Enjoying the recent July 4th weekend, my wife and I talked with our children about Operation Thunderbolt, or as it was subsequently renamed, Operation Yonatan.

We shared with our kids the incredible pride and special joy of waking up forty years earlier on the morning of July 4, 1976, to the news that commandoes of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had attained what no country had ever done – a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission.  The world’s attention was riveted on this little known country run by a cannibalistic dictator in the middle of the vast African continent.  The news became grimmer as the week wore on.  And yet, there was a miracle, Baruch Hashem.  Crying, my wife reminded us that some people, including the mission Commander Yonatan Netanyahu, lost their lives.

Looking back, I’m sure we did not appreciate the world then.  It was a simpler world.  For one, social media didn’t exist.  Then, there was not the abundance of news outlets available offering the tsunami of information with graphic details and photos that have become commonplace today.  This barrage has worn us down and may, G-d forbid, lessen our shock and sensitivities at hearing and seeing atrocities.  In 1976, we were on heightened alert.

Further, the world was more black-and-white without any moral relativism.  Simply, the terrorists were the bad guys.  They hijacked a plane filled with civilian passengers.  They perpetrated Holocaust-like machinations during the week-long siege, whereby Jews and Israelis were separated from others and the non-Jews and non-Israelis were released.  There was no talk about the terrorists allegedly being victims of oppression and therefore had to act out on others.  They were evil personified.  Simple.

The same can be said for Uganda’s then dictator, Idi Amin.  After learning that the IDF staged the rescue mission that tricked his own soldiers, he ordered the execution of Mrs. Dora Bloch, a passenger on the hijacked flight who had been hospitalized.  This was unadulterated revenge on an elderly, defenseless woman.

In the world of 1976, the terrorists made it clear that being Israeli and Jewish were one and the same.  Today, BDS and other detractors of Israel and the Jewish people propagandize that BDS is about Israel and not about the Jews.  My grandmother Nadja, whom I’ve cited here previously, was clear that a pogrom is a pogrom, no matter what you want to call it.  In other words, anti-Semitism, anti-Israel – It’s all the same thing.  The terrorists of Entebbe made that point clear.

What message did my wife and I try to convey to our children this past weekend?  The Torah portion of Behaalosicha provides a beautiful answer.

Contained within Behhalosicha are the famous verses of “VeYehi b’insoa HaAron…”  The verses are separated from the rest of the Parsha by the inverted “Nun” at both the beginning and conclusion of these verses.  “Nun” is Aramaic for fish.  Stand by a stream and watch a school of fish swim past.  The glimmers of silver streaking past do not tell us if the fish is alive or dead.  A live fish will swim against the current, despite the odds.

We Jews are the people who swim against the current.  Today, there’s a blurring of all boundaries – religion, gender, you name it, to the point that society will soon not know who is who and what is what.  The Torah grounds us, tethering us to eternity.  It supersedes the changes imposed by a fast-changing world in which people don’t know they are lost.  Please G-d, we should never have to experience an Entebbe siege again. But remember there’s right and there’s wrong.  And we will always walk as proud Jews.

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