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A Comprehensive Book Review: Bibi: My Story (2022) by Benjamin Netanyahu

Updated: May 23


A Comprehensive Book Review: Bibi: My Story (2022) by Benjamin Netanyahu
FILE PHOTO: Bibi: My Story (2022) by Benjamin Netanyahu © Simon and Schuster

BOOK DATA Bibi: My Story (2022)


English Title: Bibi: My Story

Author: Benjamin Netanyahu

ISBN: 1668008440, 9781668008447

Language: English

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (2022)


🇮🇱 The People of Israel live!

 

Bibi is a real patriot and the embodiment of the entire Jewish history. Recent incidents, such as on May 20, 2024, ‘ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant and 3 Hamas leaders’ (NEWS) only helped to unite the Israeli government, and the equalization of the Israeli victims and Hamas terrorists made the US and entire Israel rage. Furthermore, the political distortions resulted in unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state by Pro-Hamas terrorist countries like Norway, Ireland, and Spain on May 22 (NEWS) irreversibly consolidated the unity of the US and Israel on the issue. Those anti-Semitic acts will only backfire while Israel’s historical grounds and concerns are rational. 

 

The points are below: 

1.    ‘Recognition’ The core of the Israeli-‘Palestinian’ issue is the refusal of the existence of the Jewish state, the refusal of the 1948 UN Partition Plan of 1947 (URL), aimed at annihilation of the Jewish state by the Arab world and now so-called Palestinians in the two areas in Israel. The point is that Israel principally agreed with the UN two-state solution. As a result, the state of Israel was established in 1948. 

2.    ‘Security’ Besides numerous hostile Arab invasions, ongoing ‘Palestinian’ terrorist attacks on Israel, primarily Iranian terrorism against Israel, are the gravest national security threat to Israel. The military threats against Israel became a major obstacle to proceeding with the peace process, thus it’s not Bibi or Israel that prevented the peace solution.    

 

In general, the mechanism of anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli propaganda is historical ignorance of the people who are systematically brainwashed worldwide by their establishments and media on the history of Israel and the Jewish people. For instance, Israel’s acceptance of the 1948 UN Partition Plan (1947) is still effective, yet this sheer fact is totally ignored by the anti-Semitic media of the six continents on earth. For the name, Palestine, the name was coined by the Romans to replace occupied Judea. Thus, the name did not originate with any Arabs. Furthermore, during the two world wars, so-called Palestinians were meant by Jewish people. In other words, Arabs in the ‘Palestinian’ areas in Israel are accurately Arabs. This also reveals another brainwashing narrative, that while ethnic Arabs living in Israel are treated equally, it doesn’t rationally construct a logic that ‘Palestinians’ (Arabs) were under genocide or apartheid. Another fact is that pro-terrorist demagogues distort the history that the Jews only lived in Judea 3,500 years ago. This is pure ignorance while the Jewish people have been living in Judea / Palestine more than 3,500 years even if the Jews became minority temporally under the Arab, Muslim rule. The Jews are natives, not colonialists of their own homeland. Why can this kind of distortion blind or radicalize sheeple? A simple answer is that sheeple don’t know history. Thus, history is the only cure for propaganda and historical manipulations and revisionism. 


In this Bibi’s biography Bibi: My Story (2022), answers to all major questions about Israel and the so-called ‘Palestinian’ issue can be found. 


Israel’s position is clearly explained in this book in contrast to the overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian narratives spread around the globe.  In short, the main root cause of the Israel-Gaza issue is due to the refusal of Arabs of the two main enclaves of Palestine and the entire Arab world plus Iran to recognize the existence of the Jewish state. Moreover, total ignorance of terrorism by Arab-Iran-backed terrorism in Palestine is a national security issue for Israel. Among them, the Iranian nuclear threat is the gravest one.  Real peace will be achieved when the grave concerns of Israel are met by Iran and all Arabs. All Israeli diplomats should read this book, Bibi: My Story (2022)! As Trump said, PR is failing. Bibi’s line is right. People must follow him!


Part 1: Foothills


1.     Brothers 1972 : …Yoni’s sacrifice and example helped me overcome inconsolable grief, thrust me into a public battle against terrorism, and led me to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Asked in a 2011 television interview how I wished to be remembered, I answered simply: ‘That I helped secure the life of the Jewish state and its future.’  (P.8)


2.     Roots 1949-1957: After the War of Independence in 1948, Israel enjoyed little quiet. It suffered Fedayeen (guerrilla) terrorist attacks from the Sinai Peninsula, then controlled by Egypt, and sniper fire from the Arab side of a divided Jerusalem, then controlled by Jordan. On September 23, 1956, Jordanian snipers killed four and injured sixteen Israelis at an archaeological dig in Ramat Rachel, a kibbutz that adjoined Talpiot. But our years in Talpiot in the early 1950s were tranquil. (P.13) It gradually dawned on me that Israel was unlike any other country. For one thing, it had to constantly defend itself against the repeated attempts of its Arab neighbors to destroy it. For another, the Jewish people had an utterly unique history. Time and again we had come back from the dead, most recently from the worst horror ever inflicted on any people. I was part of a new generation of Jewish children coming into its own in the Jewish state a mere few years after the slaughter of a million and a half Jewish children in the Holocaust. This was anything but normal. It was miraculous. My brothers and I relished the outdoor life that characterized children’s society in Jerusalem during the 1950s and early 1960s. (P.17) …in 1956, the Suez Crisis broke out. Seven years after Israel’s independence, Egypt’s dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, built and owned by the French and British, and closed the Strait of Tiran, choking Israel’s essential maritime gateway to Asia. In the intervening years he launched Fedayeen attacks from Sinai into Israel’s southern communities. He vowed to unite the newly independent countries of the Arab world and destroy Israel. Israel secretly colluded with France and Britain to break the stronghold. Britain and France would spend paratroopers to seize the Suez Canal Zone, while Israel paratroopers would seize the strategic Mitla Pass, thirty-two kilometers east of the canal. Other IDF forces would destroy the Egyptian army and terrorist bases in Sinai. The British and French seized the canal. The IDF seized the Mitla pass, smashed the Egyptian army and conquered the Sinai within days. While the plan worked, the military gains were soon rolled back by a joint US-Soviet ultimatum to Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw from the Canal Zone and the Sinai. In exchange for its withdrawal, the US gave Israel a guarantee that the Strait of Titan would always remain open. (P.18)


3.     America 1957-1959: Evidently my great-grandfather, like me, identified with all ‘Twelve Tribes’ of Israel and stood up to condescension by one group toward another. I encountered in my life many similar situations. When some people patronized me and ask, ‘How is it possible that a highly educated Ashkenazi Jew like you, coming from a well-to-do home, the son of a renowned historian, an officer in an elite unit and a graduate of the best schools in the world, could be the leader of a party supported by so many from the lower classes?’ I reply with two words: ‘Abraham Marcus.’ Then I add, ‘Oh, and they are not lower classes.’ (P.24)


4.     Back in Israel-Blissful Years 1959-1963: Some of my friends had parents with concentration camp numbers tattooed on their forearms. This was seldom spoken of in the open, until the capture of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Seized by Mossad agents in Argentina in 1960, Eichmann was brought to Israel to stand trial. ‘What do you think is the best punishment for him?’ Mrs. Rubenstein asked our class. She heard us out and then answered her own question: ‘The best revenge is to take him around the country and show him what we’ve done here.’ The court thought otherwise. Eichmann was sentenced to death, the only person in Israel’s history to be executed. Years later I would offer a different answer to Mrs. Rubenstein’s question. The most important response to Eichmann and his boss Hitler was to ensure that such a horror never befalls the Jewish people again. (P.29)


5.     America again-Nerds and Jocks 1963-1967: Our entire family waited with great anticipation for each new letter from Yoni. Iddo and I were intrigued by every military detail, including, mention of his first battle in the Jordanian village of Es-Samu, from which terrorists had attacked Israel. It was the largest Israeli military operation since the 1956 Suez Crisis. Emerging from the battle, Yoni observed that ‘there are people who lose all sense of reality under fire and don’t know what they’re doing, while others feel no change at all. I felt the same degree of concentration and judgement, the same grip on reality and the same level of tension I usually feel.’ (P.33)  Throughout my years in America I yearned to see my friends in Israel, whom I joined only on summer vacations. As I went back to school in Philadelphia at the end of each summer, a clear dichotomy developed in my life. America became the province of the mind, Israel the province of the heart. (P.37) War clouds began to gather over Israel as my senior year came to a close. As in the 1956 Suez Crisis, in 1967 Egypt’s dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser once again choked Israel from the south by closing the Strait of Tiran. He demanded the United Nations remove its peacekeepers from the Sinai, flooded the peninsula with 100,000 soldiers and threatened to destroy Israel. Israel’s prime minister, Levi Eshkol, sent Foreign Minister Abba Eban to Washington. Eban asked America to live up to its promise to keep the strait open, a guarantee that it had given Israel in 1956 when it forced Ben Gurion to withdraw Israeli forces from the Sinai. ‘What guarantee?’ was effectively the Johnson administration’s response to Eban’s request. President Lyndon Johnson was weighed down by the Vietnam War. He was not interested in confronting either the Arab states or the Soviets who backed them. (P.39)


6.     The Six Day War 1967: I landed in Israel on June 1, 1967. Like the rest of the country, the airport was enveloped in darkness. The blackout was necessary since it was assumed that the fighting could break out at any moment. Egypt and Syria were joined by Jordan in a military pact. All three pledged to annihilate the Jewish state. Many Israeli citizens were gripped with fear. Graveyards for mass burials were prepared in case of disaster. Twenty-two years after the Holocaust, would we now face another extermination? (P.40) The Six-Day War had broken out. In a surprise pre-emptive air strike on the first morning of the war, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) destroyed the air forces in the Sinai and swept all the way to the Suez Canal. Amid the Jordanian shelling of Jerusalem, Israel defeated the Jordanian army and captured the territories all the way to the Jordan River in the east. During the last two days of the war, the Israeli army finished perhaps the toughest task of all – conquering the formidable Golan Heights, which for nineteen years had been used by the Syrians to shell and harass the Israeli villages below. By June 11, the war had ended with a stunning Israeli victory. In six days the IDF conquered the Sinai, Judea and Samaria, Gaza and the Golan. Most enthralling, it liberated the Old City of Jerusalem. The eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City, had been conquered by the Jordanian army during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The Jordanians destroyed the Jewish Quarter and expelled all its Jewish residents, including families who had been living there for centuries. Now, after nineteen years of Jordanian occupation, these people could come back to their homes, in fact the entire People of Israel could come home. (P.42) I could now visit the grave of my paternal grandfather in the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives. During the Jordanian occupation, many of the graves had been desecrated, the headstones used for building material. My family was lucky. My grandfather’s grave was intact. (P.44)


7.     The Unit 1967-1968: Half a century later, I haven’t shaken that habit. Every day I still write down tomorrow’s tasks and cross off what got done from yesterday’s list. Following through on details is not a pedantic compulsion. I know of no other way to get things done. Most of the people I have known who achieve big goals follow up on small details. (P.51) Throughout this training period one message was ingrained in us again and again: don’t fudge your tasks and don’t compromise with results. When I became an officer I in turn instilled this same principle in my soldiers. Their lives and the fate of our missions would depend on it. (P.57)


