Archive | February 2023

How Can Jews Support Ukraine After the Holocaust?

How Can Jews Support Ukraine After the Holocaust?


An exchange between Bernard-Henri Lévy and Natan Sharansky, from the recent Tablet event in partnership with the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.


Questioner: I know there’s a lot of sympathy for the Ukrainians right now —there’s the country that’s been invaded, with innocent children and the women. But as a child of Holocaust survivors, a lot of people that I speak to can’t dredge up much sympathy for the Ukrainians and how they were chewing gum as they shot us in the mass graves at Babi Yar.

Natan Sharansky: Thank you for saying it because it was just a topic that I wanted to raise and there was no time. There’s so many people who died in the Holocaust in my family, and I am the chairman of the Babi Yar Memorial. I’m dealing all the time with the victims. And I hear all the time from very good people and some of my close friends that they have sympathy to the suffering of every child. But they cannot make themselves feel solidarity with Ukraine as a state or Ukrainians as a nation knowing what a terrible history there was there, first with the Chelminitsky pogroms, which were terrible, and of course with the Holocaust. And I can tell you my answer.

First of all, antisemitism is not something which was specific for Ukraine or any other land. Antisemitism is the most ancient hatred, which rises regularly whenever people need to hate the other.

So even if you think about some nice places in the Alps in Switzerland, remember that the whole Jewish community were burnt alive in order to avoid plague there. And if you enjoy traveling to Spain, the thing that you see is Ferdinand and Isabella, big heroes of today’s history of Spain, who exiled half of the Jewish people. Or think about Provence, a great place, I enjoy it there very much. Only think of what Crusaders did there, the terrible massacres of entire Jewish populations.

So if we Jews will start building our relationship with the world on the basis of what they did to us, we should move to another planet.

Second, our sages are giving very good advice. I am not a rabbi, but I was advised to read this comment of Rashi on the chapter when Hagar and Ishmael are sent to the desert, and Ishmael almost dies from thirst. He has no water.

And then God says to Hagar, “Don’t be afraid. I’ll help your son as he is,” and he helps Ishmael. And then the comments of our sages is that the angels of the heavens revolt and said, “Ah, you’re helping him? Don’t you know how many awful things his people will do to our people?” And God says to them, “Now at this moment, is a child innocent or guilty?” And they say “innocent.” So I’ll judge everybody in his time and that’s our way. It means that we have to deal with the people at this time.

The people of Ukraine at this time, not only, as Bernard said, by the way, have the lowest level of neo-Nazis in Europe. You have to understand that when these neo-Nazis that Putin speaks about so much, when they tried to go to election, they didn’t get 1%. They didn’t get one-tenth of 1% of the vote.

And think about many countries in Europe where it is different. And of course half of the Ukrainian government is Jewish, and openly Jewish. And Zelensky is not only speaking about his Jewishness, but about his deep love for Israel. And they were all elected in free elections.

And above and beyond all this, it so happened that God, providence, history, has put Ukraine and its people in the unique position of being defenders of the free world. So let’s judge Ukraine in this time, as God told us.


QuestionerI agree totally that we have to close an eye about the past of Ukraine, because today what is very important is freedom and democracy.

Bernard-Henri Lévy: No, no, no. That’s not enough. Of course, the questions of democracy and freedom are important. But if the Ukrainians were still the antisemites of the past, which they would have been if they did not have done the work of memory, of mourning and of sorrow, which they did do, I would certainly not support them as much as I do. One of the reasons why I support them with all my heart is because they did the work. Because they looked in front of their past. They considered the crimes of their grandfathers or fathers. They decided though difficult and painful as it is, to look at them in the eyes and to do the work that ensures that such crimes will not to be repeated.

I had the honor to be there to represent my country the day of the inauguration of the Babi Yar Memorial. I’m not a fan of the way the Babi Yar Memorial is conceived and built, but there is a memorial, and I was there. It was the day before the burial of the late President of Israel Shimon Peres. There were the president of Germany, the president of Israel, the president of Poland, President of the EU Donald Tusk, and a few others. And I was representing my president, of France. I was there for a few days before, and I interviewed the leaders of the Jewish communities, the leaders of the parties, people of the civil society, and so on, and so on, and then I delivered a speech there in the name of myself and of my country. You can find it on YouTube.

