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.
This week marks the 34th anniversary of Operation Yonatan, Israel’s dramatic rescue of 103 hostages that took place on July 4, 1976 at Entebbe, Uganda.
As a college student in the US, I vividly remember watching events unfold as most of the rest of the nation was focused on the celebration of America’s bi-centennial. Jews around the world held their breath as the terrorist incident ended with a relatively minimal loss of life. Pride and admiration for the daring and courage of Israel’s decision-makers and generals was the order of the day.
In Israel, the anniversary of the operation was marked for years by public official commemoration ceremonies. This year, it appears that the only remembrance will be for Yoni Netanyahu, commander of the operation and the only Israeli soldier killed at Entebbe. The Netanyahu family placed a newspaper ad announcing the annual pilgrimage to the grave of Yoni, older brother of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
(Yonatan Netanyahu is known to have been the only soldier to die in OPERATION Entebbe. He was such a monumental figure n the army and died so very young. This is an interview about the way he changed the life of this man, who now has named his daughter after Yoni. The man's life was saved on a separate mission from Entebbe up north after his tank was stuck with an anti-tank missile from the Arab terrorists.)
Back in July 2001, during the height of the terrorist war that followed the Camp David talks, things were different and an official state commemoration of the 25th anniversary took place at the Binyanei Hauma Convention Center in Jerusalem.
In a masterful, moving event that was at once entertaining and educational, the state of Israel marked the passage of a quarter of a century since the dramatic hostage rescue. If the event were to be translated and exported, Israel ’s image problems could be improved dramatically, and Jews the world over might even begin to regain pride in the Jewish state.
In the week leading up to the anniversary, Israel’s media focused on the unprecedented operation that took dozens of soldiers from Israel’s elite brigades on a daring and dangerous mission to rescue Jews thousands of miles away.
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!"