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On the Anniversary of Entebbe, Malkah is Home on the Range


Malkah shooting at Caliber 3

Malkah shooting at Caliber 3
Photo Credit: Yishaei Fleisher

We couldn’t leave the range without interviewing Shai.  My husband, Yishai – the one I’ve vowed to lock and load with for the rest of my life – discussed Shai’s outlook on Jewish defense and his participation in the Entebbe Rescue Operation – which happened on July 4, 1976.

“My generation grew up after the Holocaust,” Ish Shalom told Yishai on Jewish Press Radio.  “And I remember in the elite unit in which I served, sitting in the tent in a very, very difficult training, very blue like I always am [on Israel’s annual Holocaust memorial day], but I see my members quite the same…. I initiated by saying I’m blue because it’s Holocaust day and I joined Sayeret Matkal only so this will not happen again to the Jewish people as long as I contribute my best.  And [my friend] said ‘I was ashamed to talk about it, but I feel the same!’ and all the people around said the same.”

“In my time, it’s [Zionism] to take a guy… and make him in six days a proper security guard… I’m going to beat him up, I’m going to put him on the ground, just so when and if the time comes, I know I gave him my best.  This is Zionism,” Ish-Shalom said.  “We know that [battle] can bring us to die.  And we’re willing to die… we know that’s what it takes, and we’re willing to take it.”

Although we were eager to hear war stories from Entebbe, Ish-Shalom was not forthcoming.  He explained the background of Arab hijackings following the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, in which the Palestinian Black September terror group took hostage and murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.

He also discussed his Sayeret Matkal unit’s readiness to participate in the rescue at Entebbe, and the most dangerous aspect of the mission – the 20 minutes of flight between Nairobi and Entebbe during which their aircraft was not covered by Israeli jets.

But the juicy details never came.  “It doesn’t matter – we carried it out,” Ish-Shalom told Yishai.  “No vanity, we just did what we did because as I said before, I’m willing to give my life for you, even though I don’t know you, because this is my nature. “

“We came in, we did our job, we were accurate…. But as a Jew, we are willing to take the risk, because we won’t let any Holocaust happen again.  This is all I can say.”

Ish-Shalom also stressed the importance of teaching Jews today that they are responsible for their own safety in an uncertain world.

“It’s our fault,” Ish-Shalom said.  “We took our children and said ‘we had such a tough time, let’s keep it away from them,’ so that’s what we do… Now when they have to cope, they don’t know how to do it because we always covered for them.  So when I’m here and with the youngsters, I show them it’s their responsibility –  and be tough, nobody will come for your rescue, only yourself, no father, no mother, you! “

And that is a message he tells both Israelis and Jews from the Diaspora.

“First of all, you must know it is safe here for Jews.  You must know – the safest place on the earth for Jews,” Ish-Shalom said.  “But if you want to be a Jew and you want to be in the Diaspora and you don’t feel safe, make it safe for yourself.  It’s easy to do.  Or come here.”

Good advice.

I was deeply moved by my experience.  Standing in the foothills of Judea, Malkah Fleisher, Israeli olah, held a specialized Israeli-designed weapon – one of just a few we have crafted to defend ourselves since breaking away from millennia of victimization – with careful directions being whispered in my ear by a man who himself was groomed to perfect weapons use in the defense of the Jewish people, and went on to do so in one of the most valorous missions the Jewish people have undertaken in 2,000 years.  Next to him, his assistant – a former member of the New Zealand military who then became a Christian missionary, ultimately realizing the error of his ways and converting to Judaism, then taking it to the next step by making aliyah.  The date of our shooting day: the 27th of Sivan, the eve of the hijacking of that Air France plane so many years ago (on the Jewish calendar – no, we didn’t plan it that way).  And all around us – Caliber 3, one of the country’s six state-authorized police, army, counter-terror and special forces training facilities – erected from the bottom up by a Jew who left the United States to join in the greatest mission of all – to build the Jewish state alongside all of us here today.

About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


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29 Responses to “On the Anniversary of Entebbe, Malkah is Home on the Range”

  1. Thanks to Stephen, David, Yori, Rafi, Yishai, Sharon, and Shai!

  2. Malka you are nothing like Bar Refaeli, you don't look like a draft dodger!

  3. Yori Yanover says:

    Next time we go to a plowshare range.

  4. Chaiya Eitan says:

    What a cool lady….

  5. Wonderful writing, Malkah!

  6. I wrote earlier but it was taken from me, so I'll simply say I think it's great that she learns how to shoot a gun; and like the others I too believe it's very well written.
    All should be well with a good week and good Shabbat.
    Shalom, Shalom, Yosef of Oklahoma and Texas.

  7. the righteous and braves deserved noteworthy praise! may their tribe increase!

  8. Jarrod Muhary says:

    So true. I was told it was a Mitzvah to teach our kids to swim as it may save their life one day. The same can be said of the martial sciences… Training in my family is mandatory

  9. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Dude???? I'm a woman probably old enough to be your ima.

  10. Rc Fowler says:

    Not a well written article–Malkah Fleisher a thief!

  11. sorry ma'am, for me 'dude' is a gender-free badge of awesomeness. Thanks for reading!

  12. Casey Punchy says:

    great article malkah,

  13. Yori Yanover says:

    You're not a very happy person, are you?

  14. Stephen Leavitt says:

    Yori Yanover What's wrong with this guy?

  15. Uziyahu Ben-Adi says:

    Dood in Hebrew means "friend", doesn't it?

  16. Chaiya Eitan says:

    I haven't lived in the States for 25 years…not up on the slang any more.

  17. bravo Malkah. the girl in the picture is my grand daughter who was born in Jerusalem. may you be a great example to her.

  18. anti zionism is just the P.C. version of plain old anti semitism. sod off r.c. fowler

  19. Ish-Shalom said: ”We know that [battle] can bring us to die. And we’re willing to die… we know that’s what it takes, and we’re willing to take it.”.

    This is not only the attitude of someone who is living for something much higher than himself, but also the only way to be Truly liberated from the impeding worldly darkness.

    If more of us felt this way, we would be unstoppable. Thank you for this article, Malkah Fleisher.

    We Want Moshiach Now! We Don't Want To Wait!

  20. a thief? you mean thief of hearts, right?

  21. Rc Fowler says:

    Yori Yanover Just being honest Mr. Yanover!

  22. Rc Fowler says:

    You're SO welcome Mrs. Fleisher–anytime!

  23. Rc Fowler says:

    John P Center How do you go from "not a well written article and Mrs. Fleisher being a thief" by her own admission–to anti Semitism?

    Logically one cannot–but you Mr. Center are an ignorant fool–as disapproving of an author's writing style and of their thieving does in no way equal anti Semitism!

  24. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Mr. Fowler, what did she steal?????

  25. yeah? what did I steal? The bullet casing? I don't think anyone needed that. The earplugs – I mean, I'm not sure it's so hygenic to hand those back in…

  26. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Clever retort, Malkah!

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