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Israel could only survive by ‘killing all the Arabs’– Netanyahu’s father

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On Thursday night at the Center for Jewish History in New York, a panel spoke about Jews as “culture brokers” in the publishing business, and Jason Epstein, who co-founded The New York Review of Books, told about his relationship with Benzion Netanyahu, the late father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Benzion died earlier this year.

Epstein related that at the instance of Herman Wouk, he first published a book of letters written by Benzion’s son Jonathan, who was killed in Israel’s 1976 Entebbe raid, and after that he worked with Benzion on his masterwork, The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain. Epstein:

So we became very close friends… [And that book] really has changed forever how the Spanish Inquisition will now be seen by scholars… His book is recognized as the classic account. So I came to know him very very well. I admired him enormously. Even though we disagreed completely on politics and Israel. He was a so-called revisionist Zionist, he was a disciple of Jabotinsky. And he thought the only way Israel could survive is, well he once told me, by killing all the Arabs. I thought that may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but despite that, it didn’t affect my friendship, my admiration, indeed my love for him.

And I came to see what Bibi Netanyahu’s situation was because the old man dedicated that masterwork not to the three sons, he had three of them beside Bibi and Jonathan, but only to Bibi [actually Jonathan; see below], and he did a very touching passage to accompany that dedication. And he said nothing about Bibi in it, and one of the Bibi’s problems obviously is that his father never, never held him in the kind of esteem in which he held his older brother. To me that explains a lot about what’s going on in Israeli politics…

Epstein referred to his political differences with Benzion in this piece for Tablet, but didn’t quote him on killing all the Arabs, though he did state that Benzion regarded the Arabs as “implacable enemies.”

The dedication of the Spanish Inquisition volume, at Amazon, is:

This book is dedicated with unrelieved grief to the memory of my beloved son JONATHAN who fell while leading the rescue force at Entebbe on July 4, 1976.


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30 Responses

  1. John Douglas
    John Douglas on December 8, 2012, 11:38 am

    Beware of the politician with something to prove to dear old Dad. See George W. Bush, John Kennedy, John McCain, George Allen and now Bibi.

    And isn’t it odd that, regardless of how the name “Bibi” is received in Israel, a man who grew up in the U.S. would accept it as a nickname?

  2. yourstruly
    yourstruly on December 8, 2012, 11:56 am

    the warsaw ghetto, gaza
    well, whadayaknowwho’dathunkit, but it’s turned out that they’re the chosen people
    with jerusalem?
    the landing field

  3. yourstruly
    yourstruly on December 8, 2012, 12:41 pm

    conquistador, slavemaster
    indian, slave
    blessed be

  4. piotr
    piotr on December 8, 2012, 1:28 pm

    Is there a historian in the room!? We need a historian!

    My question is if Benzion Netanyahu was a good historian or a maniac. I think that the main point of his historical career is wrong: that Spanish Inquisition was a racist anti-Semitic outfit. To me, it was an outfit dedicated to eradication of heresy among Spanish Christians and if it focused on a particular group “disproportionally”, it was when they had well founded reasons (namely, the presence of heretics). And many groups of conversos survived for hundreds of years harboring Jewish non-Christian beliefs and practices which was making them heretic. Thus one can explain their behavior assuming that this was a professional and ethical organization that had rules of ethics and their profession which are quite alien to us today.

    Such recognition of “alien ethical systems” can allow to understand better what is happening today. In particular, stamping out heresy is a phenomenon that exists also today, including the organized Jewish community. So when I say that the professional ethics of the Inquisition is alien to us I do not mean “all people living in XXI century”.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on December 8, 2012, 1:38 pm

      “In particular, stamping out heresy is a phenomenon that exists also today, including the organized Jewish community.”

      There is no agency of “the organised Jewish community” devoted to stamping out religious heresy. If you know of one, please inform us.

      • piotr
        piotr on December 8, 2012, 7:39 pm

        It depends what dogmas you consider. For example, there are articles of faith like “immaculate conception of the State of Israel” and “IDF is the most moral military in the world”.

