In apparent criticism of President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu used this Shabbat’s Torah portion to explain Tuesday why it would be
foolish to run headlong into a peace agreement with the Palestinians that would
entail deep concessions.
Netanyahu, in comments made before hosting at
his Jerusalem residence his third Bible study session since May, quoted from the
first chapter of Exodus: “A new king arose over Egypt who did not know of
“That is true today as it was then,” he said. “The regime has
changed in Egypt, in Syria the government is shaking, and that can happen as
well in the Palestinian Authority territories in Judea and
Netanyahu said that every sensible person understands that
Hamas could take control of the PA, as it did in Gaza.
contrary to the voices I hear in recent days encouraging me to run ahead, make
concessions, withdraw, I think the diplomatic process needs to be managed in a
responsible, not hysterical, manner, and with wisdom, not hastily. Otherwise a
third Iranian terror base [in addition to Gaza and southern Lebanon] will be
established in the heart of the country.”
“Peace can only be achieved
when security is guaranteed.”
Peres on Sunday said Israel should embrace
the changes in the Middle East, saying it has the choice of either sitting
passively as things happen around it, or taking the initiative and with
courageous steps positively influencing events.
Tuesday’s Bible study
session, which was two-and-a-half hours long, marked the third installment of
the Prime Minister’s Bible Study Circle, something that began under David
Ben-Gurion and continued when Menachem Begin was prime minister. It is dedicated
to Sara Netanyahu’s father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, a noted Bible teacher and
enthusiast who passed away in November 2011.
Unlike on the two previous
occasions, this time Netanyahu’s two sons – Yair and Avner – took an active part
in the discussions. Avner, Netanyahu’s younger son, asked why Pharaoh – if he
was interested in an effective slave force – would opt to kill the boys, but
keep the girls alive; while Yair asked what it meant that no archeological
evidence of the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt has ever been
Netanyahu, explaining how during his first term in office he asked
the Turkish prime minister at the time to return the Shiloah inscription to
Israel, said that concrete, solid, scientific evidence going back thousands of
years was important in proving Israel’s connection to the land at a time when
many were trying to falsify history.
The Shiloah inscription is a passage
of Hebrew text dating back to the 8th century BCE, recording the construction of
the Hezekiah’s Tunnel that brought water from the Gihon Spring to the Shiloah
Pool. The Turks turned down his request, Netanyahu said, noting – jokingly –
that it will be much more difficult to convince today’s Turkish prime minister
to return the historic inscription.
Netanyahu asked the rabbis and
scholars in his home two questions: when the book of Exodus was written, and
what parallels there are to the Exodus story in ancient lore.
definitive answer was given to Netanyahu’s first question, Rabbi Yaakov Meidan,
co-head of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, did not look for ancient parallels
to the story, but instead drew a parallel between the assimilated Moses – who
saved his people – to the assimilated Theodor Herzl. Netanyahu said he found
that parallel very apt.