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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yoni Netanyahu’

Their Heroes and Ours…

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

I know I have said this before, but I have to say it now. This morning. Now. Last night, we released 26 murderers – cowards, terrorists. The most pathetic of “men.” Really, to call them men is to insult 50% of the world. These are not men by any stretch of the imagination.

The government of Israel understands how sickening, how disgusting it is, how painful it is for Israelis to watch the Palestinians celebrate the return of these sniveling things and so it arranged to release them at night. How pathetic, how stupid. Did you really think the Palestinians wouldn’t come out to celebrate because it was at night? Seriously?

Let me tell you about the heroes of Israel. We have many…

Natan Sharansky has always been one of my heroes. He’s a quiet man, brilliant. He’s short…really short…and yet he is one of the tallest of men because unlike many (including most of the ministers in the government), he stands straight and tall. He risked imprisonment in the Soviet Union to be who and what he was…

His application to marry Avital was refused by Soviet authorities. He married her in a Jewish ceremony which was not recognized by the government. Today, the Soviet Union is no more; their marriage remains and they are now grandparents. Within 24 hours of that wedding, Avital had to leave the Soviet Union.

Three years later, Natan was arrested and convicted for his ongoing activities…mostly centered around maintaining his Jewish identity and trying to leave the Soviet Union to join Avital in Israel (and to get that right for millions of other Soviet Jews). For 13 years, Avital fought for Natan… and Natan fought for Avital and their life together. In 1986, Sharansky was finally freed. They came home to Israel, where they were greeted by thousands.

On July 4, 1976, Israeli soldiers flew to Entebbe and rescued more than 100 hostages. For days, the drama of the kidnapping of an Air France flight had held the world’s attention – but nowhere more than in Israel. The hijackers – German and Palestinian – separated Jew and non-Jew, releasing the non-Jews and holding the Israeli/Jewish passengers. The crew of the jet, though not Jewish, refused to leave their passengers and remained hostages as well.

The lives of the passengers were threatened and in a daring raid, Israeli fighters flew over 1,000 miles to rescue them. In the battle that followed, Yoni Netanyahu, the leader of the operation, was killed. The only casualty. He had given orders that wounded among the forces were not to be treated until the hostages were rescued – that all focus must be on saving the Jews in that terminal. Yoni was in the front, running towards the terminal where they were held, when he was hit.

Within hours, the planes were loaded and flying back to Israel. Thousands met them at the airport and celebrated their return. These are our heroes – Natan Sharansky, Yoni Netanyahu, the passengers of the plane who held on, knowing Israel would never abandon them.

For these, thousands come out to welcome them home.

The obvious connection here is to compare what Gaza and Ramallah came to welcome last night. I can’t make the comparison – or maybe I have already. For me, I am filled with gratitude that my heroes are men who lived with honor, not cowards who stabbed women and axed men to death.

I know the so-called peace talks will continue – personally, I couldn’t even look at these negotiators or be in the same room with them. They sicken me; their culture of death sickens me. There is inside of me a part that thinks our greatest victory, even if the world does not recognize it, is simply that we are not like them. That when we come out in the thousands to welcome someone home – it is for a man who has fought for freedom; a man who has died for others…not killed for his religion.

At the end of the day, I would rather belong to a people who mourn the death of Yoni Netanyahu, than one that celebrates the life of Samir Kuntar or the 26 miserable murderers we released last night.

July 4 Entebbe Memories

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Growing up, I lived on a main street that was closed each July 4th. We had to remember to pull the car to a side street or give up going anywhere for many hours. For the most part, we pulled out the chairs and sat right on the curb as police marched by, girl scouts, politicians, fire trucks, boy scouts, baton-twirling teams, the high-school band and more.

Some threw us candy – we threw candy back and cheered them on. This was almost always the memory I have – that and the neighbors across the street preparing for their annual barbecue and sometimes going to see fireworks over the river.

One year stands out in my mind. I was 15 years old; it was 1976. We had gone to celebrate America’s 200th birthday by watching the tall ships sail down the Hudson River. We had brought a radio with us to listen to the broadcasters describe each ship…but more, days before Palestinian and German terrorists had hijacked a French plane and landed it in Entebbe, Uganda.

I was sick thinking of how they had separated the Jewish and Israeli passengers; releasing the Christian ones. That a German terrorist was involved in this separation brought home again the knowledge that the Holocaust will never really leave us.

I will forever remember that the French crew was offered the chance to leave with the Christians… and chose to stay. The deadline was approaching. The terrorists were threatening to kill the passengers. At any moment, I expected to hear that explosions and gunfire had been heard coming from the compound.

