Benjamin Netanyahu

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Prime Minister Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu (born October 21, 1949) is the conservative Prime Minister of Israel, who in 1997 negotiated a partial withdrawal by Israeli settlers from Hebron, which is on the West Bank.

His brother, Yonatan, was killed in 1976. Yonatan was the field commander of the raid on Entebbe, an operation to free hostages of an Air France flight highjacked by Islamists. He was the only Israeli commando casualty of the operation.

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Early Life and Education

Raised in Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu received his high school education in the United States when he moved with his parents to Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. To this day Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks fluent English with an American accent. Even as an adult, he is often referred to as his boyhood nickname "Bibi".[1] Additionally, Netanyahu's father was a professor of Jewish history at Cornell University. He returned to Israel in 1967 and enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces and participated in the Yom Kippur War, where he reached the rank of captain. Netanyahu would go on to continue to live in the United States when he received a Bachelor's degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975, a Master's degree in business management from MIT, and would go on to study political science at MIT and Harvard University. Netanyahu joined a Boston Consulting Group, an international business consulting firm and later senior management of Rim Industries in Jerusalem.

Political Career

In 1979 and 1984 Mr. Netanyahu initiated two international conferences that emphasized the need to fight against terrorist organizations and regimes that provide them support. Members included Vice President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State George Shultz. [2] After serving as deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC., he was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. During his tenure he fought for the declassification of the United Nations archives on crimes committed by Nazi Germany.

Prime Minister of Israel

In 1988, Netanyahu returned to Israel and was elected as a member of the Knesset, the legislator of Israel. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War Netanyahu was a member of Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference, which was the first direct negotiations between Israel and Syria, Lebanon, and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. In 1993, Netanyahu became chairman of the right-of-center Likud party. He was elected Israel's 9th Prime Minister in 1996 and sworn in after the approval of the Knesset. During his three year term the number of terror attacks in Israel drastically decreased. On economics he governed as a free-market conservative, accelerated privatization of government-owned companies and reduced the budget deficit. By the time of Netanyahu's reelection he had alienated the political left, while also the political right for his negotiations with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. He was defeated in May 1999 by Ehud Barak.

Benjamin Netanyahu press conference, 02/20/09.

From 2003 through 2005 Netanyahu served as Finance Minister in the Ariel Sharon administration. He advocated policies that reduced government, strengthened the private sector, cut taxes, and privatized pensions. During his tenure unemployment dropped and the Israeli economy went from shrinking 1% to growing 4.2% in 2004. [3] On February 10, 2009 legislative elections, the right-wing parties won a majority of seats in the Knesset, and they selected Netanyahu to serve a second term as Prime Minister. He was sworn in on March 13, 2009.

2009 Speech at the United Nations

On September 24, 2009 Prime Minister Netanyahu blasted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a supporter of Islamic fundamentalism and is developing nuclear technology, possibly for nuclear weapons. The following is an excerpt from his speech.

"Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events.

Netanyahu and wife with Obama and Michelle at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, 2009.

Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world’s most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?" [4]

Books by Natanyahu

  • Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic And International Terrorism (Diane Pub Co, 1995). ISBN 0-7881-5514-8
  • A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations (Warner Books, 1993 and 2000). ISBN 0-446-52306-2

Quotes

  • ‎"If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel." [5]

External links

References

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