3 Jun 2024

Don’t worry

As we watch the Hamas War unfold, we have analyzed (as best we can 8,000 miles away) and discussed, analyzed some more. If we’re honest, we don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m as bad as anyone of being contradictory: We don’t know what will happen tomorrow (the Bible tells us), but…but…”What I think will happen in Gaza is…”

Haha, you get the idea.

It’s tempting in this critical moment to “wish” our hoped-for outcome. That is, Israel will finish the job, even in the face of withering pressure from the corrupt and morally bankrupt international community. Even now, Israeli war cabinet members are toying with the idea of joining Trojan Horse opposition leaders to undermine the war effort. The ICC and UN have bared their fangs at the Jewish state.

So, who knows how it will all come out? One day I am sure of this, the next day of that.

I want instead to change things up this week and go at this from a different angle, one that I think gives full respect to God’s Word. There, we are told that in the end, Israel will be standing at the end of history. The details of that, especially in our immediate future, we can’t know.

But I want to tell you a story. In that story, I hope you will feel less anxiety about Israel’s position. It runs parallel to the great Old Testament accounts of God’s provision for the Jewish people. I always call this story a modern Bible story.

We begin in 1976, but my very minor bit in it came along many years later. I’m talking about the famous hostage rescue at Entebbe in 1976. In late June, a small team of PLO and German terrorists hijacked an Air France jet flying from Tel Aviv to Paris. After a refueling stop in Athens, the terrorists stood up and took control of the plane. Of the over 300 hostages, more than 100 were Jewish.

While hijackings were popular in the 1970s, the new element in this terrorist act was that the plane was re-routed to Africa, Uganda to be exact. That was obviously to thwart any rescue attempt—it was 2,500 miles from Israel.

I won’t recount the whole thing here, but Israel publicly negotiated with the terrorists. At the same time they were mounting a hostage rescue effort. In a move that stunned the world, after getting an extension on the terrorist deadline, four planes loaded with Israeli commandos landed at midnight at the Entebbe Airport. In less than 10 minutes, the terrorists were eliminated and the hostages were loaded onto the planes. Israel had evaded both Egyptian and Saudi radar; they were home before anyone knew what had happened. Leaving at 4 p.m. from Sharm el Sheik, and returning to Israel the next afternoon, Israel’s counter-terrorism unit electrified the world.

I’m telling you this story to illustrate that just when Israel seems pinned with its back to the wall and the killing blow is about to be released, the Jewish state emerges in miraculous ways.

Twenty years ago, I was able to visit with two of the IDF troops that went to Entebbe. One was a member of the legendary counter-terrorism unit, Sayeret Matkal. The other a member of the Golani Brigade. The former was the first one in the door at the terminal building where the hostages were kept, and the latter was one of the few participants that was wounded. Initially, Israeli planners calculated they would take 20 percent casualties. Of the 200 troops that went, only the Golani fellow—Surin Hersko—and Jonathan Netanyahu (oldest brother of Bibi) fell. Surin was paralyzed from the neck down by a gunshot. Yoni Netanyahu was killed.

I visited these men separately, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Surin has a full life and a thriving business. His lovely home in the Tel Aviv suburbs is impressive. It was here I began to understand the spirit of the Israelis. I asked Surin why he volunteered for the Entebbe mission. He looked at me and said, “Because the people were in danger.” That’s it. He also said he would do it again if need be.

Since then, I have thought a lot about what a higher level of human he is, especially compared with the bums and, to quote Michael Savage, the vermin in media, politics and diplomacy that work 24/7 to undermine and hurt Israel. Here was a man that sacrificed so much because he values human life.

The other gentleman told a spellbinding story of entering the terminal building. The IDF had good intelligence but of course could not know everything they were running toward.

“I was in the door first. We had to have the element of surprise and we had it. The terrorists didn’t know what was happening until we were upon them.” He was carrying his weapon, a megaphone (to shout at the hostages that the IDF was there) and several pounds of explosives, in case they had to blow the door open. It was open.

“A German terrorist was lying on the floor and saw me; he fired first. I felt bullets and glass fly past my neck and head, but I wasn’t hit. I eliminated him.” Another member of the Unit entered right behind him. They each turned to the right and to the left. At the same time they were alerting the stunned hostages, they were firing their weapons. In a darkened room, the Israelis fired 60 rounds in 15 seconds. Within minutes, they were loading hostages onto waiting planes.

It was surreal talking to men of such stature. Even though both were “ordinary” Israelis. The member of the Unit said that a few years later, one of the rescued hostages was interviewed on television. She gushed that her rescuer was “like Clint Eastwood!” My new friend laughed; he is average build and height and if you passed him on the street, you’d have no idea what he did. In the chaos of those moments entering the Entebbe terminal, he saw Yoni Netanyahu fell. “He had ordered us to continue on with the mission if anyone was injured; it was hostages first.”

This is the spirit of Israel. Profound physical courage in the face of impossible odds.

Except nothing is impossible with God. Especially when His people are in danger.

I say all this to say, No matter what situation Israel is in right now, God will see them through. Almost as a gift to us, he allows us to watch His glory pass by as he fights for His people and shatters their enemies. This has been happening for 4,000 years.

He’s not going to stop now.

Am Yisrael Chai!