islamic State, Netanyahu linked both Iran and Hamas with the terrorist group.

"Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons," he said. "Make no mistake, ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."

On the connection between the Islamic State and Hamas, the militant Islamic group Israel went to war with in Gaza this summer, Netanyahu called them "branches of the same poisonous tree," asserting that they share a "creed which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control."

Netanyahu also compared "militant Islam" to the Nazis' ambitions for a master race free of Jews during the Holocaust. It "seems mad," he said. "But so, too, did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago."

Naming his enemies personally, he denounced earlier U.N. General Assembly speeches by Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Last week, Rouhani compared the spread of global terrorism to a "contagious disease."

In calling on the international community to take the threat of Islamic militants seriously, Netanyahu also made overtures to illness.

"You know the famous American saying, 'all politics are local'?" he asked. "For the militants, all politics is global, because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world. That threat might seem exaggerated to some since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a part of the body. But left unchecked, it grows and metastasizes. We must remove this cancer before it's too late."

He also took time to justify the Israeli army's controversial actions in its war with Hamas this summer. Using the only prop of his speech, he held up a photo by international news channel France 24 showing children next to Hamas rocket launchers to illustrate that the terrorist group uses "civilians as a human shield."

Brazenly condemning the very institution lending him a microphone, Netanyahu called the U.N.'s Human Rights Council an "oxymoron" because it launched an investigation into possible war crimes on Israel's side of the conflict rather than Hamas'.

"The U.N. Human Rights Council has thus become a terrorist rights council, and it will have repercussions," he said.

He decried the council's action as anti-Semitic, and he received loud applause when he asserted Israel's right--and power--to defend itself on the battlefield and "in the court of public opinion."