    • JennieS
      JennieS on December 8, 2012, 5:51 pm

      So can I take it that the substance of Bezion Netanyahu’s take on the Spanish Inquisition is that it was primarily aimed at exterminating Jews? (No I am not going to read his book(s) etc, I don’t have sufficient life expectancy).
      The stated aim of the Holy Inquisition everywhere was to wipe out heresy among Christians, where heresy is defined as any thinking outside the box imposed by Holy Church. The unstated aim was the acquisition of wealth and power by the Church. The desire for the property of others has been a major (and sometimes the major) factor in many instances of persecusion and mass killing. Whilst Jews have been persecuted at times in Christian Europe there have been other times when being the wrong kind of Christian has been more dangerous than being Jewish.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel on December 8, 2012, 7:02 pm


      I’m not a historian, but I have worked with historians who specialise in the history of the Jews of Spain, and Netanyahu is definitely considered a serious scholar.

      The task of the Inquisition was indeed to root out Christian heretics – including insincere converts. This was a bit of a sticky wicket however, because the vast majority of the conversions were – in one way or another – coerced. So people were converted against their will and then accused of not being sincere in their Christian convictions. Not very sporting, to say the least.

      Netanyahu argues that most of the conversos, although insincere to begin with, eventually embraced Christianity, and were therefore persecuted unjustly by the Inquisition. Other leading historians of the period (e.g. Baer and Beinart) take the view that most of the conversos “were in fact Jews” – which means that the Inquisition actually had a point (apart from the aforementioned sticky wicket).

      • Ellen
        Ellen on December 9, 2012, 6:09 pm

        The point of the inqusition was for the Church (and Spanish throne) to secure it’s power. The rumblings of the reformation were a big threat. There were more Muslims in Spain than Jews. To think that the sincerity of only the Jewish conversios was in question is absurd.

        Actaully the first targets were the lapsed Christians…then the Conversios…then the net spread around even wider to essentially everyone before the terror was over.

        The Jewish population in Spain had a really high position and the primary advisor to Isabella and Ferdinand was Isaac Abrabanel, who like many at time got caught up in end of times apocalyptic thinking. He was a powerful guy and well before it was over, he secured a papal bull for himself and all other Jews to leave Spain (under protection of Isabella). It was of course a horrible tragedy for a people. Just as the expulsion of Muslims from Spain.

        But as Abrabanel was so high in the Spanish seat of power, and at the same time into proving an end of world event, he got Feddy and Liz to delay the Expulsion to fall on the ninth of the month of Ab and correspond to the date with the biblical story of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. They did this for him.

        Abrabanel also was the author of “The Annointed One.” The Annoited one was the Messiah. And maybe Abrabanel though HE was the Messiah to bring his people to salvation? (just like Sabbatai Zvi some 60 or 70 years later?)

        Many Jews who left Spain went to the Balkans, and found patronage by the Ottoman Musilm rulers. The Turks welcomed Abrabanels’s Jews (even building the first synagogues) as this would bring an educated, skilled and connected population into the territories.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on December 9, 2012, 6:42 pm

        The motives behind the Inquisition included power, financial gain, jealousy, and even some sincere piety. There was even a certain amount of debate – some pious and some less so – over the desirability of forced conversions.

        Jews and conversos were by no means the only targets, but since that is the subject of Netanyahu’s research (and thus the subject of piotr’s question), that is what I chose to address.

      • Ellen
        Ellen on December 10, 2012, 4:07 am

        Shmuel, apologies, I posted under your comments, but was just addressing this conversation, not your specific comment.

        Am not sure exactly what piotor was asking? Other than if Netanyahau Sr. was a good historian or a nut case who made his career on a preconceived premise that the Spanish Inqusition was a Judephobic enterprise.

        I am no historian, but to support the case that the motives of the inqusition were Judephobic is simply wrong and ignores so much of what was going on in the world at that time.

        Jews were a powerful and respected group in 15th Century Spain.

        Conversions had been going on for a long time. And for many reasons, including marriage ,trade, etc. Forced conversions were something of the inqusition period.

