Yoni Netanyahu, Israel, and the Fourth of July

On July 4, 1976, Yonatan Netanyahu re-sent America and the entire world a message that Jews have been delivering for thousands of years.

Gerald A. Honigman, | updated: 14:58

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American and Israeli Independence Days have great meaning for hundreds of millions of people all over the world…July 4th, 1776, and the 5th of Iyar 5708 (May 14, 1948 on the Western Gregorian Calendar), respectively.

For the Honigman Clan there’s some extra special meaning to those dates and their anniversaries...

My father, of blessed memory, was born on the Fourth of July, in 1924 as a blessed gift to his mother (my grandmother) --on whose birthday it was as well.

After four years in combat in World War II, a few years after he came home, I made my own worldly debut six days before the rebirth of Israel on May 8,1948, Yom HaAtzmaut.  Dad had enlisted with parental consent at age 17 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and after the war married his 17-year old bride, my mom. I turned sixty on the exact same date of Israel’s 60th Independence Day, May 8, 2008, on both the Hebrew and Western calendars--a wonderful birthday present for myself. Being lunar, the Hebrew calendar 's corresponding English date varies from year to year.)

Back in 1972, I had arrived in New York to attend Graduate School at the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies--at the time a consortium of Princeton, Columbia, and NYU based at the latter’s Washington Square campus. Also working full time for a major organization in its Research and Evaluation Department focusing on matters pertaining to the Middle East, whatever spare time I had was usually spent fishing.

On one of those piscatorial excursions, I found myself adjacent to the world-famous Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn. After a while, a young man about by age called over and asked for the time. I noticed what appeared to be an Israeli accent, so after I answered, I then decided to show off a bit. 

The fish were not cooperating, so I asked, “Slicha, Adoni, aifo hadagim?”-- excuse me, Sir, but where are the fish? That began what, to date, has been an almost half century best friendship.  

Then, four years later, came a moment in time truly never to be forgotten--July 4, 1976.

I was watching those spectacular tall sailing ships from countries all over the world passing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in salute to America's two hundredth birthday. Tears of pride were in many an eye that day.

Arie and I were there together, but, at almost the very same moment that those ships were sailing by, something else was happening which would link Israel and America together in many a heart and soul forever after…

During the night before and the early morning hours of July 4, 1976, Israel launched Operation Thunderball--aka, Operation Entebbe—aka, Operation Yonatan.

On June 27, Air France Flight 139 had been hijacked by Arabs and some European soul mates. The plane was taken to Idi Amin's Uganda, where the hijackers were met with open arms.

The passengers were soon asked to form two lines--one for Jews, the other for Gentiles. Most of the latter were freed, but the Jews became Idi Amin's "guests.” Amin's buddies next announced that the Jews would be killed if demands were not met.

I won't go into all of the details, but it is truly an amazing story which sired books, movies, and so forth.

The bare basics, however, are that on July 4, 1976, while I was watching the parade of sailing  ships, Israel raided Entebbe (almost 2,200 miles away), freed the hostages, and showed the world that it was possible to defeat terror--a lesson many still need to learn today, especially when the chief enabler of much of the world’s terror is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power…the would-be atomic ayatollahs. Entebbe was also a wonderful gift, commemorating America's own liberty as well.

There was one Israeli combat fatality.

Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu, of Israel's elite Sayeret Matkal, had commanded the strike force and was killed by a Ugandan soldier. Yoni was a Dean's List Harvard scholar who returned to Israel to resume his combat role during the stressful years leading up to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He was a remarkable human being--both a man of the world, as well as a true Son of Zion reborn.

When my own son was born (G_d bless), we named him Jonathan, in honor of King Saul's son, Prince Yonatan--King David's--closest friend--and in honor of Yoni Netanyahu. There is no letter “J” in Hebrew. It’s pronounced as a “Y.”

Today, much of the mainstream media, academia, and such would likely portray Yonatan Netanyahu as a right-wing extremist. Any Jew who refuses to stick his head in the sand regarding what many if not most Arabs' true intentions are regarding the Jew of the Nations is branded this way.

