A Typical Rant: Gideon Levy on Benzion Netanyahu

Gideon Levy's article on Benzion Netanyahu in Haaretz was despicable and irrelevant.

Dr. Joe Tuzara,


‘The death of Netanyahu's father is no cause for national mourning’, an article written by HaaretzGideon Levy, is the most disgusting political commentary I have ever encountered,  maligning instead of mourning the death of a prime minister’s father.

As if his opinion matters -  to discredit somebody who cannot defend himself in times of his personal sorrow is the height of bigotry and conceit. We did not expect it to change the discourse of incessant attacks against Netanyahu’s intransigence in defense of Israel, but we did expect decency.

Are we being led to believe that the Zionist people are that merciless and cruel representation of an already dysfunctional Israel?

As an outsider who believes that we are all Jewish no matter what faith we belong to -  man’s inhumanity to man is uncalled for; the ignorance of the solemn tradition that we observe in times of sorrow is apalling.  

Citing that ’some analysts predicted that Netanyahu would change his political positions now that he was free of the fearful shadow of his father. Others were of the opposite opinion’ doesn’t matter to most people when this father is fresh in his grave.

Netanyahu’s portrayal as shedding crocodile tears ‘next to the fresh grave of his father’ ‘could not leave anyone unmoved’ is an untimely and cheap political stunt. It reflects that person’s true character-  afraid of his own morbid shadow.

In the most pungent remark yet on Netanyahu’s character as being ‘human’, the discourse went further to state that ‘even when that father is of a well-advanced age and the orphan is already 62 years old, [it] is a sad scene. The figure of a dominant father who has passed away is also a seminal moment in the life of a son.’

The disparaging comment that ‘In his death, but only in his death, Professor Benzion Netanyahu became a national figure’ and ‘was an intellectual and historian who was involved to a very small degree in what was happening in this country and spent a considerable part of his life as an immigrant in the United States like most of his siblings’, was uncalled for and irrelevant.

It was as if being an immigrant in the United States is a liability for the prime minister’s family, the commentary quoted almost verbatim here is proof of that hatred for an elected leader of Israel as well as a disconcerting scorn for US immigrants.

Lest the writer forget, the prosperity of the State of Israel and its people are due in large measure to the political, economic and military support by the United States.

In attempting to portray his vile concern ‘with all sincere condolences to Netanyahu’ the writer didn’t stop blaming the prime minister ‘about turning his father's death into a cause for national mourning.’

In its most intriguing irony, the viciousness of the attacks on the prime minister is based on unfounded jealousy and unjust political expediency.

Who really was Benzion Netanyahu?

Professor Benzion Netanyahu served as the executive director of the New Zionist Organization of America in the 1940s and as a secretary to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a Revisionist Zionist leader credited with fathering the movement in the United States.

He was a professor emeritus at Cornell University and was a writer, historian and editor. He became the chief editor of the Encyclopedia Hebraica during his stay in Israel.

He was also editor of the group’s biweekly US publication, Zion News, where he authored editorials that typically dealt with the latest Palestine-related political developments and controversies.

He was the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lived in Jerusalem when he died.

Benzion Netanyahu was the father of Yonatan Netanyahu, commander of the elite Israeli army commando unit Sayeret Matkal who was killed in action during Operation Entebbe in Uganda. Yonatan was the sole Israeli casualty during the successful operation to free hundreds of hostages who were taken aboard a hijacked airplane.

In comparing the birthday celebration of Holland’s Queen Beatrice to the coincidental mourning of the death of Netanyahu’s father boggles the mind. Levy wrote that Netanyahu,  ‘as far as anyone knows, does not have blue blood. Our king is not merely naked, now he is also an orphan.’

In essence, this commentary has no place anywhere, in the journalistic and morally ethical sense of the word, hence should be relegated in the dustbin of history.

Even a number of Israeli political parties from Labor, Meretz and National Union withdrew their no-confidence votes in the Knesset, out of respect for the prime minister.

President Shimon Peres called Benzion “a great historian and a great Jew.”

Knesser speaker Reuven Rivlin told Israel Radio that “Bibi learned the pure Zionism from a man who was so close to Jabotinsky,” adding that the prime minister “was educated in a home where Zionism was a Zionism with no compromise… though Bibi’s realpolitik was much more developed.”

Sa’ar said Benzion was Zionist to the core, adding that he was the “outstanding pupil of Herzl and Jabotinsky.”

In one editorial that Benzion wrote, he contemplated how 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 Pessah Seder to thank God for our liberation from Egypt, and to express once again the hope of the Haggada: ‘This year we are still slaves – next year we shall be free men.’”

“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,” he opined.

Even the mainstream media reported their sincerest sympathies and condolences from President Barack Hussein Obama to that of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"It may seem a little odd to some, but presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney extended his condolences to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the death of his father.’

Romney called the Israeli prime minister his "friend" in his statement. The two men have been friends for years, and their relationship was forged in the 1970s when they were young up-and-comers sizing up companies for the Boston Consulting Group.

"This is a loss for all of Israel and for all who care about Israel," Romney said about the elder Netanyahu's death.

On the other hand, Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday to extend his condolences on the death of his father.

Obama, who made the call from Air Force One as he flew home after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, said he expressed his "personal condolences" to the prime minister, whose father Benzion Netanyahu died early Monday at age 102, the White House said.

It said Obama "noted Benzion Netanyahu's remarkable legacy of service to the Jewish people and deep friendship with the United States."

Looking back in the past, at a party to celebrate his father’s 100th birthday, the Jewish Chronicle quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as having said: “I learned from you to look into the future.”

Are you part of the future, Gideon Levy?