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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Father Knows Best


I read the cover story in The Atlantic magazine, "The Point of No Return: Israel is Getting Ready to Bomb Iran." There's quite an outpouring of comments about it on the magazine's web site. Without getting into the speculation of whether (nuclear empowered) Israel or the U.S. might bomb Iran's budding nuclear facilities, the part that intrigued me was the description of dynamics between Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, and his 100 year old father. His father is a hawk. There was an older, venerated son who died a military hero during the rescue of Jewish hostages at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976. It is Benjamin, "the Prime Minister son," who disappointed his father when, under U.S. diplomatic pressure, he withdrew Israeli forces from the West Bank town of Hebron in 1999. The father got up to speak at his centennial birthday party that Benjamin arranged. He did not wax sentimental about his children. He spoke about the need to trust in the military in the face of the existential threat that Iran poses to Israel. One friend of Benjamin's told the article's author that "always in the back of Bibi's (Benjamin's) mind is Ben-Zion (his father). He worries that his father will think he is weak."

The theme of favored, absent son and ever-striving present son sounds like an Arthur Miller play. I suppose that millions of adult sons can be analyzed in their actions and found still to be trying to please or piss off their fathers - me included. But not many of us direct armed forces that rule over another people desperate for their autonomy. Not many of us have a button that could launch a nuclear war.

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