Authors: Benjamin Netanyahu
BOOKS EDITED BY BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
International Terrorism: Challenge and Response
Terrorism: How the West Can Win
Self-Portrait of a Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu (with Iddo Netanyahu)
BOOKS WRITTEN BY BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
The song, “Jerusalem of Gold,” on
is printed by permission of Naomi Shemer
Warner Books Edition
Copyright ©1993, 2000 by Benjamin Netanyahu
All rights reserved.
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First eBook Edition: October 2009
I grieve for thee, my brother Jonathan;
A great comfort hast thou been to me.
Thy love to me was wonderful….
II SAMUEL 1:26
LIST OF MAPS
riting anything while you are still in office is a hazardous task. Writing anything after leaving office can be equally hazardous.
For one is supposed to have the perspective of detachment and introspection to secure the desired objectivity. I profess at
the outset: While I have done a great deal of thinking since leaving office, I am neither detached nor objective when it comes
to securing the future of the Jewish state. In fact, I plead unabashed and passionate partisanship in seeking to assure the
Jewish future. This is the conviction that guided me as the Prime Minister of Israel between 1996 and 1999, and this is the
conviction that will guide me for the rest of my life.
The historical imperative of preserving the Jewish state was reinforced on a visit to China in 1999. The President of China,
Jiang Zemin, expressed to me his great admiration for the legacy of the Jewish people, who produced such geniuses as Albert
Einstein. “The Jewish people and the Chinese people are two of the oldest civilizations on earth,” he said, “dating back four
thousand and five thousand years respectively.”
I concurred, adding India to the list.
“But there are one or two differences between us,” I said. “For instance, how many Chinese are there?”
“1.2 billion,” replied Zian Zemin.
“How many Indians are there?” I pressed on.
“About 1 billion.”
“Now how many Jews are there?” I queried.
“There are 12 million Jews in the world,” I said.
Several Chinese jaws dropped in the room, understandably, given that this number could be contained in an enlarged suburb
“Mr. President,” I said, “since the Jews have been around for thousands of years that is a remarkably low number. Two thousand
years ago the Jews constituted ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire. Today there should have been 200 million
“What happened?” asked the Chinese president.
“Many things happened,” I replied. “But they all boil down to one big thing. You, the Chinese, kept China; the Indians kept
India; but we Jews lost our land and were dispersed to the four corners of the earth. From this sprang all our calamities,
culminating in our greatest catastrophe in the twentieth century. This is why for the last two thousand years we have been
trying to retrieve our homeland and re-create our independent state there.”
I was trying to impress upon the Chinese leadership the importance of refraining from supplying Iran with nuclear weapons
technology. That would jeopardize not merely the modem State of Israel but threaten to wipe out forever an ancient and admired
civilization. (Jiang Zemin assured me that China was not selling such technology to Iran, something I verified with our intelligence
just in case.)
This, then, is the perspective that guided me as Israel’s Prime Minister and that ought to guide anyone concerned with the
future of the Jewish State: assuring that the people of Israel have what they need to survive and thrive in the next millennium,
the fifth of their existence. I am convinced of one thing: The Jewish people will not get another chance. There are only so
many miracles that history can provide a people, and the Jews have had more than
their share. After unparalleled adversity the Jews came back to life in the modern State of Israel. For better or worse, the
Jewish future is centered on the future of that state. Therefore we must be extra careful not to toy with Israel’s security
or jeopardize its defenses, even as we pursue peace with our neighbors, for what is at stake is the destiny of an entire people.
In the long run, what will stand are not the passing praises of those who seek a quick fix for the Middle East’s problems,
but the bulwarks of a durable peace—one that can be credibly defended by a strong Israel. Any other kind of peace will not
last. Achieving peace treaties with the Arabs is relatively easy. All you have to do is give in to the Arab demands. Achieving
peace agreements that will stand the test of time is much harder to do.
This is what I set out to achieve as Prime Minister. I insisted on a secure peace, stressing the fundamental principle that
in the Middle East peace and security are intertwined. A peace that undermines Israel’s defenses and leaves unresolved central
issues, such as the fate of Jerusalem and the Arab refugees, is one that is sure to crumble over time. It should be passed
over until a more sustainable, more realistic peace is achieved.
This “stubbornness” in defense of a tough-minded peace did not make me, nor would it make any leader of Israel, popular in
the diplomatic and press salons of the world. But it is the right policy and it is worth fighting for. If one possesses a
millennial perspective, the slings and arrows of criticism are meaningless compared to the awesome responsibility of protecting
the Jewish people and their one and only state.
I am confident that such persistence will pay off. The Jewish people have shown a remarkable capacity to overcome hardship,
and surely they have the will and intelligence to pursue a genuine peace. The second half of the twentieth century offers
indubitable proof of this.
Neither the present nor the future are free of problems. But they pale compared to those that faced the Jewish people in the
ghettos of Europe just a few decades ago. This tells us how far the Jewish people have traveled and it fires our imagination
and infuses us with hope as we begin the next fifty years.
This was the central fact of Jewish existence as Israel celebrated its first half-century. In the ancient Jewish traditions,
jubilees were a time for both celebration and reflection. Indeed, there is much to celebrate. Half a century ago, at the close
of World War II, it was not clear at all that the Jewish people would survive. A third of all Jews were consumed in the fires
of the Holocaust, and the remaining two-thirds faced the dual threat of persecution and relentless assimilation. Stalin targeted
the Jews of the Soviet Union as class enemies, and the Jews of America and Europe were rapidly embracing assimilation and
intermarriage. Absent a vital center, Jewish numbers would have shrunk further, and the Jewish people, after four millennia
of unparalleled struggle for their place under the sun, would have finally yielded to the forces of history and disappeared.