Ben-Gurion's Diaries and Benzion Netanyahu

History Should Revisit His 'Extreme Zionist' Tag

By Haaretz

Published May 05, 2012.
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Benzion Netanyahu, who died this week, was considered a very zealous Zionist; in the 1940s he worked with Ze’ev Jabotinsky, founder of the Revisionist party. It is customary to say that his opinions prevented him from being accepted as a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and that even Menachem Begin did not take him with him to the Knesset, because Netanyahu was too extreme for his taste. But things that David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary apparently call for a reassessment of Netanyahu’s extremist image.

In 1956, Netanyahu proposed that Ben-Gurion employ him as a public diplomacy (hasbara ) functionary, in the guise of a history professor, at one of the universities in America. He sought to work under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, and tailor his activity to its policy.

A meeting between the two took place on Friday, November 11, at the close of one of the most dramatic weeks in Ben-Gurion’s life: In response to heavy pressure, accompanied by threats from the Soviet Union, the premier was forced to order the evacuation of the territories that the Israel Defense Forces had conquered less than two weeks earlier, during the Sinai Campaign.

Netanyahu and Ben-Gurion knew each other. In July 1945 Netanyahu offered Ben-Gurion - then head of the Jewish Agency - to work on bringing the Revisionist Party back into the World Zionist Organization. Ben-Gurion made their return conditional upon the disbanding of the Irgun, the Revisionists’ armed militia. Netanyahu, who came to Ben-Gurion accompanied with some of his colleagues, told Ben-Gurion that during World War II, he had overseen the propaganda work in the United States of the New Zionist Organization (the NZO ), the group founded by the Revisionist Zionists. He assured him that he had not worked with the radical faction of the Revisionist movement, headed by Hillel Kook.

For more, go to Haaretz.com


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