Benzion Netanyahu, father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netnayahu, was laid to rest at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, at a plot for bereaved parents at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem.
The late Netanyahu died early Monday morning at the age of 102.
Speaking at the funeral, the prime minister said said that his father had shown him what commitment was, both to the state and to family.
The prime minister recalled the death of his brother Yonatan, who died in the Entebbe rescue raid. Since his death, Netanyahu said, his father changed his focus to international terrorism, with the belief that it is possible to fight terrorism by fighting states that sponsor it.
Benzion Netanyahu had been a prominent Revisionist Zionist activist in the US, had served as secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and was a writer and editor. He died at the age of 102.
The senior Netanyahu was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1910, and was a historian and a professor emeritus at Cornell University. He lived in Jerusalem when he died.
He married Tzila Segal in 1944, and remained married until her death in 2000.
Benzion was father to three sons with Segal: Yonatan Netanyahu, a Sayeret Matkal commander who was the sole Israeli casualty during the successful operation to free hundreds of hostages in Entebbe, Uganda who were taken aboard a hijacked airplane, Iddo Netanyahu, a radiologist and writer, and Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.
He was secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky, a Revisionist Zionist leader credited with fathering the movement in the United States.
At a party to celebrate his father's 100th birthday, the Jewish Chronicle
quoted the prime minister as having said: "I learned from you to look into the future."
President Shimon Peres asked participants of an Israel Air Force technological college
in Carmiel to stand for a moment of silence in
memory of the prime minister's father, Benzion Netanyahu. Peres called Benzion "a great historian and a great Jew."
Knesser speaker Reuven Rivlin told Israel Radio that "[Binyamin Netanyahu] learned the pure Zionism from a man who was so close to Jabotinsky," adding that the prime minister "was educated in a home where Zionism was a Zionism with no compromise... though [his] realpolitik was much more developed."
"Professor Netanyahu was an important scholar, both profound and original," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said of the late Netanyahu. "His wide research on the [Spanish] Marranos and the Inquisition period was revolutionary, and has important historical value."
Sa'ar said Benzion was Zionist to the core, adding that he was the "outstanding pupil of Herzl and Jabotinsky."
Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich sent her condolences to the prime minister, writing that "we all have only one father. And in your case, we are talking about a unique man, distinguished historian, an ideologue and an intellectual who left a deep imprint on Israeli society.
Benzion served as the executive director of the New Zionist Organization of America during the 40s, making him a prominent Revisionist Zionist activist in the United States.
He became the chief editor of Encyclopedia Hebraica
during his stay in Israel.
He was also editor of the group's biweekly US publication, Zionnews, where he authored editorials that typically dealt with the latest Palestine-related political developments and controversies.
In one editorial that Benzion wrote, on the occasion of the springtime Passover holiday, Benzion contemplated how the suffering of the Jews could never separate them from their faith or extinguish their hopes: “Through oceans of blood, our blood, through oceans of tears, our tears, hated, persecuted, beaten, wandering and homeless, we assemble at the Pessah Seder to thank God for our liberation from Egypt, and to express once again the hope of the Haggada: ‘This year we are still slaves – next year we shall be free men.’”
"Only a nation of our spiritual caliber could come through the ages of unparalleled sufferings with its spirit unbroken; still alive; still striving for liberty. Next year we shall be free men,” he opined.
In 1952, the Netanyahu family moved to its home at 4 Haportzim Street in Jerusalem, where he passed away early Monday morning.Reuters and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
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