Benjamin Netanyahu's father, Benzion, died earlier today at 102. He was the hardest of the hard -- a man for whom compromise was anathema -- but he was all too often tragically correct about the nature of what he called "Jew hatred" (the term "anti-Semitism" wasn't for him; it was coined by anti-Semites to give a civilized gloss to anti-Jewish prejudice). His masterwork, "The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th Century Spain," posited racial, rather than religious, motivations for anti-Jewish persecution, and for the elder Netanyahu, race-based Jew-hatred was an immortal phenomenon. He was profoundly influential on his son (and all of his sons, as those who have read the collected letters of Yoni Netanyahu, his oldest son, who died at Entebbe, surely know): Many people who watch the prime minister believe that his father's passing will allow him to take steps toward compromise he wouldn't have made so long as his father was living nearby. There's something to this, of course, but I'm not sure how much. I'll explore some of these questions later.
If life is a series of infinite possibilities, what does it mean to be alive?