And what I said, and what I really believed is that there are few examples of a nation doing so thoroughly and so quickly the deep work of digging in the darkest depths of its own crimes, and putting them into light, and doing the job necessary so as not to repeat them. This is Ukraine today. This is Babi Yar.

Another thing which goes in the same sense. I was on the Maidan, the central square in Kyiv, in 2014, during the Revolution of Dignity, the great popular uprising. And as in all popular uprisings, people say exactly what they want. There is an absolute freedom of speech. I spoke twice on the Maidan, once in February, another time in March. And I spent a reasonable amount of time there. I saw and I heard what people were saying, and I tried to read the graffiti which were written on the walls. And as I expected, every wise thing could be read on the walls, like in May ’68 in France. Great slogans, great popular imaginations—and huge stupidities were written as well, of course. As in all moments of complete freedom, everything is said.

I observed a very strange thing. The only stupidity which I did not hear, the only stupid or crazy or mad slogan which I did not read on the walls, was antisemitic slogans. In these moments, February, March of absolute freedom, where the freedom of expression was total, the only free expression which did not pop out was the antisemitic one.

This was very strange. Maybe such slogans were written after I left, maybe they were there before I came. But I can tell you that during these two months, all craziness except this one were all present, and all wise courageous words also. And among the craziness, this one was not heard. And as a result, as Natan just said, when the extreme right and antisemitic parties run for election, they have the lowest levels of approbation and votes in the polls of all Eastern and Central Europe, and much less than in France. The extreme right-wing party is 15 times weaker in Ukraine than it is France, to our shame.

On the opposite side, if you look at Russia—I’m sorry, but it‘s a fact—this work which is half done, maybe three quarters done by Ukraine, is barely touched. They are very far from understanding of their own criminal past. They are very far away on the road. Since 1989 and ’91 Russia did not even start understanding her own past. The work is not even on the way.

By the way, last point, I don’t know if it is well known here, when the Russians say that the Red Army liberated, or contributed to the liberation of Europe from Nazism, it is true. But what they never say is that inside the Red Army you had all components of the Soviet Union, including Ukrainians, of course. Those who liberated the camp of Auschwitz were the First Ukrainian Front, which was not only composed of Ukrainians, but a majority of whom were Ukrainians.

And the soldier who had the terrible dark privilege to enter first into Auschwitz, to first look into what was left of the eyes of the detainees of Auschwitz, was a Ukrainian Jew called Anatoliy Shapiro, I think. He was a tankist, and he was a Ukrainian Jew. He was one of the first to enter and to liberate Auschwitz.

So all of that has to be taken into account when a Jew tries to reflect on this situation and to act properly. And when I decided to engage myself so strongly, to devote all my time, to put part of my life at stake in the cause of Ukraine, all that I’m saying now was in my mind.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, was a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and spent nine years in the Gulag for his human rights activities.

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a philosopher, activist, filmmaker, and author of more than 30 books including The Genius of Judaism, American Vertigo, Barbarism with a Human Face, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, and The Empire and the Five Kings. His most recent book, The Will to See: Dispatches from a World of Misery and Hope, was published on October 25, 2021 by Yale University Press.

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In Latest Challenge Israeli Rugby Coach Calls for Formal Inquiry Into ‘Discriminatory’ Actions by South African Rugby Union

In Latest Challenge Israeli Rugby Coach Calls for Formal Inquiry Into ‘Discriminatory’ Actions by South African Rugby Union

Shiryn Ghermezian

Athletes from South Africa and the US competing in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: David Roberts via Wikimedia Commons.

An Israeli rugby coach submitted a formal complaint this week against the South African Rugby Union (SARU) in response to its decision to exclude the Tel Aviv Heat rugby team from a competition taking place next month in South Africa.

The complaint is the latest in a series of mounting legal challenges to the South African sporting body after the group withdrew its invitation to the Israeli team to participate in the Mzansi Challenge beginning on March 24.

“Rugby is a game divorced from politics,” wrote Joshua Schewitz, head coach of the Rishon LeZion Owls men’s rugby club. “The players, coaches, and supporters love the game due to the nature of the game, which is to play the game hard and then shake hands when it’s finished. Bringing politics into the game is contrary to rugby ethos.”

