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Posts Tagged ‘Benzion Netanyahu’

Jewish Blogosphere Ablaze Over Obama’s Condolences to Netanyahu

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Shortly after the passing of Benzion Netanyahu, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sent his condolences to the late professor’s son, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Romney and Netanyahu have been on friendly terms for years. “This is a loss for all of Israel and for all who care about Israel,” Romney said about the elder Netanyahu’s passing in a tweet.

That aside, the Jewish Blogosphere is exploding with messages about the fact that US President Barack Obama has supposedly not yet conveyed his own condolences to the prime minister.

As strange as that may seem, when The Jewish Press staff searched the White House website, they could not find the text of the presidents’ words of comfort to Netanyahu, nor has a lengthy Google search yielded any such document.

A sleepy White House switchboard operator told us we should call after the start of the work day in DC.

A call to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office yielded a firm statement that it is “very much against protocol to make public this kind of personal exchanges between heads of state”.

Last year, President Obama sent condolences to Israeli President Shimon Peres over the loss of his wife, as well as to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the death of his mother last year

We have no doubt that the president has indeed conveyed his sorrow over Netanyahu’s loss, we’d just like to read it.

Update: The White House announced that the President called Netanyahu on Wednesday to convey his condolences. The readout is as follows:

President Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel today from Air Force One to express his personal condolences on the death of his father, Benzion Netanyahu. In the call the President noted Benzion Netanyahu’s remarkable legacy of service to the Jewish people and deep friendship with the United States.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: A Warrior-Scholar Falls in Israel – The Death of Benzion Netanyahu

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

I had already twice hosted Benjamin Netanyahu – at the time Israel’s deputy Foreign Minister – at the University of Oxford before I extended my first invitation to his scholarly father to lecture in turn. The elderly Netanyahu had recently published his internationally-celebrated opus Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, and I was fascinated by his theory of anti-Semitism extending not to the beginnings of Christianity but five hundred years before the birth of Jesus. I was likewise taken by the monumental sweep of his Spanish Inquisition narrative, a subject that had long fascinated me, and wanted him to address the subject with our students. Finally, I wanted to meet the man whose fierce Jewish patriotism had raised two of Israel’s greatest sons, Yoni Netanyahu, the brave commando who fell leading Israel’s Entebbe rescue operation, and Benjamin, who, by the time we hosted his father was serving as Israel’s Prime Minister.

Professor Netanyahu, accompanied by his son Ido – whose caring for, and patience with, his father I shall never forget – would eventually lecture for all three of our L’Chaim Society branches, in Oxford, Cambridge, and London, with large student groups attending each. The lectures demonstrated the encyclopaedic scope of his scholarship and, at about 90 minutes each, his ferocious mental stamina and laser-like focus, though he was greatly advanced in years.

What I enjoyed the most was the down time we spent together, with long drives between the cities he was to speak at and then sitting at his London hotel together. Here was a Jewish nationalist of phenomenal determination. Zionism was in his DNA and I have rarely met a more passionate Jewish patriot or a prouder Jew. He had a sweeping view of history and could clearly argue the precarious state of the Jewish people throughout time. He believed in the totality of the Land of Israel and that the Jewish State dare not make territorial concessions that would undermine its security and history.

As providence would have it, I was actually with him Friday afternoon, October 23, 1998, at his London hotel when his son, the Prime Minister of Israel, signed the Wye River Memorandum that committed Israel to withdraw from territory it was required to transfer to the Palestinian Authority. The agreement was all over the news and we watched part of it on TV. Professor Netanyahu seemed deeply agitated, severely criticizing the Herculean and unfair pressure being brought to bear by the international community on Israel, in general, and on his son in particular, to relinquish land. One could see a deep connection between father and son and he spoke lovingly of the unimaginable responsibilities his son faced.

After his visit to Oxford, I began visiting him at his modest home in Jerusalem on my trips to Israel a few times a year. He welcomed me warmly and humbly each and every time. Although greatly advanced in years, he would give me hours of his time. We spoke of history, Jewish identity, modern politics, and human relationships. He asked detailed questions about the welfare of our students back in the United Kingdom and the state of my activities.

