Benjamin Netanyahu is the past and soon to be again prime minister of Israel. In his new book, Bibi: My Story, Netanyahu describes how he went from an Israeli American high school student in Philadelphia to a member of the Israeli Defense Force, detouring along the way to study architecture and get a master’s degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1976. His studies were interrupted when his brother Yoni was killed in the raid on Entebbe, Uganda, which inspired Bibi to return to Israel and dedicate his life to protecting that state. This interview covers those events as well as his rise to the top of Israeli politics—multiple times.

Note to viewers: Be sure to watch to the end of the show after the end credits for some additional content that was shot after the interview concluded. 

To view the full transcript of this episode, read below:

Peter Robinson: One man served as Prime Minister of Israel longer than any other, and soon, in a matter of days, he's going to become Prime Minister of Israel once again. In his offices here in Tel Aviv to discuss his new book, "Bibi: My Story", Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu. "Uncommon Knowledge" now. Welcome to "Uncommon Knowledge", I'm Peter Robinson. Born in Tel Aviv in 1949, Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu spent much of his boyhood in the United States. He returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, went back to the United States to study at MIT, and then returned to Israel to stay. Mr. Netanyahu served as Prime Minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999, and once again from 2009 to 2021, a total of 15 years that make him the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israeli history. After the election that took place here in Israel just weeks ago, Mr. Netanyahu is in talks to form a new government, and in a matter of days he will once again become the Prime Minister of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu's new book, "Bibi: My Story". Prime Minister, thank you for making the time. By the way, could we, in 2021, it would've been proper for me to address you as Prime Minister. In 2023 for sure, it'll be Prime Minister all over again. Do I get to call you Bibi right now?

Bibi Netanyahu: You could call me Royal Highness. Excellency, all these. Call me whatever you want.

Peter Robinson: I interviewed Gore Vidal, and he said exactly that, "Call me Excellency."

Bibi Netanyahu: Did he say that?

Peter Robinson: He did say that.

Bibi Netanyahu: Well-

Peter Robinson: He did truly, truly say that.

Bibi Netanyahu: It is the best kind of plagiarism that I could have, although I didn't know he said that, that's all right.

Peter Robinson: Son and brother, your father, Benzion Netanyahu, born in 1910, a historian. He taught at a number of institutions, including Cornell. From your book, from "Bibi: My Story". "Father was seized by the urgency of forming a Jewish state. He saw it as the indispensable instrument to ensuring Jewish survival." Now back in the United States, it's understood or at least felt that the state of Israel is a response to the Holocaust, but that's not quite right. Your father was arguing for a state of Israel before the Holocaust. Between the World Wars, the Jewish population in Eastern Europe is big and growing, and in Western Europe, Jews have accomplished, they've become distinguished figures in education, the arts, science business, and on and on. And he still said, "A Jewish state is the indispensable instrument for Jewish survival." What enabled your father to see what so many others missed?

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, because my father was a great historian of the Jewish people, and of general history too. And he saw that the scourge of antisemitism was the oldest hatred. It goes back as a systemic doctrine to about 2500 years ago, 500 years before the birth of Christ, before Christianity. It's an endemic problem, endemic hatred. And what he saw was that once the Jews were dispersed from their lands they had actually no defense, no practical defense against the fires of violent antisemitism, and therefore they were consumed generation after generations by pogroms, by massacres, by expulsions, you name it. The Jews were like a wind-tossed leaf among the nations, and they suffered horribly. And he could see that escalate to the point where in 1933, when he was all of 23 years old, he wrote, when Hitler rose to power, that racial antisemitism fostered by the Nazis would consume the Jews of Europe, millions of them, and he said that the only way to fight it was to get the free world to recognize that it wouldn't stop with the Jews, it would begin with the Jews, and thereby basically enslave and murder huge chunks of humanity. He said if we persuade them, then we have a chance to fight something, not merely as an expedient tool of persuasion, but as something true and deep. This is a 23-year-old genius. And he got that because he had studied the works of our modern Moses, Theodore Herzl, who came to the same conclusion almost half a century earlier when he saw in France the Dreyfus trial, in which in the height of civilization, the most liberal advanced civilization, they were putting a Jewish officer on a false trial of treason, merely because he was Jewish. And he said, Herzl at the time, "If this could happen in France, it'll happen anywhere." And my father saw that it could happen now, not anywhere, but it was happening in the vortex of Germany. So antisemitism was not merely, did not merely appear in a violent form in the Holocaust, it actually climaxed to a cauldron of hatred that had been brewing for centuries. And the only way to save the Jewish people was to form a state of their own in which they could finally defend themselves, first physically and then politically, but first physically against the violent anti-Semitism.

Peter Robinson: Your older brother Yoni, am I pronouncing that correctly?

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Yoni.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Robinson: In 1976, he leads the Operation Entebbe which, an astonishing operation, which Israelis leave Israel, fly to Uganda and free more than 200 hostages from a plane that terrorists had hijacked. One soldier dies in the operation, and it is your older brother. This is from a letter Yoni wrote to your other sibling, your younger brother Iddo on Iddo's 12th birthday, as quoted in "My Story". "Just as father offers me advice," writes your brother, your big brother, "let me suggest something to you," he writes to your little brother. "Learning is important above all else. The desire to study and acquire knowledge, to solve problems, to read and understand, these are the things that make a man great." Okay, the first thing to be said about this is, this is a remarkable letter for a big brother to write to his baby brother on his 12th birthday. But the other thing that strikes me is, read, acquire knowledge, but solve problems. The Netanyahus were not, you were not raised to be a dreamer. Your father, your older brother were interested in practical knowledge, in solving problems. Have I got that right?

Bibi Netanyahu: Yes, but you actually should conflate that with the idea of learning, because before I became Prime Minister, I asked my father, who was truly a greatest historian, totally-

Peter Robinson: And lived to the age of 102, is that-

Bibi Netanyahu: 102, and he was pretty, I would say that at the age of 100, he gave a speech, which is amazing, three minutes, after being feted by, you know, all these intellectuals and all these well wishers. And he came up to the stage at 100, no help, just came. And he said, "Well, it's all very kind of you, all the kind of things you said, but time is precious, so I'll limit my remarks. We have to stop Iran, that's how we safeguard Jewish history, thank you very much," and no more then. So he was very alert and acute intellectually until the end of his days. But I asked him before I became Prime Minister, I asked, he said first of all, "You sure you can do this? That, is get elected?" I said, "Yeah, I think I can be." And he said, "Well maybe so, but once you get in, the left will do everything to get you out." And I said, "Well, we'll see." By the way, he was right on that.

Peter Robinson: He was right about that, yes.

Bibi Netanyahu: So, but then I asked him a question. I said, "Father, Abba, what do you think is the most important quality that a Prime Minister of Israel should have?" And he shot back and he said, "What do you think?" And I said, "Well you know, I think you have to have a vision of where you want to lead the country. You have to have the resolve to pursue that vision, but also the flexibility to navigate around the shoals and turbulence of political life."

Peter Robinson: Pretty good answer.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah, and he said, well it wasn't good for him. He said, "That's something anybody who leads any organization needs, whether you're a dean of a university or a head of a company or even a military leader, it's the same answer." So I said, "All right, so what do you think is the answer, Father?" And he thought for a minute, and then he said one word that absolutely floored me. He said, "Education, you need a very broad and deep education, otherwise you'll be at the mercy of your clerks." That's what he said. And you have to, you have to be able to, not to be at the mercy of your clerks. To take expert opinion, but ultimately to chart your course, you need a broad and deep education.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so let's take-

Bibi Netanyahu: And by the way, just to add to that-

Peter Robinson: Please.

Bibi Netanyahu: So many years later, I'm visited by someone you're familiar with, Dan Rather, the journalist. He comes with his grandson to visit me a few years ago. And his grandson is in Dartmouth, which I think you went to, right?

Peter Robinson: I went to Dartmouth, that's right.

Bibi Netanyahu: Okay, so he's going to Dartmouth, and grandson is 18 years old, and he's thinking apparently of entering one day politics. And he asked me now the question I asked my father. He asked me, so I described this in the book. He asked me, "So what is the most important thing that I have to study in order to prepare myself to be in political life, to be a leader?" And I said, "Well actually, there are three things you should study." You should study everything. History, not history, rather economics, military matters, whatever, all these other things, technology. But I said, "You have to study three things, history, history and history." And so in terms of learning what Yoni was talking about, my father broadened it into the larger understanding that you have to be broadly and deeply educated in order to be able to decide what is truly important and what is not.

Peter Robinson: All right, free markets. Let's take this as a case study in the kind of education that permits a man to stand up to popular, conventional wisdom, let's put it that way. Give me, so two quotations here. Here's an author called Charles Dunst. "Socialist politics were the dominant force of the modern Jewish state in its first three decades." Of course they were, the state was founded by good socialists. "Israel was once a beacon of successful," that's his word, "successful socialism, in which the paradigmatic building block was the kibbutz, the utopian commune." Here's the second quotation, it's Bibi Netanyahu in this book, writing about his time as a student at MIT. "It began to dawn on me that what I was seeing in the Boston area was a winning combination, military intelligence, academia and business clustered together and working in tandem. Of course, there was one critical component necessary for this model to work, free markets." Here you are, you're still a kid, a pretty accomplished kid because you've been to the, you'd served for five years in the IDF. But you're a kid at MIT and you are thinking thoughts that are at odds with the entire reigning ethos of the foundation of the state of Israel, and as the state of Israel continued through the early 2000s, where did this come from?

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, it certainly came-

Peter Robinson: What gave you the intellectual courage to think such, not only independent, but almost, in an ideological sense, almost treasonous thoughts.

Bibi Netanyahu: Not treasonous, but certainly non-conformist.

Peter Robinson: Non-conformist, much better, I would say.

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, I describe one event that has crystallized, I pondered that too, and I asked, "Well, where did that come from?" So in my early childhood memories, I describe an event that took place in our neighborhood. We lived in a private home, one of the few private homes. My father was the editor-in-chief of the "Hebrew Encyclopedia", the equivalent of the "Britannica".

Peter Robinson: We're in Jerusalem at this point, right?

Bibi Netanyahu: Yes, we're in Jerusalem and next to us is another private home that housed one of the greats. You know one of the, actually a very good man who later became Prime Minister of Israel, Levi Eshkol. And one day, and I was five years old, five years old, and standing in the porch of our home, overlooking Eshkol's home, and the caravan of cars, limousines, government cars, screeches into the neighborhood, stops before the home and out come all these VIPs, or government officials, whatever. And the whole neighborhood, the kids are rushing to see this sight.

Peter Robinson: What's going on, yeah.

Bibi Netanyahu: And my father walks out to the, actually the terrace. And I'm too small to even look, 'cause I'm not high enough to overcome the parapet, so to speak. And I see him standing there, and his hands like this, clenched behind his back, typical of him. And he looks down at them and he utters one word, "Bureaucrats", and leaves. And it was, it obviously made a deep impression on me, and it produced, I think it was the genesis of a lifelong skepticism about bureaucracy and about government. But I certainly developed that in my time in the United States, in my years in the United States. I could see the difference between a free market economy and a controlled economy, and you don't have to be a genius to understand that one grows and the other contracts, or certainly doesn't grow as fast.

Peter Robinson: Ariel Sharon says to you, in 2003, "I, Ariel Sharon, am going to be Prime Minister. I've got big things to worry about. I need to protect the state. You're going to become Finance Minister." You write that this was not a gift necessarily, because the economy was a mess at the time. And you thought it through in great detail, but you took the job, and here's what you did. Again, "Bibi: My Story". You enacted, quote, "The most revolutionary free market program in Israel's history. It included dramatic budget cuts, unprecedented wage, welfare, and tax reductions, investments in infrastructure, raising of the retirement age and privatization of government companies," close quote. Now listen, just to to a couple of statistics here. In 2003, again, this is the year you become Finance Minister. Per capita GDP in Israel ranks about 40th in the world. 2020, which was the most recent year for which I could get good statistics, Israel had entered the top 20 nations with a per capita GDP higher than that of Spain, France, Britain, and Canada. In 2003, the year you became Finance Minister, government of spending accounted for more than 50% of Israelii GDP. Today that figure has fallen below 40%. Here in some ways, is the one that strikes me as the most telling. Nasdaq is the second biggest stock exchange in the world, and it's known especially for listing tech companies. The three nations with the most companies listed on Nasdaq, the United States, China, Canada. The fourth nation, with a population of not quite 9 million people, is Israel. You, not you alone, but I can't see any way of describing this fundamental change from the nation of kibbutzim to the nation of the Tel Aviv skyline to tech, well in my time, I've lived in Silicon Valley for a couple of decades now. The Israeli presence in Silicon Valley, in my experience, has gone from zero to everywhere.

Bibi Netanyahu: I hear they also speak English there, not only Hebrew.

Peter Robinson: I bet you they speak good English there. So-

Bibi Netanyahu: As a second language.

Peter Robinson: So the first question is, how did you do this? How did the country do it? This is not just changing economic policies, this is the changing the notion of what it means to be, an Israeli teenager, 40 years ago, go to a kibbutz. An Israeli kid today, "Where's the startup?" This is a fundamental change in the conception of what it means to be Israeli, is that correct?

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah well, we've always been an innovative people, but somehow in Israel, and I think Jewish people around the world there known for their innovation, for their entrepreneurship and so on. But somehow in Israel we created this semi-socialist state that discouraged innovation, enterprise, risk-taking, and so on. And yet we had, we had technology. The reason we had technology is because we needed to survive. To survive, we needed an army. To have an army, we needed intelligence. To have intelligence, we took our brightest people in the army and let them cruise the information highways, develop all sorts of algorithms and so on. Yet when they came out, like my brother-in-law, who was a very gifted air force pilot and technologist. He came out, he couldn't find any creative work here, so he went to Palo Alto, and that's what happened. Your territory. I mean, it was basically sucking out all the talents in the world, because there were no free markets that could compare with America. And my view was, if we could make Israel a free market economy, then we'd have the best of both worlds. We'd have free markets on the one side, and technology on the other. Now, technology or education, higher education, higher education as people think, or excellent education does not produce wealth. Free markets, without all this, do produce wealth. But the combination of free markets and technology is unbeatable, and that's basically what we put together. Now, people don't realize what I've just said, because they really believe that higher education or technology does produce wealth. And you have to look at the former Soviet Union, which had brilliant metallurgists, and mathematicians, and physicists, you name it. They didn't produce anything, they produced bankruptcy. And yet when any one of these gifted Soviet mathematicians or scientists or technologists smuggled to Palo Alto, you know? They'd be producing added value within two weeks.

Peter Robinson: Right, right.

Bibi Netanyahu: So it was a question of this reform. How did I do it? Actually in retrospect, I fell back on a Clintonism, don't let a good crisis go to waste, and I didn't. We had a huge crisis, unparalleled in decades, an economic crisis. And Sharon was Prime Minister, decided to hand me the job, the suicidal job of Prime Minister, and he figured this. if I succeed, better credits accrues to the Prime minister anyway, and if I fail, it'll be by fault. So you know, so my staff, many said, "Don't do this, don't take on this job of Finance Minister, because you'll never get to be Prime Minister again." I have been once, and-

Peter Robinson: Right, you had already been Prime Minister.

Bibi Netanyahu: And said, "Yeah, you'll never go back." And I said, "Well, why do I wanna go back?" I wanna go back for two principle reasons. One, to block Iran, which I saw then as I do now, is the main threat to our future and our survival, its quest for nuclear weapons. But the second reason is that I believe that we have to reform the Israeli economy along free market lines. Well, maybe I could get to use this crisis to at least achieve one of those goals. Pretty good if I could. And so I finally took up Sharon's offer and became Finance Minister, and when I did, I remember my oldest boy was a kid at the time. I think he was nine years old, something like that. And he said, "Daddy," and we were standing here outside in Tel Aviv looking at the coast. He said, "Look at Tel Aviv, I mean, and look at New York, you know? Look at the skyline they have, look at us." We had, I don't know, two high-rise buildings at the time. And he said, "We'll never be like them." And I said, "My boy," "your father's gonna be now the finance minister. Believe me, we'll be like them." And he said, "Well, you're just saying that." I said, "We'll see, won't we?" Now you can see. You can see the skyline, which is erupting, mushrooming skyrocketing literally, because that combination of free markets and high technology is unbeatable.

Peter Robinson: And the nation has embraced it now.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yes, I think that's the interesting point, I think Peter. That they, people have understood that. That I think basically the socialist economic ethos is gone, and maybe that's something that I-

Peter Robinson: There are occasionally permanent victories in politics.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah, there is a ratchet effect of free market reforms. You know, it's hard to get them through, but once you do and people enjoy the benefits of free markets, they don't wanna go back. So in that sense, I think that may be one of the victories that I notch up, and that is that it's not really that we changed the Israeli economy to become a juggernaut of global innovation but, and enterprise, but also that we changed the conceptual way that people were thinking about this.

Peter Robinson: Could I ask you to give me a brief tutorial? I've got a couple questions, and the tutorial runs in the following nature. You're talking to an American and a gentile. And when I look at this country, this little country, a third of this country is desert, and it's in danger every day. The last time I was here, dinner in Jerusalem, a rooftop restaurant, air raid siren. People stand up, look around, sit down, continue their meal. You live a peculiar way here. And I look at a country that works in practice, but not in theory, I can't figure it out. So here's question number one, if I may. Here in Tel Aviv, I have a number of Israeli friends who tell me they're atheists. "After what happened in the Holocaust, I can't believe in God, what I believe in is Israel." I have friends in Jerusalem, and it's pretty roughly the other way around. They're very sure about God, but they have all kinds of criticisms about the state of Israel. I don't understand how you sustain a Jewish state, when your own Jewish citizens have such different conceptions of what it means to be Jewish. How do you hold this together?

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, you hold it together by having a common heritage with, obviously with divergent interpretations of where that heritage should take you. But if you don't have a common heritage, you're done. If America forgets that it's the Promised Land, we're the original Promised Land, we never forget that. If you forget that you are the new Promised Land, and that you are the guardians of liberty in the world, then you know, we're two countries with a purpose. Our purpose, which is by the way, shared by most Israelis, secular and religious alike, is that the state of Israel was born to secure the future of the Jewish people, okay? We don't wanna go back to a situation of utter defenselessness. That's the principle, the guiding idea of Israel. We'd also like to be the light unto the nations. I maintain that in antiquity we gave the moral code, the to the world of morality. Athens gave rationality and science, we gave morality. That's that light unto the nations, and today I think it's, it's really the technological light unto the nations because our contributions are immense, in medicine and water and energy, you name it. Anything, communications. But if you ask, "How do you keep it together?" I asked that question, and my question was, went beyond the question of a common heritage and a common purpose, and that is the common means. How do you protect this thing? 'Cause democracies fight within each other, just as you have in America, you're not gonna resolve that. And you're not gonna say, "Oh, when will we finally stop having"-

Peter Robinson: "Can't we all be nice to each other?"

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah, well kumbaya. But you're not gonna get that. You're not gonna get democracies, especially robust democracies like ours to, not to have an, especially in the internet age, you're not gonna get, you know, the end of polarization. That's not gonna happen. You do have to create a vibrant, and maintain a vibrant center. But you know, the poles are gonna be there. That's the fact of our democratic life. But for me, the question was more basic and rudimentary, and you said it. It's a tiny country with one-tenth of one percent of the world's population. It was engulfed, surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs who were determined for many decades to destroy us. Now they have been replaced by Iran, which is determined to destroy us. Well, how do you survive? And my answer to that was that the Jewish people, and the Jewish state has to be strong. It has to be very strong. Now, everyone in Israel, practically everyone agrees with that. And the way we solved the strength problem was to say, "We'll have an army, and our army will defy all expectations. It will be enormously powerful," and it was actually, but I came to the conclusion early on that to have a powerful army you need, well, F-35s, fighter aircraft, you need submarine, you need drones, you need cyber, which I pioneered and pushed making Israel a great cyber power. But you know, all these things have one common quality, they cost money, a lot of money. So at a certain point, we were beginning to have a gap between our military expenditures and our economic-

Peter Robinson: The base.

Bibi Netanyahu: Foundation, the base to pay for it, and I maintained, I became an ardent champion of free markets, not only because I philosophically agree with it, not only because my father influenced me and so on, but not quite to the extent that you think. What really influenced me was my understanding that there was simply no way to pay for the collective need of effective defense without the unleashing of individual initiative, okay? It was both a philosophical and a practical conclusion. And therefore I concluded the only way I can secure the growth of Israeli power is to change the economic basis of the country. And I describe in detail this, some of it comical, the exchanges I had, you know, with my antagonists and my opponents on revising Israel's economic policy. Something you'd probably appreciate, because I think it relates again to your backyard. When I became Finance Minister and I told them, "Our taxes are too high, we're gonna lower taxes, lower tax rates." And they said, "Well if you lower tax rates, you're gonna run into deficits." "No," I said, "no, no, because we're on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve." They said, "Lauffer, who's this Lauffer?" I said, "No it's not Lauffer, it's Laffer. And yes, there are non-Jewish economists, Arthur Laffer being one of them." And they'd never heard of the Laffer Curve. They never heard of the fact that you could actually lower tax rates and get higher tax revenues, depending of course, where you were on that curve. And We were decidedly on the high tax, very high tax side. So in other words, the change in, for me, the keeping the country together was, first of all, keeping it alive. Keeping it alive meant a strong army. Strong army meant a free market economy. And the combination of the two, once we achieved it, once we had economic power based on free markets, and a strong military that could feed on that, and intelligence capabilities, we melded the two into the last element of what I call the iron triangle of peace, and that is diplomatic power. Because now nations started coming to us. We didn't come to them as supplicants, they came to us, and they wanted to benefit from our defense capabilities and our technological capabilities for civilian uses, and that's what led to the Abraham Accords.

Peter Robinson: All right, I wanna come back to the Abraham Accords. If I may though, one or two more questions in this little tutorial, Arabs and Christians. Arabs, 1.8 million Arabs in Israel, that's about one Israeli citizen in five, they're 80% Muslim. You write, I noticed that that in "My Story", you write about during your last tenure as Prime Minister, you budgeted several billion dollars for the Arab community. And you write, "Several times more than the combined spending of all previous governments." So you, you yourself write about them as a special case. They have to be treated as a special case. So I can clearly, easily see that Arabs in Israel can enjoy a higher standard of living than Arabs and surrounding countries, unless maybe you're part of the ruling family of one of the Emirates, but still that's a good deal. But what else, do Arabs belong? Do they fit in some way into the vision that you have for Israel?

Bibi Netanyahu: No they fit in mine, because I believe, look. I think that I don't take a pollyannish view of democracies. Democracies can have different ethnic groups, they can have different, all sorts of conflicts, built-in conflicts. And the way you solve them is twofold. One, you solve them by the idea of democratic votes. You basically try to come to an agreement, and if you can, you do. And if you don't, you go to the ballot, not through the bullet, okay? That's what differentiates democracy. It's the non-violent majority-based solution to conflicts in a given country. But that for me is again, a fundament but not enough. It's necessary but not sufficient. The sufficient element that adds to, that gives practical success to that, is a free economy, a mobile economy, in which everybody has, as much as you can, equal opportunity. And for that, you have to incorporate the Arab community into the Israeli success story, into inspiring them, entrepreneurship, education that leads to higher income, and-

Peter Robinson: That project is coming along, but there's-

Bibi Netanyahu: It sure-

Peter Robinson: It's coming along?

Bibi Netanyahu: It certainly is.

Peter Robinson: All right.

Bibi Netanyahu: There is rising, not enough, but it's rising. And the same thing by the way I do with the Orthodox community, the two lower income classes, if you will, groups in Israeli society. I am encouraging, in some ways also pushing, into the free market, because with both of them, I limited child allowances, which was very difficult politically, 'cause they were having incrementally growing child allowance, so when you got to the sixth child, from there and beyond, you could live on hundreds of dollars in today's money, hundreds of dollars for each child, and so you could just live off having a lot of children. And that is a demographic and economic suicide for the state of Israel. So I cut the child allowances to the level of the first child and basically, how shall I say this, actively encouraged both groups to enter the job market, which they did. And so participation in the job market in Israel, which was well beyond, below the OECD average is now right there where it is.

Peter Robinson: Christians are-

Bibi Netanyahu: And inequality went down as our GDP per capita went up. And now it's superseded Germany's, by the way.

Peter Robinson: Oh, it has?

Bibi Netanyahu: Oh yeah, it has.

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Bibi Netanyahu: It has. People said, "Yeah okay, but the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." No they didn't, because the poor got actually, they actually, their income increased faster.

Peter Robinson: They go up.

Bibi Netanyahu: No, because the minute they entered the job market, they could earn a lot more than you could get from government welfare allowances, and that's changing too.

Peter Robinson: Christians, a special case. Small number, but down in Jerusalem, there is a historic presence. They've been a Christian community for 2000 years, formal Orthodox and Catholic presence for over 1000 years, where do they fit?

Bibi Netanyahu: They fit right there. I mean, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that categorically and absolutely allows freedom of worship, access to the holy places and so on. And otherwise, otherwise it would be a tinder box here. I mean, I call the Temple Mount in Jerusalem the most explosive square mile in the world. And yet it is only under Israeli sovereignty that the freedom of faiths of all three major monotheistic faiths has been guaranteed. When the Muslims ruled the Temple Mount, the Jews and the Christians were excluded. When the Christians under the Crusaders ruled it, the Jews and the Muslims were excluded. But it's only under Israel that no one is excluded. And that, obviously you have flare-ups here and there, but it's that policy that I will continue of ensuring a status quo which allows the freedom of religion, freedom of worship for all three religions, that it can be secured. And most people, when they eye it, objectively understand that.

Peter Robinson: Last question about how Israel works. Here's the, this is-

Bibi Netanyahu: How Israel works.

Peter Robinson: How this place works. Demographer Nick Eberstadt, he notes one, the best predictor of family size is desired family size as reported by women. The women are in charge, in other words. Two, birth rates have fallen below replacement level throughout the modern world. All of western Europe, Japan, China, and in the last decade, even the United States. Now listen to this by Nicholas Eberstadt. "But in Israel, in Israel, an affluent and embattled Western democracy, reports fertility levels well above replacement. Moreover, Israel's birth levels have risen over the past generation. And since birth rates among Arab Israelis have been falling, the upswing is due entirely to Israeli Jewry, with the increase attributable not just to the Orthodox, but to less observant Jews too," close quote. Israeli women, including secular women, are saying, "Right here, this dangerous little country, this is where I want to have a family of three children, and four children. I want to bring my children into the world here." What are these crazy ladies thinking?

Bibi Netanyahu: I think that's, first of all it's true. Israel, I think is the only Western country in which you have not falling birth rates, but rising birth rates, across the secular and religious community.

Peter Robinson: No, I walked around Tel Aviv-

Bibi Netanyahu: Lovely.

Peter Robinson: You see two things, cranes in the air and little kids on the ground.

Bibi Netanyahu: How about fast roads?

Peter Robinson: Fast roads.

Bibi Netanyahu: That's being built too. And, but the answer is, I think there's a life force. The story of Israel is the refusal of the Jewish people to bend to what appeared to be the iron laws of history. You know you die, or you first are born, then you know, then you flower, then you shrivel and then you die, and that happens to all nations if you stick around long enough. Well, we've been around long enough, we've died many times, but we refuse to die. So we come back to life, and we came back to life a century and some years ago when we reconstituted our national life here and then built a state, and we have protected ourselves and become more powerful. We're ranked number eight by the University of Pennsylvania that does a survey of 17,000 opinion leaders in 20 countries, okay? And consistently in the decade between 2010 to 2020, Israel, tiny Israel, one-tenth of 1% in the world's population is ranked number eighth power in the world. Ahead of us, a billion people, hundreds of millions of people in the countries, and the same behind us. So what is the secret of that growth? One is the unleashing of power and ingenuity and creativity that I described, the free market combination with strong military, obviously. It allowed us to be strong power, and strong power made us, allowed me to lead with President Trump, the historic Abraham Accords with four Arab states. More to come, I'm sure, but I think there's something else. The rebirth of Israel is the triumph of hope against despair, the triumph of the human spirit against the forces of annihilation. There is a life force within the Jewish people. We were exiled, you know, for centuries on centuries. We were flung to the far corners of the Earth, and yet every year, Jews would say, in a ghetto in Warsaw against impossible odds, in Yemen, you name it, anywhere else, in Siberia, you'd say, "Next year in Jerusalem, next year in Jerusalem." When we came back, that life force is what is giving Israel this power. And despite the, you know, the constant degradation and vilification and slander that we hear from, you know, from the ultra radicals in the West and so on, people are happy here. We're ranked, we're ranked among the 10 or 11 happiest people in the world, why? Because there's a life of purpose here. There is a life of purpose. And you know, if I have to summarize my book, I'd say I've lived a life of purpose. I continue with a life of purpose, and the purpose is to ensure the security and prosperity and permanence of the one and only Jewish state. In so doing, I think that I'm leading also efforts that can endanger your security, especially with a nuclear Iran that-

Peter Robinson: Can I-

Bibi Netanyahu: That could have enormous consequences for American security. But I'm guided by a life of purpose, and if your audience is seeking a worthy life, I recommend that you seek a life of purpose, especially beyond yourself. And you might glean some insights from "My Story" into your story.

Peter Robinson: Let's go to Iran. The nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is signed in 2015 by Barack Obama. Iran agrees to slow down or suspend its nuclear program, and the United States agrees to lift certain sanctions on Iran. President Trump takes the United States out of the deal, and reimposes sanctions. President Biden is trying to persuade Iran to join us in returning to the deal, and Bibi Netanyahu says, "Trump was right, and Biden's making a terrible mistake." Now that's all on the record. Could I ask you to pretend for a moment that the Iranian nuclear program just doesn't even exist? And this is gonna take a moment to set up, but I-

Bibi Netanyahu: Can you give me a signed-

Peter Robinson: Yes.

Bibi Netanyahu: Affidavit?

Peter Robinson: Exactly, exactly. But even without the nuclear program, Iran has the oldest drone program in the Middle East. It has the biggest arsenal of ballistic weapons in the Middle East, this is an assessment by the American DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, which calls Iran's arsenal, quote, "The largest and most diverse ballistic arsenal in the Middle East, with a substantial inventory of missiles that can strike targets throughout the region." Throughout the region means here. Now let me go to a recent article by Michael Doran and Can Kasapoglu in "The Tablet". "American and its allies spend more money," its allies meaning you, "spend more money, tens or hundreds of times more, to down Iranian missiles and drones than it costs Iran to build and launch them. More importantly, some of Iran's missiles and drones will inevitably break through." They argue in "The Tablet" that Iran is achieving overmatch, that is the moment when offensive capabilities can simply smother defensive capabilities. And they write, quote, "Defensive systems alone cannot reverse overmatch. Offensive countermeasures are the sole means to restore the balance," close quote. So what they argue, what really intelligent people who are paying attention argue is, even without its nuclear problem, Iran is a grave threat. Is that correct?

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah it is, because of the nature of the regime. Not only the power it amasses, but you know, Napoleon says power is mass times volition, times will.

Peter Robinson: Yes, yes.

Bibi Netanyahu: So if you have big mass and no will, you've got nothing. And if you have big will and no mass, you've got nothing. Iran has mass and it has will. I think that there are two things. One, you have to have countervailing, offensive mass. He's absolutely right, Michael Doran, he's right on that. I won't get into that, and I'm very conscious of that, and devoted a good chunk of my time to develop such a countervailing mass. But I think about what it means, what that equation that Doran puts forth, how catastrophic it becomes if you add to that a nuclear umbrella that Iran has. That is, it has the ability to use its conventional weapons against our weapons with a nuclear umbrella, okay? And there it becomes basically immortal, it can do anything. Example, North Korea. North Korea is an anthill economy. It's a fraction of Israel's GDP. It's a fraction of Iran's GDP. Israel and Iran's GDP are roughly the same, even though Iran is 10 times ours, it didn't make any of the structural economic reforms that I did here. So we actually overtook Iran's economy and GDP, just by, even though we're 1/10 of their size of population, and we'll put it to good use. But imagine that Iran, which develops the kind of capabilities that North Korea has, North Korea with no economy to boot, merely developed ICBMs, developed nuclear warheads, was not stopped by the international community. Now half of Asia is quaking in fear, they can fire their missiles over Japan, and they might be able to reach, they might already have the capability to reach the Western seaboard of the United States, and perhaps later every city in the United States. That equation has just changed. Can we allow, now North Korea is a peculiar country. You know, it's kind of a augmented family business of sorts. But it is not Iran. Iran has, one, it's a lot bigger. B, it has a theological thuggery that is guided by an ideology. They chant, "Death to Israel", and then they add "Death to America". "Death to Israel", they intend to wipe us off the map if they could, and "Death to America", they can threaten you with mass death if they're given that nuclear arsenal. So my answer is to Michael Doran, you're right, we'll work on countervailing forces. We are working on that, but above all else, we have to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. Which is why I had to make a very tough decision, perhaps the toughest political decision in my years as Prime Minister, on whether to go to a joint session of the US Congress and challenge outright a sitting American President whom I disagreed with but respected, Barack Obama, on his purported nuclear deal, which I saw paving Iran's path with gold, with hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief, that would not stop them from making a nuclear arsenal. And I decided to do it. That's, it was a very dramatic moment, I have to say, going to Congress. But I felt I had to do it because my country's very survival was on the line.

Peter Robinson: "Bibi: My Story", "Father stressed," you're writing about your father. "Father stressed that the appeal to leaders should center mainly on interests. Why is the position we are advocating in the interest of your country? What will be the benefit to the United States for supporting our position?" Close quote, okay. You've just, you've been talking about this, that in some basic way, your fight is our fight. They chant "Death to Israel", and then they chant "Death to the United States", but let me just put it to you squarely. We provide Israel some four billion in aid a year. We work with your intelligence. We open our markets to your tech. I have Israeli neighbors across the street because of the tech connection. But why is that in our interest? Why is the United States stronger or more prosperous or a better country because we are allied with you?

Bibi Netanyahu: Because, there are two reasons. One, the main force that everybody thinks in the world right now, is basically a contest between the United States and a certain power in Asia. Trying to be diplomatic, okay? And in many ways that's true. But interspersed between East and West is this force that you don't want to have it to metastasize, it's called radical Islam. Radical Islam doesn't have the careful calculation of cost and benefit. You know, it beheads people, it has suicidal missions. It could be completely unchecked if it has the powers of mass death, of weapons of mass destruction. For example, if the Taliban had nuclear weapons, do you have any doubt that they would've used it to wipe out New York? No, you understand that. They used the best equivalent they had, which is two 150-ton-

Peter Robinson: Aircraft.

Bibi Netanyahu: Aircraft, you know, fully loaded and exploded into the World Trade Center. But if they had nuclear weapons, they'd bomb New York, okay? There is a force of radical Islam that is just as toxic and just as dangerous, and it's called Iran. What will prevent Iran from taking over the Middle East, and for that matter, threatening the United States and Western civilization, whom they despise right now? Well, there is one force in the Middle East, that's it. That one force is this country. And I've made it my mission in life to direct it to use our growing power against their growing power. If you take it away, one Southern senator you probably know said to me, I don't want to, you know, mimic his accent, but he says, "Shit, if we had another Israel instead of right next to Afghanistan, you know, we wouldn't have spent a trillion dollars and failed." And in fact that's true, is Israel receives and appreciates deeply the military aid that the United States gives. But 75% of it, by the way, is spent in America to buy-

Peter Robinson: Yes, that's true, that's true.

Bibi Netanyahu: But beyond that, but no, it's deeply appreciated anyway, and successive administrations, Democratic and Republicans alike have stood behind it, and I'm glad. I took away the financial aid. Israel was receiving financial aid, a billion too. I cut that out the minute I became Prime Minister the first time in 1996. I said, "Financial aid is welfare. Military aid is an investment in our common security." Now what does that mean, the investment in our common security? It's preventing the Middle East from falling to forces of radical Islam that would threaten the very, not the lives of Americans, but the very security of America. And the one force, I think the actions that my government's undertook over a period of years, has rolled back Iran's nuclear program at least by a decade. I describe, I can't describe everything we did. I described one thing we did. I sent the Mossad to the heart of Tehran, to a dilapidated warehouse which was shielding, really masquerading as a warehouse, but it was the seat of Iran's secret atomic archive. And our people bust open the vaults, we knew which vaults were hiding this material, and they took out half a ton of material, and they were being chased "Argo" style. You saw that movie, "Argo"?

Peter Robinson: Yes, of course.

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, this is "Argo" on steroids. I mean, and thousands of Iranian security forces were tracking them, and when they discovered one place, our guys jumped to the other place. They came out, brought to Israel this material, and I showed the gist of the findings to President Trump, who I think didn't need it. I think he would've left the nuclear deal anyway. He said so and I believe him, which he did. But because of these and many other efforts, which I won't itemize, we set back the Iranian program 10 years. So the first reason I'd say, why is it an America's interest? Because you don't want a radical Islamic regime to have nuclear weapons that would threaten every city in the United States. Second Israel, because it is becoming such a potent cyber security and intelligence power is, I would say today, America's most valued partner in developing the defense and security instruments of today and tomorrow.

Peter Robinson: Is that-

Bibi Netanyahu: That innovation is critical. Israel's value to the United States is rising as our capacity to innovate and technologize is rising.

Peter Robinson: So let me try a thought out on you. This is, I'm not sure, I'm not at all sure I'm right about this, but it strikes me as plausible. I'd like to hear what you make of it. Observation about American strategy. Since at least the Civil War, the American way of war has relied on superior materiel. Grant just grinds down Robert E. Lee, and that's how the Civil War ends. And in the Second World War- 

Bibi Netanyahu:He was helped by Sherman too, you know.

Peter Robinson: Sherman, oh yes, but-

Bibi Netanyahu: Cutting out their economic-

Peter Robinson: Exactly, exactly, and in the Second World War, we produce thousands, not hundreds, but thousands of aircraft and ships, okay. And now we have this opponent in Asia whom you didn't name, but I'll go ahead, starts with a C. And there are more of them than there are of us, and we're not gonna be able to outproduce them over any long, consistent period. And we're not going to be able to outspend them over any long, consistent period. Our strategic advantage is going to rely on our ability to innovate, on free markets, on the capacity to do what you already know how to do, which is that you have innovation in the private sector, and you're very quickly able to incorporate that for military uses or-

Bibi Netanyahu: No, it's the other way around.

Peter Robinson: The other way around.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yes, it-

Peter Robinson: The other way around, okay, all right. So if it's true that the United States now find itself in something like the same strategic box that Israel has always been in, outnumbered, often outspent. You have to be smarter, you have to be innovative.

Bibi Netanyahu: And faster.

Peter Robinson: And faster. Does that, that in itself ought to create or could create some diplomatic, some greater scope for real cooperation between the two countries. Is that right?

Bibi Netanyahu: It's happening.

Peter Robinson: It's happening.

Bibi Netanyahu: It's happening. I think you have to get out of the ideological straight jacket. We have to solve the Palestinian issue. The Palestinians don't wanna solve anything, they just want to re remove Israel. And everybody said, "Well, you can't get to the Arab world unless you first solve the Palestinian problem." You can't, because the Palestinians are not interested in peace with Israel. They're the last holdouts, they want peace without Israel. So you know, we went around that and we're making historic peace agreements with our neighbors, with our Arab neighbors, but equally, so what I'm saying is American foreign policy should focus on the question you just raised. And then you have to understand, you do understand, everybody understands, that you never stand by yourself if you can avoid it.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Bibi Netanyahu: You make allies. My father said in 1933 that we have to harness the rest of the free world to our battle, which we didn't, we didn't succeed in time before the Holocaust. But the observation was right, all powers need alliances. Certainly a small country like Israel needs to create alliances through its growing strength. That's true of superpowers too. The alliance you need today is the alliance of innovation and the alliance of smarts. And, but it's not just the alliance of smarts, it's the alliance of smarts with like-minded states who share your civilizational values. Where do you find that, okay? Now this requires a complete shift in the way that Israel's perceived, not by the American people, the American people as a whole value Israel. They see it as a sort of an outpost of American-style civilization in the heart of the Middle East, this plucky, robust democracy that is willing to fight for itself, doesn't seek American soldiers and so on. But perhaps there is a growing understanding of the tremendous value of Israel as a government, as an army, as an intelligence service, but also as Israeli companies for the kind of cooperation that increases dramatically America's power. I'll give you that in the intelligence realm alone, okay? You know, how does America do its intelligence? Has the NSA, don't wanna shortchange the CIA. These are two important components. One very big, very, very big, and the other is a lot smaller in relation, but the combination of the two is a mighty one, but it's not enough. So America uses the Five Eyes, right? You know the-

Peter Robinson: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Britain, and us. Five Eyes.

Bibi Netanyahu: Right, okay. Well there's a sixth eye, it's called the I, Israel. And Israel's contribution to American intelligence over the years is very, very significant. And you can talk to some of your, of the people who are familiar with this, and they'll tell you just how, it's growing all the time. So the answer to the question that you raised, is we need an alliance of democracies who are innovative and resolute in shoring up our common civilization by increasing our power. Perhaps not through our numbers, although our numbers can grow too, but through our hearts and minds. You need both minds, very good minds, but you need a solid heart too.

Peter Robinson: A few last questions here. Henry Kissinger once argued that after an especially disruptive or activist leader, and he wrote this after Margaret Thatcher left office, "A political system needs time to recover, and needs time to consolidate." Ze'ev Chafets on the Bennett government that succeeded you in 2021. Quote, "After more than a decade under Bibi, Israel needed a change." Okay, you know the argument. It runs from, "This is a remarkable man, but we can't take it anymore," over to, "Oh scandal, I don't know what he did, but why do we have to have more," to, "Bibi's older now." So how do you answer this argument? Here you are, you've been to the people of Israel and asked them to make you Prime Minister again, and they have said yes. What is the argument that Bibi can still offer, what service can you render the state of Israel that no one else can?

Bibi Netanyahu:  Well first of all, that's a decision of the voters, and the voters decided that. But the answer, the answer is a very simple one. Yes, I was there in office for quite a long time, altogether 15 years, which in a year will be the longest, the longest-serving leader of a democratic country in 53 years. So that's, so why did that happen? Well you know, people said, "There's Bibi fatigue. You know, you're not gonna win an election."

Peter Robinson: Bibi fatigue, right.

Bibi Netanyahu: "We're stuck, we're Bibi fatigued." Okay I said, "Okay, could be, you know? But you know, shouldn't the voters decide that?" Well they didn't, we had one election after the other, I think, you know, four elections in three years, ridiculous. Bibi fatigue, "Unless you step out, you know, it's not gonna happen." Well, I did step out, they beat me. They formed an alternative government, and here's what happened. After the years of free market revolution, the increase in Israeli power, the peace treaties that we had, exiting COVID first in the world and so on. They tried another government, they had another government, and now they could compare. And once they could compare with a government that made a pact with the Muslim Brotherhood, they actually had a party that controlled the coalition, that it was beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood that wants to see the dissolution and end of the Jewish state and supports terrorists. That didn't hold. They had the comparison. They could see what happened to security. They could see what happened to the economy. They could see what happened to a lot of other things. And they decided, "Well, we want this guy back." Okay, but that's the voters to decide. Now what do I want to be back for?

Peter Robinson: Yes.

Bibi Netanyahu: Three things. Stop Iran, have a historic end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which I believe could be achieved if we are able to make peace with the most important Arab country, not to belittle the others who are tremendously important, but Saudi Arabia I think is a quantum leap compared to everything, unbelievable that we've done so now.

Peter Robinson: Peace with Egypt and Jordan since the Camp David Accords.

Bibi Netanyahu: Right.

Peter Robinson: Now the Abraham Accords-

Bibi Netanyahu: 25 Years no peace, because everybody waited for the Palestinians, we didn't. Went around them, made four historic peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates, with Bahrain, with Morocco and Sudan. I want to expand that now to the remainder of the Arab countries.

Peter Robinson: And can you-

Bibi Netanyahu: Most of-

Peter Robinson: That looks good, you're talking to Saudi Arabia or, what am I allowed to ask and what are you allowed to say?

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, I'm allowed to say that it's inconceivable that the historic peace agreements we made with the Gulf States would've happened without at the very least, tacit Saudi approval. And it's a fact that before the Abraham Accords, the skies of Saudi Arabia were opened to Israelis, who are now flying, hundreds of thousands of them, all the time to United Arab Emirates, to Dubai, to Abu Dhabi, to Bahrain-

Peter Robinson: Over Saudi-

Bibi Netanyahu: Over Saudi Arabia. So I think you can glean from that-

Peter Robinson: There's an opening.

Bibi Netanyahu: That, well, Saudi Arabia didn't look askance at these agreements. And so that creates obviously a foundation of hope. But the first goal is block Iran, the second is expand, quantum leap, the circle of peace. And the third is continue to expand Israeli know-how and innovation by additional free market reforms that will make everything you see around you seem minuscule. We can be a gigantic force in the world. I see that in five, six different areas, with minimal government intervention, especially by government dis-intervention, in certain areas where, not always by the way. Sometimes you can do certain things. I mean, for example-

Peter Robinson: You are still ambitious.

Bibi Netanyahu: Oh, very.

Peter Robinson: Not for, you are still ambitious for this country.

Bibi Netanyahu: Oh yeah, very much so. Because I want to assure, to the extent you can assure, it's potency, it's permanence, it's power, at least for the coming decades, and I think it's possible.

Peter Robinson: Right, listen, I have a question here that's almost mandatory. You're gonna have to forgive me for it, Donald Trump. Donald Trump has dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West. And who's this other, Nick Fuentes. And it's a, Kanye West is probably not a well person in my opinion, but he, antisemitic screeds. Nick Fuentes is a white supremacist, and Donald Trump still hasn't apologized. So I've got one, a couple questions for you. Well there's that, and then let me give you a headline in the "New York Times" just, this is just a couple days ago. Quoting "The Times", "Jewish allies call Trump's dinner with," allies of Trump, that is. "Jewish allies call Trump's dinner with antisemites a breaking point. 'He legitimizes Jew hatred and Jew haters,' says one, 'and this scares me,'" close quote. On the other hand, as President, that man was a good friend of this state. What does Bibi Netanyahu want to say to Donald Trump, and to, very important group within the Republican party, which is Jewish Republicans, many of whom supported Donald Trump. What do you say to Trump and to his Jewish supporters?

Bibi Netanyahu: Well, the first thing I say to Trump is about Trump. Trump was undoubtedly the, no President in the United States was friendlier to Israel than Donald Trump. He recognized something that the entire world should recognize, that Jerusalem has been our capital for 3000 years, since King David declared it such. He moved the American embassy there. He recognized our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He withdrew from the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal. He was a tremendous friend, and I believe he is a tremendous friend of Israel. I think this mingling with Kanye West after he made these horrendous remarks, I think it's a big mistake. I think it should have been thought out, it clearly wasn't, and I hope he rethinks that, and he probably will. But I think it's wrong. Somebody asked me in another podcast how I would describe President Trump, and I said irreverent, which was, by the way, nobody knows how to translate that into Hebrew, but it means he's non-conformist, he goes out of the box. Well, you should go out of the box many times against stupid, you know, stupid ideological straight jackets, but not always. Sometimes there are things you shouldn't go out of the box on, because it's wrong. And this is wrong, and I probably think he understands that by now.

Peter Robinson: And to his Jewish supporters, who had, at least they had supported-

Bibi Netanyahu: Well I would say, now I wouldn't put it in these impersonal terms. I would say in general, when you see antisemitism speak out against it.

Peter Robinson: All right.

Bibi Netanyahu: I mean, if we learned something about that, nip it at the bud, and if you can't nip at the bud, nip it continuously. Don't, you know, don't lower your head in its face and don't be intimidated, stand up. And by the way, it's not to my Jewish friends or to Jewish Republicans, I'd say to anyone, not only Jews, because that's what my father said in 1933, "Jew hatred starts with the Jews, but it doesn't end with them." And you can't accept this. If I said, "Look, some Jews you like and some Jews you don't like. Some Blacks you like and some Blacks you don't like. Some Chinese you like and some Chinese you don't like." But you don't come out and you say, you know, "The Jewish people, I hate them, and they should disappear from the face of the Earth," or something to that account, just as you wouldn't say it to other groups. That is unacceptable, and it's wrong. It's not merely unacceptable because in polite society, you don't do it, because it's wrong. It's wrong morally, it's wrong practically. That's not the way human society should operate. And antisemitism proved that beyond anything else, beyond all other horrors, because it showed what intolerance and bigotry can do. And how did it do it? Well, the communists said the Jews are the capitalists. The capitalist says the Jews are the communists. And everybody, every time somebody had a problem in their country, they say, "Blame the Jews," which they did, and ultimately burned them. That's wrong, that's wrong. It's wrong morally, and as it turned out, it was catastrophic for humanity. We had tens of millions of people who paid for this pathology that Hitler advanced. And I think most people have learned that lesson, but not all. So now you have antisemitism coming from the fusion of the radical ultra progressive left and the ultra right, fusing on Jew hatred, come on. Now you know, get out of it. Put that demon back in the box.

Peter Robinson: Last question, "Bibi: My Story". "My parents' generation was tasked with founding the state of Israel. My generation was tasked with securing its future." Your parents' generation succeeded.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Your generation has succeeded. Israel faces dangers, but it's going no place. This state is here to stay. Your children, what's the task for their generation?

Bibi Netanyahu: Well it's, you know, the jury is always out. The jury is always out. Life doesn't, you know, it's like competition in economic firms. Can you say that any of the leading companies that you see today, who are here today, will be there tomorrow, will be there the day after tomorrow? Of course not, it's a continual striving, continual effort. And I've devoted my life to create the possibility for Israel's strength and permanence and durability for the coming decades, but does that guarantee eternity? I suppose some people believe it does. But I'd say God helps those who help themselves. And we have finally helped ourselves and helped others in the process, but there's still a way to go. You know yes, I devoted my life to this, and I risked my life several times. We didn't talk about it, but in my early years, which I describe here, I served in an elite unit and had several brushes with death. I nearly drowned in a firefight in the middle of the Suez Canal. I was wounded while rescuing, storming a hijacked airplane.

Peter Robinson: Almost froze to death.

Bibi Netanyahu: Almost froze to death. In Syria, in the Syrian Golan Heights, their side of it, I was bitten by scorpion. I nearly ran with my Jeep as a young officer into a Phantom jet that was taking off, exactly as you see in the movies, and lived to talk about it. Was not jailed, should have been, for it. But because I was an officer in a special unit, they let me go. I was preparing a special operation. So I went, I had all these brushes with death, and then I had two brushes with political death. I mean, I lost in 1999 after my first term as the Prime Minister, and I was, "That's it, that's the end of Netanyahu." I was 50 years old. Well, I was eulogized then. Then I had the opportunity to come back, and I lost again a year and a half ago. And, "That was it, that's the end of the Netanyahu era." So I don't know many people who've been eulogized twice in their lifetime, and that's different. I also checked, somebody gave me a note and he said, "You know, within a year you'll be the longest-serving Prime Minister within half a century of any democracy. But you already are the only example of somebody who came back from political death twice." Churchill came back once, Rabin came back once, and there are other examples. But they checked, when was the last time that somebody came back from political death twice? And according to them it's 75 years ago. Somewhere, I don't know, in Sweden or Denmark or somewhere like that, that you actually came back twice. So what is this for? It's not for power, power for power's sake is boring. It's absolutely uninteresting. The machinations of politics? If you're a policy wonk like me, which is what I am, it's really what I am, then I'm in politics for policy. And that's a very heavy price, politics is-

Peter Robinson: But you like the game, you like the game.

Bibi Netanyahu: No, I don't.

Peter Robinson: You don't? You truly don't.

Bibi Netanyahu: No, I don't like the game.

Peter Robinson: All right.

Bibi Netanyahu: And I wasn't particularly good at it. I became good at it because I realized that I could not carry out my life's mission of protecting Israel unless I went into the messy bog, or climbed the Israelis' greasy pole of politics. But I came for a purpose, and if you don't have a purpose, you have to be absolutely crazy to go into to this policy. It doesn't, there's no other purpose. And my family has backed me with great sacrifice and vilification and slander and so on. And the only reason they do it, is because they share the goal. Unless you share the goal, don't do it. And if you do share the goal, then yeah, come back again and let the people decide.

Peter Robinson: Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu, the once and future Prime Minister of the state of Israel, and the author of "Bibi: My Story". Thank you.

Bibi Netanyahu: Thank you.

Peter Robinson: For "Uncommon Knowledge" and the Hoover Institution, I'm Peter Robinson. 

Following the interview, there was a brief conversation about Bibi’s writing process and the political biographies that influenced him. 

We recorded this video on a cell phone.

Peter Robinson: Bibi, you're telling me that you wrote, you wrote this, this is not the product of a ghost writer. You wrote this book.

Bibi Netanyahu: Totally.

Peter Robinson: And the proof is here.

Bibi Netanyahu: Proof is in five other boxes too. I wrote it all longhand. Pain, actually my hand was aching, but I wrote it, and I wrote it during budget debates at the Knesset while I was bringing down this government. I wrote it in the swirling roads of the Galilee in the Negev as I was going to campaign stuff, and my assistant, Ophir Falk, was sitting next to me. And as I was writing this, I was giving it to him and he was typing it in. I'm a 19th-century guy.

Peter Robinson: Did you compose an English or did you compose in Hebrew?

Bibi Netanyahu: English, English. And then had it, had to edit the translation, which was a-

Peter Robinson:What-

Bibi Netanyahu: A job by itself.

Peter Robinson: But, sorry. You said you were a 19th-century man? Yeah, my father was a quintessential 19th-century intellectual, one of these great scholars of old, and that's the tradition that I was born. So he would, when I was young, when I was a little boy, I found my homework, my notebooks from history class in the fifth grade. And I see these fantastically learned essays about the Maccabees, about Hellenism and so on, and he clearly dictated it to me. I wrote it in my child's handwriting. So you know, I got A's history always. I got A's generally, but I got A's in history. So then he said to me, "You write, I'll edit." And then he said to me, "You edit," and he taught me how to write and how to edit. And at a very young age, I do both.

Bibi Netanyahu: So this to me, this is an important point. Churchill wrote his own book, Lincoln wrote his own book. Until he became President, Ronald Reagan, who's not thought of as an intellectual-

Peter Robinson: Yeah, I read-

Bibi Netanyahu: He did his own-

Peter Robinson: I read Martin Anderson's book.

Bibi Netanyahu: Yes, exactly, exactly, he was writing. So you would agree that for a political figure, where words are your fundamental medium for persuading your public, for persuading your citizens, you think things through in writing?

Peter Robinson: Well, I would actually go beyond that. I would say Shakespeare was right, "All the world's a stage," and politics is a peculiar kind of theater, and we all play our parts. But you actually have a far greater reach if you are not merely an actor, but you write your own lines.

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