The African American “Benjamin Netanyahu”

In “Sayeret Golani” commando unit on “Bezeq’ base near Jenin.

While serving on active combat duty in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the Second Intifada, I was nicknamed “Black Bibi” by my fellow soldiers.┬áPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is referred to affectionately as “Bibi”.

Since I was accepted to the “Sayeret Golani” commando unit, I patterned myself after Benjamin Netanyahu who served in “Sayeret Matkal” commando unit. I also patterned myself after Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu who perished during the famous “Entebbe” rescue operation.

With fellow Israeli soldiers in the Golani unit during the Second Intifada.

Before I first enlisted in the Israeli military, I was an admirer of Benjamin Netanyahu. I joined the Likud Party and attended Likud events at party headquarters on King George Street in Jerusalem. I befriended the Likud Party Jerusalem office manager, Rafi Bar-Hen. I also volunteered in the office of Jerusalem spokesperson, Haggai Elias.

It was my intention to be elected to the Israeli Knesset in the Likud Party. While in the IDF, I would tell fellow soldiers, “I am going to be the first African American elected to the Israeli Knesset. I am going to become the Black Benjamin Netanyahu”.

Unfortunately, my goal of being elected to the Knesset were never realized.

In retrospect, I know I put too much emphasis on race and skin color. I should not have referred to myself as the “Black Bibi”. This moniker detracted from the seriousness of my goals. In addition, I should have been “colorblind” in my approach to the IDF and the Knesset.

God Almighty created people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. I now believe it’s best to de-emphasize race and skin color. Instead, it is best to love and respect people from all backgrounds: “Red, yellow, black, and white; we are all one in God’s sight”.

In the past, I always referred to myself as a “Black Jew”. I now view this as a mistake. There is not need to put the word “Black” before the word “Jew”. There is no need to utilize racial labels and unnecessarily emphasize my skin color.

In truth, I am a human being sharing the world with the rest of humanity.

At IDF headquarters with Russian Jewish soldier

While serving in the Israeli military, I developed strong bonds of friendship with Russian Jewish soldiers. On many occasions the Russian Jewish immigrants (olim hadashim) helped to apply for benefits at Misrad HaKlita (Absorption Ministry). With the help of Russian Jewish soldiers, I was able to increase my monthly stipend since I was a lone soldier (chayal boded).

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is an institution free of racism and racialism. Israeli soldiers must always and consistently love and respect one another regardless of background and culture. As a former IDF soldier, I have learned respect myself and to respect others.

“Red, yellow, black, and white; we are all one in God’s sight”.

About the Author
Specialist on Black-Jewish affairs. Former Student: Aish HaTorah Jerusalem and Machon Meir Jerusalem. Former Senior Adviser to Governor of California. Licensed attorney. Israel Defense Forces 2000-2005. United States Army 2005-2008. Recipient of National Defense Service Medal, 2006. IDF Inspirational Soldier Award.