8.     Combat 1968-1969: The PLO had been founded by Arafat, Ahmad Shukeiri, and their Palestinian cohorts to conquer and destroy Israel in 1964, three years before the Six-Day War in which Israel took control of Judea an d Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza. Their goal was never to ‘liberate’ these territories, because these lands were in Arab hands when the PLO was established. The goal was and remains Israel’s destruction. Led by Arafat, the PLO totally rejected Israel’s right to exist, including its followers with a burning hatred of Israel, and spreading outlandish lies about Israel and Zionism. After the defeat of the Arab armies in 1967, the PLO and affiliated terror groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) swung into action. They sent terrorists across the Jordan River, hijacked an Israeli plane to Algeria, and shot at an Israeli plane parked at Zurich airport in Switzerland. When the war on terror gathered stream, our training in the unit was constantly interrupted as we were called into action again and again. Many of our activities in that period focused on retaliating for terrorist attacks or foiling impending ones. (P.59) A few days after Karameh, during a training exercise, David and another gifted soldier from the adjoining team, Zohar Linik, were fatally wounded when a shell exploded in the mortar they were firing. David died in my arms on the way to Tel Hashomer Hospital. It is a moment that lives with me always. Some thirty years later I visited his family in Beer-Sheba. His mother, forever stricken with grief, had left his room exactly as it was on the day he died. When as prime minister I sent men into battle, I would always think of David’s mother and the other mothers of Israel grieving for their fallen sons. (P.60) At Kibbutz Yehiam, where Haim was buried, I met his mother, a Holocaust survivor. She told me that had Haim been born two years earlier he would have been thrown into the ovens in the Nazi death camps like a million and a half other Jewish children. At least, she said, my son died wearing the uniform of a Jewish soldier defending his people. (P.62)


9.     Commander 1969-1972: ‘Bibi,’ Yoni said, ‘it won’t make any difference. They’ll carry the loads. But more important, remember that there are no good soldiers and bad soldiers, only good officers and bad officers. Make sure you’re the good kind and your soldiers will do everything you ask them to do.’ (P.69) In Israel, a land fought over for millennia, modern military bases often adjoin those of yesterday and modern battles often take place on ancient battlefields. As I practiced diving each day in the bay overlooked by this once magnificent castle, the question entered my mind: would we too suffer the fate of the Crusaders, who after two centuries yielded the Holy Land to the Muslims? This was a common hope among Israel’s Arab enemies, but I was convinced we would do better. Unlike the Crusaders, we had been attached to our land for more than three millennia and overcame incredible odds to regain it. Yet the question of ensuring Israel’s power and permanence lingered in my mind. (P.71) Sharon was one of Israel’s greatest generals and had led the decisive crossing of the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War. But as a prime minister, he had succumbed to pressures from the left when he made his decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip, uproot eight thousand Jews and destroy twenty-one Israeli communities in the process. His efforts to convince his followers that Israel’s security would be served by these actions failed to convince Meir. Meir was as uncompromising in his convictions as he was uncompromising in his standards during our training on the Hermon. (P.75) There were, and many would soon pay a tragic price in lives lost during the Yom Kippur War. But between the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 the Israeli army carried out an unprecedented number of special ops in which Sayeret Matkal and a few other select units took a leading part. These were exactly the five years of my military service. In 1972, my active-duty career was coming to an end. During those years I had nearly drowned in a firefight in the Suez Canal and nearly froze to death on the Syrian slopes of Mount Hermon. I was bitten by a scorpion south of Hebron and pierced by a bullet in the Sabena rescue. I had participated as a soldier and commander in clandestine operations across the enemy lines in all the countries surrounded Israel, sometimes deep beyond our borders. (P.82)


10.     Farewell, Lebanon 1972: two years earlier, IDF pilots had been shot down over Syria. The Syrian government refused to release them and they languished in jail. A swap was needed. Military intelligence had learned that Syrian intelligence officers who served on the Syrian General Staff would conduct observation tours along the Israel-Lebanon border. Like Syria, Lebanon was in a state of war with Israel and made its border with Israel available to senior Syrian officers. If captured, they would be excellent collateral, especially since high-ranking officers in the Syrian army came from well-connected families favored by the regime.  (P.84)


11.     MIT 1972-1976: …technological advance was critical for achieving competitive advantage. In Boston in the 1970s you could clearly see the beginning of the digital revolution. MIT spawned companies in the ring roads that surrounded the city, a model similar to Stanford’s Silicon Valley and one that I thought could be replicated in Israel. Companies producing computers and ‘word processors’ were popping up everywhere, and cellular phones were in their early stages of development. I also heard rumors that a certain building on MIT’s campus housed people working for the CIA or something called the NSA. It began to dawn on me that what I was seeing in the Boston area was a winning combination that could launch a thousand technological ships: military intelligence, academia and business clustered together and working in tandem. Of course, there was one critical component necessary for this model to work: free markets. That, too, began to crystalize in my mind. Technology and free markets were both prerequisites for economic growth. This became one of the fundamental principles that guided my thinking decades later when I set out to reform Israel’s economy. (PP.89-90)


12.     The Yom Kippur War 1973: I didn’t hear the news until late in the day on October 6, 1973. Egypt and Syria carried out a surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement. The Yom Kippur War had broken out. The war was aimed at reversing the humiliating defeat of 1967 six years earlier and, if luck would hold, achieve a crushing defeat of Israel. There was a great scramble as Israelis from all over North America tried to get onto the first planes bound for Israel. (P.91) It later emerged that a day before the warm an Egyptian Mossad agent had warned Israel that a surprise attack was imminent. Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defence Minister Dayan failed to act on this and other alarming intelligence warnings. Not heeding Chief of Staff Elazar’s urging, they refused to approve a pre-emptive strike even after it was fully understood that an attack on Israel was coming. Perhaps they feared being accused of precipitating a new Middle East war, believing that pre-emptive action would impede support from the United States. […] pre-emptive action is always a difficult decision for political leaders because they can never prove what would have happened if they hadn’t pre-empted. Nevertheless, faced with a life-threatening challenge, Israel should always put its security first and when necessary – strike first. The alliance with the US will take care of itself. Most Americans, including their presidents, understand that when push comes to shove, Israel must do what is necessary to defend itself. Besides, everyone likes a winner and striking first usually gives you a big advantage. This is why despite objections by US administrations, most Americans ultimately supported Levi Eshkol’s decision to pre-emptively strike the Arab air forces at the start of the Six-Day War and Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s decision to destroy Saddam Hussein’s nuclear plant in Iraq in 1981. Equally, many Americans have supported my decision to confront Iran’s nuclear program and authorize repeated actions against it. Without such assertive policies and actions, Iran would have had a nuclear arsenal long ago. (PP.92-93) The war ended with the Israeli army on the outskirts of Damascus in the north and 101 kilometers from Cairo in the south. Just three weeks earlier, Defense Minister Dayan warned that we were on the ‘verge of the destruction of the Third Temple.’ The remarkable turnaround was achieved by the bravery and sacrifice of the enlisted and reserve soldiers fighting to save the Jewish state and the future of the Jewish people. (P.96) ‘In battle, lions become rabbits. In war, reputations evaporate, only character holds.’ (P.98)


13.      Hasbara 1973-1976: …the Middle East rife with internecine Arab conflicts and a deep hatred of the West. What was clear was that the Arab radicals didn’t hate the West because of Israel, they hated Israel because of the West. Israel represented the kind of open and liberal Western society they detested. In those days these conclusions were downright heretical. Many Western intellectuals and diplomats believed that the Arab and Muslim world’s hostility toward the US and Europe was solely rooted in American support for Israel. Once that support ceased, or Israel ceased to be, the anti-Western hostility would disappear. Yossi and I did our modest part to help debunk this false proposition by coming up with a simple chart. We listed numerous violent attacks reported in various conflicts within the Arab world in a single month. None had anything to do with Israel. How then could Israel be the cause? And anyway, why was the Middle East ‘conflict’ always in the singular and not in the plural? The region suffered from a surfeit of conflicts: Arabs against Arabs, Arabs against non-Arabs, Shiites against Sunnis, Islamic radicals against moderates, and nearly everyone against the West. A far greater number of lives were being lost in these conflicts than in all the Arab Israeli wars combined. Israel, Yossi and I said, was the only solid rock in these shifting and violent sands and the only reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East. (P.101) Father put forward a stark proposition: in today’s world, you can’t defend a military victory without a political victory; you can’t defend a political victory without a victory in public opinion; and you can’t win public opinion without an appeal to justice. If your adversaries succeeded in portraying your cause as unjust, they will gradually erode your position. It didn’t matter if your cause was a genuinely moral one if you didn’t present it as such. Some of the greatest aggressors in history portrayed themselves as just and their victims as unjust. This happened to Israel time and again. Israel kept winning on military battlefields and losing on political ones. Israel’s clearly just war of self-defense in 1967 was portrayed by Arab propaganda as an aggressive war of conquest. They conveniently hid the fact that they laid a siege of death on the tiny Jewish state, choked its trade route to Asia and formed a tristate military pact that openly called for Israel’s annihilation. Arab propaganda systematically covered up the true root cause of the Israeli-Arab conflict – the persistent Arab refusal to recognize a Jewish state, whatever its borders. It covered up the fact that the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, was established in 1964, three years before Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, during which Israel seized control of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Where exactly was the Palestine that the PLO sought to liberate before the Six-Day War in 1967? Judea, Samaria, the Golan and the Sinai were in Arab hands when the war broke out. There were no ‘occupied territories’ to liberate when the PLO was established. Its goal was to annihilate Israel, pure and simple. Retroactively erasing this simple historical fact in the minds of many in the West was a tremendous victory for Arab propaganda. It was a truly Orwellian inversion, achieved through what I later called the reversal of causality, turning the results of Arab aggression against Israel in 1967 into its cause. This echoed a similar ploy used after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, when the Arab states turned one of the war’s results, Arab refugees, into its cause. But there wasn’t a single Arab refugee when six Arab armies set out to destroy fledgling Israel at its birth. In fact, the Arab-initiated war on Israel resulted in two refugee problems, not one – a great number of Jewish refugees were expelled from Arab countries after the war. After the war of Independence, Arab propaganda turned history on its head. There and other fictions were used by the Arab world to mobilize international pressure on Israel to withdraw from the territories of Judea, Samaria, the Golam and the Sinai, which it took in legitimate wars of self-defence. Arab propaganda was not limited to falsifying modern history. It sought to falsify ancient history as well, beginning with its appropriation of the term Palestine, a term whose complex history was deliberately obfuscated for political purposes. The name Palestine is derived from the Philistines, a seafaring people from Crete who invaded the coast of present-day Israel around 1200 BCE, shortly after the Israelite conquest. The main Philistine dominions never extended much beyond the coastal strip between Gaza and today’s Tel Aviv, and the Philistines disappeared as a people under the Babylonian conquest in the sixth century BCE. It was the Roman Empire, bent on destroying every vestige of Jewish attachment to their land after two successive Jewish rebellions, that invented the name Palestina to replace Judea, the original name of the country, with the intention of obliterating its historic Jewish identity. While the Roman name disappeared in the land itself shortly after the Muslim conquest in the seventh century CE, Christian cartographers kept it alive in their own lands and bequeathed it to the Allied negotiators in the 1917 Versailles Peace Conference and then to its inhabitants, who adopted it once the British took control following World War 1. Until the twentieth century, the name Palestine referred exclusively to the ancient land of the Jews, as did the names Judea, Judah, Zion and Israel. The Arabs lived there were called Arabs, just as Armenians, Turks, Druze and Circassians who migrated into Palestine were called Armenians, Turks, Druze and Circassians. With the exception of the Jews, who called the land ‘Eretz Israel’ (the land of Israel) and viewed it as their national home, all of those groups considered themselves to be living in ‘Southern Syria,’ and never identified the land as a unique national homeland for themselves. Paradoxically under the British Mandate between the two world wars, it was the Jews who often referred to themselves as Palestinians. As Golda Meir once said, ‘I am a Palestinian. From 1921 to 1948, I carried a Palestinian passport issued by the British Mandate.’ There was no such thing in this area as Jews, Arabs and Palestinians. There were Jews and Arabs.’ Earlier, she had also said, ‘There was no Palestinian people considering itself as Palestinians.’ Thus, before the term Palestine was politicized, it was simply a synonym for the geographic area encompassing the Land of Israel, or Eretz Israel, and was used as such between the two world wars. While the Palestinians can argue their national identity emerged in the first half of the twentieth century, the historical facts simply do not support the false claim that an Arab Palestinian national consciousness goes back earlier than that. It didn’t. In Boston after the Yom Kippur War, Father stressed that the campaign for public opinion and the fight against Arab propaganda had to be coupled with a systematic and direct appeal to leaders. Whereas a public campaign should center mainly on interests: Why is the position we are advocating in the interest of your country? What will be the benefit to the US for supporting our position and what will be the costs of opposing it? Bring the argument to leaders, my father said. If you can’t get to them, get to those who can influence them, and no less important, to those who would oppose them. After the Yom Kippur War, Israel was under heavy US pressure to withdraw from parts of the Sinai and the Golan. Father suggested that we approach Eugene Rostow, formerly President Johnson’s undersecretary for political affairs. After the Six-Day War, Rostow had helped draft United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which stipulated that in a peace settlement Israel would withdraw ‘from territories’ to secure and recognized boundaries. Rostow and his colleagues deliberately used the phrase ‘from territories’ rather than ‘the territories,’ to make it clear that Israel was not being asked to give up all of the land it had gained in self-defence and return to its immensely vulnerable pre-Six-Day War borders. Moreover, by insisting on ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ they conditioned such a withdrawal on security and peace arrangements with Israel’s neighbors. Rostow was clearly a great supporter of Israel. We would try to convince him that the present American policy was endangering not only Israeli interests but American interests as well. (PP.103-106)


