From Salim Mansur <[email protected]>
Subject PBS/Frontline Documentary on Bibi Netanyahu
Date February 28, 2020 6:42 PM
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Dear Friend,

Here, my friends, is a very powerful and moving documentary on Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.

I highly recommend viewing this PBS production. It is also timely as Israel goes to vote in the next few days to elect a new Knesset and the big question that hangs is whether Bibi will be re-elected for another term.

The timeline in this documentary is focused on the period of the Obama administration, 2009 -16. And Netanyahu’s “war” is his struggle with the Obama administration that openly began to disavow, as how Bibi at least perceived it, the long-standing special strategic relationship with Israel when Obama openly pivoted toward Iran.

But what is striking in this documentary, apart from the confrontation between Netanyahu and Obama, is the story of the Israeli prime minister. Bibi is a controversial figure in both Israel, and in America and the West. It is a given that when someone is consequential then controversy follows.

Bibi is consequential. But I will say more.

Bibi is a man of fate and destiny. He is already the longest serving prime minister of Israel. It is, however, what he represents in ideas and in the politics he has pursued as an Israeli devoted to the defence of his nation’s historical and strategic interests in a world where Jews are regularly pilloried, where anti-Semitism persists, and where Jews have been threatened as no other people with mass annihilation.

History is no longer taught in schools and colleges in terms of “great men and women” whose calling, devotion, persistence, sacrifices, courage make the difference for good or evil.

Professional historians abandoned the writing and study of history from the perspective of individuals who became the embodiment of a particular moment in the rise and fall of a nation’s story and, instead, poured their professional effort in amassing the view of history from the perspective of the anonymous mass of people in society’s progress and breakdowns.

The result is that whole generations of people have come of age and lived their lived their lives with little understanding of how essential it is to know and draw lesson from the study of history of the importance of role of individuals in the lives of people. A diminution of the role of individuals is not ironically a diminution of the people themselves, and a people reduced to an anonymous mass in sociological terms eventually become incapable of discerning “greatness” among themselves, appreciate “greatness” in others, aspire for “greatness” and inevitably morph into mediocrity.

I guess I am meditating here on what has happened to Canada and Canadians in my lifetime as a Canadian. And to contemplate on Canadians at this juncture of Canadian history while witnessing, in contrast, American politics as President Trump calls upon his people to "make America great again" and how a great many have responded stirred by the calling of "greatness" that flows strong in the national bloodstream of the great republic.

This dumbing down is Marxian historiography, of Marx’s turning on its head Hegel’s view of history served by “great” men as, when he observed, that he had witnessed history from his window in Jena when he saw Napoleon ride through the town before the Battle of Austerlitz in 1806 as the “world spirit” on the move.

There is always an “x” and a “y”: “x” as nation or people and “y” as individual, and it is in the dialectics in the Hegelian sense of people and leader that there is “greatness” born and blossoms. A great leader senses the essential purpose in the lives of his nation and gives that purpose tangible and distinct shape and how its consummation, as a Hamlet would say, is to be devoutly wished and fulfilled.

Jews against immense odds have proven to be a great nation, and greatness is an offspring of a great people. Bibi is very much a child of the Jewish nation determined to survive and succeed.

This is a story that stands out, as I perceived, in this documentary about Bibi Netanyahu.

And the other story that also stands out is the growing differences between Jews in North America, Jews who surrounded and supported Obama and continues to be invested in the Democratic party that has become visibly and unabashedly a haven of anti-Semites, such as Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and those Jews of Israel, especially those for whom Netanyahu is their leader, their man of destiny.

Salim

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