SARU announced on Feb. 3 that “we have listened to the opinions of important stakeholder groups and have taken this decision to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division, notwithstanding the fact that Israel is a full member of World Rugby and the IOC.”

The move was announced by a slew of Israeli and South African Jewish advocacy organizations after SARU faced ample amount of pressure to disinvite the Israeli team from the competition from supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Schewitz, who previously lived in South Africa and played rugby at the University of the Witwatersrand and with the Pirates Rugby Club in Johannesburg, wrote in his formal notification that “it appears that the decision to exclude the Tel Aviv Heat team was taken on political grounds, pandering to the bigotry of unidentified ‘stakeholder groups.’”

He is asking SARU to launch a formal enquiry into the actions taken against Tel Aviv Heat or to refer it to a judicial officer or committee for adjudication.

Schewitz further noted that SARU’s actions breach the regulations of the World Rugby governing body, which also apply to SARU. “The cancellation of the invitation to Tel Aviv Heat was plainly discriminatory by reason of national or ethnic origin” and should therefore be classified as “misconduct,” he argued.

The coach also pointed out that “one of the adverse consequences of inserting illegitimate political considerations” into the sport of rugby “has been to harm the careers of several young South African players, who are developing their talents at Tel Aviv Heat and will be denied the opportunity of playing in this competition if the cancellation decision is not rapidly revoked.”

Schewitz received assistance in preparing the notification from the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). SAFI recently submitted to SARU paperwork asking for information about the meetings with stakeholders who the rugby club said they consulted before the decision to axe Tel Aviv Heat was announced. UKLFI separately wrote to SARU’s president and World Rugby about the move against Tel Aviv Heat, arguing that the decision violates SARU’s constitution.

“Sports bodies have rules preventing discrimination and political interference,” said UKLFI’s Chief Executive Jonathan Turner in a released statement. “It is in the interest of all engaged in sport that these rules are complied with. We welcome the public-spirited intervention of Mr Schewitz seeking to enforce them and hope that this will be achieved in time for Tel Aviv Heat to play in this competition.”

Earlier in February a New Zealand-based lawyer filed a legal complaint with the World Rugby Council also in regards to SARU’s decision against Tel Aviv Heat.

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Międzynarodowa konferencja poświęcona ofiarom komunizmu i imperializmu rosyjskiego w XX wieku – w Sejmie

Warszawa, 23.02.2023. Wicemarszałek Sejmu Ryszard Terlecki podczas konferencji „Imperializm spod znaku dwugłowego orła i czerwonej gwiazdy. Ofiary komunizmu i imperializmu rosyjskiego w XX wieku”, zorganizowanej przez IPN w Sejmie. Fot. PAP/M. Obara

Międzynarodowa konferencja poświęcona ofiarom komunizmu i imperializmu rosyjskiego w XX wieku – w Sejmie

Anna Kruszyńska, Maciej Replewicz

„Imperializm spod znaku dwugłowego orła i czerwonej gwiazdy. Ofiary komunizmu i imperializmu rosyjskiego w XX wieku” to tytuł międzynarodowej konferencji IPN w Sejmie. Spotkali się na niej historycy z Polski, Gruzji, Łotwy i Ukrainy.

“Imperializm rosyjski trwa od stuleci; zawsze niesie cierpienie, zniszczenie i utratę poczucia bezpieczeństwa” – podkreśliła marszałek Sejmu Elżbieta Witek w liście do uczestników międzynarodowej konferencji poświęconej ofiarom komunizmu i imperializmu rosyjskiego w XX wieku. List został odczytany przez wicemarszałka Sejmu Ryszarda Terleckiego.

“Cieszę się, że po raz kolejny Sala Kolumnowa w Sejmie Rzeczpospolitej jest miejscem naukowej debaty oraz historycznej refleksji. Ufam, że dyskusja tym bardziej zostanie pogłębiona, iż w dzisiejszym spotkaniu uczestniczy wielu znakomitych gości oraz wybitnych, cenionych naukowców” – podkreśliła marszałek Sejmu. Zaznaczyła także, że “temat konferencji jest tematem obszernym, a zarazem niezwykle trudnym, szczególnie teraz, w obliczu toczącej się już od roku wojny na Ukrainie”.

