web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A History Lession From Netanyahu Senior


Israeli generals probably don’t cry very often. These are men of steel nerves, professional soldiers toughened by the rigors of battle and a lifetime devoted to strict military discipline.

But there was a moment during his recent swearing-in ceremony when the new chief of staff of the Israeli army, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, could not hold back his tears.

That moment came when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned from the familiar generalities about army service to a very personal subject: the contrast between the suffering Gantz’s mother endured during the Holocaust and the national triumph her son’s career symbolizes.

What the audience did not know, however, was that there was also a personal element on Netanyahu’s side. Seventy years ago, his father, the scholar and Zionist activist professor Benzion Netanyahu, authored a stirring Passover eve proclamation likewise anchored in the themes of Jewish victory in the face of unbearable persecution and the ability of the Jews to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Prof. Netanyahu’s words offer one last lesson to take with us from this year’s Passover holiday.

“When your mother was liberated from Bergen-Belsen, she weighed just 28 kilograms [62 lbs.],” the prime minister noted. “I am certain that at the time, she never dreamed that 66 years later her son, yet to be born, would be the 20th chief of staff of the army of the State of Israel, the Jewish state. Perhaps she did not dream of such a thing, but it has come true before our eyes.”

Lt.-Gen. Gantz made it clear, in his remarks at the ceremony, that he appreciated the historical significance of the journey from Bergen-Belsen to Jerusalem, from Jewish weakness and homelessness to sovereignty and independence.

“I am the son of the Jewish people’s chain of generations,” he declared.

The Israeli army, after all, is not just any army, and its chief of staff is not just another general. They are intrinsically connected to the Jews’ unique national experience, both in exile and in their homeland.

Which is exactly the point Prof. Benzion Netanyahu made in his Passover 1941 message. At the time, Netanyahu served as executive director of the New Zionist Organization of America, the U.S. wing of the militant Revisionist Zionist movement. He was also editor of its biweekly publication, Zionews.

His lead editorial in each issue of Zionews typically dealt with the latest Palestine-related political developments and controversies, not something from the Jewish calendar. In fact, Netanyahu’s April 21, 1941 editorial was the only occasion in the journal’s five year-history that he devoted that premier space to a reflection on a Jewish holiday.

“For ages and generations we have assembled in our homes on the first and second evenings of Passover to commemorate the liberation of our forefathers from the slavery of Egypt,” he began.

“Thousands of years have passed since; new slavery, hatreds and persecutions followed our race into every corner of the world.”

He cited a number of examples of such persecutions, including, of course, the Jews being “burned on the fires of the Spanish Inquisition,” which was the subject of the Ph.D. dissertation he was then writing.

Netanyahu also recalled how the Jews were “uprooted [by the Romans] from free and independent Judea to be slaves.” They were “beaten and killed by the Cossacks of the Ukraine.” The “Russian pogromists shed our blood like water.” “The Arab effendis have proclaimed a holy war on us.” And “Hitler and Mussolini have started a march of extermination against us.”

Yet the suffering of the Jews could never separate them from their faith or extinguish their hopes:

“Through oceans of blood, our blood, through oceans of tears, our tears, hated, persecuted, beaten, wandering and homeless, we assemble at the Passover Seder to thank God for our liberation from Egypt, and to express once again the hope of the [Haggadah]: ‘This year we are still slaves – next year we shall be free men.'”

“It is a great hope,” Prof. Netanyahu concluded. “It is a great spirit of a great nation. Only a nation of our spiritual caliber could come through the ages of unparalleled sufferings with its spirit unbroken; still alive; still striving for liberty. Next year we shall be free men.”

It would, of course, take longer than he hoped, and many innocent Jews, including Benny Gantz’s mother, would endure unimaginable suffering.

But in the end, the Jewish nation would survive to see the dream fulfilled, so that one day the son of Prof. Netanyahu would appoint the son of Mrs. Gantz to lead the army of their nation.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies (www.WymanInstitute.org).

About the Author: Dr. Rafael Medoff is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and coeditor of the Online Encyclopedia of America's Response to the Holocaust.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A History Lession From Netanyahu Senior”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jewish blood libel cartoon posted on Facebook sometime in 2014 by an UNRWA teacher in Jordan.
UNRWA Teacher in Jordan Promotes Hatred of Jews on Facebook
Latest Indepth Stories

So it is critical that readers in the districts indicated come out to vote.

We urge readers to seek out upcoming rallies scheduled for times and places that work for them.

To be sure, the worst of what was directed at Mr. Nadler by some random hotheads with no real power or influence (calling him a “kapo,” for example) was over the top.

We can readily understand that it would be an embarrassment to the president were Congress to reject the deal he struck, even if that rejection would be vetoed and go nowhere.

As the First Zionist Congress was indisputably one of the seminal events in modern Jewish history, it is not surprising that it became the subject of some of the most beloved, beautiful, and rare Rosh Hashanah cards ever created.

Many in the media impart bias in place of truth; convey personal prejudice over objective facts.

Nahal Haredi is the ultimate solution, according to Branski, serving haredim from a wide variety of backgrounds – chassidish and yeshivish, Sephardi and Askenazi.

A recent study found that 54% of Jewish college students experienced/witnessed anti-Semitism in 2014

The purpose of an attack on Joseph’s Tomb is to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Dr. Raphael Medoff

For the Jewish Democrats in Congress, this is a trying moment

Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau

Morgenthau’s speech echoes history, reprising his father’s role of speaking truth to power: FDR

By using linguistic trickery, Nader is purposely looking to confuse the issue of anti-Semitism

An estimated 1.5-million Jewish men/women served in US, British, Soviet & Allied armies in WWII

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

The long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, held hostage to fears of angering Turkey, has finally ended. Or has it?

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-history-lession-from-netanyahu-senior/2011/05/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: