Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu, may be the longest serving Prime Minister of Israel and the only one ever born after the establishment of Israel as a state in 1948. But there is a whole lot to like, at a manly level, about this guy.
First of all, he is a patriot, the way many Kenyan guys imagine they are, especially on a keyboard (and with a #hashtag to boot). Netanyahu joined the Israeli defense forces the second he turned 18.
By the time he was 22, he was entrusted with a rescue mission involving the rescue of 90 passengers held by four ‘Black September’ hijackers in a Sabena airplane. It was named ‘Operation Isotope.’
Disguised as aircraft technicians in white overalls, alongside a comrade, Bibi pretended to be fixing a hydraulic system on the plane (which the pilot had cleverly sabotaged) but then they stormed the aisle, killed the two male hijackers and captured the two female ones. Netanyahu was shot on the shoulder.
As one shot trying to rescue a Nairobi West neighbor from carjackers at a tender, and valiantly foolish age, I identify with rescuers of other folks. (Not that I’d EVER risk it again, mark you).
The following year (1973) during the Yom Kippur war, Bibi as captain led an Israeli unit on commando raids deep into the heart of Syria, and then retired (at 24) from the army and went to MIT in America.
After graduation, he worked as an economic consultant for Boston Consulting, last year rated the ‘second best to work for but third most difficult to get into’ company in America by Forbes magazine.
Their great theory applied across the world is called The Experience Curve – the more often a task is performed, the lower the cost of doing it will be, not just in money but time and everything else.
When his big brother died in ‘Operation Entebbe’ in 1976 (there is a great movie about it called ‘Operation Thunderbolt’ which I watched as a toi), it set the path for Bibi to return to Israel by 1978 and found the Jonathan Institute (dedicated to his brother). It organized global conferences on anti-terror.
Anyone who has ever lost a sibling in circumstances where it could have been them experiences ‘Survivor’s Guilt,’ something we know first-hand. And maybe this is what Bibi felt about his bro, Yonatan.
Remarkably, when Netanyahu touches down on Kenyan soil on July 4, it will have been exactly 40 years since his big brother Yonatan died in Entebbe next door, at the young if die-able age of 30.
As Arundhathi Roy puts it in ‘the god of small things’ (but about Ammu, not Yonatan Netanyahu, whom I’m sure she never knew), “30, not old, not young, but a viable, die-able age.”
Twenty years after his brother’s death, Benjamin Netanyahu would go on to become the youngest prime minister ever of the sovereign state of Israel.
He has since been elected four times into the post. And at a youthful looking 66, Bibi is all set to break the record of one Ben Gurion as the longest serving prime minister of this country called Israel.