And as we sat watching the ships…the radio broke the news – explosions and gunfire. I thought I was hearing the end of what would be remembered as a terrible tragedy…and then there was confusion. It seemed a rescue attempt had been launched by Israel. Israel? But the hostages were in Africa, in Uganda?

It was, the radio quickly pointed out, a daring operation. The Israeli air force had flown 1,500 miles under the radar, undetected. They’d landed in Entebbe, and the hostages were free. The ships sailed quietly along the Hudson but those of us listening to that radio were distracted, desperate to hear what was happening. It was the first time in days I felt like smiling, like cheering – and as I looked at the ships, I thought – this is freedom…here on the river, and there in Africa.

My ears listened to the reports – some casualties but most of the hostages, almost all of them were free and being taken back to Israel…and my eyes followed the ships gracefully glided down the Hudson. My heart sang with such joy. I remember crying – but they were tears of relief. I had expected 100 dead, not 100 freed.

Yoni Netanyahu – commander of the operation and older brother of the current prime minister, gave his life bringing the passengers home. He epitomized the Israeli army officer. Follow me, he told his men. He led them in and was the first and only Israeli army soldier to fall. He died on the plane flying home, despite desperate efforts to save his life. There is a sense of peace knowing that in his last moments, he must have known that he had succeeded. He had risked all for the freedom of others, for his people – those who no one else but Israel could have saved.

July 4 has, for the last 37 years, been entwined with that memory. The tall ships and the radio. The crackling announcements of what was happening in Entebbe and the strange feeling of being in two places – both symbolizing the very same concept – a commitment to be free and to ensure the safety and freedom of all.

Freedom comes, too often, with a price. It can, at times, be a huge and painful one. But we are free today – in the United States and in Israel, because there are brave men and women who will risk all to fight against tyranny. Those who will march against evil, stand against the tide.

May God bless the United States of America with continued strength and freedom. May it always be a land where evil is wrong; where equality and justice are honored; where life is something to be valued.

May God bless the soldiers of America and the soldiers of Israel who fight so that we can all live our lives in freedom and know that if there are those who rise up against us, who attempt to take from us that which we value, that which we love, that which we are – our soldiers will protect us, fight for us, even fall for us.

And may God bless the memory of Yonatan Netanyahu, who died 37 years ago and is remembered, to this day, for the lives he saved, for the many he brought home.




From Joy to Sorrow and Back Again

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I close my eyes and am transported back to Israel, where I spent the past six weeks.

For me, Israel always feels like home, and even six weeks is not enough time to do all I would like and to see family and old friends as often as I wish.

Pesach is a beautiful time in Israel. It’s springtime and everything is in bloom. During the weeks leading up to the holiday people are busy selling their chametz, kashering their pots and pans, etc. This year things were a little more complicated for us Jerusalemites as President Obama picked an inconvenient time to visit, necessitating the closing of main thoroughfares for hours on end. But finally the holiday arrived, bringing a feeling of joyous thanksgiving.

I was privileged to hear the Priestly blessing on the second day of Chol HaMoed at the Kotel and felt enveloped in holiness. I was delighted to see the signs on buses wishing all a Chag Pesach Sameach. But one of my best “Only in Israel” stories was told to me by my friend Tzviya.

Supermarkets all over Israel sell their chametz and cover over all the shelves that have chametz on them. My friend was in a supermarket on Chol HaMoed when a woman somehow reached behind the covering and took out a box of chametz. The cashier made several attempts to enter the item on her cash register, but each time the words “Chametz – Not For Sale” came up. Finally the cashier told the customer she was unable to sell this to her this week and to please put it back.

The holiday passed all too quickly and then wherever one looked, the beautiful blue and white flag of Israel could be seen blowing in the wind. The country was getting ready to celebrate 65 years of independence. I bought a flag and proudly hung it on my car window.

The most moving experience of all for me took place on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s memorial day for its fallen soldiers. It takes place a day before Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day. For those of us who grew up and live in the U.S., memorial day in Israel is vastly different from what we are used to. It is sad and solemn; theaters are closed, as are many restaurants and stores. A siren sounds in the evening to usher in the day and again in the morning for two minutes of silence.

Aside from the public ceremonies, many people visit the cemeteries. Every year my son Dovid drives from his home in Ginot Shomron to the military cemetery on Har Herzl to visit the grave of his teacher Shlomo Aumann, Hy”d, who was killed defending Israel in the 1982 Lebanon war.