14.     Father: Who shaped Father’s thinking on Zionism? First and foremost, Theodor Herzl. The founder of political Zionism wrote about the impending destruction of European Jewry forty years before it happened. As Father wrote, ‘It was clear to Herzl that what awaited the Jewish People was extinction.’ (P.107) Prior to the war, the Ottoman Empire had ruled the Holy Land for four centuries. Aaronsohn was convinced that the Ottoman Turks would never willingly cede land to create an independent Jewish state. They would have to be driven out. When the Great War (World War 1) broke out, pitting the Allied powers, including Britain, against the Central Powers, including Turkey, Aaronsohn secretly went to Cairo to meet British commander General Edmund Allenby’s superb intelligence officer, Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen. With Meinertzhagen’s blessing, Aaronsohn began operating a spy ring on the shores of the Mediterranean under the code name NILI, an abbreviation of a Biblical phrase referring to the eternity of Israel’s destiny. He and his thirty brave colleagues recruited from neighboring communities provided invaluable intelligence to the British, including the secrete communication code used between the Germans and the Turks. The information Aaronsohn supplied helped change the course of the war. [Both Mossad and Israeli military intelligence were inspired from the experimental agricultural farm of Aaronsohn where their intelligence gathering base located, thus some today uses the term ‘farm’ which originated in this legend] (P.110) Many believe that bipartisan American support for the establishment of Israel came only after President Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel. In fact, the twin resolutions by Republicans and Democrats preceded this recognition by four years and in many ways facilitated it. And the main engine for this bipartisan support for a Jewish state was Father and his group at the New Zionist Organization of America. With relentless and focused activities, they achieved this remarkable breakthrough not by cowing to anti-Zionism but by standing up to it, and by appealing to the pro-Zionist sentiments cultivated earlier by American evangelicals. (P.115)  


15.     One Day It Will Help Your Country 1976-1978: ‘Prime Minister,’ came the usual reply, ‘it’s more complicated than that.’ ‘I know it’s more complicated, but try anyway, ’ I would insist. For many governmental bureaucrats and military personnel used to covering themselves with multiple and conflicting recommendations, this was cruel and unusual punishment but it was a valuable habit I learned at BCG. Unlike governments, private companies would not pay for fuzzy presentations that didn’t advance defined goals and did not add any value. Ensuring clarity and simplicity is a tough intellectual challenge, which I seldom delegated to others. Whether presenting economic facts as finance minister or exposing Iran’s secret nuclear program as prime minister, I would personally prepare the presentations and go to the heart of the matter. With rare exceptions, I followed a simple rule: say something clear or say nothing at all. (P.125)


16.     Agony 1976: The plane had taken off from Tel Aviv, destined for Paris, until the hijackers diverted it to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. The news reports said that negotiations had begun between Israel’s government and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to secure the release of the hostages. Then, on the morning of July 4, breaking news swept the entire world. And Israeli force had carried out a daring rescue mission in Uganda, liberated the hostages and was flying them back to Israel. The report added that ‘one officer was killed.’ (P.127)


17.     Entebbe July 4, 1976: On June 27, 1976, an Air France plane flying from Israel to Paris with 248 passengers on board was hijacked by Arab terrorists after a stopover in Athens. Remembering the Sabena rescue, the hijackers steered clear of Israel, turning instead to Africa. They landed at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on Monday, June 28. The four hijackers, two Germans and two Arabs, were met there by several Palestinian terrorists. The hostages were taken to the airport’s Old Terminal building, which had been decommissioned. There they held captive by the terrorists, aided by the Ugandan army. At that time, Uganda was ruled by the brutal dictator Idi Amin, who was in cahoots with the terrorists. From the safety of Entebbe the hijackers demanded the release of more than fifty terrorists, most of whom were imprisoned in Israel, along with a few in other countries. The deadline for their release was set for Thursday afternoon, July 1. If Israel refused to meet their demands, the terrorists threatened, they would start executing the hostages. They separated the Israeli passport holders and non-Israelis they believed to be non-Jews. On Wednesday they began releasing the non-Jewish hostages, who were flown to Paris, keeping all the Israeli and other Jewish passengers at Entebbe. The plane’s brave non-Jewish pilot, Michael Bacos, and his crew refused to leave and stayed with their passengers, leaving a total of 106 passengers and crew remaining hostage. The selection of Jews to be murdered at Entebbe evoked horrible memories of the selection of Jews to be murdered in the Nazi death camps only thirty years earlier. One of the hostages, Dr. Yitzhak Hirsch, had survived the Birkenau concentration camp, adjacent to Auschwitz. His entire family was murdered there. ‘The kidnapper shouted in German, typical of the language I used to hear at the camp. It took me back 30 years. Horrible screams,’ Hirsch later recalled. (PP.133-134)


18.     Terrorism 1976-1980: The 1970s marked the beginning of a wave of international terrorism that swept the Western world and continues to this day. The terrorists cast aside all civilized norms put in place after World War 2. Noncombatants were fair game and no one was exempt from their murderous assaults. Like wild beasts prowling the world’s cities, airways and waterways, the terrorists bombed innocent bystanders in Western capitals, hijacked aircrafts, commandeered ships and even tried to assassinate the pope. Many of these attacks were carried out by Palestinian terrorists. They blew up three aircrafts in the Jordanian desert in 1970, attacked Israeli planes in Switzerland and Cyprus and hijacked a Sebena airplane to Tel Aviv and an Air France plane to Entebbe. They hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro and threw a wheelchaired passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, overboard. My parents almost took that very cruise ship a year before. The terrorists landed on the Tel Aviv coast and took hostages in the Savoy Hotel (where Uzi Yairi was killed while rescuing them). They massacred Israeli schoolchildren in the town of Maalot in the Upper Galilee and murdered eleven members of Israel’s Olympic team in Munich in 1972. Though after Sabena and Entebbe, terrorists worldwide understood that governments could act decisively against the taking of hostages on hijacked planes, they emulated other forms of Palestinian terrorism and invented new types of attacks. (P.146-147)


19.  Business 1980-1982: After our divorce, Miki and Noa moved to Jerusalem, and I needed a job, preferably in Jerusalem, so I could be close to Noa. I did not want to earn a living from an organization formed in Yoni’s memory and looked for a new opportunity but the city was almost exclusively a government town at the time, largely devoid of industry and high-tech firms. Both were then in their infancy in Israel and were centered mostly on Tel Aviv. One of the few significant private businesses in Jerusalem was Israel’s leading industrial manufacturer and marketer of furniture, RIM Industries. It was established by the Eisen family, who came from Panama, I applied for the role of marketing director at RIM and got it. (P.158)


20.     Diplomat 1982-1984: On June 6, 1982, a full-scale war with Lebanon erupted, just as Arens predicted. Several days earlier, Palestinian terrorists had tried to assassinate Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov. Paralyzed for life, Argov lived, but Israel had had enough. After years of incessant terrorist attacks from Lebanon, Israel sent its army to South Lebanon – the area that the PLO had taken over and turned into an anti-Israel terrorist ministate. The IDF reached as far as Beirut and laid siege to the PLO’s leadership there. Yasser Arafat and the entire PLO command were forced to leave for Tunisia. The main fighting abated after three months and the bulk of the Israeli force returned home, but there were periodic Palestinian attacks on the Israeli soldiers remaining in the country. (P.162) Israel was being massively criticized in the American press, its invasion of Lebanon excoriated. The terrorists attacks that prompted the invasion in the first place were ignored by the international media in favor of covering the physical damage caused by the IDF. Lebanese civilian casualties were dramatized nightly on television. (P.163) The Reagan Plan was nothing more than a rehashing of the Rogers Plan of 1969 and other similar recipes, addressing the ‘root cause’ of the conflict. Essentially they all said the same thing. Israel was to freeze settlements for years, adopt the principle of ‘territory for peace’ and enable the Palestinians to form a self-governing authority that would later develop into a full-fledged sovereign state in association with Jordan. No part of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) was to be designated as part of sovereign Israel, leaving Israel with indefensible borders. I told Eagleburger that Prime Minister Begin would never agree to this. The inherent problem in our conflict with the Arbs wasn’t the absence of a Palestinian state, but the presence of a Jewish one, I said. The persistent Arab refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is what had been driving this conflict since the beginning of the twentieth century. Not only did the Reagan Plan not address this critical issue. By putting the onus of the continuation of the conflict on Israel, it encouraged the Palestinians and other Arabs to continue to reject the very idea of a Jewish state, thus pushing the possibility of an enduring peace ever further away.  (P.164) Terrorism is a phenomenon that tries to evoke one feeling: fear. The one virtue most necessary to defeat terrorism is the antithesis of fear – courage. Courage, said the Romans, is not the only virtue, but it is the single virtue without which all the other virtues are meaningless. Confusion and vacillation facilitated the rise of terrorism, clarity and courage will ensure its defeat. (P.173)


