Prime Minister Netanyahu pays Sir Winston Churchill a compliment (and this writer a smaller one), in his thanks for a gift of an inscribed copy of my book, Churchill In His Own Words, a collection of 4000 annotated quotations (which Churchill really said), along with a short appendix of the popular aphorisms he never said but which are frequently credited to him (Churchillian Drift).
The Prime Minister is not new to Churchill; he is one of those few statesmen who pay more than routine lip-service to Churchill’s role in history. Unlike most leaders who invoke his name, Mr. Netanyahu has actually read Churchill extensively, and applied his thought frequently.
With thanks for his kind remarks I quote herewith from his speech to the United Nations on 24 September 2009, which demonstrates the Prime Minister’s ability to draw guidance from Churchill’s words, without using them to proclaim what would do today.
A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot. By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals….
Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the “confirmed unteachability of mankind”: the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them. Churchill bemoaned what he called the “want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong….”
I speak here today in the hope that Churchill’s assessment of the “unteachability of mankind” is for once proven wrong. I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history—that we can prevent danger in time. In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.