MembersJewish State, or State of Jews: The Difference that Divides Us

Was Israel meant to be a sovereign state founded on and reflecting Jewish values, or merely a place where a lot of Jews live?

| Topics: Zionism, Herzl
Was Herzl's vision for a Jewish state, or a state where Jews live?
Was Herzl's vision for a Jewish state, or a state where Jews live? Photo: Zuzana Janko/Flash90

When historian, author and political commentator Gadi Taub asked Benjamin Netanyahu to be his guest for his 100th Gatekeeper podcast, the former prime minister conceded, provided he would not be asked about current political affairs. Given this constraint, the 80-minute podcast was devoted entirely to the three figures that have inspired Netanyahu more than anyone else – Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl, Aaron Aaronsohn and Winston Churchill – in that order.

The first and the third are well known, but Aaronsohn (1876-1919), a botanist best known for his discovery of the “mother of wheat” and his espionage network for the British, is a rather surprising choice. It turns out that this unique podcast reveals a side of Netanyahu that is rarely appreciated; that of an intellectual of the first degree who knows the history of Zionism better than even his knowledgeable host, who is a senior lecturer at the School of Public Policy at the Hebrew University...

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