For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
It Took Cloak-and-Dagger Effort to Return Creatures From Iran to Biblical Home
Wall Street Journal
01 February '10
JERUSALEM—On Nov. 28, 1978, as Iran was hurtling toward Islamic revolution, zoologist Mike Van Grevenbroek landed at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport, coming from Tel Aviv, carrying a blow-dart gun disguised as a cane and secret orders from an Israeli general.
His mission: to capture four Persian fallow deer and deliver them to Israel before the shah's government collapsed.
It marked the daring climax of a years-long cloak-and-dagger effort to reintroduce the animals of the Holy Scriptures of Judaism to Israel.
In December 2009, Israeli wildlife officials added another chapter to the endangered ruminant's unlikely comeback when they released four descendants of those original deer into the Jerusalem hills. The animals joined the nearly 500 fallow deer that now roam freely in Israel. The deer are the crowning achievement of a program that has also returned biblical onagers, oryxes and ostriches to the wild.
Wildlife preservation was a low priority during Israel's early years of statehood that changed with the passage of a conservation law in 1962. An active-duty general, Avraham Yoffe, a founding member of Israel's pre-statehood militia, the Hagana, and commander of the army division that captured Sharm al-Sheikh in 1956, was appointed head of the newly created Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
Conservationists say the general, who died in 1983, waged war in defense of wildlife with the same zeal he had brought to the battlefield. The 1978 Iranian "deerlift" remains his most daring feat and his biggest success.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"