“Jesteśmy świadkami niewyobrażalnej tragedii, zarówno pojedynczego człowieka, jak i całego narodu” – podkreśliła Elżbieta Witek. “My, mieszkańcy państw, którym w przeszłości carska Rosja, zaś później Związek Sowiecki odebrały prawo do wolności i suwerenności, doskonale rozumiemy, czym jest imperializm rosyjski. De facto trwa od stuleci, postępuje w sposób mniej lub bardziej widoczny, przybiera łagodniejsze lub bardziej drastyczne formy, ale zawsze niesie cierpienie, zniszczenie i utratę poczucia bezpieczeństwa” – wskazała.

Zwróciła również uwagę, że “nasze doświadczenia są zgoła odmienne niż mieszkańców państw zachodnich, którzy przez lata nie dostrzegali w Rosji, a następnie w Związku Sowieckim niebezpiecznego imperium”. Marszałek Sejmu przypomniała także, że “dla wielu polityków, naukowców i publicystów z Zachodu komunizm, nacjonalizm i imperializm rosyjski był teoretyczną abstrakcją”.

“Można powiedzieć – choć wygłaszanie takich hipotetycznych twierdzeń w tak znakomitym gronie historyków jest rzeczą wielce ryzykowną – że różne rzeczy mogłyby się w swoim historycznym przebiegu mieć choć trochę inaczej, gdyby pewne prawdy zdołałyby się przebić do świadomości publicznej i w niej zaistnieć” – ocenił prezes Prawa i Sprawiedliwości Jarosław Kaczyński w liście do uczestników konferencji.

“Narody i państwa naszej części Europy doświadczały tego w przeszłości, a dziś doświadcza tego w jakże dramatyczny sposób heroicznie walcząca z barbarzyńską rosyjską pełnoskalową agresją Ukraina” – zaznaczył prezes PiS.

Jego zdaniem, “gdyby społeczeństwa i rządy państw zachodnich miały odpowiednią wiedzę, a także w jakiejś mierze przez nią uwarunkowaną wolę polityczną, to wojna ta mogłaby mieć zupełnie inny przebieg albo nawet może i by nie wybuchła”. “Na przykład dlatego, że nie powstałyby Nord Streamy” – dodał.

List prezesa PiS został odczytany przez szefową Kancelarii Sejmu Agnieszkę Kaczmarską.

“Walka Ukraińskiej Republiki Ludowej z bolszewicką Rosją była nie tylko konfliktem zbrojnym, ale także zderzeniem dwóch systemów społeczno-politycznych. Była to walka ze wspólnym wrogiem – bolszewicką Rosją i jednocześnie walką wolności ze zniewoleniem. Polska była jedynym krajem, który wtedy udzielił Ukrainie realnego wsparcia” – powiedział w swoim wystąpieniu jeden z panelistów, historyk Narodowej Akademii Nauk Ukrainy prof. Yuri Shapoval, przypominając, że w latach 1918-1921 niepodległa Rzeczpospolita i proklamowana w 1917 r. Ukraińska Republika Ludowa byli sojusznikami we wspólnej walce z agresją bolszewickiej Rosji.

Ukraiński historyk przypomniał obronę URL – pierwszego suwerennego państwa ukraińskiego przed agresywną polityką Rosji bolszewickiej oraz historię współpracy pomiędzy Symonem Petlurą i Józefem Piłsudskim.

W nocy z 21 na 22 kwietnia 1920 r. w Warszawie została podpisana umowa międzynarodowa między Rzeczpospolitą Polską a Ukraińską Republiką Ludową (URL). Sojusz umożliwił Polakom i Ukraińcom wspólną walkę z bolszewikami, jednak nie przyniósł Ukrainie niepodległości. Polska uratowała swoją niepodległość, odpierając armię bolszewicką spod Warszawy. Główne siły Petlury zostały rozbite jesienią 1920 r. Na okupowanej przez bolszewików Ukrainie walczyły jeszcze oddziały partyzanckie.

