By Gerald A. Honigman,

It was a moment in time never to be forgotten—July 4, 1976.

I was watching those spectacular tall sailing ships from numerous countries passing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn in salute to America’s two hundredth birthday. Tears of pride were in many of our eyes that day.

I was there with my best friend Arie, who is from Israel. At almost the very same moment that those tall ships were sailing by, something else was happening which would link Israel and America together in many a mind 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 was 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.

This is an amazing, true story that sired several movies and accounts. Look it up on the Internet or rent one of the movies.

But what you need to know is that on July 4, 1976, Israel raided Entebbe, freed the hostages and showed the world that it was possible to defeat terror—a lesson some still need to learn today. It was a wonderful present 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, we named him Jonathan, in honor of King Saul’s son, Prince Yonatan—King David’s closest friend—and in honor of Yoni Netanyahu.

Today, the mainstream media would portray Yoni as a right-wing extremist. Just look at how most of it has dealt with Israel going after the non-stop terror machine and its willing supporters in Gaza. Any Jew who refuses to stick his head in the sand regarding what the Arabs’ true intentions are regarding the Jew of the Nations is branded this way.

Arabs claim twenty-one states to date in their Arab League, on over six million square miles of territory, forcibly Arabized from mostly non-Arab peoples; but how dare Jews claim a sole, minuscule, resurrected one of their own—practically invisible on a world map?

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

Rabbi Hillel, 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 current “others”, who see the entire region as merely purely Arab patrimony. Justice, through Arab eyes only. That’s what Darfur and the south of the Sudan is about; that’s what gassed, massacred and subjugated Kurds, Copts, Berbers, and so forth, is about as well.

The compromises Israel has sought with the Arabs are light years beyond what Arabs have offered to the scores of millions of non-Arabs with whom they have clashed and competed themselves. But nothing will really change until the Arab mindset changes. Until then, Israel must concentrate on the first part of Hillel’s famous quote.

Given this reality check, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must send the same message his elder brother Yoni sent over three decades ago. He must demand—not beg—empathy for live Jews, not crocodile tears of sympathy for dead ones.

What would over three hundred million Americans in a three thousand mile wide America do given the true nature of the beast Israel faces? If I am not for myself, who will be for me….?

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