Benzion Netanyahu, historian, Zionist activist and influential father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, died Monday in his Jerusalem home. He was 102.
Prime Minister Netanyahu managed to visit him one last time on Sunday night.
Benzion Netanyahu was born Benzion Mileikowsky on March 25, 1910, in Warsaw, Poland. His father, Nathan, a rabbi, moved the family to Palestine in 1920 and changed its name to Netanyahu.
Professor Netanyahu was among the great historians of the Jewish people. In his research, he focused on the history of the medieval Spanish Jewish community and the history of Zionism. Among his books are a biography of Don Isaac Abravanel, a history of the Spanish Marranos (forced converts to Christianity who secretly continued to practice Judaism) and his major work, “The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th Century Spain,” which received global acclaim. He also authored “The Founding Fathers of Zionism” about the lives of the founders of political Zionism—Leon Pinsker, Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill and Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Netanyahu was also an expert on anti-Semitism and a great supporter of Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who advocated Jewish military strength and the establishment of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River. During his decades-long career, Netanyahu also edited the “Encyclopedia Judaica,” “The World History of the Jewish People” and the “Encyclopedia Hebraica.”