Today the Prime Minister’s office released a summary of the life of Benzion Netanyahu,
born in 1910. Here is what he accomplished between the ages of 18 and 38:
Following his graduation from the Beit Hakerem Seminar in Jerusalem, Netanyahu studied at the Hebrew University, graduating with an M.A. in history. During his studies, he was elected chairman of the Revisionist Students Group, and represented the group at party conferences. It was during that time that Netanyahu initiated (together with Joseph Or) the establishment of the "Beitar" literary monthly, whose chief editor was Prof. Joseph Klausner. Netanyahu was one of the editors and spiritual mentors of the monthly, which featured some of the greatest Hebrew poets and philosophers. …
In 1933, Netanyahu was appointed to serve as a member of the Israeli Center of Hatzohar (the Union of Revisionist Zionists, Jabotinsky's party). At the age of 23, he founded a daily newspaper, "Hayarden", … which was frequently shut down by the British authorities … [A]s a result of the sudden death of [his] father, Ben-Zion was forced to leave the paper and dedicate himself to taking care of his large family that found itself fatherless.
Between 1936-1939, Netanyahu was engaged in research of the history of Zionism and in the establishment and organizing of the "political library", which included works by the founders of political Zionism – Herzl, Nordau and Zangwill, which had not previously been published in Hebrew.
In March 1939, at the age of 29, Netanyahu traveled to London to meet with Jabotinsky in an attempt to persuade him to transfer the majority of his activities from Britain to the United States. Netanyahu understood that the United States would ultimately be the country to determine the international agenda and decide on the question of the establishment of a Jewish state, and believed that intensive, large-scale propaganda was needed there. Jabotinsky was convinced and in 1940, a Hatzohar delegation, headed by Jabotinsky, arrived in New York.
Several months later, following the death of Jabotinsky – at whose funeral Netanyahu served as pallbearer – Netanyahu became head of the delegation and head of the New Zionist Federation in America. For the next seven years, the movement, under his leadership, would become an active and influential factor in Jewish and general public opinion in America. The bulk of the delegation's activities, headed by Netanyahu, included: large assemblies, at which American statesmen and prominent public figures delivered speeches, huge advertisements in major newspapers, numerous propaganda articles and intensive negotiations with administration officials and Congress members from both parties.
Netanyahu himself met with a series of key American figures, including Dean Acheson and General Eisenhower (who would later become President of the United States), to convince them that America must support the establishment of a Jewish state and press Britain to change its anti-Zionist policies. A researcher of that era, Dr. Rafael Madoff, said that "Netanyahu's (and his team's) success in introducing, for the first time, a clearly pro-Zionist platform at the 1944 Republican Convention would forever change the face of American politics", as it compelled the Democrats to
start competing for the Jewish vote, which prompted them to adopt a pro-Zionist platform of their own. In the years following Roosevelt's death, the Jewish vote became critical, as the Presidential race was tight and many estimated that Truman would lose the 1948 elections.
In the San Francisco meetings between representatives of nations which led to the establishment of the United Nations, Netanyahu represented the movement and, in addition to the comprehensive public campaign he conducted there, he met with numerous heads of delegations from around the world to persuade them to support the establishment of a Hebrew state.
During Netanyahu's intensive activities in the United States, he found time to write his doctorate on Don Isaac Abarbanel's philosophical writings. During his stay in the US, he married Tzila (née Segal). The two met years earlier at the Hebrew University and renewed their relationship when they met again in New York during World War II.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel, Netanyahu abandoned his political activity for good. … Shortly after his return to Israel in 1948, Netanyahu was appointed general editor and later Editor-in-Chief of the Hebrew Encyclopedia, and was responsible for ten of its initial volumes.
In 1995, the New York Times reviewed Benzion Netanyahu’s 1,384 page book, “The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th Century Spain.”
This remarkable, lucid and very lengthy explanation of one of the central acts of malice in world history required a lifetime of scholarly devotion. … [T]he power of Mr. Netanyahu's intellect, the grandeur of his themes and his moral passion give "The Origins of the Inquisition" great narrative power. The voyage through the stormy centuries is long and slow, but it is always absorbing. You feel compelled to press on, to reach the distant shore where the answers to the many questions that Mr. Netanyahu raises can be found.
And Mr. Netanyahu always asks the fundamental why's. Why the hatred of the Jews? Why did the Spanish Kings, who relied on the Jews to fill top administrative posts, accede to pressures for the Inquisition? Why, if the Marranos were no longer Jews but had converted to Christianity and were recognized as Christians by both the King and the Pope, did they continue to be persecuted? As the answers emerge in Mr. Netanyahu's book, so, too, does a revisionist vision of the Inquisition that is both disturbing and eerily modern….
Mr. Netanyahu's racial explanation introduces the chilling notion of the Inquisition as a prototype of 20th-century persecutions by race, by group, by economic class. His conclusions will no doubt be challenged. But Mr. Netanyahu has produced the scholarly monument against which future works will be measured.