21.     Ambassador 1984-1988: The end of my service at the embassy and beginning of my time at the UN completed a series of two-year stints. After five years in the army, I spent two years receiving my undergraduate degree at MIT, two years receiving my business degree at the Sloan School, two years at BCG (with time off to set up the Jonathan Institute), two years as the institute’s executive director and two years as deputy chief of mission in Israel’s embassy in Washington. Each of those life and career changes was prompted by recommendations from others: service in the Unit by the active  recruitment of Yoni’s friend; studying architecture at MIT and attending its business school by the suggestions of my mother; applying for a job at BCG by Yoav Leventer’s recommendation; serving as Arens’s deputy in Washington by his request. I had taken all these decisions with an attitude of ‘what the hell, let’s give it a try and see what happens.’ But this was something new. I had wanted this position. I believed that the United Nations could provide a global stage to advance Israel’s position in the world. (P.178) In 1988, the impending collapse of the Soviet Union accelerated the historic release of Soviet Jewry. Starting in 1989-90, the Soviets released hundreds of thousands and ultimately more than a million Soviet Jews whose arrival in Israel changed the course of Israel’s history. It all began with the efforts to achieve the freedom of leading Jewish dissidents, including Natan Sharansky. (P.191)


22.     Politics 1988-1993: While it is common that the mainstream media is dominated by the left in most western democracies, these countries also have alternative media, such as cable news and talk radio, that reach large segments of the population. Israel has none of that. Most Israelis get their news from just two left-leaning nightly news channels. This monopolistic stranglehold on information and opinion has only recently begun to loosen with the spread of social media that enables other voices to be heard. Though there have always been a sprinkling of right-leaning journalists, most of the newscasters, editors and program producers hail from the left. Especially since the historic election in 1977, when Likud elevated Begin to prime minister, the dominant media oligarchy has sought to maintain their power through legislative barriers to entry into television and radio. They see it as their mission to pull public opinion to the left. Thus, when a left-leaning government wins an election, they celebrate. When a Likud government wins, they can hardly hide their chagrin. Many in the leftist media elite flatly reject the democratic choice of Israeli voters. Nearly half a century after Likud’s first victory, they still viewed it as usurpation of their natural and privileged monopoly on power. (P.197) Before the Gulf War, as American and coalition forces were organizing to throw Saddam’s forces out of Kuwait, Arens had reassumed the post of defence minister and David Levy had taken over as minister of foreign affairs. Arens now urged Shamir to send our forces to Iraq to take out Saddam’s rocket launchers that were firing Scud missiles into Israel. How could we sit back when Saddam was rocketing our cities? (P.204) The history of Jewish people spans almost four millennia. The first thousand years or so are covered in the Bible, and attested to by archaeology and the historical records of other, contemporaneous peoples. As the centuries progress, the mists of time and the myths gradually evaporate and the unfolding events come into sharp historical focus. Reading the Bible from second grade on, I could easily imagine Abraham and Sarah on their long trek from Ur of the Chaldeans to the land of Canaan almost four thousand years ago. Abraham envisions one God, unseen but present everywhere. He buys a burial cave in Hebron and bequeaths the new land to his progeny. The descendants of Abraham’s grandson Jacob are enslaved in Egypt for centuries, until Moses takes them out of bondage. He leads them for forty years in the wilderness to the Promised Land, giving the Children of Israel the Ten Commandments and a moral code that would change the world. The indomitable Joshua conquers the land, wily David establishes his kingdom in Jerusalem, and wise Solomon builds his Temple there, only to have his sons split the realm into two, The northern kingdom, Israel, is destroyed, its ten tribes lost to history. The southern kingdom, Judea, is conquered and Solomon’s Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians, by whose rivers the exiled Judeans weep as they remember Zion. They rejoice when in 537 BCE they are reinstated in their homeland by Cyrus of Persia, who lets them rebuild their destroyed Temple. The Persian rulers are replaced by Alexander the Great, one of whose heirs seeks to eradicate the Jewish religion. This sparks a rebellion led by the brave Maccabees, and the independent Jewish state the established lasts for eighty years. It is overtaken by the rising power Rome which initially rules through proxies, the most notable of whom is Herod the Great. Herod refurbishes the Jerusalem Temple as one of the great wonders of the ancient world. In its bustling courtyard a Jewish rabbi from the Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth, overturns the tables of the money changers, setting off a chain of events culminating in his eventual crucifixion and the beginning of the Judeo-Christian tradition. When the Jews rebel against Roman rule, Rome destroys Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple in 70CE. Masada, the last rebel stronghold, falls three years later. Despite the devastation, sixty-two years later the Jews rebel again under the fearless Bar Kokhba, only to be crushed even more brutally. The Roman emperor Hadrian bars the Jews from Jerusalem and renames the country Palestina, after the Grecian Philistines, who have long disappeared. Unlike them, the Jews do not disappear. Under Roman rule they flourish in the coastal plain and in the Galilee in cities like Yavneh, Bnei Brak, Safed, Tiberias and Zippori. Denied a central temple, they build hundreds of smaller temples, called synagogues. They communicate with the great Jewish centers of learning in Babylon, Yemen and others that soon spread in the eastern Mediterranean and other parts of the world. Contrary to the common belief that the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel is ended by the Romans, the country remains primarily Jewish. In 212, the Roman emperor Caracalla bestows Roman citizenship on the Jews because they are considered ‘a people with their own country.’ The Jews of Palestine are granted considerable autonomy by Rome and later by its successor Byzantium. Over the next six centuries in the Land of Israel, great rabbis compile the Mishna, Gemara and the Jerusalem Talmud, interpretations of the Torah that guide social conduct and religious worship. Despite centuries of Roman and Byzantine domination, the Jews continue to yearn for independence, rebelling unsuccessfully against Rome once again in 351. Incredibly, in 614 the Jews of Israel are still fighting for their freedom. They raise an army that joins the Persians in seizing Jerusalem, and ousting the Byzantines from Palestine. In the siege of Tyre alone, the Jews deploy more than twenty thousand fighters. But in 636 a historical turning point occurs that tragically affects the Jewish people’s presence in their homeland. The Arabs burst into the land from the Arabian Peninsula, having earlier destroyed the Jewish communities there. The rule of the Byzantines had been harsh for the Jews, but it is under the Arabs that they are finally reduced to an insignificant minority. Though small numbers of Jews continue to live in the Land of Israel throughout the centuries, it is during the first two centuries of Arab rule that the Jewish people cease to be a national force of any consequence in their own land. Jewish emigration from the Land of Israel is prompted by several factors, including the economic allure of Jewish communities in the eastern Mediterranean. But it is conclusively finalized by one other phenomenon that had never occurred before in Jewish history. Unlike previous conquerors, the Arabs pour in a steady stream of colonies, often military battalions and their families, to Arabize the land. Expropriating Jewish property, houses and labor, the Arabs succeed over the next two centuries to achieve what the might of Rome had not: the final uprooting of the Jewish farmer from his soil. Thus, it is not the Jews who usurp the land from the Arabs, but the Arabs who usurp the land from the Jews. Anti-Israel propaganda paints it backward. The truth is simple: The Jews are the original natives, the Arabs the colonialists. Arab colonial rule leaves the country in ruin. For the next one thousand years, Arab rulers are replaced by the Crusaders, who are in turn ousted by the Muslims led by Saladin. They are supplanted by the Mamluks, who are booted out by the Ottomans, until they too are evicted four centuries later by the British in World War 1. Throughout these long centuries, no people claim the land as their distinct homeland except the Jews. Alone they cherish Jerusalem as their eternal capital, proclaiming on each Jewish New Year ‘next year in Jerusalem.’ Dispersed for centuries, suffering unparalleled persecution in their rootless sojourn among the nations, the Jews never lose hope of returning to the Promised Land. Individual Jews continue to return throughout the ages, joining the tiny Jewish communities that never left. But the land is barren, sparsely populated and undeveloped. Visiting the Holy Land in 1867, Mark Twain echoes many contemporary travelers when he says, ‘A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action…the desolate and unlovely land is hopeless, dreary and heartbroken.’ A century later, Arab propaganda depicts things differently. It describes Palestine in the nineteenth century as a lush land teeming with a flourishing Arab population. ‘The Jewish invasion began in 1881,’ says Arafat at an infamous United Nations speech in 1974. ‘Palestine was then a verdant area.’ It wasn’t. Visiting the Holy Land in 1881, the famous British visitor Arthur Penrhyn Stanley reaffirms Twain’s observation fourteen years earlier. ‘In Judea, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that for miles and miles there was no appearance of life or habitation.’ In the second half of the nineteenth century, Jewish immigration brings the fallow land back to life. The Jews build farms, plant orange groves, erect factories. This induces immigration of Arabs from neighbouring countries who join the indigenous Arab population. From 1860 on, the majority of Jerusalem’s inhabitants are Jewish. Even so, by the turn of the twentieth century the total population in the Holy Land doesn’t exceed four thousand, less than 4 percent of the present population. As the visiting German Kaiser notes in 1898, ‘There is room here for everyone.’ With the advent of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, the call goes out to establish a full-fledged modern Jewish state in the Jewish ancestral homeland. This call receives added moral weight after the Jews help the British oust the Ottomans in 1917, as reflected in the Balfour Declaration, which pledges that Britain favors ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.’ Under Arab pressure between the two world wars, the British renege on this promise and block the Promised Land to Jewish emigration, trapping millions of Jews in Europe who are doomed to perish in the Holocaust. In 1947, the UN resolves to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews agree, the Arabs refuse. Five Arab armies set out to destroy the newly declared Jewish state. Outnumbered, outgunned and with enormous sacrifice, the Jews win. The Jewish state of Israel is reestablished in the Jewish ancestral homeland. Failing to destroy it time and again, Israel’s enemies now seek to delegitimize its existence with an outrageous attempt to wipe out history. No, the Arabs were not here before us. No, the Philistines were not Palestinians. No, the Romans did not end the Jewish presence in the Holy Land. The Arabs conquered the land and greatly contributed to the dispossession of the Jewish following thousands of years of Jewish habitation. Now, with unparalleled chutzpah, anti-Israel propagandists claim that the one people who clung to this land for more than three thousand years has no right to live there in its own sovereign state. (PP.207-211)