        The new world had been discovered. This brought lots and lots of fear into the populations of Europe. End of world ammagedeon, witches, and hysterias. The Reformation was gaining ground. The Church’s power was starting to crack. The Spanish crown was the most faithful to the Church and it’s world power was also cracking (or already brken).

        So the Spanish crown and the Church did what a threatened power does — they lash out, attack and even terrorize their own from within.

        Was the crown and Church Jealous of Jews? No. Jews were targets very late into the inquisition, when primitive jealousies among the population was enough for denounciation. (happens everytime.)

        The Inqusition was about all these dynamics and more. It was not all about the Jews. If we want to go there, more Muslims were killed and displaced under the Inquisition than Jews. But that fact does not make the Iquisition about the Muslims, or Convesios either.

        I think a study of the Inqusition teaches us what horrible things powers will do when they are under threat. The dynamics that will take. And what disasterous things can happen when a population is gripped by fears, and mass hysterias, and false leaders emerge.

        Did Netanyahu explore these universal dynamics that can help us all, or was his work limited to “see how much everyone hates us, history shows us that….be fearful of non Jews?”

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on December 10, 2012, 4:22 am

        Did Netanyahu explore these universal dynamics that can help us all, or was his work limited to “see how much everyone hates us, history shows us that….be fearful of non Jews?”

        I haven’t read enough of Netanyahu’s work to judge, but there are legitimate scholarly reasons to focus on Jews/New Christians – from the specifically anti-Jewish preaching of mendicants such as Vicente Ferrer, particularly in Castile and Aragon in the 1390s (which had a tremendous impact on the Christian populace, accommodated to one extent or another by the crown, and devastating results for the Jewish communities of the north), to the wealth of Jewish sources on the period, requiring specialised knowledge.

        My reference to jealousy had less to do with the crown and the Church than the upper echelons of Spanish society, who felt threatened by the Jews, and perhaps even more so by the conversos – which had repercussions for both the crown and the Church.

      • Ellen
        Ellen on December 10, 2012, 10:59 am

        Don’t know if the upper echelons were so threatened by Jews. After all, much of the upper echelons were the Jews.

        As for anti-Jewish preaching and it’s impact on the Christian population. I could surely imagine. After all, parts of the Christian the new testament rings throughout with anti-Jewish text, no matter the context or time it was written.

  5. Krauss
    Krauss on December 8, 2012, 1:30 pm

    And he thought the only way Israel could survive is, well he once told me, by killing all the Arabs. I thought that may have been a bit of an exaggeration

    That’s liberal Zionism for you.

    Oh, I disagree with him but after all, who cares if he calls for the complete murder of all the Arabs in a massive holocaust? After all, I love the man.

    To me, Epstein’s not different than a facist historian like David Irving. Epstein claims to have political differences but I doubt that. If he did, he would never admire or even ‘love‘ a man who is advocating total annihilation of another race.

    He basically befriended a Jewish Nazi of the worst kind and he still effuses warm words about him. And that this guy gets to be called a liberal is pretty shocking. Imagine if you had a white gentile ‘liberal’ who gushed about a neo-Nazi intellectual, who advocated the total annilhilation for all the Jews, as someone who he ‘loves’. Do you think he’d be able to have a career in the media or even be allowed to be called a liberal?

    Stunning confession by Epstein and an even greater shock to witness the total absence of reactions by the others.

  6. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    Maximus Decimus Meridius on December 8, 2012, 1:55 pm

    ”And he thought the only way Israel could survive is, well he once told me, by killing all the Arabs. ”

    The thing is, he’s probably right. And since Israel cannot kill all the Arabs, Israel is doomed. It may turn out to be that simple.

  7. amigo
    amigo on December 8, 2012, 2:09 pm

    The apple does not fall far from the tree.

  8. amigo
    amigo on December 8, 2012, 2:17 pm

    Does he mean all the Palestinian Arabs or “ALL” Arabs.

    Did he believe that if he killed all the Palestinians their Brothers would just sit back and live in peace and harmony with Israel.

    Spare us from these evil idiots.

    • ramzijaber
      ramzijaber on December 8, 2012, 5:19 pm

      I believe he meant ALL Arabs. Remember that the two blue lines in the flag of the criminal zionist regime refer to the Niles and Euphrates.

