A group of historians recently visited Israel’s current prime minister with a commemorative volume of documents about his predecessor Menachem Begin. A conversation about the late prime minister, known to have expressed great agony over the deaths of Israeli soldiers, led to Netanyahu’s sharing his own feelings about making life-and-death decisions of the kind that fall to heads of state. Yaacov Lozowick recounts:
There is a profound difference between hearing about bereaved families, and actually being in one: [Netanyahu] knows about that difference, and understands it from personal experience. But to his surprise—this was my impression—sending soldiers to their death turned out also to be hard to a degree that one cannot appreciate in advance. . . .
[Netanyahu said,] “And every night I’d get home in the wee hours, and my wife would be awake, waiting for me. She spent the days visiting the bereaved families. I only spoke to them on the phone, with each and every one of them, but she sat at their side, and at night she would tell me about them. We must send them, and we must bring them back, and I didn’t appreciate how hard it would be. A leader who loses the understanding of how difficult it is ought to lose his job.”
“I thought a lot about Begin this summer.”