On July 17, 2019, if he’s still in power, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, surpassing the tenure of the country’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. On that day, Netanyahu will have served 13 years, or for 18 percent of Israel’s history. In U.S. terms, that would be like a president serving 43 years.
Netanyahu’s impact as prime minister is highlighted in a recent biography titled “Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu.” It’s by journalist Anshel Pfeffer, who writes for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. Parts of it portray Netanyahu unfairly, but it also provides insight into the forces that have shaped Netanyahu and his views.
Netanyahu has made an impact in an array of important spheres. Included is his deepening and nurturing of the relationship between Israel and Christians who are Biblically-motivated to support the Jewish state, and his developing a closeness with the Trump administration, which has yielded transformative diplomatic fruit for Israel.
The importance that the prime minister places on Israel’s relationship with its Christian allies was highlighted in remarks he delivered via video link to the recent Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington. “We will always defend ourselves,” said Netanyahu. “We will prosper. We will thrive. And Israel’s strength is not merely because of our army; it’s because of our spirit. And it’s because of the spirit of friends like you around the world.”
Netanyahu also has made it clear that Judea and Samaria (more recently and less accurately known as the “West Bank”) continue to be integral parts of the land of Israel going back to Biblical times, and that Jews have a historic right and national obligation to build and expand Jewish communities in these areas. Both views are backed overwhelmingly by millions of Christians.
When examined fairly (which this book does not always do), Netanyahu’s achievements are looming and will leave a lasting impact. Israel is stronger than ever; it’s a world leader in fields such as technology, medicine, agriculture and water; the U.S.-Israel relationship is at an all-time high right now; Israel’s economy is strong; new diplomatic opportunities have opened up with Asia, Africa and key Arab countries; the country’s military is powerful, and Netanyahu helped motivate the U.S. to pull out of the flawed and dangerous Iran nuclear deal.
This new book, even with its shortcomings, is worth reading.