Bibi Netanyahu: Israeli Disgrace and National Tragedy

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is currently one of the most reviled, enigmatic, and long-lived politicians in Israel’s nearly 76 years of nationhood.

He is the son of Ben Zion Netanyahu. His father was a distinguished Judaic scholar and world expert on the Spanish Inquisition and the Jews. Ben Zion was also an ardent and uncompromising Zionist.

Bibi’s older brother, Yonatan, was the slain, iconic war hero of the Entebbe rescue operation. Had “Yoni” not been tragically killed in action, it is unlikely than Benjamin would have risen to the top of Israel’s political hierarchy.

Yonatan was the golden boy and favored son in the Netanyahu family. He was a born soldier, scholar, and patriot. As an officer in Israel’s most elite commando unit, Yoni was considered by many in the power structure to be destined for important leadership roles in both the military and national government.

Bibi was the middle Netanyahu son. He spent his high school years in suburban Philadelphia where his father was teaching. He then returned to Israel to do his mandatory Army service . Afterwards he returned to the U.S. and earned a degree from MIT in Architecture and a master’s degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Bibi worked for the prestigious Boston Consulting Group after his studies. He would have most likely gone onto a very successful and lucrative career as a well connected international corporate deal maker. But he had to fill the shoes of his dead big brother and the expectations of iron-willed father.

As the old Yiddish proverb states:

“Man plans and God laughs...and the rest is just commentary.”

The best analysis that I have come across of Netanyahu’s role in the catastrophe that befell Israel and world Jewry on October 7, 2023, is by Edward Luttwak.

Luttwak is a Jewish-Romanian-born, American author known for his works on grand strategy, geo-economics, military history, and international relations. His books are currently published in 29 languages besides English. He participated in the 1967 war between Israel and Egypt with the Israel Defense Forces.

This excerpt is from March 20th edition of “Unherd,” an iconoclastic British online magazine of culture and politics:

Netanyahu was once a very decisive politician who set Israel on the path to techno-prosperity as a revolutionary finance minister two decades ago. And he had been an equally decisive soldier, serving for five years instead of the obligatory two and a half, fighting hard in Israel’s premier commando force in dozens of combat actions.

But he has not been a decisive war leader. His political trajectory is a story of declining authority, propped up by ever more marginal and objectionable elements within Israeli politics.

Even though this premiership is relatively new, beginning in December 2022, this is his 17th year as prime minister, a job he held twice in the past. And as a result, he is viewed by a great many Israelis; as well as politicians in the US and Europe; with that particular disgust reserved for leaders who remain in office even as their abilities wither.

He has achieved this through political bargaining, forming successive coalition governments, each including more extremists than its predecessor. Proportional representation has long opened Israel’s parliament up to ultra-religious and hard-Right parties; but it takes a particularly unscrupulous prime minister to let them slip into government. And desperate to cling on, Netanyahu’s political pragmatism has devolved into pure expediency.

Netanyahu, in other words, is willing to bring any parliamentarian into government with him if that will allow him to stay in power. And that is how Israel was lumbered with its current coalition, which handed political power to figures like Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist whose jingoistic support for settlers in the West Bank borders on the messianic, and who has called for the full occupation of Gaza.

Such fantasies do not have any influence over military planning; Israel’s generals are Left-of-centre if anything. But they upset the moderate majority at home and serve anti-Israel propaganda abroad, leaving Netanyahu an empty figurehead, and splintering Israel’s coalition of international support.

Artist Statement:

My expressionistic, mixed-media photo collages attempt to catch the grotesque, protean, and multi-faceted nature of Bibi Netanyahu. Although he is a deeply flawed human being, he is not a crazy and sadistic fanatic like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the mullahs in Iran, or Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Sadly, Bibi’s long-term penchant for appeasing Iran and their proxies like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis, while talking tough, has brought Israel and Jewish world to a place of terra incognito... an unknown land filled with great anger and even greater danger.