Wednesday, July 27, 2022

King Bibi, on Chai Flicks

From the standpoint of his nation’s security, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is probably the most successful world leader of the 21st Century, so far. During his recent tenure, the so-called “Iranian Nuclear Deal” was nullified, the US finally moved our embay to Jerusalem, and several Arab states formally recognized the State of Israel through the Abraham Accords. Arguably, the last comparable Israeli Prime Minister would be Menachem Begin. Yet, throughout his non-consecutive terms in office, Netanyahu contended with a highly critical press corps. Dan Shadur chronicles Netanyahu’s life and political career in King Bibi, which premieres today on Chai Flicks.

To understand Netanyahu, you rather logically need to start with his family. His father was a conservative scholar who was essentially forced to seek employment in America, by Israel’s socialist establishment. His brother Yoni was the heroic IDF commander, who died during the successful rescue mission in Entebbe. His brother’s death was the catalyst for his leadership in the study of terrorism prevention, which also brought him to prominence in America too.

Yet, Netanyahu still endured long periods of Churchillian wilderness-style political ostracism. His peace-through-strength policies were definitely out of step during the euphoria of the Oslo Accords. However, he was ready when reality set in, even if the traditional Israeli was not.

King Bibi (a loaded title if ever there was one), Shadur makes an effort to at least understand Netanyahu somewhat, despite an evident tone of cultural discomfort with his subject’s hawkishness and populist approach to politics. He clearly establishes how the kneejerk opposition of the Israeli press help “make” him the Netanyahu of today. Indeed, the clear parallels between Netanyahu and Trump are quite apt. In each case, the relentless partisanship of the press has hurt their own credibility and undermined later criticism of their chosen nemesis, even when it is warranted.

Unlike Trump, Netanyahu is also very intelligent, but that doesn’t always come through as clearly in
King Bibi. Like him or not, it is hard to dismiss what motivates his policies: the Holocaust and the terrorism-related death of his brother. Again, regardless of your feelings, he has to be recognized as a giant of the 21st Century. Viewers will start to understand why from King Bibi, which joins Chai Flicks’ The Prime Ministers collection, (which includes Yariv Mozer’s Ben-Gurion: An Epilogue). Recommended as a historical overview but not as the final word on Netanyahu, King Bibi starts streaming today (7/27) on Chai Flicks.