I remember once summoning the courage to ask him about the loss of his son Yoni, arguably Israel’s greatest war hero. He responded quietly about the sacrifices all Israeli families had to make for the country to endure. He never boasted about his son’s military glory and spoke of him as he were a common soldier. It goes without saying that he rarely discussed his middle son’s achievement as Premiere of his country and on the occasions when the Prime Minister interrupted our conversations by calling his father, he never told me it was Bibi on the line. I only knew because he mentioned his son’s name while speaking to him. Indeed, at his UK lectures some in the audience praised him as the father of the Israel’s Prime Minister. He quietly thanked them and changed the subject. He was there to discuss the Spanish Inquisition and scholarship.

Professor Benzion Netanyahu was a man of rare humility, scholarship, patriotism, and sacrifice. His commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish community will long serve as an inspiration and blessing to people everywhere. And there can be no question that the iron-clad commitment toward the Jewish people’s security shown by Bibi, especially with regard to the current nuclear threat posed by Iran, was inculcated in a son who deeply loved, admired, and respected his learned father.

Mourning

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his son Yair, at the funeral of the Prime Minister’s father, Benzion Netanyahu, in Jerusalem on April 30, 2012. Benzion Netanyahu died at the age of 102, early Monday morning, in his home in Jerusalem.

Update: Details on Funeral of Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Prime Minister

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Professor Benzion Netanyahu will be laid to rest at 5pm on Monday at the Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.

The former aide to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Operation Entebbe hero Yoni Netanyahu, was 102.  For more about Professor Benzion, click here.

 

Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Prime Minister Benjamin, Dies at 102

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Entebbe rescue hero Yoni Netanyahu, died Monday at his Jerusalem home at the age of 102. The elder Netanyahu was visited by his son Benjamin for the last time on Sunday at the family home on 4 Haportzim Street.  He will be laid to rest on Monday at 5pm at Jerusalem’s Har Menuchot Cemetery.

Benzion Netanyahu served as secretary to Revisionist Zionist proponent and Beitar leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, served as editor for the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, and served as professor emeritus at Cornell University.

Born in Warsaw on March 25, 1910 as Benzion Milikovsky, he and his family immigrated to Israel in 1920.  In 1944, he married Tzila Segal, with whom he had three sons: Yonatan, born 1946, a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal who was killed in the 1976 Operation Entebbe rescue of 102 Israeli and other hostages, Benjamin, born 1949, and Ido, born 1952, a radiologist, author, and playwright.

Working as the secretary of Zionist icon Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Netanyahu maintained a belief in Jewish sovereignty over the Greater Land of Israel, including parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.  He was one of the signers of a petition against the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947.

Benzion’s strong Zionist values were a major part of Benjamin’s upbringing.  The prime minister’s father imparted on him the importance of protecting Jewish heritage sites such as Hebron.  He advocated a tough stance in the region, and predicted that threats to world peace would emerge from parts of the Muslim world harboring violence, terror, nuclear power, and oil.

According to a report in Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that his father predicted a Muslim attack on the Twin Towers in New York, as well as the rise of tyrannical Islamic regimes which would make efforts to attain nuclear weapons.

In his last interview with Channel 2 news – at the age of 99, Benzion stated that his powerful son does not support a Palestinian state.  “He supports the kind of (diplomatic) conditions they (the Palestinians) would never in the world accept,” Benzion said.  “That’s what I heard from him.  Not from me – he put forth the conditions.  These conditions – they will never be accepted, not even one of them.”

“No, No, Herzl and Landau did not toil in order to build a Palestinian state,” Benzion told the reporter.  “This land is a land of the Jews, not a land of the Arabs.  There is no room here for Arabs, there will not be, and they will never negotiate to terms (which would create a Palestinian state).”

Moreover, Benzion believed that Arab citizens are a threat to the fabric of Israel, and that they would conflict with the Jews by nature.  “The tendency to conflict is in the essence of the Arab.  He is an enemy by essence… His existence is one of perpetual war,” Benzion is quoted by the Associated Press as telling Maariv in 2009. “The Arab citizens’ goal is to destroy us. They don’t deny that they want to destroy us.”

Benzion was a strong opponent of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Jewish communities in Gaza known as Gush Katif.  The forced expulsion of Jewish residents who wanted to remain in the area was a “crime against humanity”, according to Benzion.