      NOW HOLD ON. BEFORE I GET A MILLION BUZZES FROM THOSE WHO WILL CLAIM THIS IS RUBBISH…… yes, I am aware of the “official” line that these two lines represent the talit, I tell you what I heard from zionists growing up and from what we Palestinians and Arabs believe: the two lines represent the expansionist zionist plan. Pure and simple. You can argue otherwise. But……

      We know what we know.
      We lived what we lived.
      We heard what we heard.
      We saw what we saw.
      We felt what we felt.
      We perceived what we perceived.

      All point to zionist expansionism. It’s up to the criminal zionist regime to prove to the oppressed otherwise and to put the occupied at ease that they are not here to kill us all and drive us out.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk on December 9, 2012, 12:01 pm


        That is incredible conspiratorial BS about the lines in the Israeli flag.

        Norman Finkelstein once explained that to a questioner and he then proceeded to say that sticking to the facts there was plenty to go after about Israel already.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk on December 9, 2012, 1:00 pm

        I will add that this is something charged by Arafat and some member so Hamas but debunked by serious scholars, Arab and Jewish, on all sides of the I/P conflict.

        The stripes come from the color and stripes on a traditional prayer shawl.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones on December 8, 2012, 7:50 pm

      It isn’t clear whether he means all the Arabs in the world or in Israeli territory. The former is too fanciful, while the latter wouldn’t really solve the problem, because they would still have neighbors with a history of mutually hostile relations.

      In any case, neither category would make a guarantee, because historically even bigger empires captured the region: Byzantines, Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, British, Ottomans, etc etc. In fact, the local non-Jewish population was the main group that actually did not conquer the Jewish population.

      So B. Netanyahu actually had his threat analysis the reverse of reality!

  9. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on December 8, 2012, 4:30 pm

    ● RE: “Epstein referred to his political differences with Benzion in this piece for Tablet, but didn’t quote him on killing all the Arabs, though he did state that Benzion regarded the Arabs as ‘implacable enemies’.” ~ Weiss

    ● SEE – “Bibi’s Father’s Answer to the ‘Arab Problem’: Hang’ Em in the Town Square”, By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 4/04/09

    [EXCERPTS] Imagine, if you will, if Barack Obama’s real father was Rev. Jeremiah Wright and imagine, if you will, that Wright gave an eight-page interview to USA Today the week of Obama’s inauguration. Then you can imagine the “interest” with which such a ‘Maariv’ interview with Bibi Netanyahu’s father was met in Israeli circles.
    Noam Sheizaf, who works for Maariv, has translated portions of the interview . . .
    . . . And without further ado, I give you, Ben Zion Netanyahu, the father of the man:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . • Question: You don’t like the Arabs, to say the least.
    Benzion Netanyahu: “The Bible finds no worse image than this 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 towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetuate war.”. . .
    . . . • Question: Is there any hope of peace?
    Benzion Netanyahu: …No…The two states solution doesn’t exist. There are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation… they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.”
    • Question: So what’s the solution?
    Benzion Netanyahu: “No solution but force… strong military rule. Any outbreak will bring upon the Arabs enormous suffering. We shouldn’t wait for a big mutiny to start, but rather act immediately with great force to prevent them from going on…
    If it’s possible, we should conquer any disputed territory in the land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war. We should conquer Gaza, and parts of the Galil, and the Golan. This will bring upon us a bloody war. . .” . . .


    ● P.S. ALSO SEE: “The late Benzion Netanyahu’s appalling views on Arabs”, By Larry Derfner, +972 Magazine, 4/30/12
    LINK –

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870 on December 8, 2012, 5:01 pm


      Prof. Netanyahu: The Jews and the Arabs are like two goats facing each other on a narrow bridge. One must jump to the river – but that involves a danger of death. The strong goat will make the weaker one jump … and I believe the Jewish power will prevail.

      Q: What does the Arabs’ “jump” entail?

      A [Prof. Netanyahu]: That they won’t be able to face [anymore] war with us, which will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and more. They won’t be able to exist, and they will run away from here. But it all depends on the war, and whether we will win the battles with them.

