I guess you could call me an eclectic reader. After reading fiction, I want to dive into non-fiction, then back into fiction. While I tend toward literary novels, I’m developing a taste for cozy mysteries, and I’m a sucker for anything set in the UK. My non-fiction ranges from current events to biographies, history, theological topics, or anything else. (The book I ordered about the archeological discovery of Sodom and Gomorrah should arrive today.)
I recently read Bibi, My Story by Benjamin Netanyahu[i]. I ordered his autobiography because Netanyahu is a pivotal player on the international stage. He seems to be maligned by the press because reporters cannot mention him without adding something about an ongoing investigation. Recently, street demonstrations in Israel highlighted the government’s stand over its Supreme Court decisions. Then there’s the ongoing border and settlement disputes between the Palestinians and Israelis.
I liked that Netanyahu began when he was a young man and structured his story chronologically. The photo on the back of the book shows a (really handsome young soldier). Sometimes we think politicians cannot relate to foot soldiers. But Bibi, as he is called, led a special forces unit into some pretty dicey situations, following in his brother Yoni’s footsteps. Yoni’s death during a mission at Entebbe broke his heart. He writes that he never sends soldiers into battle without concern for what they will encounter.
His father was politically influential, and the young Bibi absorbed his wisdom. College educated in America, his first posting for Israel was with its foreign service. He became ambassador to the UN and moved onward and upward from there. Admittedly, his is not a “rags to riches” story, but it seems he paid his dues and learned along the way. By the time he became Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was no neophyte. He knew how to make deals, stand firm, and speak truth to power (often U.S. power).
He writes candidly about holding firm to Israeli security while dealing with U.S. pressure to work with Palestinians; Palestinians who do not acknowledge Israels’ right to exist. He writes passionately about the Jewish presence in the area dating to days of Abraham to justify the Israeli state.
Although I’m not a politician, his writing was clear enough so I could understand the issues he faced and why he took the positions he did (and does now). As for the current criminal investigation, it is one of many in the past over trivial issues. In every case, he and his family proved their innocence, and the cases were dropped.
Over the years, he fell in and out of power and often struggled to form a government. He seems to assume I have a clue how the Israeli government works (not) so I can only take his word about the politics of it all.
Netanyahu learned early on to take a hot button issue to the people of a country. He believes that public pressure will force politicians to fall in line with his (and the public’s) views. He has done this forcefully to warn the world about the Iran deal, which he believes will help Iran become a nuclear power, rather than prevent it. I recall his televised message where he pulled no punches. He pulls no punches either describing the lengths he would go to protect Israel from terrorists like Hamas or Hezbollah.
Fan or Not
Perhaps that is why reading about current events and the cast of characters on the world stage is valuable. Does what I’m reading reflect that nation’s historical actions and values? Does that leader’s remarks sound like something true to him or her? Perhaps the remarks attributed to them don’t match their auto/biographies. Something fishy in Denmark?
News snippets, video clips, now AI, can be misleading. There’s nothing like reading (a lot!) to keep a society educated enough to protect its values and heritage.
And when it gets just too much, escape into a delightful novel (like mine).
[i] Bibi, My Story by Benjamin Netanyahu, Threshold Edition, imprint of Simon and Schuster, Inc. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New, NY 10020 ©2022 Benjamin Netanyahu