23.     Nathan: Herzl’s clairvoyance about the Holocaust almost forty years before its occurrence was nothing short of prophetic. But he could not organize sufficient support for the implementation of the Uganda plan. Perhaps in retrospect one can appreciate Herzl’s rationalist view that a haven, any haven, was needed to save millions of European Jews. But the Jewish people’s attachment to the Land of Israel was more powerful, and only its force could ultimately harness the Jewish masses to concerted political action. When Ze’ev Jabotinsky voted against Uganda, he admitted that he did not know why. It was ‘one of those simple things which counterbalance thousands of arguments.’ Nathan was more explicit in explaining why as a young man he resolutely opposed and finally helped defeat the Uganda plan at the Zionist Congress of 1905. Twenty-five years later, after the relationship between Britain and the Zionists had soured, my father asked grandfather Nathan if the opposition to Uganda had been influenced by the belief that the project was impractical and that the British would not see it through. He clearly remembered his father’s reply. ‘On the contrary,’ Nathan said. ‘We believed that the British would be faithful to their word. In those days England enjoyed a great reputation among the Jews. But it was precisely because we believed that the project could be carried out that we were all the more opposed to it. For so many centuries the Jewish people had made so many sacrifices for this land, had shed their blood for it, had prayed for a thousand years to return to it, had tied their most intimate hopes to its revival – we considered it inconceivable that we would now betray the generations of Jews, who had fought and died for this end. It would have rendered the whole of Jewish history meaningless. We had to oppose it.’ (PP.221-222)


24.     Leaders of The Opposition 1993-1996: The Ford administration had given Israel a commitment that the Golan Heights would effectively remain in Israel’s hands. President Clinton’s secretary of state, Warren Christopher, was dispatched to Israel to change that. Christopher devised a new secret agreement by which the US would receive from Israel ‘a deposit’ – an advanced promise to cede the Golan Heights in exchange for a future peace deal. This was required because Hafez Assad, the Syrian dictator, insisted on first receiving such an Israeli commitment before he would even consider moving forward with any political negotiations with Israel. As would later become evident, Assad actually had no intention of making a formal peace, but the Rabin government nonetheless agreed to a full withdrawal from the Heights an exchange for a peace agreement. I thought this was a grave mistake. I believed Israel should retain the high ground of the Golan in any future deal. From this position, we could easily reach Damascus, only twenty kilometers away, if Syria violated the peace. (P.235) Rabin had found out years before that shortly after the swearing of his government in 1992, Shimon Peres’s assistant Yossi Beilin was engaged in secret negotiations with PLO representatives in Norway’s capital, Oslo. When Rabin learned about this, a few weeks after the Oslo meetings had happened, he wrote an irate letter to Peres. He complained that these negotiations would scuttle the chance for progress with the Palestinian delegation that had attended the Madrid Peace Conference and was still periodically meeting its Israeli counterpart in Washington. He argued that Peres was swapping negotiations with the relatively moderate Palestinians who came to Madrid for those with the most extreme element in Palestinian society, the PLO leadership living in exile in Tunis after they had been kicked out of Beirut during the First Lebanon War in 1982. Nonetheless, Rabin agreed to sign the Oslo peace agreement with Arafat. The signing ceremony took place on September 13, 1993, in a grand event hosted by President Clinton on the White House lawn. It enabled the creation of a Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, effectively emplacing the PLO leadership on the high ground adjacent to major Israeli population centers. The Oslo agreement was approved by the Knesset by a hair-thin margin of one vote, that of a Knesset member who later achieved lasting notoriety by selling his vote for a deputy minister’s Mitsubishi. The Oslo agreement, actually a series of agreements interchangeably referred to as the Oslo Accords, was meant to give the Palestinians a gradually expanding autonomous authority. It was widely understood that this agreement would ultimately evolve into a full-fledged state. Would this lead to peace? On May 10, 1994, a few months after signing the Oslo Accords, Arafat spoke candidly in Johannesburg, South Africa.  ‘In my eyes,’ he said, ‘this agreement has no more value than the one signed by the Prophet Muhammad with the Kureish Tribe.’ Muslim audiences immediately understood what he meant. The Kureish were a formidable Jewish tribe in Arabia. Unable to defeat them, Muhammad signed a peace deal with them. Once his force was strong enough, he abandoned the deal and destroyed the Jewish tribe. Most of the time, Palestinian officials were more careful to adhere to the advice of senior Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini, who said at Birzeit University on November 22, 1995: ‘Everything you hear and see today is for tactical and strategic reasons.’ But at times, Palestinian officials would break the camouflage, making statements that clearly indicated their intentions of claiming all of Israel and destroying its people, like ‘The lights that shine over Gaza and Jericho will also reach the Negev and the Galilee.’ Or ‘We must remember that the main enemy of the Palestinian people, now and forever, is Israel.’ Or ‘We are returning to Palestine, and we are passing from the small Jihad to the great Jihad.’ Arafat himself sometimes spoke even more candidly. On January 30, 1996, he said in a closed meeting to forty Arab diplomats in Stockholm’s Grand Hotel, ‘We intend to destroy Israel and to establish a pure Palestinian state…We will make the life of the Jews miserable and take everything from them…I don’t need any Jews.’ In a radio address on the Voice of Palestine on November 11, 1995, he said, ‘The struggle will continue until all of Palestine is liberated.’ Lest anyone had doubts that by ‘all of Palestine’ he meant not only Judea and Samaria and Gaza but all of Israel, he had proclaimed two months earlier, on September 7, 1995, ‘O Gaza, your sons are returning. O Lod, O Haifa, O Jerusalem, you are returning, you are returning,’ in Arabic to a Palestinian audience. True to his deceptive character, he was careful not to mention places like Haifa and Lod, which were well within pre-1967 Israel and ostensively not in the PLO’s plan for a state, when he spoke before Western audiences. On September 13, 1993, the day he signed the Oslo Accords, Arafat used more oblique language in explaining to a Palestinian audience that the agreement was nothing more than the PLO’s ‘Phased Plan.’ This plan, calling for the destruction of Israel in stages, had been adopted by the PLO in 1964 and was well familiar to Palestinians. The unchanging and thinly disguised PLO strategy of destroying Israel in stages completely contradicted Oslo’s ostensible message of peace and reconciliation. So did the post-Oslo flood of official Palestinian exhortations dehumanizing Jews as pigs and teaching schoolchildren to glorify Palestinian suicide bombers. (PP.238-239) After Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Fatah caved to Hamas, which has since used the territory to launch more than ten thousand rockets into Kiryat Gat, Ashkelon, Beer-Sheba, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and many other parts of Israel. The situation in the Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria was hardly better. Arafat was ensconced there in 1995. His PLO forces systematically violated his commitments under Oslo to fight and jail terrorists. Sometimes they made a show of jailing them, only to soon release them in what was called a ‘revolving door’ policy. Often they simply colluded with them. As a result, terrorist attacks multiplied, especially suicide bombings. In successive waves of Palestinian terror attacks in 1995-1996 and later in 1999-2002, more than a thousand Israelis would die in terrorist attacks. The Israelis murdered after the Oslo Accords were referred to by Rabin and the left as ‘sacrifices for peace,’ a ghoulish phrase revealing moral and political obtuseness. PLO rule did not do wonders for the Palestinian people, either. Opponents and critics were intimidated, silenced, jailed, and in some instances killed. Arafat oversaw a kleptocracy that siphoned considerable sums from foreign aid to private pockets. Corruption prevented many entrepreneurial Palestinians from transforming the Palestinian economy to a free market. (P.240) In a London flat the crown prince and I hit it off immediately. I liked Hassan. Straightforward, with a humorous streak, he didn’t  even attempt to hide his concern about a Peres victory. Though they wouldn’t admit it publicly, he and many Jordanian officials I met over the years were concerned that an armed Palestinian state could destroy the Hashemite regime and take over Jordan. (P.248)


