Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The Israeli prime minister has a responsibility to “give voice to the concerns of the Jewish people,” even if not all Jews everywhere agree with him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post in an interview.
Netanyahu replied this week in writing to questions from the Post on the occasion of being selected to lead its annual list of the world’s most influential Jews. The roster, and the interview with Netanyahu, will be published in Friday’s Post.
In March, as the prime minister was boarding the plane to Washington for his controversial speech to the US Congress, Netanyahu said he was going as an emissary “of the entire Jewish people.”
Not all were enamored of his comments, however, with Democratic California Sen.Diane Feinstein deriding the remarks as “arrogant” during a CNN interview. “He doesn’t speak for me on this,” she said.
Asked about those who took issue with his remarks, Netanyahu replied to the Post, “It’s true that I am elected by the citizens of Israel only. But as the democratically elected prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, I have a unique responsibility to speak up for the Jewish people as a whole.”
Just 70 years ago, he said, the Jewish people were “stateless and voiceless,” begging others to speak out for them.
“Today, we have a voice among the nations. When Jews are in danger, I will use that voice. Does that mean that all Jews everywhere will always agree with me? Of course not. But, from its onset, Israel was the fulfillment of the dream of ages for the Jewish people to regain their sovereignty in their historic homeland. I have been elected and reelected, among other things, to give voice to the concerns of the Jewish people.”
’s list of influential Jews is not the only such list to which Netanyahu has been named in recent months: Time put him on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Forbes rated him 26 on its list of the top 72 most powerful people on the planet.
With all that power and influence, however, Netanyahu – as a result of his slim 61-59 majority in the Knesset – will have a difficult time even leaving the country on a state visit while the Knesset is in session, lest the coalition lose its majority in a vote. Asked what that situation says about him and the country, Netanyahu replied that the current “narrow majority doesn’t reflect the will of the citizens of Israel who wanted a broad government of the center-right.”
The current awkward situation, he said, is “a result of political machinations. To avoid such distortions in the future we need to reform our political system. Nevertheless, we have had governments with narrow majorities in the past that have made some very important decisions, and this will be the case now.”