Before his extensive term in office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turbulent family history and political career helped shape him as one of Israel’s most scrutinized figures, as described in Ben Caspit’s latest book, “The Netanyahu Years.”
Caspit takes readers on a journey as they delve into Bibi’s youth in the shadow of his father, Benzion, a staunch Revisionist who strives to initiate his own political career alongside David Ben-Gurion on the trail blazed by Theodor Herzl.
According to Caspit, the Netanyahu brothers grow up in two different worlds as they spend weeks blending with locals and traveling across Israel before returning home to their father’s bouts of anger and depression.
The brothers’ lives are disrupted further after their father finds himself at odds with Israel’s new government and is forced to move back to the United States. Reluctant to leave Israel, Yoni and Bibi vow to enlist in the army as soon as they turn of age, yet they decide to make the best of their stay in America.
Bibi is accepted into MIT, where he studies architecture and management until he receives a lucrative position that elevates his personal life among New York’s social elite. During this period Bibi marries and divorces his longtime girlfriend, Miriam Weizmann, who later returns to Israel with their daughter.
Meanwhile, Yoni returns to Israel to serve as a paratrooper and becomes a hero to Bibi, who joins him shortly after the Six-Day War. Upon entering the army, Bibi is asked to join the elite Sayeret Matkal, where he endures great hardships but also thrives on the Israel Defense Forces’ insistent competition and discipline — traits, according to Caspit, that later help him survive perilous situations in his political career.
Yet his strength is no match for Yoni’s death in Operation Entebbe, which inevitably catapults Bibi’s career in the international arena as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Determined to combat terrorism and carry the Netanyahu torch, Bibi uses his charisma and wealthy connections to elevate his political career in Israel.
“The Netanyahu Years” describes Bibi’s gradual rise in politics with a sense of awe and sympathy as he fights to preserve Knesset members, the economy and Israel’s security from one election to the next. Yet political setbacks, negotiations and assassinations throughout his campaigns create a whirlwind of unpredictable outcomes that challenge his deepest convictions and trust for those he holds dear.
Caspit’s book, which continues through the strained relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, comes at a crucial time, as shifts in the U.S. administration and policies could help forge a new path between the two countries. It is a must-read for anyone eager to learn about one of Israel’s longest-standing political figures.