This past week I (along with many others around the world) celebrated the life of Jonathan Netanyahu, the Israeli commando leader that fell rescuing hostages at Entebbe, Africa, 44 years ago. I’ve told the story in this space before, but it is more relevant than ever, with courage in short supply from our “leaders.”
This week, his brother secured his countrymen’s safety a bit longer with another bold strike, this time against the evil Iranian regime. More on that in a minute.
On June 27, 1976, PLO and German terrorists hijacked an Air France jetliner in Athens, demanding that the crew fly on to the heart of Africa, far away from the supreme capabilities of the IDF.
Or so they thought.
In a matter of hours, the Israeli cabinet, along with the military establishment, decided that a very daring rescue attempt would proceed. Lt. Col. Netanyahu, commander of the Israel’s most elite counter-terrorist unit, drew up an operational plan. Entebbe was 2,500 miles from Israel. Netanyahu would lead a 30-man strike force, while 170 other troops would secure the rest of the airport.
The whole remarkable story is told in a riveting book by Iddo Netanyahu (the youngest brother and also a member of the Unit), Entebbe. Jonathan, like his brothers steeped in Zionism through their remarkable father, Benzion, seemed to have a premonition that he would not return. He was 30 years old.
Fifteen years ago, I spent an amazing evening with two of the Entebbe commandos. They told me the story in such chilling detail that I still recall it all easily.
One of them was assigned to be the “tip of the spear,” the first man in the door. He said that the one thing they had to have was the element of surprise.
They had it, and succeeded in freeing 102 hostages; three were killed in the crossfire. From the time the Israeli planes touched down, to the time it took to get back in the fair, a mere hour had passed. They killed all the terrorists, blew up Ugandan planes on the ground, and headed back to Israel.
Jonathan Netanyahu’s body was wrapped in a silvery bag. Amir told me that he saw “Yoni” hit, but ran past him to the terminal door where the hostages were being kept. Netanyahu’s orders called for the safe release of all hostages before any IDF wounded were tended to.
Eight hours later, around noon on July 4, the planes re-entered Israeli airspace and the country exploded in wild jubilation.
In this epic story, there is a long list of things to remember. One that I have not forgotten is the report that on the way to Entebbe, Netanyahu confided to the pilot that if Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was there, he—Netanyahu—would kill him.
The pilot was surprised, arguing that they didn’t have authorization for that, but Netanyahu insisted. His reasonsing? Amin was a bloodthirsty killer of his own people and it would be the moral thing to do to take him out.
I agree with him.
Very, very few at any given time have the very rare courage to do the right thing.
This week, Israeli Prime Minister undoubtedly approved an operation to strike an Iranian depot. The Iranians know very well that the Israelis will do everything in their considerable power to derail and/or destroy the terror regime’s nuclear facilities.
World diplomats and politicians don’t have the nerve to end the suffering of millions. They are elitists, so self-absorbed that they either do nothing or push failed policies.
The Netanyahus are made of stronger stuff. The right stuff.
The world sees a man like Jonathan Netanyahu only every several hundred years, if then. Yet something tells me that many of us are going to be faced with doing the right thing for our families, sooner rather than later.