July 3, 1976 was a Shabbat. I had graduated from university a month earlier and had been accepted to be a counselor for a Jewish Agency summer group tour in Israel. Fortunately I was escorting a group of college-age youth, meaning that when they left back to the US, after the six week excursion, I wouldn't have to fly with them. The job paid my ticket back to Israel.
The group was scheduled to leave on Sunday, July 4th. That being, of course, the two hundredth birthday of the United States. Major events were planned for that day and my parents and I suspected that traffic, from NJ into Kennedy airport might be unbearable. So after Shabbat they drove me to a hotel near JFK. We said our goodbyes and I went to sleep.
Except that I didn't sleep very well. The thought of returning to Israel the next day was tremendously exciting. That excitement wasn't overly conducive to a sound sleep. So at some point, in the middle of the night, having nothing else to do, I turned on the radio. And what news did I hear!
The broadcaster was talking about how the Israeli hostages on the ill-fated Air France flight had just been rescued by a special Israeli military force at Entebbe in Uganda.
Wow!!! What a way to take off.
I remember, after our group arrived, we spent a couple of weeks on a Kibbutz in the north. The Kibbutznick lady in charge of our group sat everyone down around a campfire and talked about the feeling of wonder in the country, following the successful mission. We spoke about it, I have no recollection of what people said. And I'm sure that our emotions didn’t reach nearly the heights of the Israelis, who lived and breathed that hijacking day and night, until the miraculous rescue operation.
Thirty eight years ago. Thank G-d that it happened then, and not today. Because if that Air France plane had been hijacked and flown to Idi Amin in 2014, Israel would never have even contemplated such a daring undertaking. After all, what would Obama, the EU and the UN say? Innocent Ugandans might be hurt. Israel would be violating the sovereignty of a foreign nation. What right would we have to take on such a preposterous military adventure?!
Instead, the 'security cabinet' would have sat together, making up a list of terrorists to be released, including murderers with 'blood on their hands.' They might also have contemplated, as per the terrorist demands, expulsion and destruction of several communities in Judea and Samaria. After all, saving all those hundreds of people would be worth any price. Especially when the world community was saying that the hijacking was our own fault. The terrorists aren't really terrorists. They are frustrated Arabs, without a home, without a land, without….. What can you expect from such poor, discouraged people?!
This is what was going through my head this morning when I saw headlines, that Israel had given the Hamas in Gaza an ultimatum. If they did not stop bombing Israel with rockets and missiles within 48 hours, Israel would invade.
In other words, they had two full days to continue shelling Sderot and Ashkelon, and then, stop.
This week, speaking to a German journalist, I asked/told her the following: If a rocket was shot from France into Germany and hit a building, and German Prime Minister Merkel did nothing, rather told the nation that they must be 'restrained,' how long would it take the German parliament to vote her out of her office?!
But in Israel? Dozens of missiles hit and our reaction? Nothing.
Why did they begin these attacks now? Again, we are to blame. These rockets were, I believe actually a 'warning' to Netanyahu. The Gazan terrorists said like this: 'we kidnapped and killed three Israeli youth. We hid their bodies; it took you almost 3 weeks to find them. Now you want to react. Don't you dare! Because if you do, these few days of missiles will turn into weeks and months. You won't be able to stop us. We have long-range rockets that can hit Tel Aviv easily. So, Mr. Prime Minister Netanyahu, be a good boy and don't play with matches. Don't even think about any kind of military action against us as a result of our successful terror. Beware – you've been warned.'
The 'security cabinet' met twice (that we know of) following discovery of the murdered men. After the first night's session, rumors abounded about the disagreements and arguments between the various ministers. After the next night's meeting, no details were released at all to the media.
And since then, total quiet. Israel has not reacted, in any suitable way, to the abduction and killing of the youth. The Hamas bombs us, and Israel shells some empty buildings in Gaza. Not exactly what we could call Entebbe 2.
The impotence of this government is mind-boggling. Most of the coalition is center-right. Yet a very small number of people seem to be swinging them all to the left. Including Netanyahu, who has never been known to have tremendous inner stamina, courage, or a firm backbone.
I was never a big fan of Rabin-Peres. Almost all of what is happening at present is their responsibility. But had Binyamin Netanyahu been prime minister on July 4, 1976, I have no doubt that today, 38 years later, we wouldn't be celebrating the heroic event known as Entebbe.
In conclusion, I highly recommend an article authored by Prof. Mordechai Kedar, called, "However, we are guilty." After that, nothing else needs to be said.