PART 2: Highlands


1.     Prime Minister 1996-1999: Among the first to call and congratulate me on my election victory was President Clinton. ‘Bibi, I’ve got to hand it to you.’ He chuckled, ‘We did everything we could to bring you down, but you beat us fair and square.’ Quintessential Bill, I thought. He wasn’t telling me something I didn’t know, but here was the president of the United States admitting without batting an eyelash to a brazen intervention in another country’s elections. Clinton’s frankness was refreshingly politically incorrect. You could see how the famous Clinton charm carried him through a myriad of minefields. I let it go and said I looked forward to working with him. (P.253) As Oslo was to be carried out in stages, I would proceed to the next stage, known as the Hebron Agreement, only if the Palestinians kept their side of the bargain, foremost on matters relating to security. I insisted that the Palestinians live up to their pledge to rein in terrorism and to jail Hamas terrorists. If they did their part, I would do mine. ‘If they’ll give, they’ll get’ was the way I put it, along with a corollary: ‘If they won’t give, they won’t get.’ With the exception of the hard right who wanted me to tear up the Oslo agreement outright, most right-of-center and centrist opinion agreed with my policy. Israelis were tired of voluntarily ceding things to the Palestinians and receiving terror in return. I explained all this to Clinton when we met in the White House. He asked me if I would honor the Hebron Agreement. I said that under the twin principles of reciprocity and security I would. Shimon Peres had signed the Hebron Agreement, which promised that Israel would vacate our troops from the Arab neighborhoods of the city of Hebron. Israel would retain its troops in Hebron’s ancient Jewish Quarter and in the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the Fathers and Mothers of the Jewish nation were buried – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, alongside Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. (P.254) Clinton wanted me to continue on two political tracks, the Palestinian and the Syrian one, and to make far-reaching concessions in both. His staff briefed Israeli press, saying, ‘We will put the negotiations with Syria on ice.’ I countered that Syria would have to first dismantle the headquarters of the myriad terrorist organizations housed in Damascus, just as the PLO would have to fight and jail Hamas terrorists, cancel its Covenant, which called for Israel’s destruction, and stop their terrible antisemitic indoctrination of Palestinian schoolchildren, who today are still being taught to seek our annihilation. This last point, which exposes a major reason the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lingers, is seldom covered by the media or discussed by Western elites. My political and security demands of the Palestinian side were in the spirit of the Oslo Accords but not what my American hosts wanted to hear, so they simply chose not to address them. Instead, they preferred to focus on the expectation that I should meet Arafat as soon as possible ‘to iron things out.’ I left the White House knowing that I was dealing with a US administration totally in the grip of the Palestinian Centrality Theory. It held that Palestinian grievances were heart of ‘the Middle East conflict,’ ignoring the conflicts in the Middle East that had nothing to do with Israel. White House officials simply refused to believe that Palestinian violations of Oslo were rooted in a refusal to genuinely recognize Israel, arguing instead that Palestinian grievances were rooted in the expansion of Israeli settlements, just as they believed that Syrian antagonism to Israel was rooted in our presence on the Golan. The overriding axiom was that the Palestinians would not make peace unless we withdraw from Judea and Samaria and Gaza and that Syria would not make peace unless we withdrew from the Golan. The conclusion of this line of thinking was not complicated get Israel to withdraw from all these territories and you’ll get peace. But all this flew in the face of the facts. Palestinian and Syrian grievances against Israel were not rooted in Israel’s holding on to this or that territory. That’s why they attacked us from the Golan, Judea, and Samaria, and Gaza when those areas were in their hands. Their grievances were directed against Israel’s very existence, in any territory. The inability of America’s diplomats to see this simple truth remains astonishing. But to face it they would have to chuck the sacred ‘territory for peace’ equation. That formula could work with Egypt because President Anwar Sadat didn’t seek our destruction, but it couldn’t work with the Palestinians because they did. That the Palestinians were able to pull the wool so easily over the eyes of American officials was no small achievement for Palestinian spokespersons like Hanan Ashrawi and Saeb Erekat. They put a human face on the Palestinian annihilationist goal and persuaded the world that all that was necessary to advance peace were Israeli territorial withdrawals. In this they received enormous help from the Israeli left and the Israeli media. If Israelis agreed with this claim, why shouldn’t the rest of the world? You didn’t need to be a genius to understand that as long as the Palestinians and others clung to an ideology hell-bent on destroying Israel, Israeli withdrawals wouldn’t advance peace. Rather, they advanced terror and war because the terrorists we vacated were taken over by forces committed to our destruction who used it launch attacks against Israel. None of these simple facts had registered with generations of foreign service specialists. Now it was the turn of a new slate of Clintonite aides, mostly Jewish, to take on what US envoy Aaron Miller called ‘a mission’ to bring about a historic peace. They didn’t let the facts get in their way. The reason withdrawals didn’t produce peace, they argued, was not that the underlying Palestinian goal was to eliminate Israel but that there hadn’t been enough withdrawals. This led to their second inescapable conclusion. To get more withdrawals they needed to overcome the real ‘obstacle to peace,’ namely me. American  policy was therefore geared to place maximum pressure on me to withdraw from territory or to remove me from office, something they had failed to do in the recent elections but would seek to do again next time around. Surprisingly, this line of thinking didn’t change even after I left office. A succession of Israeli leaders who came after me – Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert – offered the Palestinians and Syria unimaginable and dangerous concessions, even more than Rabin and Peres had offered before me. They all failed to get peace. Even then, the messianic diplomats in Washington still didn’t get it. They didn’t understand that the PLO, the so-called moderate faction in the Palestinian camp, would not abandon its goal of destroying Israel. It sought to first reduce Israel to indefensible boundaries by using American and international pressure. Once that was achieved, the ultimate goal – wiping out the Jewish state altogether – would be that much closer. These ‘moderates’ were challenged by the ‘extremists,’ led by Hamas, who believed that this two-stage approach and the diplomacy that went with it were unnecessary altogether.  Terror alone would do the job. They were encouraged in this view when they saw that Israel continued to implement the Oslo agreements without demanding a full stop to terrorist attacks. In the years after the Oslo Accords were signed, they concluded that terrorism paid off. One of the key goals in my first term as prime minister was to change the Palestinian perception that ‘terrorism pays’ to ‘terrorism doesn’t pay.’ I did this by insisting on security and reciprocity. I was open to measured concessions that didn’t endanger Israel’s security, but I insisted that these would not come about as a result of terrorism. The American negotiators’ most fundamental misperception of the region was that Israel was the problem in the Middle East. It was the solution. Its advanced technological society could help modernize the entire Arab world, if only Arab leaders deigned to recognize its right to exist and the security conditions that guaranteed that existence. For too many years these Arab leaders waited for the Palestinians to make peace with Israel. This was a futile wait. The rejectionist Palestinian tail wagged the Arab world into political paralysis. The Palestinians were not interested in having a state of their own next to Israel. They were interested in having a state of their own instead of Israel. That’s why, when the 1947 UN Partition Resolution offered to create a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, the Palestinians rejected the state offered to them – while we accepted the one offered to us. Time and again, the Palestinians galvanized the Arab world to try to annihilate the Jewish state, and their leadership never really gave up on that goal. But in successive wars, as Israel defeated one Arab state after another, some of the Arab governments began to make separate peace agreements with Israel. First Egypt in 1979 and then Jordan in 1994 made formal peace agreements with Israel, while other Arab countries developed informal ties with it. This led me to a far-reaching conclusion. The road to a broader Middle East peace between Israel and the Arab world did not go through the Palestinian seat of government in Ramallah. It went around it. As far back as the 1990s, I understood that if we wanted a broader peace, we would have to go directly to the Arab capitals. As long as we kept going down the rabbit hole of seeking to first remove the Palestinian veto on peace, we would never get there. Palestinian politics are hopelessly mired in their extremist fantasy of annihilation. And there is always Palestinian faction to out-Hamas Hamas. To Clinton and his associates this was heresy, merely excuses and obstacles that I was piling onto the road to peace. Incredibly, as we will see, this view persisted in some quarters even after my government, working with the Trump administration, achieved four historic peace agreements with four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. It is a mystery to me how otherwise perfectly intelligent people could fall into the trap of buying the bogus Palestinian narrative. They persisted on refusing to recognize that the real cause of the ‘Palestinian Problem’ was…the Palestinians themselves! Their refusal to accept a Jewish state was the heart of the conflict. (PP.256-259)


2.    First Reforms 1996-1999: The shekel was now a free-floating currency and could be traded anywhere in the world. For the first time since the founding of the state, Israelis were able to take their money out of the country as they pleased. As it turned out, this move helped Israel weather future economic storms. Many Israeli companies now branched out to foreign markets, thereby building sufficient market and financial muscle to withstand downturns, such as the Intifada from 2000 to 2003 and the NASDAQ tumble in 2002. In 2004, I removed the last minor vestige of these controls. Israel had become fully integrated into the first-world economy. I followed a simple rule: Whenever possible, remove barriers to trade. Money, trade and investments generally flow to the freer economies and away from the more controlled ones. (P.268)


3.     Sara (this chapter dedicated to Bibi’s wife)


4.     King Hussein: In 1997, beset by Hamas terrorist attacks that murdered twenty Israelis, I decided to strike back at the terrorist organization’s leadership that had orchestrated these attacks from abroad. Targeting terrorist leaders was one of the most effective means of deterring and preventing future attacks. This method of fighting terrorism had been adopted by successive governments before mine. At my request the Mossad produced a list of several Hamas terrorist chiefs. The most consequential among them appeared to be Khaled Mashal, a rising figure in Hamas who pushed for increasing the terror campaign against Israel. For operational reasons he was not accessible in any of the ‘easy’ countries, places where our agents would enjoy relatively easy access and also where there would be fewer complications if anything went wrong. The Mossad finally recommended Jordan, which enjoyed the first advantage but not the second. This made the importance of an efficient ‘in-and-out’ plan paramount. (P.283)


5.     First Skirmish 1996: This wasn’t the first time and far from the last that the Palestinians would try to spark a holy war with lies about the Temple Mount. They not only lie about the holiest site in Jerusalem; they try to erase historical facts by destroying archaeological artifacts that prove the existence of the Jewish temples. (P.289)


6.     Wye River 1998: The president and his peace team simply couldn’t bring themselves to admit that their quest for the Holy Peace Grail was based on a false premise. It wasn’t Israeli rejectionism and the absence of a Palestinian state that prevented an Israeli-Palestinian peace. It was Palestinian rejectionism on the existence of a Jewish state. Following the failure at Camp David, Arafat intensified the terror campaign against Israel. The godfather of modern terrorism believed Israel would cave under the pressure. Yet even in the midst of murderous Palestinian terror attacks, Barak and Clinton wouldn’t let the facts get in their way. Before Clinton left the office, he and Barak threw one last Hail Marry pass. Meeting on December 19, 2000, during the presidential transition period, Barak’s representatives agreed with Clinton to arrange another meeting between a Palestinian and an Israeli delegation in Taba, Egypt, on January 21. Since this would be just one day after George W. Bush’s inauguration as the new president, no American representatives attended. In Taba, Barak upped his Camp David ante by offering another 4 percent in territorial concessions, increasing the territory Israel would cede to a Palestinian state from 92 percent of Judea and Samaria to 96 % percent. He was even willing to give the Palestinians a foothold on the Temple Mount. Arafat still refused. He intensified his terror campaign even more. Barak’s coalition collapsed and he was booted out of office on March 7, 2001, earning him the distinction of being the shortest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history at the time. Clinton was well meaning without being mean. The signature foreign policy achievement he sought was beyond his reach and he never truly grasped the real cause of his failure.  (P.312)


7.     Wilderness 1999-2002: …Putin invested hours in our meeting. He couldn’t possibly have known that eight years later I would return to power and that we would meet every few months and talk on the phone every few weeks. What did we talk about in those four hours? Russia, Israel, America, the world and Putin’s positive attitude toward the Russian Jewish community. But it wasn’t the things we said; it was how we said them. From the first moment, I took the measure of the man. Putin was smart and shrewd and totally committed to restoring Russia’s standing as a great power. It wasn’t that I had any illusions about the Russian leader, knowing as I did how power was amassed and kept in Russia. Yet it was precisely because of my assessment that I was dealing with someone who couldn’t be toyed with that I decided to be straightforward with him. I couldn’t know it at the time, but this meeting in a Moscow synagogue would later prove important for Israel’s security in its battle against Iran’s attempts to implant itself militarily in Syria. (P.328)


8.     Citizen against Terror 2001-2002: I deliberately referenced Martin Luther King Jr., a great supporter of Zionism. ‘Do not be fooled by the apologists of terror. They tell us that the way to end terror is to appease it, to give in to its demands because, they tell us, the root cause of terrorism is the deprivation of national and civic rights. If that were the case, then in the thousands of conflicts and struggles for national and civil rights in modern times we would have seen countless instances of terrorism. But we did not. Mahatma Gandhi did not use terrorism in fighting for the independence of India. The peoples of Eastern Europe did not resort to terrorism to bring down the Berlin Wall. And Martin Luther King did not resort to terrorism in fighting for equal rights for all Americans. (P.332) When the news of the tragedy of 9/11 broke, videos showed Palestinians dancing with joy on rooftops in Gaza and Ramallah. Israel grieved. (P.335)


9.     The Vision 2002: The chief force seeking our annihilation was no longer the Arab world but the Islamic Republic of Iran. Its quest to arm itself with nuclear weapons would threaten not only Israel but the entire world. How could a small nation withstand such an assault and continue to thrive? (P.339)


10.  Crisis 2003: Many fateful decisions in my life were resolved in short bursts of self-examination. This was no different, especially as I had only a few hours to decide. If I became finance minister I would severely jeopardize my chances to return to the post of prime minister. But why did I want to return to the office of prime minister in the first place? To transform and modernize the Israeli economy and fight Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons. If I could try to achieve the first goal, was the attempt not worthwhile? (P.346)


11.   Fat Man, Thin Man 2003-2005: Israel’s technological prowess was no cure for these ills. Technology, science, and education by themselves do not make you wealthy. Otherwise, Soviet Russia would have been among the world’s richest countries. Free markets are the indispensable component for wealth creation. Put another way: Technology without free markets does not produce wealth. Free markets without technology do. But technology and free markets are an unbeatable combination. This is where I intended to take Israel. (P.349)


12.    Don’t Read the Press 2003-2005: The concentration of bank power, and the widespread cross-ownership of Israeli industries by a small number of wealthy families, produced an extraordinary distortion: Roughly two-thirds of loans went to just 1 percent of borrowers. Alongside heavy governmental borrowing, small business owners and entrepreneurs were effectively deprived of credit and an opportunity to grow. I was determined to change that. (P.372) This fit my gospel: Reduce the Fat Man, strengthen the Thin Man and remove the ditches and fences in his way. (P.373)


13.     This is Social Justice 2003-2005: …looking at the young man. ‘Get a job! Sweep floors, wait on tables, start a delivery service. Get a job! Any job! But don’t come to me!’ This was met with silence. The audience was in shock. Then, some broke into applause, while others protested. ‘But there are no jobs.’ (Yes, there were.) ‘But you can’t expect a high-tech engineer to take on menial labor.’ (Yes, I can.) The saying ‘there’s no free lunch’ always resonated literally for me. In high school I washed dishes in the school cafeteria in exchange for my lunch. In my university years I took on odd jobs, as did Sara, who cleaned offices for three years and later became a flight attendant to finance her university studies in psychology. (P.379)