So that brings me to another Netanyahu--Benjamin (Bibi). The Netanyahu boys were teens in Philadelphia at the same time that I was.

Unlike some other Israeli leaders, who in the past felt (or were made to feel) that they had to prostrate themselves and resume a ghetto Jew stance while begging the Gentile world just to survive, this Netanyahu--despite his flaws--has refused to fit into that pathetic mold. The late Menachem Begin and Ze’ev Jabotinsky would be proud…he was therefore a nightmare for folks like President Obama..

Netanyahu's opponents--Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, and so forth--were much too comfortable with folks like ex-Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry; Vice President Joe Biden; Susan Rice, Samantha Power, James Baker III (and the latter’s State Department “Jew Boys”); and other various administration attack dogs.

Until the recent change which came with President Trump’s team just a few years ago, the non-stop pressure and suicidal demands for Israel to cave in to practically any and all that its would-be executioners were demanding were an abomination in light of what Israel really faces regarding either the alleged good cops of Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas or the bad cops of Hamas. The latter are merely more honest in their murderous intent.

Abbas’s latter-day Arafatians-in-suits have simply decided to whisper sweet nothings in Western dhimmi ears and realize that it pays nicely to be known as “the moderates.” After Auschwitz, the West prefers anti-Semites to be more subtle--at least in what’s said. And the late Yasir’s Swiss bank accounts are legendary

Netanyahu knows all of this.

When he resumed his earlier role as Prime Minister in 2009, he promised to renew the Jewish and Zionist spirit that had been lacking in recent memory. Given the international pressures Israel is constantly placed under, to a large extent, he’s kept that promise.

And what makes folks like Netanyahu really allegedly “extremist” is their refusal to agree to have Israel return to its 1949 armistice lines (not borders, never recognized as such), in a 9-15 mile wide rump state. I used to travel three times that distance to go to work.

On July 4, 1976, Yonatan Netanyahu re-sent America and the entire world a message that Jews have been delivering for thousands of years.

Yes, we have such things as the Hebrew Bible’s message of proclaiming liberty throughout the land on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the first colonists seeing Americas as the “New Zion” and such. But, for now, I’m referring to something post-biblical…

Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Yehoshua/Jesus, who lived during the Roman occupation of Judaea, restated already ancient Jewish teachings when he proclaimed: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am not for others, what am I?"

Israel has tried very hard to come to fair accommodations with the "others" in its neighborhood…indeed, those who see the entire region as merely purely Arab patrimony: Justice through Arab eyes only.

The compromises Israel has already accepted (i.e., Jordan was created in 1922 on almost 80% of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine--just for starters) and has subsequently sought with Arabs, who already possess almost two dozen states, are light years beyond what Arabs have offered to scores of millions of non-Arab, native peoples with whom they have clashed and competed themselves.

As I’ve often stated before, nothing will really change until the oppressive, self-centered, supremacist Arab mindset changes. Until then, Israel must concentrate on the first part of Rabbi Hillel's famous quote--seeing that its own resurrected nation and millennially-persecuted people not only survive but prosper.

As America celebrates its 243rd birthday, and I recall my beloved Father and Grandmother’s birthdays as well on this July 4th,  it’s an added blessing to know that, in President Trump, we now again have a leader who will not demand that our ally--a nation in which America has so many connections to--grossly endanger itself for the sake of creating a 22nd Arab state--and second, not first, one in the original Mandate of Palestine.

Painful--but reasonable--compromises which may be called for in a plan for true peace - perhaps -…forced suicide never  Regarding this subject, that’s the difference between America’s former leader and the current one in a nutshell..

Given the reality, in Israel’s alleged “peace partners’” own words, that they will never accept a Jewish State as their neighbor (regardless of size), and that all  negotiations with it are but a “Trojan Horse” aimed at its destruction-in-stages, Netanyahu must continue to send the same message his brother, Yoni, did over four decades ago. He must demand--not beg for--empathy for live Jews, not crocodile tears of sympathy for dead ones.

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