“To właśnie determinacja Piłsudskiego i Petlury doprowadziła do podpisania umowy warszawskiej. Obaj świetnie znali Rosję. Byli mężami stanu i wizjonerami. Sojusz ten jest kojarzony z koncepcją federacyjną Józefa Piłsudskiego. Należy zauważyć, że była ona częścią idei prometeizmu. Celem było rozbicie państwa rosyjskiego i uwolnienie krajów przemocą wcielonych do imperium rosyjskiego. Piłsudski starał się, już jako naczelnik państwa, realizować ją. Kluczowe miejsce w tej akcji było zarezerwowane dla Ukrainy” – powiedział historyk z UMCS i IPN dr hab. Mirosław Szumiło, podkreślając, że polsko-ukraiński pakt miał stanowić “przeciwwagę dla białej czy też czerwonej Rosji” a “odseparowanie Polski od Rosji poprzez suwerenną Ukrainę miało być zabezpieczeniem dla Polski”.

Naukowiec podkreślił, że obaj przywódcy oceniali, że niezależnie od panującego tam ustroju, jest to kraj agresywny wobec państw ościennych, a po rewolucji bolszewickiej – dla całego świata i dodał, że mimo upływu ponad stu lat ta sytuacja trwa do dziś.

Naukowiec przypomniał postać ukraińskiego pułkownika Marka Bezruczki, którego podkomendni ramię w ramię z żołnierzami 31. Pułku Strzelców Kaniowskich bronili Zamościa przed armią konną Budionnego. 31 sierpnia 1920 r. połączone siły polskie i ukraińskie rozbiły bolszewicką konnicę podczas bitwy pod Komarowem.

Łotewski historyk prof. Eriks Jekabsons przypomniał walkę państw bałtyckich z bolszewikami w trakcie odzyskiwania niepodległości w latach 1918-20, zaś prof. Mikehil Bakhtadze z Tbilisi przedstawił zarys walk narodów Zakaukazia w obronie suwerenności w latach 1917-21 oraz ich walkę z siłami bolszewickimi.

W konferencji uczestniczą polscy naukowcy: dr hab. Sławomir Kalbarczyk (IPN), dr hab. Mieczysław Ryba (KUL) i dr Maciej Wyrwa z Centrum Dialogu im. J. Mierosławskiego.

W panelu popołudniowym prelegenci odniosą się do historii współczesnej, omówią zbrodnie sowieckie wobec polskich obywateli w czasie II wojny światowej a także sowieckie zbrodnie w krajach Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej w latach 1944-1989. (PAP)

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Bibi’s Typist

Bibi’s Typist


Transcribing the Israeli leader’s autobiography helped me see Netanyahu in a new way.

A ‘young man in a hurry’: Netanyahu in 1985FRANCK MICELOTTA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Do you know an English typist?” Netanyahu’s office asked me shortly after he lost the 2021 elections.

“I’ll do it,” was my immediate reply. I figured he was surely looking for someone to type his upcoming book.

While waiting for Netanyahu to get back to me, I asked my eldest son, “Don’t you think I’m maybe a bit overqualified? Besides, decoding Netanyahu’s shorthand and being on call for him 24/7 was something I did back in 2006, when I worked for him on a previous book.”

“Dad,” my 18-year-old said, “it’s like taking rebounds for Michael Jordan. You gotta do it.” My son, a professional basketball player at the time, was right and I knew it.

The following evening, Netanyahu handed me 10,000 words that he had handwritten earlier that morning and asked me to give it a go. I did my best to quickly return a typed version.

Basketball fans out there can appreciate that, before the ball hit the floor, I had to return the typed text. He seemed satisfied and handed me an additional 10,000 words. At first, things were technical but over time I asked questions and occasionally commented on some of the shots. He welcomed that. A few shots were challenged and altered but Netanyahu’s eyes were firmly focused on the rim.

It was a frenzied period of collaboration during which Netanyahu was to write, edit, and rewrite some 230,000 words, while back-seat driving down Israel’s rural roads and even while sitting in court hearings. In parallel, we were going through new COVID outbreaks and political battles to bring down the Bennett-Lapid government. A little over nine months from its commencement, a book was born. A book that tells the story of Netanyahu, his family, and his people.

