Two photographs adorn the office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Together they illuminate a portentous fact: No two leaders of democracies are less alike -- in life experiences, temperaments and political philosophies -- than Netanyahu, the former commando and fierce nationalist, and Barack Obama, the former professor and post-nationalist.
One photograph is of Theodor Herzl, born 150 years ago. Dismayed by the eruption of anti-Semitism in France during the Dreyfus Affair at the end of the 19th century, Herzl became Zionism's founding father. Long before the Holocaust, he concluded that Jews could find safety only in a national homeland.
The other photograph is of Winston Churchill, who considered himself "one of the authors" of Britain's embrace of Zionism. The Balfour Declaration of 1917stated: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." Beginning in 1923, Britain would govern Palestine under a League of Nations mandate.
Netanyahu, his focus firmly on Iran, honors Churchill because he did not flinch from facts about gathering storms. Obama returned to the British Embassy in Washington the bust of Churchill that was in the Oval Office when he got there.
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