The year the war broke out Dovid was a young boy of 14, about to graduate 8th grade in the Chorev School. Shlomo Aumann , the eldest son of Nobel Laureate Professor Robert (Yisrael) Aumann, was the students’ favorite teacher. His death was a major blow to the entire class but Dovid took it particularly hard. He has never forgotten him and now, so many years later, he brings his children with him.

It is hard to describe the feeling one gets walking past thousands of graves of young men and women – 18, 19, 20 years old. We finally came to Shlomo’s grave. He was 25 when he was killed, leaving behind a two-year-old son and a pregnant wife ( a girl was born a few months after his death). Some family members were already there. Dovid spoke about his teacher and then my granddaughter Elisheva began to play her violin. There is something about the violin that touches the soul as no other instrument can. She played “V’Zakaynee L’Gadel Banim” and Shlomo’s sister told us her brother’s two children are a wonderful credit to his memory. At the sound of the violin, people visiting other graves came over sing with us.

From there we went to the section in memory of Chana Senesh, the heroine who rescued Jews in Europe during World War II before being caught and tortured to death. A group of schoolchildren and their teacher were there and when Elisheva played “Kayli Kayli,” one of the songs Chana Senesh wrote, the entire class sang along. Once again, at the sound of the violin people came from all over to stand alongside us.

Sharansky Says Yoni Netanyahu Was an Inspiration while in Jail

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Yoni Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who was killed in the Entebbe rescue, was an inspiration to Natan Sharansky while imprisoned in a Soviet jail, the former Refusenik said Sunday.

Speaking to 5,000 Masa Israel Journey participants at a Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers ceremony, Sharansky said, “While in the Soviet prison, … I thought about the three Israeli sportsmen who had visited Russia and had bravely met with us. They told us that Israel was a place of great joy.

“I later heard that one of the three was killed in the Yom Kippur war. But, mostly I thought about Yoni Netanyahu. The fact that the State of Israel was prepared to send its soldiers to rescue Jews all over the world gave me great strength. Yoni was 29 when he was killed and was 29 when I was arrested. Every time that I felt that I didn’t have the strength to keep resisting the authorities, I thought about Yoni Netanyahu and it gave me the strength to keep going.”

The Very Best of Israel on the Silver Screen

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Now that Israel’s early elections have been called off, there may be a sigh of relief among supporters of the Jewish state who feel that a new order will form in the country.  The fact that a new so-called unity government has now been formed, with the needs of the religious and the secular communities being addressed equally, could offer  the country the stability it needs to handle its external enemies without having to worry as much about the internal strife tearing it apart.  That remains to be seen, but the hope is being restored.

When events such as the reformation of the government occur, it behooves the country to do as good a job as it can to spread the word far and wide proclaiming the positive.  Too often media and other forces opposed to Israel gather morsels of negativity and portray those as truly representative of the people and government of Israel.  Israel is often its own worst enemy when it comes to public relations; its Hasbara, as it is referred to, is often too defensive and focused in shades of black and white, and therefore can seem harsh and selfish.

If it could only show a different face of the country, to accent attributes other than its military, its land disputes, or the internal, sometimes bitter, divides between the religious and secular communities, Israel can show its appeal as world class leader in arts, technologies, medicine and other areas of worldly advancements.

 This task is really best not left to the government.  The people who research sciences, run businesses and advance medicine or enterprises should be promoting their skills to the communities they address.  They know it best and can do it better, and often have no other motive than promoting what makes them so proud.

When Daniel Senor and Saul Singer wrote Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, they set out to use their talents to promote the talents of Israel.  Senor is an entrepreneur, and Singer is a journalist, and the two presented the case for Israel’s spirit for research, technology and advancement, and were convincing.  Illustrations like Startup Nation do more to help Israel’s cause than a dozen government spokespeople using obscure metaphors to illustrate how the world has the picture wrong.

This weekend in Long Island and New York City, moviegoers will get to see a work that serves to promote Israel as a place of warmth, beauty, and love, but also one of passion and courage that runs deeper than most would imagine.  Best of all, it is a film created under the auspices of a nonprofit foundation created in 1996 to benefit the Jewish people and the State of Israel primarily through media,  and it pumps its net proceeds back into more hasbarah related projects that continue to further positive images of Israel.

Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story is a documentary about the life of a true Israeli hero.  Netanyahu was made famous after his death for the spectacular raid in Entebbe, Uganda, that freed 103 mostly Israeli and Jewish hostages from a group of Palestinian terrorists. The near impossible operation, often called Operation Thunderbolt, was meticulously planned and carried out with such surgical precision that it is considered one of the greatest military feats by many experts.

