Finally, we know what Benjamin Netanyahu likes to binge-watch in his free time. The Israeli prime minister made his highly controversial speech before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday — an event that has prompted a deep bipartisan rift in Washington and even more intense strain on U.S.-Israel relations. But somewhere between diplomatically praising President Obama and emphasizing for the umpteenth time that Iran is bad, Bibi dropped a pop culture reference worthy of a standing ovation from both sides of Congress. Yup — Netanyahu made a Game of Thrones reference when condemning Iran and ISIS, calling their power struggle a "deadly game of thrones." It was a sly name-drop that would have made Cersei weak in the knees.
One of the overarching points in Netanyahu's speech was that Iran's regime supports militant Islam, since "the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted" in it. And just because Iran and ISIS are at odds with each other, Netanyahu argued, doesn't mean the United States can count on Iran as an ally in the fight against the Islamic State.
At the end of the day, Netanyahu hinted, ISIS and Iran are merely warring rulers who share the same goal. Sounds a bit like the premise of a show or something, right? Netanyahu told the crowd:
The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
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.
It's a pop culture reference used as a pun masked as fiery political oration. And it nearly tops Queen Cersei's own reference to the name of the show in season one, when she ominously tells Ned Stark, "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die."
The GoT reference was just one of Netanyahu's many crowd-pleasing soundbites. Overall, if we're measuring the success of his speech by the number of times Congress applauded, then the now-infamous speech certainly lived up to the hype. In total, Congress applauded 43 times during the PM's talk, which lasted just under an hour. That means that there was clapping almost every minute of the speech. It's a miracle he was able to get any words in at all.Images: Getty Images (2)