Born Benzion Mileikowsky in Warsaw, Poland, in 1910 and moving to Mandatory Palestine in 1920, Netanyahu was a devout follower of revisionist Zionist leader Zeev Jabotinsky, who advocated Jewish military strength and the establishment of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River. Netanyahu served as his personal aide until Jabotinsky’s death in 1940.
He then edited right-wing Jewish publications and earned a Ph.D in history from Dropsie College in Philadelphia. Later, he was a professor of Jewish history and Hebrew literature at the University of Denver and Cornell University, where he served as chairman of the department of Semitic languages and literature.
He and his wife Tzila had three sons, Benjamin, Yoni, who was killed in an operation to free Israeli hostages from an Entebbe, Uganda airport in 1976, and Iddo, a doctor and playwright.