Menachem Begin has always been and in all likelihood will remain my hero. I miss him more than one can imagine. In response to the resolution passed by UNESCO last Thursday which charged Israel with a long list of violations regarding Haram al-Sharif and al- Aqsa Mosque and  purposely omits the sacred connection that exists between  the site of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem and  Jews, I can hear Menachem Begin standing up and proclaiming: “The people of Israel have existed 3,700 years without defamatory resolutions passed by UNESCO and will continue to exist far beyond 3,700 years with or without defamatory resolutions passed by UNESCO.” After delivering the proclamation in a fashion typical of an orator of his caliber, in all likelihood Mr. Begin would have turned to his trusted aide Yehuda Avner and exclaimed in Yiddish: “Hairst a Myseh (have you ever heard of such Chutzpah)!”
Menachem Begin would have also considered the source. Drafted by seven Arab countries, Mr. Begin would have understood that the resolution was purely to bolster the Palestinians and was in all likelihood authored by Palestinians. For only Palestinians could author a resolution containing such a ludicrous claim, given that less than twenty four hours earlier, hundreds of thousands of Jews throughout the world attended Yom Kippur services, where a reenactment of the one day a year service by the Kohen going into the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. Being an anti-Semite is one thing; being a stupid anti-Semite is quite something else. If the Palestinians want to insist that Jews have no connection to the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, then they would be well advised to make their claim in January or February, but not on the heels of Yom Kippur.
Menachem Begin would not have been surprised that the resolution passed twenty-four to six, with twenty-six abstentions. If anything, he would have been mildly surprised that Britain, Germany, Estonia and Lithuania were among those who voted against the resolution. Given his formative years in pre-war Poland where anti-Semitism all too often reared its ugly head, he saw the need for an independent Jewish country precisely because Jews could not nor should not count on others for support or friendship. It was a young Menachem Begin who led a massive demonstration in the early years of Israel, damning the government for negotiating with Germany on the matter of reparations or “blood money” as he called it. His attitude was, as Jews in a Jewish State, we will focus our energies on that what is moral and proper; we will not waste our time worrying about the censure of the rest of the world nor will we concern ourselves to seek its approval.
Menachem Begin in all likelihood would have grabbed his tallis and tefillen and shown up at the Kotel for Shacharis. No stranger to the Shacharis service – or any prayer service for that matter, Mr. Begin would have offered a lengthy explanation to the news media how Jerusalem and the holy Temple were integral parts of Judaism and that no Muslim should even think of making statements that would impugn the historic and religious connection between the holy Temple and Jews. Why, Mr. Begin might even have added, that as a gentleman he refrains from making any negative or incendiary remarks about Moslems and Mecca. Hopefully what he did not follow up with, would have been heard loud and clear by the Palestinians.
When all is said and done however, Menachem Begin would have stood before the Knesset and excoriated Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority for instigating the resolution. After telling members of Knesset that given the life he lived and the suffering he endured, he fears no one and that he is prepared to speak out and give anyone a piece of his mind, especially a Palestinian leader who incites hatred.  Mr. Begin would then have concluded his tirade by borrowing from a Yiddish maxim which could be best translated as follows: And if Mahmoud Abbas gets his nose out of joint from what I have to say to him, then let him walk around the rest of his life with a disjointed nose.


Forty years ago this week, Israel accomplished a feat which many saw as being nothing short of a miracle. As the United States of America celebrated two hundred years of independence, the State of Israel, barely twenty- eight years old at the time, showed the entire world what independence was really all about.
A week earlier, Palestinian terrorists (read murderers) diverted an Air France wide body jet carrying 246 mainly Jewish and Israeli passengers to Entebbe, Uganda (the plane did land in Benghazi, Libya for refueling before heading to Entebbe). The demands of the Palestinian hijackers (read murderers) was the release of fifty-three Palestinian and pro-Palestinian militants (read murderers) – forty of whom were in Israeli jails in addition to a ransom of five million dollars. If the demands were not met, the hijackers would begin murdering hostages on July 1.
Under the guise of needing more time to meet their demands, Israel began to put together a plan to rescue those who had been taken as well as to neutralize (read execute justice) on the Palestinian history. Spectacular, doesn’t even begin to describe what occurred from the time the rescue team lifted off from Israel.
Pidyon Shvuyim, or the redemption of captives, has always been viewed as a mitzvah in a league of its own. “The redeeming of captives takes precedence over supporting the poor or clothing them. There is no greater mitzvah than redeeming captives for the problems of the captive include being hungry, thirsty, unclothed and they are in danger of their live”, writes Maimonides. While it is true that not every Israeli is versed in mitzvot, much less Maimonides, it is also true that Pidyon Shvuim is in the DNA of Israelis, in that it is inconceivable, and totally unacceptable, for Israelis to stand idly by while the lives of fellow Jews are in peril, given the utter helplessness of the Jew living in the Diaspora throughout the millennia.
Less than two years before the hijacking, moviegoers around the world were reminded by the fictional Michael Corleone in Godfather II, to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. For Israel, the advice was both sound as well as timely.
Itche Gadish currently of Ramat Gan spent much of the decade of the ‘60’s in Uganda where he was the head of the international arm of a large Israeli engineering firm. He knew Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator personally. In fact at one point, Itche was asked to tender plans for the redevelopment of the Entebbe airport and was provided with the blueprints of the existing airport which he brought back with him, when he returned to Israel in 1969. Because of close contact with Itche Gadish, the Israelis had a close up view of their target. The liberating team knew every nook and cranny where the hostages were being kept before they set out on their mission.
According to the History books, the Yom Kippur War ended on October 26, 1973, less than three weeks after it began. Don’t believe it! The Yom Kippur War ended on July 4, 1976. It took the astounding victory of Entebbe to bring the nation out of the malaise they had been in since October 1973. The Entebbe Rescue restored a sense of self confidence along with its can do attitude ever since it had been so badly shaken in October 1973.
It has been said, since its very inception, Israel has been a threat. I couldn’t agree more. Israel has been a threat to the moral values of other countries, where governments are not prepared to lift a finger should it happen that its people are taken hostage by terrorists. Israel has been a threat to overly cautious naysayers of other countries, because time after time, Israel discovers yet another miracle, sometimes in the guise of airport blueprints and makes the impossible a reality. Israel has been a threat to the hijackers, as well as the governments that harbor and support them. Thanks to people Itche Gadish with his blueprint of the Entebbe airport, Israel is able to say “we know where you live and we are coming after you”. And that’s precisely what took place forty years ago, this week.