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The World by Oliver Hilsenrath
Tuesday, December 2, 2014

About Me
OLIVER HILSENRATH

Benjamin Netanyahu ‐‐ An Unknown Story of Courage
After the year 2000, Ariel Sharon, the iconic Israeli Prime Minister, started to feel that the younger
and vigorous Benjamin Netanyahu is a certain threat to his reign. Sharon, a whole generation older,
could have regarded the reputable and charismatic Netanyahu as his successor in due time. But grace
was not on Sharon's menu.
Therefore Sharon crafted the following bullet proof (pun intended) plan. He would pressure
Netanyahu to take the post of Minister of Finance. It was a certain career ending post. He blasted
his offer to Netanyahu in the media without mercy. Grace, as mentioned, was not on the menu...
From Netanyahu's point of view this was a tragedy. To turn down the so called appointment
trumpeted in papers, radio and TV, was a political career killer. To take the job was even more a
career killer. Israel always hated with passion its finance ministers. This due to the ever mess of the
Israeli economy, the inflation, the unions, the taxes and the steady internal discontent. Sharon's
reign also brought the economy to an especially dark place. He must have been enormously amused
to effectively execute Netanyahu with his (Sharon's) own failures.

Following

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FAA licensed pilot and DOT
licensed skipper. Born in
Bucharest, child emigrant to
Israel; schooled in Israel from middle school
to PhD at the world renowned Technion in
Haifa. I served in the Israeli Air Force – Maj.
(ret.), followed by a decade of service for
the Department of Defense. I have spent the
last couple of decades as tech entrepreneur
and investor including the founding of the
well covered U.S. Wireless Corp. for whom I
authored and co‐authored over 20 US and
Worldwide patents.
View my complete profile

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Netanyahu was well aware of the long standing tradition in Israel of deep hatred for its finance
ministers. He must have been torn and tormented. I remember watching this quiet and dramatic
chess game, surprised of the little attention it attracted in Israeli media of those days.
Netanyahu accepted the nomination in 2002. For all practical purposes he was finished. He was
mocked in the Israeli media as the latest casualty of the ever messy Israeli economy.
But that is not what happened!
As he was a politically dead man for all practical purposes, Netanyahu acted like a man who has
little to lose. Now that was an interesting place to be in. He began by leveraging on his US
upbringing and brought world caliber economist Stanley Fisher to be the Israeli chief of national
bank (equivalent of the US Federal Reserve).
Netanyahu and Fisher reformed the messy Israeli economy amid public hysteria. State enterprises
were privatized, unions were reigned in, the Israeli Shekel was firmly aligned with world currencies,
and wasteful welfare programs were brought under control and more. Most importantly, the
corporate tax was set firmly at 25% from a rampant and vicious sky high rate.
Under Netanyahu, Israel became a destination for tech enterprises, financial services and even
successful energy exploration.
For all practical purposes Netanyahu turned a vicious plan to destroy him into an economic
Renaissance for Israel. With the thrust of his unexpected success, Netanyahu is now the longest
lasting Prime Minister in the history of Israel.

Sharon was ultimately disabled by a crippling stroke that left him in a vegetative state for a decade.
I think that if ever during that vegetative decade he had a moment of lucidity; Netanyahu must have
crossed his mind...

Posted by OLIVER HILSENRATH at 2:47 PM
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▼  December (1)
Benjamin Netanyahu ‐‐ An Unknown
Story of Courage