Benzion Netanyahu, father of the current Israeli PM, has died at the age of 102. Uri Avnery, an Israeli peace activist, describes Netanyahu fils as “a Holocaust-obsessed fantasist, out of contact with reality, distrusting all Goyim, trying to follow in the footsteps of a rigid and extremist father – altogether a dangerous person to lead a nation in a real crisis.” Like father, like son.
Benzion Netanyahu was a prototypical Jewish activist, switching easily from his work as secretary for racial Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, to successfully lobbying for a pro-Zionist platform for the Republican Party in 1944 (which caused the Democrats to adopt a similar platform), to his work as a Jewish academic historian advancing Jewish interests in academia. His best-known book, The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th-Century Spain, was published in 1995 by Random House.
A commentary by Yossi Halevi Klein claims that the goal of Netanyahu’s scholarship was to
dissect the consequences of Jewish naivete. Benzion’s fascination with medieval Spain wasn’t based only on the behavior of the victimizers but of the victims. He not only drew a line connecting what he defined as the racial anti-Semitism of the Inquisition with Nazism, but implicitly drew a line between the Jews who saw medieval Spain as their golden land and the Jews who saw modern Germany as their new Zion. It is precisely that dread of Jewish self-deception that has defined the politics of Benzion’s son.
Similarly Jonathan S. Tobin, writing in Commentary, claims that Netanyahu’s “understood that hatred and intolerance lay at the roots of the difficulties of the Jews then as now. As his son noted at his funeral …, the challenge is to “face reality head on” and “draw the necessary conclusions.” Read more