Filmmaker Mike Kirk joined Boston Public Radio today to talk about his new Frontline documentary, Netanyahu at War. The film follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political rise and his contentious relationship with President Obama. The Documentary premiers tonight at 9 PM on PBS.

Questions are paraphrased, and responses are edited where noted [...].

How did Netanyahu's military experience influence his political career and ideology? 

"You can’t grow up in Israel and not do national service. You cannot grow up in that family and not feel like you must do heroic national service. He puts himself in harms way, I didn’t know this either, many of those times secret. The one that everyone knows about is the hijacking of a Sebena airlines flight with 90 plus Jewish people on it. The plane is held on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport, and Netanyahu and other members of the secret group put on the uniform of the maintenance crew. Go out and board the plane, shoot the bad guys, run up and down the aisles, Netanyahu is on the lead on a lot of that. They save most of the people, a couple of the passengers are killed. It is a moment of a right of passage for this young man to have something like that happen to you in your life in Israel. A lot of famous Israeli leaders come through that particular group inside the Israeli military, and B.B. Netanyahu made his bones just like everybody else."

What happened during the first meeting between Netanyahu and Obama? 

"Obama is warned, Rahm Emanuel and others that the only way to deal….. they say, You have to put your boot on his neck, Mr. President. You have got to back this guy down. He is going to be tough, he is going to try to run over you, he’s gonna roll you, he thinks you’re naive, he thinks you’re a newcomer. You’ve got to get tough and you’ve got to get tough on the peace process. You’ve got to insist on freezing the borders back to the 1967 number. That is the hot button issue for any Israeli Prime Minister. Netanyahu shows up thinking that we are going to talk about Iran, get to know each other. Obama put’s the words on him very hard, but it isn’t that he does it behind close doors. We show that the moment the press is invited into the room, Obama restates it in front of the world. Which is the greatest insult you can do to a visiting potentate from another state."

How are the ideologies of Obama and Netanyahu different?

"Obama, optimist, believes he can unclench the hands of the Arab world. I’m gonna sit at a table and we are going to be super rational, we’re going to talk about this. Netanyahyu says, they all want to kill us, they are going to eradicate us, there is no reason to do it, we’ve got to be as tough as we can... To do that I have to do all kinds of things I don’t believe in. I don’t trust these guys."

Listen to the entire interview with Mike Kirk above.