May 14, 2010
Prof. Ben Zion Netanyahu (photo by Kobi Kalmanovitz Maariv/nrg.co.il)My paper, Maariv, published today an eight pages interview with professor Ben Zion Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu’s 99 year old father. Netanyahu often refers to his father as the person who inspired him the most. When he resigned from the government just before the disengagement from Gaza, Netanyahu mentioned his father as one of the reasons for his move (Prof. Netanyahu opposed the disengagement plan). “From you I’ve learned, father,” said Netanyahu that day. In this interview, Prof. Ben Zion (who’s mind and thinking are clear as ever – in fact, he is about to go on a work tour to the US) explains his political views in length, discusses the dangers from the Left in Israel, and even passes judgment on his son’s character. He also discusses personal issues, such as his relations with Netanyahu’s wife, their kids and how he misses his son, Yoni, who was killed leading Operation Entebbe in 1976. Prof. Netanyahu gave the interview without informing the PM’s office. As walla.co.il reported, Benjamin Netanyahu tried to prevent the publishing of this interview, and even called Maariv’s publisher, Ofer Nimrodi, on the matter. Finally it was agreed that because of the father’s age, the PM’s brother, Ido, will have the right to go over his answers. I believe this makes this interview even more valid, since Ido wouldn’t have let Maariv publish a text which doesn’t reflect the father’s personality and views. In today’s political world, Prof. Netanyahu will be considered an extreme right wing man. In fact, Prof. Netanyahu says that because of his views, he was never offered a teaching job in one of Israel’s universities (he is a world expert on medieval Jewish history). I tend to believe him. He was also one of the leaders of the US Zionist movement, and personal secretary to the founder of the Revisionist movement, Zeev Jabotinsky. Over the weekend I will post here the most interesting excerpts from the interview. Here is the first part, regarding the peace process (the fun parts are at the end): Prof. Netanyahu: “The Jews and the Arabs are like two goats facing each other on a narrow bridge. One must jump to the river – but that involves a danger of death. The strong goat will make the weaker one jump… and I believe the Jewish power will prevail.” Q: What does the Arab’s jump mean? A: “That they won’t be able to face [anymore] the war with us, which will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and more. They won’t be able to exist, and they will run away from here. But it all depends on the war, and whether we will win the battles with them.” Q: I suppose you don’t believe in the peace process. A: “I don’t see any signs that the Arabs want peace… we will face fierce attacks from the Arabs, and we must react firmly. If we don’t, they will go on and Jews will start leaving the country… we just handed them a strong blow in Gaza, and they still bargain with us over one hostage… if we gave them a blow that would really hurt them, they would have given us Gilad Shalit back.” Q: Operation “cast Lead” was one of the worst blows we handed on a civilian population. A: “That’s not enough. It’s possible that we should have hit harder.” Q: You don’t like the Arabs, to say the least. A: “The bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases.