Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Longest-Serving Prime Minister

The Fellowship  |  April 24, 2020

Bibi in a suit at a podium speaking while Israeli flags are behind him.

Born: October 21, 1949, in Tel Aviv

Current role: Prime Minister of Israel

Other offices held: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Science and Technology, Minister of Religious Services, Minister of Justice, Minister of Housing and Construction, Minister of Finance, Minster of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Economic Strategy, Minister of Pensioner Affairs, Minister of Health

Family: Wife Sara, and three children – Noa, Yair, and Avner

Why you should know him: Raised in Jerusalem until his family moved to the Pennsylvania area in the late 1950s and then again in the mid 1960s, Netanyahu returned to Israel when he graduated from high school so he could enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

During his time in the IDF he became the leader of an elite special forces unit, fought in the War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and was wounded by friendly fire during the rescue of a hijacked flight in 1972. After his military stint, Netanyahu returned to the States to attend MIT and Harvard.

In 1976, Netanyahu lost his brother in Operation Entebbe, and in 1978 he returned to Israel to work for an NGO studying terrorism. From 1984 to 1988 he served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. In 1988, Netanyahu was elected to the Knesset and was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He held various posts in the Knesset until he was elected prime minister in 1996. During his first term, he was known for fighting terror and advancing the peace process.

After a few years in the private sector, Netanyahu returned to politics in 2002, when he became Minister of Foreign Affairs, then Minister of Finance in 2003. In 2009 he was again elected Prime Minister, the post he still holds today, and will for the next 18 months.

Books: Self Portrait of a Hero: From the Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu 1963-1976, International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, Terrorism: How the West Can Win, A Durable Peace: Israel and Its Place Among the Nations, and Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.

Also interesting: When Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in the late 1970s, he was a colleague of Mitt Romney. Netanyahu became a grandfather in 2009. And he has long been a friend of The Fellowship.

In his own words: “Our policy is very simple. The Jewish state was set up to defend Jewish lives, and we always reserve the right to defend ourselves.”