14.     A Clash of Head and Heart 2005: ……Israel must receive international and American backing for unrestricted action against terror from Gaza. My insistence on completing the security fence was grounded in two reasons. First, I truly believed the fence was critical for the security of all Israelis, since it would block terrorist access to Israel’s cities and towns. Even partially built, it had already proved a tremendously effective security measure in reducing suicide bombings. Second, completing the fence would require time, and what would happen with time? I then added a fourth condition: ‘Formal and public American opposition to the so-called Palestinian Right of Return, which is tantamount to the destruction of Israel.’ Israeli acceptance of the Palestinian demand that Israel be flooded with second- and third-generation descendants of Palestinian refugees was widely understood by most Israelis as suicidal. It was unjust. The original Palestinian refugee problem came about as a result of the Arab attempt to annihilate Israel at its birth. Having failed to vanquish Israel militarily, the Arab states and the Palestinians sought to vanquish Israel demographically. Furthermore, the Arab attack on the embryonic Jewish state created two refugee problems, not one. The Arab states promptly expelled an equal number of Jewish refugees, roughly 800,000, who had lived in Arab lands. With less than 1 percent of Arab territory, Israel successfully absorbed most of these Jewish refugees from Arab lands and integrated them as full and equal citizens, even though they nearly doubled Israel’s Jewish population at the time. By contrast, despite their vast territories and cornucopia of oil riches, the Arab states absorbed few of their Palestinian brothers, denying citizenship to them and their descendants, and thus for decades leaving them in perpetual refugee status, to be used as political battering rams against Israel. (P.391)


15.     ‘This is your Life!’ 2005-2009: Olmert’s standing was buttressed by an important development. In one of our security briefings, he shared with me intelligence that showed Syria was building an atomic reactor in Deir Ezzor, in eastern Syria, with the help from the North Koreans. Olmert had asked the US to destroy it. The US refused but said it would support an Israeli strike. Olmert told me that he planned to do it. I said I would wholeheartedly support such a strike. I soon learned that a debate had arisen inside the government about whether to bomb the reactor from the air or send the Unit to destroy it from the ground. I told Olmert that I supported an aerial strike, seeing no point in risking the Unit soldiers when a few aircraft could do the job with relatively little risk. On September 7, 2007, the news broke that Israeli aircraft had destroyed Syra’s nuclear reactor. (P.403)


PART 3: Summit


1.     ‘Not One Brick!’ 2009-2010:  Those falsely accusing Israel of apartheid, especially radicals in US college campuses, deliberately ignore the fact that it is the Palestinian Authority that openly and unabashedly practices apartheid. It will not even one Jew to live in a future ‘Judenfrei’ (Jewfree) Palestinian state. Scandalously, the Palestinian Authority makes it a crime punishable by death to sell property to Jews and has carried out scores of extrajudicial executions of Palestinians accused of doing so. By contrast, Israel’s Arab citizens can go anywhere they want, live anywhere they want, buy whatever properties they want and live their lives with the same freedom enjoyed by the rest of the population. (P.413) While Israel respects the rights of gays, women and minorities, the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria and Hamas in Gaza are rabidly anti-gay, subjugate women and oppress minorities. (PP.413-414) In our meeting at the White House Obama pushed for a two-state solution. I said that the terminology was less important than the substance, and the most important substantive issue for me in any political settlement was that security responsibility would remain in Israel’s hands. This meant that Israel’s security forces would have free access to pursue terrorists inside these territories and keep the area demilitarized from foreign forces and lethal weapons. Without such powers it would be just a matter of time before Judea and Samaria became a launching pad for deadly attacks that could paralyze the country and wreak havoc on its citizens. Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, for example, is within spitting distance of Palestinian villages overlooking it. This was a clear point of contention, because the Palestinians argued that leaving security in Israel’s hands would detract from their sovereignty. Yes, it would, and I made no effort to deny it. (P.423) During World War 2, many Arab leaders supported Hitler who, had he won the war, would have enslaved the Arabs, or worse. After the war, most lined up with the Soviets who had equal disregard and contempt for them. But now Arab leaders increasingly understood that they faced an all-encompassing Iranian threat, and this had led them to reconsider their relations with Israel. These changing Arab attitudes were not yet fully apparent to the public and it would take several more years for them to come out in the open. (P.420)


2.     ‘Lots of Daylight’ 2009: …Obama and his staff advanced two concepts that directly contradicted Israel’s security. The first, that Israel’s security would be served by creating a Palestinian state, was shared by previous US administrations, though Obama pursued it with greater fervor. And as usual, the fact that such a Palestinian state would be a springboard to forces openly sworn to Israel’s destruction and would reduce the Jewish state to indefensible boundaries was not considered a problem. Obama’s second concept was new and, in many ways, revolutionary. His vision of a new Middle East based on a Pax Americana-Irana. The Islamic Republic of Iran was the rising power in the region, as he saw it. It was the neighborhood bully, sending its terrorist goons to every part of the Middle East and threatening everyone according to his view. (P.430)


3.     The Battle for Jerusalem 2010: …a full-page ad appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times titled ‘For Jerusalem.’ It was a direct appeal to Obama to stop the pressure on Jerusalem, it was signed by Elie Wiesel. This was followed by statements from many supporters of Israel in America, including in Congress. Unlike the settlements, a united Jerusalem was an issue broadly supported by the American public. I knew Obama understood this and I assumed he would not want a full-scale public battle over an issue where I held the advantage. This assumption proved correct. The pressure subsided. We heard less and less on Jerusalem. The call for freezing construction there eventually evaporated. (P.442)


4.     Firefighters 2010: Israel and Greece are both Western democracies in the East Mediterranean. For decades we were separated by Greece’s one-sided support of the Palestinians. What did you get out of it? Nothing. Without mentioning Turkey’s enmity toward both our countries, I said, ‘We have many common interests. It’s time to build a true alliance between us.’ Papandreou agreed enthusiastically. A few months later he visited Israel and shortly after that I visited Greece. (P.446)


5.     Marmara 2010: The Marmara was headed to Gaza to break our naval blockade, put in place in 2007 to prevent the smuggling in of the heavy weapons and rockets that Hamas periodically launched at Israel’s cities. These weapons could only be delivered from the sea, given that the land passages to Gaza were inspected by Israel and Egypt. Our rationale for these inspections was security and nothing else. (P.452)


6.     The Lecture 2011: After Obama’s initial words, I delivered in measured tones but in no uncertain terms a frontal rejection of ‘Palestinian demands’ for a return to the 1967 lines. I did not mention that Obama endorsed each of these demands. ‘It’s not going to happen,’ I said to the president and to the world. ‘A peace based on illusion will crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern realities. For there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to recognize some basic realities.’ First, I said, we can’t go back to the 1967 borders. Second, Israel can’t negotiate with a government backed by Hamas. Third, the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in a Palestinian state but not in the Jewish state. ‘The ancient nation of Israel has been around for almost four thousand years,’ I continued. ‘We’ve experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We’ve gone through expulsions, pogroms, massacres and the murder of millions. But I can say that even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and the dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the Land of Israel. (P.463)


7.     ‘We’ll get you out of there, Yoni’ 2011: Literally, the civil war in Syria next door – which included an ISIS insurgency challenging the Assad regime – threatened to spill over the border fence into Israel. Millions were uprooted from their homes. Unlike Europe, tiny Israel couldn’t absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees and continue to survive as a Jewish state. I gave strict orders to the IDF in January 2010 to prevent entry into our territory. At the same time, I instructed the military to build a field hospital on our side of the Syrian Israeli border. Israeli doctors, many of them Arabs and Druze, treated civilian victims of the Syrian carnage, some horribly mutated with lost limbs. I visited them. They could not believe that the Israeli prime minister and Israeli medical teams were tending to them. ‘They lied to us all these years,’ one father of a maimed child told me. ‘They said you Israelis were devils. But you are the only angels in this hell.’ (P.469)


8.     Passing the Torch 2012: The existence of the Jewish people is put into question by the threats to annihilate us which are openly declared by our enemies. On the one side, Iran vows that soon Zionism will be destroyed when Iran will possess nuclear weapons. On the other, the people of Israel are showing the world how a nation should behave when faced with an existential threat: stare unflinchingly at the danger, calmly consider what needs to be done, and be ready to enter the fray when the chances of success are reasonable. A powerful stance requires tremendous inner strength. The people of Israel show today that they have such strength, and this leads to my certain belief that our people will roll back this danger to its existence. (PP.474-475)


9.     The Red Line 2012: ‘We’re not going back to the brink of annihilation. Iran says Israel is a one-bomb country. They believe that with nuclear weapons they can wipe us out. We will act if there is no choice, with or without your support. In the meantime, I believe it’s important that you put forward clear demands on Iran to stop enriching uranium and to dismantle the Qom facility.’ Obama responded by saying that if we attacked, the sanctions he had orchestrated would collapse. He explained that the reason so many countries agreed to them was that the US told them the alternative was Israeli military action. If Israel acted, these countries would immediately lift all sanctions. I had heard this before in the Mavi Marmara affair. Once again Obama minimized the power of America and chose to ‘lead from behind.’ (P.483)


10.  ‘You’re Next’ 2012-2013: Hamas’s military wing was led by the mercurial and pugnacious Ahmed Jabri, who earlier had organized the abduction of Gilad Shalit, Jabri regularly ordered the unprovoked firing of rockets on Israeli civilians in cities and communities bordering Gaza, making life hell for their residents. As soon as the rockets were fired, he and his fellow Hamas commanders would go to their underground bunkers, immune to our retaliation. When things calmed down, they would emerge from their bunkers and the cycle would start anew. The only way to put an end to this was to take him out by surprise during one of these interludes of calm. A month after Khartoum, our intelligence services located Jabri. We could target the car he was in without harming his family and with minimal civilian casualties. (P.492)


11.  ‘Nobody likes Goliath’ 2013: One of Obama’s closest friends among foreign leaders was the Turkish president, possibly because in Obama’s eyes Turkey was an example of a modern, successful and democratic Islamic state. Presumably this friendship later weakened when, following an attempted coup against him on July 15, 2016, Erdogan transformed Turkey into a rigidly authoritarian regime, locked up all his political opponents, and threw more journalists in jail than almost any other ruler on earth. Erdogan and I each read our lines. I thanked Obama. The Marmara affair was finally settled. Despite this, and despite the fact that the Mossad provided intelligence to Turkey that prevented at least half a dozen terrorist attacks on Turkish soil, our relations with Turkey did not fully recover. Though trade continued at relatively high level, Israeli tourism – once booming – tapered off. Erdogan kept attacking Israel and me on a regular basis as enemies of Islam. This was good politics in Turkey, and he probably believed it. Close to a decade later, as Turkey’s economy began to wobble, he would begin to change his tone and soften somewhat his attitude to Israel.  (P.502)


12.  ‘Come to a clandestine Visit to Afghanistan’ 2013: As long as Israeli forces held on to territories adjoining Israel, the Islamists would be kept at bay. The minute we vacated those territories, the Islamists would take over, as did Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. (P.507)


