Bibi: My Story by Benjamin Netanyahu - review by Avi Shilon

Avi Shilon

Iron Man of Israel

Bibi: My Story

By

Threshold Editions 736pp £25
 

From a purely literary point of view, this is without doubt the best autobiography written by an Israeli prime minister. In Bibi, Benjamin Netanyahu, who in separate stints has served as Israel’s prime minister for fifteen years and is also expected to form the next government following November’s general election, recounts his life story in a fascinating, clear and intelligent way. The book combines political ideas, history, economics, anecdotes (some of them amusing) from his meetings with world leaders and even, uncharacteristically, a bit of self-mockery regarding his fondness for expensive restaurants. Netanyahu, who emphasises the inspiration he derives from Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War, has so far failed to lead an international alliance against the country he considers the greatest threat to civilisation, Iran. But he can take solace from the fact that he demonstrates Churchillian abilities in the literary field.

Contrary to what is customary in political autobiography – to write after retirement, with the aid of perspective – Netanyahu wrote this book while still very much an active politician. I had the curious experience of reading it while seeing its author constantly on television, campaigning to recover the prime ministership he lost in June 2021. In the book, I encountered a cautious leader who is committed to ‘non-extremism’ and is proud of the resources his governments have invested in Arab communities. On the news, I watched a populist leader pandering to far-right elements in Israeli society. Are there two Netanyahus? Or is there anything that can explain this apparent inconsistency?

Netanyahu believes that history is driven by heroes, not by processes. He sees himself as one such figure, with rare abilities to protect and shape Israel. The constant opposition he faces, which he sees as unfair persecution, requires him to use all means available to continue as head

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