The courtside seat gave me an opportunity to see how Netanyahu addresses big issues like the threat of a nuclear Iran, free-market reforms, and peace in the Middle East. I also saw how he appreciates the small things, like a walk in the park or on the beach, freshly squeezed lemonade, an evenly sliced Snickers chocolate bar and yes—an occasional cigar.

I also saw a more seasoned leader, since the last time I worked with him over a decade ago. Beyond being a gifted speaker and writer, he became a much better listener, and after adapting to the TikTok and Twitter era, he even developed a sense of humor.

The process of assembling the book was straightforward. Netanyahu would jot down a chapter title, a timeline, and would start writing. He would send me handwritten text, I would type it into Word, including questions and comments when applicable and send it back to him via WhatsApp. It would also be printed out for him in double-spaced, size 14 font. He would edit the chapter and address the comments, on the hard copy, when relevant. Once he felt comfortable with the text, I would send it to his brother Iddo and two of his trusted friends, Ron and Gary, for feedback while Sharon did the fact-checking. Once that was done, we’d send it to Max at Simon & Schuster.

On one of his drives to Caesarea from a late-night meeting in Jerusalem he stopped by my home for a “short session” to “tighten up the text.” While waiting for the laptop to boot up, he looked over the living room bookshelves and seemed pleased to see one of his books between Yoni’s Letters and Jabotinsky’s biography. That night, from midnight until the sun peaked over the nearby Samarian hilltops, he aligned paragraphs and cut commas, indulging only on leftover popcorn from my 8-year-old’s birthday party, with black coffee to wash it down.

As Netanyahu dove deeper and longer into the text his inner circle expressed growing concern that he “preferred being a writer than a prime minister” and was investing the lion’s share of his time on the book rather than getting reelected. I have no doubt that he enjoys the writing process more than the political process. As he once wrote, “Writing consumed me. On a good day, writing forces you to distill ideas, to order them logically and to breathe life into them with unexpected language. For me there is no more satisfying intellectual exercise.”

But he knew when it was time to pivot to the campaign and then “left it all on the field.”

Of all his idiosyncrasies, his ability to focus and prioritize was most impressive. He could focus on fine-tuning a speech with Yonatan and Hagai while simultaneously listening to the news on channels 11, 12, 13, and 14. When someone said something important on one of the channels, he would switch from the speech to the screen and back to the speech without losing a beat.

Netanyahu seldom raises his voice, but you can clearly see when he is disappointed in you. I got that strong impression when he thought I had not properly incorporated into the text the iconic “eye to eye” exchange he had with Rabbi Leibovitch in 1988 before returning to Israel from his United Nations mission.

“You know it takes a lot of time and thought to put the right words on paper,” he told me.

The problem was he had not given me the text.

“You are probably right seven to nine times out of 10 but this time you’re wrong. You didn’t give me the text,” I replied.

Once the script was found in his folder, he half jokily retorted, “I might have been wrong this time, but the odds are closer to 99 out of 100.”

Fixing footnotes and picking photos for the book were the most Sisyphean and sensitive parts of the project. My wife wisely told me not to touch the latter. Netanyahu is one of the world’s most photographed people and the publisher’s willingness to include 106 photos, while generous, didn’t make the selection process much easier. Michal and Topaz carried most of that burden.

Netanyahu seemed to like the ones of him and his son Avner walking on the beach, the “get well soon” painting his son Yair drew for an ailing King Hussein, the one with his daughter Noa at his grandson’s bris and the ones with Yoni most. He also liked the ones with his wife, Sara, strolling on the Golan Heights, and with Ronald Reagan at the White House’s red room.

Netanyahu wrote his most moving chapter in a Netanya hotel room in the middle of the night after celebrating Yair’s 30th birthday. The chapter was initially titled “Yoni,” and it was the only one I had trouble transcribing. Like Netanyahu, I was also raised by a brilliant professor father and similarly smart and sensitive mother. They also lost a beloved son in his youth. Netanyahu’s candid portrayal of the endless drive from Boston to Ithaca and how his parents coped with inconceivable grief hit home.

The book goes through the major life events of a “young man in a hurry,” who became the youngest prime minister of Israel in 1996, to the intersections he crossed on his way to becoming the longest serving prime minister in 2021.

The most interesting part for me was watching him make decisions.