13.  ‘Bibi, please help us’ 2013: The real reason the illegal job migrants wanted to stay was different from refugees: in one day’s labor in Tel Aviv, they could earn the equivalent of three hundred days of labor in their home countries. I was fully aware of the fact that blocking or deporting this illegal immigration would exact a human cost. Some of the illegal migrants had families with children born in Israel, speaking Hebrew and knowing no other country. At Sara’s urging, I met a few of these children at the prime minister’s residence. My heart went out to them. Ultimately, many of these families stayed in Israel. My main focus and responsibility as prime minister were to prevent the breach of our borders by future illegal migrants. I remembered a visit to the Great Wall of China. Convening a special cabinet meeting with the army’s leadership and various experts, I announced my intention to build a barrier along the Israeli-Egyptian border to prevent illegal migration from Africa. I wanted the IDF Engineering Corps to do it. (P.511)


14.  Tunnel War 2014:  After fifty days, Protective Edge was over. Sixty-seven IDF soldiers, five Israeli civilians, including one child, and a Thai civilian working in Israel lost their lives in the war. There were 4,564 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza, nearly all from civilian neighborhoods. The Iron Dome system intercepted 86 percent of them. The IDF killed 2,125 Gazans, roughly two-thirds of whom were members of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups. A third were civilians who were often used by the terrorists as human shields. Colonel Richard Kemp, the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said that ‘the IDF took measures to limit civilian casualties never taken by any Western army in similar situations.’ At least twenty-three Palestinian civilians were executed by Hamas over false accusation of colluding with Israel. In reality, many had simply criticized the devastation of Gaza brought about by Hamas’s aggression against Israel. Hamas leaders emerged from their bunkers. Surveying the rubble, they predictably declared victory. This is what all dictatorships do. They are not accountable to the facts or to their people. (P.521)


15.  ‘Never Again’ 2015: …Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem; any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel and no freedom for anyone. So, when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy. (P.535)


16.  Last Minute Victory 2015: Given our successful cooperation in avoiding an Israeli-Russian clash in Syria, I decided to be frank with Putin. I told him I expected that Obama would bring a strong anti-Israel resolution to the Security Council in the two months, between the end of his second term and the inauguration of the next American president. Such a resolution could ultimately lead to sanctions against Israel’s economy and would undermine our security. Given reports I had heard of Obama’s pledge to Mahmoud Abbas that he would recognize a Palestinian state before he left office, and with the American president soon to be free of any electoral considerations, I thought a move against Israel was inevitable. To protect the interests of my country, I could only hope that Putin would use his influence to delay or prevent such a move. Putin heard me out. What he would do about it remained to be seen. (P.549)


17.  Rising Power 2015-2020: After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel was kicked out of nearly every African country, but in recent years, its experts in agriculture, water management, public health, and telecommunications became increasingly sought after on the continent. ‘Israel is coming back to Africa, and Africa is coming back to Israel,’ I said to the assembled leaders. Opening up Africa as a market for Israeli goods and services was important, but even more important in my eyes was opening it up politically. African countries comprised some fifty of the UN’s 192 members. Nearly all these countries automatically voted against Israel at the UN’s various bodies. By prying away half a dozen countries I could begin to crack that anti-Israel bloc. (P.550)


18.  Walking among the Giants 2016-2018: Like most Western leaders, I walked a fine line with China. On the one hand, I wanted to open the enormous Chinese market to Israel and also lure Chinese investments to Israel, particularly in physical infrastructure. On the other, I was totally frank about setting clear limitations on what types of technologies we would share with China, stopping when it came to military and intelligence fields. This was our solemn commitment to our great ally the United States, with whom we shared much of this technology, as well as our cherished values as democratic societies. (P.567)


19.  Parting Shot 2016: Since Obama knew well the power of public opinion, my continual appeals to the American public during his time in office caused considerable resentment on his part. ‘The noise orchestrated by Netanyahu,’ he wrote in his memoir. A Promised Land, ‘had the intended effect of gobbling up our time, putting us on the defensive, and reminding me that normal policy differences with an Israeli prime minister – even one who presided over a fragile coalition government – exacted a domestic political cost that simply didn’t exist when I dealt with the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Canada or any of our other closest allies.’ That was the whole point in a nutshell. None of those countries faced existential threats. While I genuinely appreciated Obama’s help in maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and signing the ten-year MOU, I could not look aside when he signed the Iran deal. The claim that the deal would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons was simply not true. At best the deal would delay this by a few years, while giving Iran the means, the funds, and the legitimacy to become a ferocious nuclear power. (PP.580-581)


20.  New Deal 2017: President Trump: So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. (Laughter) I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I seized on that. Prime Minister Netanyahu: I read yesterday that an American official said that if you ask five people what two states would look like, you’d get eight different answers. (Laughter) But rather than deal with labels, I want to deal with substance. There are two prerequisites for peace. First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling and educating their people for Israel’s destruction. Second, in any peace agreement Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River. If we don’t, we’ll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas which will explode the peace and explode the Middle East. Unfortunately, the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites for peace. They even deny, Mr. President, our historical connection to our homeland. Why are Jews called Jews? The Chinese are called Chinese because they come from China. The Japanese are called Japanese because they come from Japan. Well, Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea. This is our ancestral homeland. Jews are not foreign colonialists in Judea. (PP.588-589) When I met the president and his team shortly afterward in the King David Hotel, I flipped on a video that I hoped would help adjust his thinking about Mahmoud Abbas, and about me. The video showed Abbas extolling peace in English for Western audiences and then a string of his statements in Arabic intended for Palestinian audiences and calling for the destruction of Israel and glorifying the Palestinian terrorists who murdered our people. ‘Mahmoud Abbas pays the families of terrorists sitting in our jails. The more Israelis they murder, the more money they get,’ I said. I could see that the video registered with Trump, at least momentarily. ‘Wow,’ he said. ‘Is that the same guy I just met in Washington?’ (Abbas visited Washington in early Mar.) ‘He seemed like such a sweet, peaceful guy.’ Naturally, Trump didn’t like being taken for a fool. (P.591)


21.  Missions accomplished 2017-2019: On one such visit I said to Putin flat out, ‘You don’t want Iran in Syria any more than I do.’ I knew Russia didn’t want the Islamic Republic as a military and economic competitor in Syria as it emerged from its civil war. ‘Since we can’t tolerate an Iranian base in Syria, we’re going to continue our air attacks. I just wanted you to know that’ I added, indicating that I was sharing with him our policy and not seeking his approval for it. Putin didn’t say anything. He merely spread his arms nonchalantly in a gesture that could only be interpreted as ‘be my guest.’ (P.596) …on December 6, 2017, President Trump ended seventy years of diplomatic absurdity by recognizing a three-thousand-year-old truth. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people form the time of King David to the present. President Trump declared that the US recognized it as Israel’s capital and that he would move the American embassy there. (P.601) The Embassy of the United States Jerusalem, Israel. Mission number two accomplished. The Golan was next. In my first meeting with President Trump at the White House in February 2017, I had asked him to recognize it as part of Israel. As in the case of Jerusalem, our historic connection to the Golan was often either overlooked or simply unknown. The Golan was where half the tribe of Menashe settled at the dawn of our history, 3,500 years ago, at the time of Moses. In 67 CE the Jewish residents of Gamla in the western Golan made a heroic stand against Titus’s Roman legion but were slaughtered on the steep slopes of the camel-shaped hill. Yet even after the fall of Jerusalem three years later and up to the eight century CE, the Golan remained populated by Jews. (P.603) On March 21, President Trump’s office tweeted: ‘At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, President Trump boldly recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.’ The excitement swept over Israel. (P.605)


22.  ‘Brings us Bibi’s Head’ 2009-2022: All in all, in the period spanning the police investigations, between June 2016 and December 2019, there were 561 news stories on prime-time television covering the investigations against me, 98 percent of them negative. This means one negative news story every other day for three and a half years! Such a prolonged media feeding frenzy vies for a Guinness World Record. I kept my focus and my cool. A joke began to circulate in Israel that an elephant was found in Africa with Bibi skin. I’m often asked how I managed to continue to lead the country under such protests and assaults. The simple answer: I know who I am. You can criticize me for many things. Being lesser focused on my missions, I can sometimes be inattentive to others in a way that gets confused for aloofness. I can be curt. But there’s one thing those who know me best or have worked closest with me would never accuse me of, and that is being corrupt. From my earliest days, Father told me never to touch money if ever entered public life. This remained sacrosanct to me. (P.615)


23.  New Path to Peace 2020: In its first seventy-two years, Israel made peace with two Arab countries Egypt and Jordan. In the span of four months, Israel had made peace with four more. By building Israel’s power and challenging Iran, we had made Israel an attractive ally to our Arab neighbors. By bypassing the Palestinians, we could now achieve four diplomatic breakthroughs and sign four historic agreements. This was truly a New Middle East, one built on real strength and no false illusions. (P.634)


24.  COVID 2019-2021: ‘You know everyone will think we did this because we are Jews,’ Bourla writes that he texted Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s head of research, who also happens to be Jewish. ‘I know, but Israel is the right bet,’ Dolsten replied. On November 9, 2020, Pfizer announced that it had developed an effective vaccine for Covid-19. On December 9, the first plane with Pfizer vaccines landed in Israel, and on December 11, the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval of that vaccine. On December 19, I was the first Israeli to get jabbed, dispelling the fears of many and kicking off a mass vaccination campaign. I encouraged all eligible Israelis to get vaccinated and soon millions did so. Following Albert’s suggestion, the Ministry of Health signed a research collaboration agreement and formed a steering committee with epidemiologists from Israel, Pfizer, and Harvard University. As Israel exceeded a 90 percent vaccination rate for high-risk population such as the elderly, we dramatically reduced the infection rate and the number of seriously ill. Before vaccines we tragically lost six thousand lives to the virus. With vaccines we brought the death rate down to almost zero at the time. (P.643)


25.  Roller Coaster 2019-2022: The crisis was ostensibly sparked by a pending court decision to allow the eviction of a few Palestinian families from several houses owned by Jews in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shimon Ha Tzadik. Hamas protested that the Israeli government was ‘cleansing Palestinians from East Jerusalem.’ This was nonsense. The government was not involved in any way in this wholly civil dispute about private property rights. (P.645) …during Operation Guardian of the Walls, in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets on our cities, we faced another ominous threat. Israel has several cities with mixed Jewish and Arab populations. Normally, they coexist peacefully and harmoniously. Now, in the midst of the fighting, groups of radicalized Israeli Arabs attacked their Jewish neighbors with automatic weapons, murdering them in apartment buildings and in the streets. The shooters, often an amalgam of Islamic radicals and criminal elements, were using illegal weapons rampant in Arab communities. This lawlessness was a festering sore for decades. (P.649)


26.  My Story, Our Story: The founding of Israel did not stop attacks on the Jews. It merely gave the Jews the power to defend Israel on battlefields, as a diplomat I fended off attacks against its legitimacy in world forums, as finance minister and prime minister I sought to multiply its economic and political power among the nations. And indeed, Israel has become an international success story, a powerhouse of innovation, enterprise and strength. This newfound power gives us a future of promise and has led to four peace agreements. More will surely come if we continue to nurture our might, our resolve and our belief in the justice of our cause. (P.652)

 

 

 

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