Binyamin Mileikowsky may not sound familiar to anyone, but say Benjamin Netanyahu and it's not just Israelis who have heard of this long-term fixture in Israeli politics.
Today is the 72nd birthday of the Tel Aviv-born, Jerusalem-raised world statesman and Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. After his 12-year run as PM, Netanyahu now finds himself opposition leader in the Israeli parliament.
Israelis generally refer to Netanyahu by his nickname, Bibi.
Netanyahu attended high school in the United States but returned to Israel to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces where he served in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit.
“He took part in several operations, including the rescue of hostages in a hijacked Sabena airplane in 1972. In the same year, he was cited for outstanding operational command by General Mordechai Gur, Chief of Israel's Northern Command. After his discharge from the IDF in 1972, Mr. Netanyahu served in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and was promoted after the war to the rank of captain in the Reserves.”
Netanyahu holds degrees in architecture, business management and political science from various universities including MIT and Harvard.
Since the early 1980s Netanyahu has served in politics in one form or another and has been with the Likud party since 1988. He was first elected as prime minister of Israel in 1996. He was elected again in 2009 and served until June of this year.
In recent years, Netanyahu rose to global fame after the signing of the historic Abraham Accords. The Israeli leader appeared alongside leaders from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain plus then-President Donald Trump at the White House to sign the normalization agreements.
Netanyahu became very chummy with Trump and vice versa during the former president’s term. The two shared similar approaches to regional problems from the Palestinians to Iran.
For years, Netanyahu has been warning the world about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In 2018 he addressed the United Nations General Assembly and famously showed a graphic of a bomb to illustrate Tehran's increasing nuclear capacity.
In his last few months as prime minister, his government signed a deal with Pfizer to bring in millions of COVID-19 vaccines, which he credited for quelling a surge of infections in January and February of this year. At the World Economic Forum in January, he put Israel forward as the world leader in the vaccination race against COVID.
"Israel can serve as a global test case for vaccine efficacy," he said.
While he is known as a brilliant orator, Netanyahu has also authored several books including “Self-portrait of a Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu,” “International Terrorism: Challenge and Response,” “Terrorism: How the West Can Win,” “A Place Among the Nations: Israel and the World,” and “Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.