On Sunday of this week, the State of Israel marked the 34th anniversary of the Entebbe Operation. About half of Israel’s citizens at this time weren’t here, or weren’t born, when IDF soldiers flew thousands of miles in order to free our hostages. (In a recent IDF course, a commander told a guest lecturer before his talk: “If you mention the Six-Day War, or Yom Kippur War, or Entebbe, expand a little. Otherwise the people here won’t know what you’re talking about”…)
Well, 34 years have passed, yet it’s as though nothing has changed since then. Again we see a prime minister facing the heart-breaking dilemma, this time in respect to captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit – should we pay for him? And if so, how much? And who should we free?
Those who were at Ben-Gurion Airport on the morning of the Entebbe operation will never forget the dancing and cries of joy, intermixed with the tears and the cries of pain of those who died in the operation. Happiness and sorrow combined. This is the face of the State of Israel – it was the case back then, and it is the case today as well.
The generals’ wayAnd back to the present: On this hot July day, one need not support the Shalit’s family march to Jerusalem in order to stand out there in the scorching heat and be touched: Here are the thousands of faces; the face of the beautiful Israel. As long as there are people like them, the State of Israel can sleep peacefully tonight.
Meanwhile, we would do well to pay attention to the following fact: The people who were once celebrated IDF generals, the triumphant heroes, legends in their own right, and later became prime ministers (and one president) – Ezer Weizmann, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon – freed many more terrorists in prisoner swaps than our “civilian” prime ministers – Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and others.
Why was that case? Maybe it’s because as generals and commanders in the IDF they attributed supreme value to the comradeship and the notion that “Israel will do everything”; they knew that IDF soldiers charge ahead more ferociously than their enemies because our soldiers know that the IDF and the State of Israel will do everything in order to rescue them later.
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