Yet, the story is not a mere recounting of that feat, as Hollywood already did what it could in two motion pictures, one featuring Charles Bronson as Brig. Gen Dan Shomron and Peter Finch as Yitzhak Rabin.  Those were adventure dramas that presented Israel as a superior force with luck and God looking out for it.  No, Follow Me is an honest retrospective of the life of the young, academic, passionate and poetic son, brother, friend, boyfriend, and husband Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu.

Directors Jonathan Gruber, Ari Daniel Pinchot, and producers Mark Manson and Avi Savitsky put together a collection of letter written by Netanyahu to his loved ones while in school and in the army, and uses  interviews with high-level Israeli leaders today, including his younger brother, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.  The letters show a boy caught between wanting more out of his life with academics to family, and struggling with his love for his country and his real effectiveness as a strong military leader.

Update: Details on Funeral of Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Prime Minister

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Professor Benzion Netanyahu will be laid to rest at 5pm on Monday at the Har HaMenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.

The former aide to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Operation Entebbe hero Yoni Netanyahu, was 102.  For more about Professor Benzion, click here.

 

Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Prime Minister Benjamin, Dies at 102

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Entebbe rescue hero Yoni Netanyahu, died Monday at his Jerusalem home at the age of 102. The elder Netanyahu was visited by his son Benjamin for the last time on Sunday at the family home on 4 Haportzim Street.  He will be laid to rest on Monday at 5pm at Jerusalem’s Har Menuchot Cemetery.

Benzion Netanyahu served as secretary to Revisionist Zionist proponent and Beitar leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, served as editor for the Encyclopaedia Hebraica, and served as professor emeritus at Cornell University.

Born in Warsaw on March 25, 1910 as Benzion Milikovsky, he and his family immigrated to Israel in 1920.  In 1944, he married Tzila Segal, with whom he had three sons: Yonatan, born 1946, a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal who was killed in the 1976 Operation Entebbe rescue of 102 Israeli and other hostages, Benjamin, born 1949, and Ido, born 1952, a radiologist, author, and playwright.

Working as the secretary of Zionist icon Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Netanyahu maintained a belief in Jewish sovereignty over the Greater Land of Israel, including parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.  He was one of the signers of a petition against the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947.

Benzion’s strong Zionist values were a major part of Benjamin’s upbringing.  The prime minister’s father imparted on him the importance of protecting Jewish heritage sites such as Hebron.  He advocated a tough stance in the region, and predicted that threats to world peace would emerge from parts of the Muslim world harboring violence, terror, nuclear power, and oil.

According to a report in Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that his father predicted a Muslim attack on the Twin Towers in New York, as well as the rise of tyrannical Islamic regimes which would make efforts to attain nuclear weapons.

In his last interview with Channel 2 news – at the age of 99, Benzion stated that his powerful son does not support a Palestinian state.  “He supports the kind of (diplomatic) conditions they (the Palestinians) would never in the world accept,” Benzion said.  “That’s what I heard from him.  Not from me – he put forth the conditions.  These conditions – they will never be accepted, not even one of them.”

“No, No, Herzl and Landau did not toil in order to build a Palestinian state,” Benzion told the reporter.  “This land is a land of the Jews, not a land of the Arabs.  There is no room here for Arabs, there will not be, and they will never negotiate to terms (which would create a Palestinian state).”

Moreover, Benzion believed that Arab citizens are a threat to the fabric of Israel, and that they would conflict with the Jews by nature.  ”The tendency to conflict is in the essence of the Arab.  He is an enemy by essence… His existence is one of perpetual war,” Benzion is quoted by the Associated Press as telling Maariv in 2009. “The Arab citizens’ goal is to destroy us. They don’t deny that they want to destroy us.”

Benzion was a strong opponent of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Jewish communities in Gaza known as Gush Katif.  The forced expulsion of Jewish residents who wanted to remain in the area was a “crime against humanity”, according to Benzion.

As an academic, Netanyahu specialized in Medieval Spanish Jewry.  In his controversial book on the subject, he rejected the theory that the Spanish Inquisition was a result of Jewish isolationism or separatism, saying Spanish Jews were interested in assimilating into Christian society and Spanish culture, and were forced into being Marranos when their efforts to shed their Jewishness did not afford them full acceptance.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/benzion-netanyahu-father-of-prime-minister-benjamin-dies-at-102/2012/04/30/

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