Ari Emanuel Met With Boos, Cheers as He Calls for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Ouster During Gala Speech: ‘For the Good of Israel’

 “The time for Bibi Netanyahu to go has come,” the Endeavor executive said Wednesday accepting the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s humanitarian award

Ari-Emanuel
Ari Emanuel (Credit: Getty Images)

While accepting the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s humanitarian award on Wednesday night, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel drew both cheers and boos and, according to witnesses, some walkouts, when he called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to go,” saying that it would be “for the good of Israel.”

“This is a painful and crucial moment for all of us who are Jews. It is not a time to stay silent,” the executive said.

Emanuel’s remarks began by thanking the Wiesenthal Center and affirming his lifelong connection to Israel. He also expressed support for Israel’s moral rightness in the war against Hamas, condemned “the outrageous decision by the I.C.C. to equate the murderous attacks by Hamas with Israel’s right to defend itself.”

He also called out the brutal violence committed by Hamas, as well as Gaza war opponents who have used slogans and rhetoric that have been called antisemitic.

“One lesson of our history is that we must defend ourselves. All wars are brutal. Women, children and civilians suffer. It’s terrible. Yet some wars are justified. Israel didn’t start the war in Gaza; Hamas did. We all know in this room what ‘[from] the river to the sea means,’ it means a promise to eliminate Israel and all Jews from the river to the sea. That is the definition of genocide. People who chant the slogan calling for the end of the Jewish state and students who say ‘Zionists don’t deserve to live’ are not ‘misguided kids,’ they’re antisemitic thugs,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel drew attention to the death toll in the war, conceding that “the world is rightly outraged by the deaths of innocent Palestinians in this war. The UN has now cut by nearly half the number of women and children believed to have been killed in Gaza. But there is no doubt the number is still heartbreaking,” he said. “The loss of even a single innocent child is a tragedy.”

But, he added, “Israel cannot be the only country in the world that has to put up with terrorists on both its northern and southern border who, again and again, openly state their commitment to the destruction of Israel and all Jews, and act on that commitment,” adding that it was Hamas who violated “the sort of cease-fire that many are calling for now.”

The executive then wondered aloud rhetorically why so many are focused on the war in Gaza but not similarly outraged about conflicts in places like Sudan, Ukraine and Syria, as well as U.S. attacks on ISIS that had high civilian casualties.

“It is one thing for Jews to hold ourselves to a higher standard. But Israel should not face a double standard,” Emanuel said, arguing that Israel has not targeted civilians “the way terrorists do.” Hamas “are the ones who continue to make all of Gaza a battlefield,” and who could “end this war today” by releasing hostages and ceasing attacks, he continued.

“Of course, they will not do that. Hamas started this war, and they continue to wage it, and so Israel must fight it,” Emanuel said, at this, he turned his remarks to Netanyahu.

Israel must decide how to fight the war and bring it to an end, Emanuel said, arguing that it needs to remain a strong democracy while also endorsing a two-state solution. That solution isn’t “a favor or reward for the Palestinians. It’s for Israel’s own good, for Israel’s survival as a democratic Jewish state,” he said.

But, Emanuel said, Netanyahu is “an agent of chaos, hatred, division and destruction” who “doesn’t want a peaceful solution. He only wants to secure his own power and political survival.”

“It is now time to recognize that Netanyahu is ruining our reputation and doing incredible and lasting damage both to Israel and to the Jewish people around the world,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel cited evidence in his speech for his criticisms, including statements made by members of the Netanyahu government, and Netanyahu’s on-record support for boosting Hamas in order to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging.

“For the good of Israel, he should go. So should the extremists in his cabinet, who are inciting violence in the West Bank and have been undermining democracy in Israel,” he continued.

Emanuel repeated that Israel must win the war, but that it must also find a “political solution for the region,” something he said Netanyahu clearly opposes. Reiterating support for Israel’s right to self defense, he said, “We should bring to justice settlers who commit violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.”

Concluding his speech, Emanuel said, “Israel will never be truly secure so long as Bibi is in charge. It is up to the Israeli people to choose their own leaders. Israel is a democracy. But as Jews, we have a stake in this. We also have a responsibility to speak out. We are called to ‘repair the world,’ Tikkun Olam. And as Elie Wiesel said, ‘Sometimes we must interfere,’” Emanuel said.

Invoking the recent Passover holiday, Emanuel argued that “a strong and just leader can guide our people to security and freedom. But following false idols and weak, selfish leaders brings us only chaos and destruction. Today, as always, Israel needs wise, just leaders. The time has come to finally move past Netanyahu.”

You can see part of his speech below:

The full text of Emanuel’s speech can be read here, courtesy of THR.

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