Sunday, January 16, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Journalist Aliza Davidovit in new book "The Words that Shape Me" on her Interview with PM Netanyahu

"I learned from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that our hopes more than our hurts must guide our future”

From her book "The Words that Shaped Me", Aliza Davidovit a educated journalist with a Masters in Science has taken all her unusual life experiences and unfolded them in her new book The Words That Shaped Me: A journalist's brilliant, touching and hilarious journey through the dictionary and life. With social commentary and great wisdom, Aliza takes the reader on an adventure through the dictionary selecting the words that have shaped both her and society.

#NETANYAHU (Page 107).

"My habit of going to sleep at 3 a.m. was not only nurtured by my tendency to be a workaholic but because I’m also afraid—I’m afraid of my dreams,They are often the same. Nazis are slaughtering Jews in mass numbers and children are screaming and begging for life as they are murdered mercilessly. And there is blood, confusion and great suffering. Throats are slashed, people are stabbed and the fear is intense. It is dark and cold. I am always trying to save the children, and just as I’m about to be killed myself, a man appears to save me and calls me by name, “Aliza, Aliza, come with me.” His face is always the same. In the dream I keep asking him, “Who are you?” but once I’m safe he says, “I’ll be back, don’t go too far away” and he disappears. Then an old white-bearded man appears before me and calling me by the name Eden says, “You were saved for a reason and your destiny will be tied in the future with this man who helped you. You are a witness.” I try and explain to him that my name is Aliza, not Eden, but my mouth becomes heavy and I can’t articulate it. As I try, I hear the screaming of my people and see blood rising by my feet. I usually wake up sobbing. I have had this same dream over and over and over again. It was not until later years when it dawned on me that my initials in Hebrew, ayin and daled were the Hebrew word for witness, eid.
Then one morning, in 1991, during the first Iraq war when Saddam Hussein launched 39 scud missiles into Israel, as I was dashing out of my parents’ house I heard a voice that was very familiar. I turned to see a man on TV whom I had never known before, Benjamin Netanyahu, today Israel’s prime minister, then Israel’s deputy foreign minister. I stood there in shock.
 “Oh my God, oh my God, who is that?” I asked my father. It was the man I had seen very distinctly and heard in my dreams for all those years. My heart leaped out of my chest and I started to shake and cry. My father didn’t know what was happening as I’ve never been prone to drama. Getting reactions out of me has always been challenging for anyone who knows me. I felt such astonishment and intense emotion upon seeing him that single moment on TV that I don’t believe my heart has recovered since. After that day, he never appeared in my dreams again. Since then, I still have similar nightmares, but in them I save both a baby and myself. Sometimes an old man tells me to wait and not to run too far away.
My parents often advised me to speak with a kabbalist rabbi to seek an interpretation of my dream. I chose not to. If there is a reason for my dream, only God knows.
The word netanyahu, which means, gift by God, is among the more powerful ones that have shaped me as it is also tied to my love of the Jewish State that gave my father a home and my people a safe haven. Somehow, as a modern-day hero, he became a pivotal point between the past and the future, between history and destiny. And so, of course, after seeing him that first time on TV, I sought to find out more about him.
I discovered that his brother Yoni was also a hero and the sole fatality in the Entebbe raid, where Israelis rescued an Air France plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists (July 4, 1976). It was upon learning more about Netanyahu, and Yoni’s death in particular, that inspired me to become active in advocating for Israel and my people. My admiration for those who fight for right at personal sacrifice has taught me that if you have nothing you are ready to die for in life, then you really have nothing to live for.
Throughout the years people have poked fun at me for saying I have a crush on Netanyahu. Although I feed into the joking, I don’t. I have an inexplicable connection. After all, he saved me night after night. ......
I remember when preparing for my interview with Netanyahu that I had his book, Fighting Terrorism, propped up against my wall and many people at ABC kept asking me what it was about? Prior to 9/11, terrorism was an exotic word. I was so amused by their question when the answer was right in the title that I started telling people it’s a book on how to deal with your in-laws.
The long awaited day finally came. Our interview was scheduled for 8 p.m., but the prime minister didn’t show up until 10. ..My interview with Netanyahu and his then Chief of Staff went well beyond the half hour they originally allotted me, and the final article was a huge hit. It appeared as a cover story in Lifestyles magazine, the international glossy I’ve been associated with now for many years.
It was strange how in my nightmares he seemed so real and yet while interviewing him I felt like I was in a dream.....
As far as Netanyahu was concerned, when I met him the first time I felt that I already knew him my whole life. And, in some measure, I did. I showed up with over 100 questions and nearly wore him out. But he was very gracious and answered nearly all of them. His brilliance and articulateness which are surely noticeable in the TV interviews he gives, were evermore so evident to me in this protracted discussion.
I approach every interview as a blind date and try get to know the person deep within.  Though it’s often hard to penetrate the veneer with some politicians—as it was with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose answers were so pre-packaged that no matter what I asked I just couldn’t reach him—there are some questions you just can’t rehearse the answers to. For instance, when I asked Netanyahu if he cried after losing the election to Ehud Barak, his macho Israeli dander stood at attention. I actually, did it intentionally, At first he looked at me in shock and then started laughing, assuring me that from the hundreds of interviews he has given no one ever asked him that question before. We became great friends after that and, to this day, only I know the answer.

At the end of my interview with Netanyahu, I asked to take the traditional photo op as I do with all my interviewees and as he does with every head of state. He was surprisingly reluctant, as if posing with a hot blonde would be his political downfall. He didn’t have to worry. I’m not the Monica Lewinsky of Israeli politics.
In the end, I got my photo op. And if he would give the Arabs the amount of land mass he left between us as he posed, they’d already be singing a national anthem. Now that I think about it, he got much closer to Arafat in some pictures I’ve seen.
Regardless, the interview was a great success and I was deeply appreciative of his time.
As I left he shook my hand and said, “Thank you, Aliza.” That is when my heart skipped a beat. Hearing him say my name as I had heard it in my dreams long ago, was unsettling. Would the old man soon appear too; would blood start rising at my feet?
Our roads have crossed a few times since then. And truthfully, I find it painful, this whole thing with him which is really nothing at all. Yet, it has cursed many of my days as his was the face I’d seen every night and remembered every morning. And I still question every now and then what it is I was told to wait for?"
Read the Interview with Netanyahu here