Two years ago, on the occasion of Ben Zion Netanyahu’s 100th birthday, I sent you the message below.
Now, upon his passing, I am respectfully resending the communication in his honor.
Over the last 15 years I had many difference of opinions with PM Netanyahu but I always respected him as a man an Israeli leader, a patriot and a member of a true Zionist family. The one I truly adored in his family was his father Ben Zion Netanyahu.
Ben Zion Netanyahu father of PM Bibi Netanyahu, Former commander of Sayeret Matcal our top and Elite IDF unit Yoni Netanyahu z"l and Dr. Ido Netanyahu.
Netanyahu the father celebrated a few days ago his 100 birthday.
In his birthday his son PM Netanyahu spoke about his father and his incredible life experience and ability to "see the future".
I decided to bring you this time the PM speech at the event ! I trust that understanding where he is coming from will help us understand better where are we going !!!
100-year-old father with a gift of clairvoyance
By: Benjamin Netanyahu
When my Dad was born 100 years ago, the czars ruled Russia, England was a global empire and the Ottoman Turks ruled the Middle East. During his life, three empires collapsed, other global powers rose and fell, and the fate of the Jewish people underwent critical changes. As a boy my father had remarkable foresight. This vision led him to write his essay on Herzl in 1937 which stated: "Herzl saw that the whispering embers of the ancient fire of hatred towards the Jews that had surrounded European countries in the past would flare again, the conflagration would spread. He could see the catastrophe “... It was clear to him that disaster was lurking for his nation.
Dad wrote these thoughts at the age of 27, three years before the Holocaust.
His foresight led him to visit Jabotinsky in London on the eve of the Second World War, in an attempt to persuade him to transfer his England activities to America. “America is a rising power” he said, while England’s power is diminishing. Your presence in the United States will enable you to make an impact on U.S. leaders and move American public opinion towards supporting the Jewish state.
The same foresight brought Dad to predict, a few decades ago, that the threat to world peace will derive from those parts of the Muslim world that combine oil, terrorism and nuclear power. In the early '90s he predicted that Muslim extremists will not rest until they destroy the Twin Towers in New York. I included this prediction in one of my books from 1995.
As a small boy growing up in the sleepy Jerusalem of the '50s, I didn’t truly appreciate my father’s qualities. Our early childhood was spent on Ein Gedi Street in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Mother was a practical woman with a lively sense of humor with her feet firmly on the ground, and that is how she raised us. She used to say: "I married a genius, but someone has to deal with socks”. These were the words of a wise and educated woman who helped Dad with everything - research, interpretation of texts, composing and typing articles.
In the early 50’s we moved to “HaPaortzim Street”. There, Dad was able to devote himself to his scientific study of Spanish Jewry, as well as his work as editor in chief of Encyclopedia Hebraica. Indeed, sometimes it seemed that Dad belonged to the old world. Sometimes one could hear him on the phone with friends, Prof. Joseph Klausner or historian Prof. Abraham Shalit, speaking their special language: "Sir wishes that it be forbidden to see?", "Shall I send the manuscript to the master?" Etc. etc.. But not everything was old world. I remember when we arrived in New York in 1958, Dad played soccer with us in Central Park, and we discovered that he was not a bad player at all!
Changes in our lives path
I recall one day, as a little boy I had gone too far and mother asked you to deal with me. You began moving towards me in what seemed to be a threatening gesture, although you had never raised your hand to us. Being a young child, I did not yet understood this secret and stood in front of you in defiance: "You would not dare! Just because you are bigger than me does not mean you can beat me." You stopped in your tracks, thought a moment and said: "The child is right".
I'll tell you something else: Dad is a confirmed fan of “Western” movies. But there is no doubt that this openness to global culture is deeply rooted in our heritage. We were enriched by Dad’s love for our mother and us, for the people of Israel and our land.
In 1976 something happened that changed the course of our lives forever. Our lives split in two: before and after that terrible day which in June when Yoni fell. When Ido called me late at night in Boston, I knew, even before I picked up the receiver, that Yoni no longer with us. My immediate thought was that I need to get to you- Dad, and to Mom, where you were at the time - at Cornell University in New York, before you heard the terrible news. After seven hours of driving through hell, I saw you through the big glass window, thinking and rambling (as you do), with your hands clasped behind your back.
Suddenly you looked up and you saw me, and with a look of amazement on your face asked "Bibi, what are you doing here?" Your gaze changed as you comprehended the awful truth and you let out a bitter groan, and then mother cried. I will not forget these cries until my dying day.
This was 34 years ago, four years more than Yoni’s entire life.
In time, Mom passed away. On her tombstone you had engraved" She proudly carried her grief, with the falling of her son Jonathan, one of the noblest of Israel’s war heroes. She was unique and wonderful till the end of her days".
Indeed, in the years following Yoni’s death you both carried your grief with honor. Where did you find the strength? It was during this period you managed to complete your work on the origins of the Great Inquisition, which is considered by scholars the world's greatest history book for generations.
Your books clearly show your extraordinary ability to not only predict the future but also to unravel the secrets of the past. And there is a connection between the two. Many times you told me: "Those who cannot understand the past, cannot understand the present. And how can one who does not understand the present, be able decipher the future?".
On this day, Dad, as you mark 100 years of life I would like to tell you exactly the same words Yoni wrote to you 44 years ago, upon the publication of your book about Marranos:
"I never told you how proud I am that you are the person that you are, and that I am your son."
And what did Ben Zion Netanyahu spoke about in his speech you are asking ???