Benzion Netanyahu with his son, the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at a Memorial Day Ceremony for Yoni Netanyahu at Mount Herzl Military Cemetary in Jerusalem on January 26, 2007 – Photo Courtesy of Michal Fattal/Flash90
One of Israel’s most famous living Zionist was laid to rest at his home on April 30, 2012. At the age of 102 years, the father of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benzion Netanyahu passed as the nation mourned one of its true Zionist’s heroes who was here when the Jewish national state was born, and played a heroic role during the its historic and traumatic birth.
Benzion was for decades the personal aide to Zeev Jabotinsky, a major leader in the Israeli Zionist Movement who later founded the Revisionist Zionist Movement. According to the goals and aims of the Revisionist Zionist, Netanyahu and Jabotinsky believed that the goal of Zionism should be to establish permanently the Jewish people as the dominate peoples in the Ancient Land of Israel, and to establish and strengthen there a Jewish homeland and state.
Born in Warsaw Poland, Benzion Netanyahu moved to the Land of Israel in 1920 when his father, Rabbi Nathan Meleikowsky, a popular Zionist rabbi, moved the entire family to Israel while it was still partitioned under the rule of the British Mandate. At that time he Hebraicized his family name to Netanyahu.
Benzion was deeply affected by the Palestinian Arab riots in 1929 when in 6 days between August 23 and 29, 133 Jews were killed and 339 were injured by Arabs but a lot of Jewish property lost, while 6 Arab were killed by Jews and the British police killed 110 and injured 232. At that time, Netanyahu was attracted to the military Revisionist wing of the Zionist movement that was headed by Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
He became a dominant force in the movement as he firmly believed that modern Jewry carried the same mandate by the G-d of Israel when the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. This time in modern history, they were to conquer and take possession of the entire biblical lands of their forefathers Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that included Jordan on the other side of the River Jordan.
Early on, Zionism split between Labor Zionism and Revisionist Zionism. Labor Zionism quickly took control of the State of Israel with its economic goals that were socialistic and welfare oriented. On the other hand, the Revisionist Zionists became the first capitalists in the Middle East when it focused on building up a thriving middle class by boosting and supporting the entire government.
Today Revisionist Zionism is the political ideology of Israel’s Likud Party, with Jabotinsky and Netanyahu its “founding fathers”. Also today Benzion’s son, Benjamin Netanyahu is the leader of the Knesset party that leads and directs the government of the State of Israel.
Back in the 1940s, Benzion Netanyahu became a resident in the United States as the director of Jabotinsky’s New Zionist Organization of America. Together, they promoted predominately amongst the American Jews and the government of the United States, the Zionist goals of developing a strong and independent State of Israel. Because of their efforts, historians are now willing to acknowledge that the strong support of both the Republican and the Democratic parties both became strong supporters of the State of Israel and officially included it as part of their official party platforms.
As executive director of the American chapter of the Revisionist Zionist movement, Benzion Netanyahu also assumed the mantle as the editor of the Revisionist magazine, Zionews. He was a passionate writer with intense political insight. Surprisingly he quickly developed a literary fluency of the English language that he had only recently mastered.
He criticized his own mainstream Jewish leaders whom he called, “too cautious, too appeasing, and too ready to swallow the meaningless statements of sympathy that [are] issued from high places.” He boldly went forth to the people of the United States to address the Jewish cause and placed full-page advertisements in the New York Times and other national newspaper.
He took full aim at the “White Paper” policy of the British government restricting the emigration of Jewish people to the region of “Palestine” in the Middle East. He criticized American President Theodore Roosevelt’s White House stance on the Jewish refugees with the national headlines, “The White Paper must be Smashed, if Millions of Jews are to be Saved!”
Straddling his time between the New York Revisionist headquarters in New York City and Washington D.C’s Capital Hill, Netanyahu directly sought the backing of the congressional leaders for the Zionist cause in Israel. While the Labor Zionist leaders led by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise were strong supporters of the Roosevelt and the Democrats, Netanyahu cultivated the influential ties of prominent Republicans. These included President Herbert Hoover, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dean Acheson in support of a new Zionist State in Israel.
It was in the year of 1949, World War II was over, and the State of Israel was now an official national homeland of the Jews; Benzion Netanyahu returned to the Land of Israel. He later became the chief editor of the Encyclopedia Hebraica and a recognized historical expert on Jewish history in Spain.