      SOURCE –

  10. IL1948
    IL1948 on December 8, 2012, 6:52 pm

    “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”


  11. Abdul-Rahman
    Abdul-Rahman on December 8, 2012, 7:10 pm

    Benzion Mileikowsky (he was the one who later changed the family surname to the now infamous Netanyahu) was an open fascist to be sure. Benzion was the personal secretary of Revisionist Zionist leader Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky who was famous for being a buddy of Mussolini (having run, in the 1930s CE, the “Betar Naval Academy” in Mussolini’s Italy in the Italian port city Civitavecchia just search “Betar Naval Academy” even on wikipedia) and as Lenni Brenner (of “Zionism in the Age of the Dictators” and “51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With The Nazis” fame) has shown even the Labor Zionists (under David Gryn aka Ben-Gurion) referred to Vladimir Jabotinsky as “Vladimir Hitler” showing what even they thought of him and the Revisionist Zionists. The fascist Likud party of today is the clear ideological successor to the fascist Revisionist Zionists with Benjamin of course being the son of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s former chief secretary.

  12. Sin Nombre
    Sin Nombre on December 8, 2012, 7:18 pm

    Of course any number of the things that Benzion says regarding the arabs vis a vis jews or Israel could have (and probably were) the identical things one could find Hitler having said regarding the jews and vis a vis Germans or Germany, and so the question is what accounts for the blindness.

    I think the chosen-people-belief business is really the only answer as it offers the only …”global” sort of double-standard justification that one sees.

    For instance if, say, you suggested to Sheldon Adelson that Israel grant amnesty/a “path to citizenship” to the Palestinians—or even to its African illegal immigrants—he’d almost certainly regard that as nothing less than the commission of jewish or at least Israeli ethno-cultural suicide. I see however in the Wall Street Journal just now him coming out big for amnesty for illegal immigrants to the U.S.

    E.g., what’s ethno-cultural suicide for one is morally imperative for everyone else.

    I just don’t see how you can account for this via any issue-by-issue blindness or bias. And it’s too unconscious/”innocent” for that as well.

  13. Basilio
    Basilio on December 9, 2012, 4:20 am

    Bension was against the wickedness in Spain, but supports it in Israel. People like Benzion look at the Spanish Inquisition as if the Spanish were doing something wrong by “purifying” Spain. I’m being sarcastic. With Israel oppressing the Palestinians the way it is doing and the talk of killing the Palestinians shows that people like Benzion have no grounds to judge the Spaniards of that time as wicked if he promoted wickedness, himself.

  14. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough on December 9, 2012, 5:27 am

    Imagine the tsunami of revulsion if he had written of another ‘friend’ this way:

    And he thought the only way Nazi Germany could survive is, well he once told me, by killing all the Jews. I thought that may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but despite that, it didn’t affect my friendship, my admiration, indeed my love for him.

  15. mcohen
    mcohen on December 9, 2012, 6:24 am

    Today i received final confirmation of what path israel must take when i read this headline in the online times of israel

    “Natural bedfellows: Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua and the Green Movement”

    the conditions in israel are much like the conditions worldwide
    overpopulated and polluted
    hurricane sandy was the warning
    another warning will come to israel
    a sign
    the rivers of israel are poisoned
    this planet is sacred and it has been desecrated by man

  16. Kathleen
    Kathleen on December 9, 2012, 11:51 am

    “culture brokers” in the publishing industry. Hey if hiring practices in the publishing industry work like the hiring practices in the media/information industry like NPR, CNN, Mondoweiss, then members of the tribe are disproportionately hired and promoted. I know numerous folks in hot shot positions in the publishing industry and folks who have been published and they have all said these alleged claims about Jews hiring, promoting and publishing works by Jewish folks is absolutely disproportionate and true. And please don’t tell me Jews are more intelligent. Another myth persistently promoted. Generally push education and making it…yes. But more intelligent. Another myth Watch and listen to how NPR has been promoting Jewish authors and issues for decades and for the last few years feel good stories about Israel. All about who you promote, have on as guest (Terri Gross is a huge candidate for these promotions on her program), and hire on your staff etc.

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