[ROGER HERTOG FOR THE HUDSON INSTITUTE] For over 3,000 years, Jews have prayed to God for the reestablishment of Zion and Jerusalem, yet Israel was established largely by men and women who were uncertain about God. What role do you thinkGod played in the miracle, in the creation of the Jewish state?
NETANYAHU: Well, evidently a very good one because we've beaten the odds.
Now, if you want me to question God, you know, based on experience I could be stricken down. And I'm not going to take that risk.
I think that there are reservoirs of faith and culture that are very powerful in our people. You know, the founding fathers of Zionism, they may not have been religious people, [still] they were cognizant of religion; they even knew what they were challenging.
One thing they weren't, they weren't ignorant. That's the important thing. You know, you want to reject something, know what you're rejecting.
The thing that I worry about is we’d have a world where people don't even know what they're embracing and what they're rejecting.
They should know our traditions. They're powerful. They've brought us here. And I think that the unique power of the Jewish people and the unique power of the Jewish state is a combination of the fact that we had this really primary internet system.
You know, when we had the diaspora, we had, you know, these scholars and sages in Yemen writing letters to the sages in Spain, writing letters to the sages in Germany and so on, asking questions about law, truth, justice. And truth was never finite, it always expanded, you always built on what you knew into what you didn't know.
And I think when the walls of the ghettos and the enlightenment came, that same discipline was transferred to physics, mathematics, chemistry.
It's a very powerful tradition for this constant question that the Jewish tradition encourages.
But I think that if that were it, we wouldn't be here and Israel wouldn't be here.
I think it also is grounded in deep faith. So our feet are planted in the soil and we came back to our ancient land, and at the same time, you know, the branches go up and up and up.
And I think it's this unique combination of faith and reason that has made the Jewish people so remarkable and the Jewish state so successful.
And God is watching over us as we speak.
THE QUESTION AND ANSWER PORTION ABOUT GOD AND THE CREATION OF ISRAEL
BEGINS AT 41:09 IN THE VIDEO BELOW
This is a copy from the transcript of Netanyahu's interview at the Hudson Institute on 22 September 2016. The complete manuscript from which this excerpt is taken is online at http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.hudson.org/files/publications/20160923NetanyahuEventTranscript.pdf