Israel’s most powerful person, IMHO, Benzion Netanyahu, is dead. Predictably, the NYT obituary elides the true nature of his philosophy. Here’s the misleading money quote:
Throughout, his views were relentlessly hawkish: he argued that Jews inevitably faced discrimination that was racial and not religious, and that efforts to compromise with Arabs were futile.
What distortion! The NYT makes it sound like Netanyahu wanted Zionist Jews to coexist as equals with the Arabs, but saw no way to do so because of the Arabs’ uncompromising racism. Where did he ever write such a thing? The NYT should have written this, a more accurate characterization:
Throughout, his views were relentlessly hawkish and racist: he, like his mentor Jabotinsky, argued that Zionist immigrants must use overwhelming military force to conquer Palestine and subdue the local Arab population until they lost all hope of resisting the expropriation of their lands. According to Netanyahu, who saw conflict as the “essence of the Arab,” all efforts to compromise with Arabs would be futile until they were powerless and subjugated.
We should conquer any disputed territory in the Land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war…
The Bible finds no worse image than that of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency toward conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement.
What does it say about the U.S. government when our president makes a condolence call for the death of a man who held such inhumane views?
Why do I argue Benzion was the most powerful person in Israel? He said this about his son the prime minister:
Bibi might aim for the same goals as mine, but he keeps to himself the ways to achieve them, because if he gave expression to them, he would expose his goals.
On the origins of Benzion’s thinking, see his mentor Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s The Iron Wall:
Every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of “Palestine” into the “Land of Israel”…
Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs….
We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmet agree with it or not.
There is no other morality.