He later returned to the United States in the 50s where he completed his doctorate in Medieval Jewish history at Dropsie College in Philadelphia later taught Jewish history at Dropsie (1957-1966), the University of Denver (1968-1971) and then Cornell University (1971-1975). Netanyahu’s magisterial study, “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain” was widely considered a groundbreaking masterpiece in Jewish history and published in 1995. The New York Times praised the book but sited it that Netanyahu ignored “certain sources and interpretation.”
Other critics sited him as “looking at the Holocaust through a rear-view mirror.” According to a recent Bloomberg article written by Jeffery Goldberg, Benzion revolutionized how our modern world viewed the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain on the 9th of Av in the year of 1492. As written:
Jeffery Goldbert – “Benzion Netanyahu was a foremost scholar of the Spanish Inquisition, and he revolutionized his field by arguing convincingly that the Spanish weren’t motivated by religious feeling, but by racial hatred. In other words, conversion wasn’t enough to save the Jews: The Spanish hated the idea of Jewish blood mixing with their own. The Inquisition, then, presaged the Holocaust. He believed that physical acts of anti-Semitism are always preceded by years of hate-filled rhetoric meant to desensitize the world to the coming slaughter.”
At the same time, Netanyahu firmly believe that Judaism and its history is a history of holocausts.” This was highlighted by a interview with The New Yorker writer, David Remnick in 1998 when Netanyahu admitted that Hitler’s genocide was on a different scale, but still, the history of the Jewish people had always experienced genocide and holocausts. While the world was still skeptics about the anti-Semitic national policy of Iran and their evil intentions to “drive the Jewish people into the sea,”
In the same Bloomberg interview with reporter Jeffery Goldberg, Netanyahu spoke with great clarity and purpose when he said:
Benzion Netanyahu – “The Jews didn’t survive,” he would say. About 1,900 years ago, he would explain, there were about 9 million Jews in a world population of roughly 300 million. Today, there are about 13 million Jews in a world of 7 billion. How is it that the number of Jews has stayed essentially stagnant, even as global population has grown exponentially?
Persecution, he explained, has driven the Jews nearly to extinction. So many murdered, so many forcibly converted to Christianity and Islam, so many choosing the dubious path of assimilation as a defense against hatred and isolation. The Jews of today, he said, are a remnant of a remnant. It wasn’t merely the German Holocaust, but a “history of holocausts,” that brought the Jewish people to such a debased position.
This forlorn outlook shaped Netanyahu’s hard-right politics. As Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of the Israeli Knesset, put it today, “With Benzion there was no place for compromise, and for that reason he sometimes showed displeasure with needs that his son had as a politician, both in the United Nations and as a person who was elected to serve as the prime minister of Israel.”
In 1976, Benzion Netanyahu returned permanently to live in Israel in the same year after his eldest son, Yonatan (Yoni) who was killed while leading the Sayeret Matkal (Israeli Special Ops) force in a daring 1976 raid to free 106 airline passengers being held hostage by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
Though a very private man who avoided all public spotlight, Benzion Netanyahu never shied away from publicly opposing any of the policies of the younger Netanyahu that he felt were harmful to the strengthening of Israel. He has always publically supported a gradual return to Jewish sovereignty of the entire biblical homeland in Israel.
As Destination Yisra’el reported on September 22, 2010 upon the 100th Birthday Party of Benzion Netanyahu in Israel, in the blog, titled, “Netanyahu, Jewish Settlements and the Nefarious Future of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Talks”, we read:
Destination Yisra'el - "Ben-Zion, by all accounts, was worshipped by his sons in their childhood, and today, the 60-year-old Benjamin, who has been known to act in charmless ways, conspicuously upholds the Fifth Commandment when discussing his father.
At a party marking Ben-Zion’s 100th birthday, held this past March at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, before an assembly that included the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, Benjamin credited his father with forecasting the Shoah and, in the early 1990s, predicting that “Muslim extremists would try to bring down the Twin Towers in New York.” But he also told stories in a warmer and more personal vein, describing a loving father who, though a grim and forbidding figure to outsiders, enjoys cowboy movies and played soccer with his sons.