As an academic, Netanyahu specialized in Medieval Spanish Jewry.  In his controversial book on the subject, he rejected the theory that the Spanish Inquisition was a result of Jewish isolationism or separatism, saying Spanish Jews were interested in assimilating into Christian society and Spanish culture, and were forced into being Marranos when their efforts to shed their Jewishness did not afford them full acceptance.

Netanyahu Follows Father’s Path In Amassing Bipartisan Support

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

The enthusiastic response Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received when he addressed Congress on May 24 came from both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans both took part in the numerous standing ovations.

Afterward, Democrats and Republicans made statements criticizing President Obama’s positions and supporting Israel’s.

But perhaps it is not so surprising that the prime minister was able to attract such bipartisan support. His father accomplished something similar 67 years ago.

In the summer of 1944, 34-year-old Benzion Netanyahu was the executive director of the American wing of Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionist movement.

One of Benzion Netanyahu’s tasks was to help mobilize support in Washington for free Jewish immigration to Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state. That was no small job at a time when the British opposed Jewish immigration and statehood, and the Roosevelt administration preferred not to intervene.

The Revisionists often used tactics that the mainstream Zionists considered too aggressive. For example, Netanyahu and his colleagues repeatedly placed large advertisements in The New York Times and other leading newspapers with headlines such as “The White Paper Must Be Smashed, if Millions of Jews Are to Be Saved!” and “Is America to Be a Party to the Palestine Betrayal?”

These challenges to Allied policy did not sit well with mainstream Jewish leaders such as Rabbi Stephen Wise, who was deeply loyal to President Roosevelt, the New Deal and the Democratic Party. In his private correspondence, Wise called the president “the All Highest” and “the Great Man.”

Much to the Jewish establishment’s chagrin, Netanyahu actively cultivated relationships with Republican members of Congress and party leaders. For Wise, building friendly relations with FDR’s political foes was inconceivable. For Netanyahu it was political common sense. Roosevelt had no incentive to address Jewish concerns if he believed Jewish votes were in his pocket.

Only if there were a credible threat of Jews voting Republican would FDR see a reason to reconsider his cold policy toward Jewish refugees and Zionism.

In the months leading up to the June 1944 Republican National Convention, Netanyahu and his colleagues undertook what they called “a systematic campaign of enlightenment.” They met repeatedly with former president Herbert Hoover, 1936 GOP presidential nominee Alf Landon and influential Republican members of Congress such as Rep. Clare Booth Luce (wife of the publisher of Time and Life).

At a Revisionist dinner that spring, Luce said Great Britain’s blockade of Jewish refugee ships bound for Palestine was to blame for the fact that “Jewish blood stains the blue Mediterranean red.”

In their meetings, the Revisionists asked the Republicans to include a pro-Zionist plank in their 1944 platform. Neither party had ever formally endorsed the cause of Jewish statehood, but the GOP leaders clearly were sympathetic. On the eve of the convention, Luce called Netanyahu and said, only half joking, “I’m going now to do your work at the convention.”

Meanwhile, an additional lobbying effort was undertaken by Abba Hillel Silver, the activist Cleveland rabbi who in 1943 had been elevated to the co-chairmanship of the American Zionist movement alongside Wise. Silver, who enjoyed a close relationship with Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, lobbied Taft and other leading Republicans on the platform issue.

The GOP’s final platform not only endorsed Jewish statehood in Palestine, as Silver wanted, but also criticized Roosevelt, as Netanyahu wanted. It declared: “We condemn the failure of the President to insist that the mandatory of Palestine carry out the provisions of the Balfour Declaration and of the mandate while he pretends to support them.”

Furious and embarrassed, Wise dashed off a letter to Roosevelt declaring that he was “deeply ashamed” of the “utterly unjust” wording of the Republican plank. In the pages of the Revisionist journal Zionews, Netanyahu commented that “It seems that to Dr. Wise and his friends, partisan politics are more important than truth and the interests of their people and their country.”

The Republican Party’s move had an important consequence: It compelled the Democrats to compete for Jewish support and treat the Jewish vote as if it were up for grabs. The Democratic National Convention in July 1944 for the first time endorsed “unrestricted Jewish immigration and colonization” of Palestine and the establishment of “a free and democratic Jewish commonwealth.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/netanyahu-follows-fathers-path-in-amassing-bipartisan-support/2011/06/07/

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