LOS ANGELES — In a speech to Jewish leaders in Los Angeles on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew parallels between Nazi Germany and Iran, warning of dire consequences if anti-Jewish rhetoric is allowed to go unchecked.
"There is a regime today that calls daily for our annihilation, openly and unabashedly," Netanyahu told a crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Museum of Tolerance, which houses Holocaust-related materials. "Our principal lesson in history is that when someone says they're going to annihilate you, take them seriously."
Netanyahu compared a document on display at the museum -- a 1919 letter signed by Adolf Hitler that outlined the German leader's plans for "the uncompromising removal of the Jews altogether" -- to anti-Israel sentiment in Iran.
Like Hitler, whose Nazi regime killed approximately 6 million Jews during World War II, “these people are out to destroy a section of humanity called the Jewish people," Netanyahu said. "We cannot be tolerant to the intolerant. We cannot be tolerant to the fanatics."
For months Netanyahu has been pressing the international community to take a harsher stance on Iran, and particularly its nuclear program. In a meeting at the White House with President Obama on Monday, Netanyahu reiterated his concerns about an interim deal designed to limit Iran's enrichment of uranium.
Netanyahu says a final deal, which is being brokered by several world powers, including the United States, must include harsher restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities. Iran has always maintained that its program is strictly for peaceful purposes.
Netanyahu's warnings come days after Israeli military officials announced they had intercepted an Iranian ship that they said was transferring long-range missiles to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Iran has denied the claim.
Speaking to the L.A. audience, Netanyahu pledged to "expose what Iran is really doing-- building weapons of mass death and dispatching weapons of immediate death right now to the worst terrorist groups in the world."
Netanyahu flies back to Israel on Thursday. After his meeting with Obama, he spent three days in California. On Tuesday he attended the Los Angeles premier of a new documentary about Israel. On Wednesday he met with technology executives in the Silicon Valley and signed an agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown to build academic and other partnerships between Israel and California.