Seeing decisions made that can immediately impact your nation is drastically different from reading about them in the news or studying about them in university. Netanyahu’s ability to listen, ask the right people the right questions, “trust but verify” the answers and weigh the options have helped him realize opportunities, avoid unnecessary risks, and most importantly, save lives.

Benjamin, Yoni, and Iddo Netanyahu in an undated family photoYONI NETANYAHU MEMORIAL WEBSITE

Scores of crucial decisions are described in the book, including the 1996 declaration before a joint session in Congress to forgo civilian foreign aid, the decision to overhaul Israel’s semi-socialist economy into a free market one in 2003, the 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the mistaken “Shalit swap” in 2011, and the decision to present before Congress the case against a dangerous Iranian nuclear deal sponsored by Barack Obama.

These were controversial decisions that entailed taking significant political risks for what Netanyahu viewed as vital national interests. He put Israel’s interests above his political ones. If those decisions would turn sour, he would lose at the ballot box. That was something he was willing to do, and in fact did in 2006, when his economic reforms had an adverse effect on many of his constituents. In the long run those reforms helped transform Israel into a global power.

One decision was different.

It entailed significant personal risk.

Shortly after his corruption trial commenced, Netanyahu was offered a plea bargain. The case would be closed, and the 72-year-old leader would be spared lengthy and costly litigation. But he would also need to admit to certain charges and leave political life for years.

He could’ve taken the deal. He would be a free man who could easily make millions, and as the longest serving Israeli prime minister—one who forged four historic peace agreements and brought his people unprecedented power and prosperity—his legacy was secure. He had little more to prove.

The deal, however, was unacceptable to him. He heard out the lawyers, a friend and adviser or two, but first and foremost he listened to his family.

The plea bargain was taken off the table and Netanyahu went all in.

As the state witnesses came to the stand the case began to crumble. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested into Netanyahu’s investigation and prosecution, most of the public stopped buying into the allegations and the slanderous stories leaked to nightly newscasts.

Netanyahu is no Mother Teressa, but he is not corrupt. 

The book came out in mid-October 2022. It was read by thousands of Israelis and is believed by political pundits to have had an “October effect” on the elections.

On Nov. 1, 2022, Israelis went to the polls and gave Netanyahu a vote of confidence and a landslide victory. Two months later, Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister and formed a government for the sixth time.

Ophir Falk is a lawyer and an author, most recently, of Targeted Killing, Law and Counterterrorism Effectiveness. He is the CEO of Acumen Risk Ltd. and co-produced The Trial, a movie that documented the early stages of Netanyahu’s trial.

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Micha Gefen

What should have been a routine anti-terror operation in the city of Shchem, now occupied by arab terrorists has turned into an international focus claiming it as an example Israel’s “brutal occupation.”

It is reported that in the IDF’s attempt to arrest terror suspect Hussam Bassam Isleem, a gunfight broke out between IDF forces and arab terrorists belonging to the Lions Den group. In total 11 arabs were killed – most of them terrorists, while the others were killed in the crossfire as the IDF found themselves fighting terrorists that purposely used civilians as shields.

The aftermath of the battle has seen wall to wall condemnation of Israel by the International Community – most notably America.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price responded to the raid by saying that the Biden administration “is extremely concerned by the levels of violence in Israel and the West Bank” following today’s IDF counter-terrorism raid in the Nablus in which “10 Palestinians, including both militants and civilian bystanders, were killed and over 100 were injured.”

“We wish a speedy recovery to those injured and our hearts go out to the families of the innocent bystanders who were killed today,” Price added.

“We recognize the very real security concerns facing Israel. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the large number of injuries and the loss of civilian lives,” continued Price.

“We had productive conversations in recent days with the parties and with US regional partners in support of efforts to prevent further violence. We are deeply concerned that the impact of today’s raid could set back efforts aimed at restoring calm for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Today’s events further underscore the urgent need for both sides to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank. We also call on all parties to desist from actions, such as incitement to violence, evictions of families from their homes, demolitions, settlement advancements and the legalization of outposts. Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety and security,” Price said.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan slammed the raid. Saudi Arabia went as far as to say that the raid was a “serious violation of international law.”

Most notable Bahrain, UAE, and Morocco have refrained from commenting – a clear byproduct of the Abraham Accords

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