Prime Minister of Israel
Binyamin Netanyahu (b. 1949) Two-time prime minister of Israel, he fought in both the 1967 and ’73 wars. Netanyahu was a special forces operative in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit for five years, participating in some of Israel’s most daring missions. His political career started off as ambassador to the U.N. Later he would serve as Israel’s finance minister, foreign minister, health minister, pension affairs minister and economic strategy minister. Netanyahu holds a B.Sc in architecture and an M.Sc in business from MIT and studied political science at Harvard. While in America, he went by the name Ben Nitay, a reference to the Talmudic sage Nitay HaArbeli, whose most famous dictum is “Distance yourself from a bad neighbour, do not associate with a wicked person and do not despair of retribution.” (Pirkei Avot 1:7) Interestingly, Netanyahu is the only Israeli prime minister in history to have actually been born in Israel. He has written five books. He is also a descendant of the Vilna Gaon.
UPDATE: Since this post was first published in 2011, Netanyahu has become Israel’s longest-service prime minister. Over his tenure, Israel has experienced some of its greatest economic and population growth; significantly strengthened its borders and reduced the number of terror victims; and managed to sign multiple peace treaties with Arab neighbours.
UPDATE 2: Netanyahu’s tenure as Israel’s prime minister ended on June 13, 2021. He served for a total of 15 years and 92 days, the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history.
From the History Vault
The church and the government of Rome set Wednesday, March 6, 1430, as the day when all the Jews of Rome must convert or face death. On that day a massive earthquake struck Rome and many of the archbishops and priests who conceived the decree were killed. Following the earthquake, Pope Martin V annulled the decree.