After a brief debate between Ben-Zion and another prominent academic about competing interpretations of the Inquisition—“It is an unusual 100th-birthday commemoration when a debate about the Inquisition breaks out,” said Menachem Begin’s son, Benny, who is a minister-without-portfolio in Netanyahu’s cabinet—Ben-Zion rose to make valedictory remarks. His speech, unlike his son’s, was succinct, devoid of sentiment, and strikingly unambiguous.
Ben-Zion Netanyahu - “Our party this evening compels me to speak of recent comments made about the continued existence of the nation of Israel and the new threats by its enemies depicting its upcoming destruction,” Ben-Zion began.
“From the Iranian side, we hear pledges that soon—in a matter of days, even—the Zionist movement will be put to an end and there will be no more Zionists in the world. One is supposed to conclude from this that the Jews of the Land of Israel will be annihilated, while the Jews of America, whose leaders refuse to pressure Iran, are being told in a hinted fashion that the annihilation of the Jews will not include them.”
He went on, “The Jewish people are making their position clear and putting faith in their military power. The nation of Israel is showing the world today how a state should behave when it stands before an existential threat: by looking danger in the eye and calmly considering what should be done and what can be done. And to be ready to enter the fray at the moment there is a reasonable chance of success.”
Many people in Likud Party circles have told me that those who discount Ben-Zion’s influence on his son do so at their peril. “This was the father giving his son history’s marching orders,” one of the attendees told me. “I watched Bibi while his father spoke. He was completely absorbed.” (One of Netanyahu’s Knesset allies told me, indelicately, though perhaps not inaccurately, that the chance for movement toward the creation of an independent Palestinian state will come only after Ben-Zion’s death. “Bibi could not withdraw from more of Judea and Samaria”—the biblical names for the West Bank—“and still look into his father’s eyes.”)
So today, the mantle to preserve the Jewish people in the Land of Israel weighs heavily upon shoulders of Benzion’s middle son, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. With the Holocaust in the “rear-view mirror” and a Nuclear Iranian renewed Jewish Holocaust out the front window, Benzion Netanyahu is quickly becoming more of a prophet and a sage than an eccentric author and a Revisionist Zionist supporter. With his son carry on his father’s mantle, to save the Jewish State of Israel? Will Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu cave into the pre-conditions and demands of the Palestinian leadership and sell out the biblical heartland of Israel in Shomron, Judea and the strategic Jordan River Valley for a “pot of porridge?”
Looking forward to a new mandate from a new election, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is quickly preparing to cast his vote on whether he will become a “has-been Prime Minister of the State of Israel” or possibly a candidate to become the future Messiah son of Joseph (Mashiah ben Yosef) and lead the Jewish nation to its prophetic destiny?
Today, Benzion Netanyahu, has been laid to rest in Jerusalem overlooking the Eastern Gate of the Temple Mount.
You might want to read the series: “Benzion Netanyahu’s legacy to Israel”
With the death of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, the State of Israel and the Jewish people are again at the dividing line. Will the Prime Minister rise to the mantle of his father, and defend the Divine interests of the Holy One of Israel to conquer the Land and prepare it for the coming of the Mashiah ben Dovid?
At the same time, will the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel, as the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel” begin your transformation back to your Hebrew-Judaic roots and accept the mandate that the G-d of Israel is preparing to redeem you and return you to the land of your forefathers, in Shomron, the biblical heartland of Israel? As family, we will soon fight the same physical and spiritual battles together. This is part of G-d’s way of wooing each one of you, the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel, to return and be restored back into brotherhood with the Jews of the House of Judah so that He will send His Messiah to clean house of all the wickedness and corruption on Planet Earth.
If you want to learn more divinely led prophecies, we invite you to Contact “Kol Ha Tor Vision”, the Voice of the Turtledove. Here you will discover is a joint Orthodox Jewish and 10-Triber Mission to bring awareness of the imminent fulfillment of the Biblical Prophecies regarding the Redemption of all Israel (12 Tribes Re-conciled and Re-United). This super Event of all Times will bring the restoration and the Shomron Region, the Ancient Biblical Heartland of the Patriarchs plus the Judean Wilderness as part of the entire Land of Israel. Then we will witness the Divine as the “Land” will be restored and prepared for the Return of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel and then the Redemption of All Israel.
If you would like to visit Israel and the land of your Hebrew-Israelite forefathers in the biblical lands of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we invite you to Visit – “Shomron Lives!”, a Spiritual Retreat and Guest House in Samaria that offers tours of Biblical Samaria.