Having studied and read the biographies of almost every Israeli Prime Minister since the country was founded in 1948, I can say without a doubt that Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu is one of the greatest leaders of our time.
From David Ben-Gurion’s political genius in founding the State of Israel after 2,000 years of exile and leading us through the War of Independence and the many challenges of the early years, to Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir’s courage in Israel’s fight for survival in the face of our Arab neighbors’ brutal attacks in 1967 and 1973, to Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin’s success in making peace with Egypt and Jordan, each Prime Minister has shown incredible leadership, talent, and dedication to Israel and the Jewish people.
However, PM Netanyahu stands out not only for having been the longest serving Prime Minister of Israel (winning six times) and leading for over fifteen years, but for his undying vision and execution of peace through strength. Certainly, I could write of his heroism as an Israeli commando (and that of his dear older brother Yoni, who tragically perished in the Rescue at Entebbe), his miraculous rescue of Israel’s finances and remake of the country into a genuine economic success story, and his unflinching determination to prevent a Palestinian terror state next to Israel and to thwart the existential Iranian nuclear threat. However, I think there is no better expression of Bibi’s core love for his people and Israel than that of his own words in his countless brilliant arguments and eloquent speeches at the United Nations, Congress, and with world leaders in defense of Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist and defend itself.
In one of Netanyahu’s most determined moments in 2015, he rose to the occasion once again in front of an open session of Congress to try and stop the horrible nuclear deal with Iran that would pave the way for them to get the bomb. Here is an excerpt of his historically momentous words as he turned to Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel in the gallery:
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words “Never Again.”
I can guarantee you this. The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over. We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in one hundred generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why, as prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel.
Then, facing the image of Moses in the chamber, Netanyahu continued:
Moses gave the people of Israel resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today: “Be strong and resolute; neither fear nor dread them.”
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength, and hope.
May G-d bless the state of Israel, and may G-d bless the United States of America.
Despite Netanyahu’s incredible speech and efforts, President Obama did eventually force the Iranian nuclear deal through, but it was without a binding treaty approved by Congress. Thus, President Trump was able to undo the bad deal and restore the sanctions and pressure on Iran again. Also, now that President Biden is in charge, unprecedented cooperation and military preparations are being made (like the Juniper Oak joint exercise that ended in January) that can lead to a credible joint U.S.-Israeli military threat against Iran’s malevolent plans and, if necessary, the destruction of their nukes.
While the global Doomsday clock was recently moved up to just 90 seconds (due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the threat to the West), with Hashem’s help, the hands of the clock will soon move the other way again, towards a more peaceful and hopeful future. And make no mistake: the steps leading up to stopping Iran’s terrorist nuclear threat are largely due to the decades of strength, bravery, and determination of PM Netanyahu, whose love and passion for Israel and his people know no human bounds.