July 4th, 1976 (Not 1776)

Tomorrow, Independence Day, is important for American Jews, but it is not only our freedom we should be celebrating.

On July 4th, 1976, Israeli commandos led a dramatic rescue mission to free the hostages of hijacked Air France Flight 139. After two Palestinians from the PFLP and two German terrorists took control of the aircraft, they eventually landed the plane in Entebbe, Uganda.

While a handful of hostages were freed, the Israeli/Jewish passengers and crew, who refused to leave the Jewish passengers behind, were held in Uganda for almost a week. On July 4th, Operation Thunderbolt was carried out and Israeli soldiers were able to free all of the hostages.

Jerusalem Post columnist, Michael Freund, has an interesting take on the “Spirit of Entebbe,” but I am going to focus on a different angle of his article:

Looking back, it is hard to believe how much has changed since then. In just three decades, Israel has gone from being a country which frees hostages to one that frees terrorists. Instead of refusing to negotiate with the bad guys, we now offer them unilateral concessions while getting nothing in return. (MORE)

This may highlight a distinction in viewpoints. Freund, who is not alone in his opinion, identifies Abbas’ Fatah faction as an enemy. On the other hand, Olmert is compromising with Fatah, or at least giving gestures of good will.

I wonder: Does Olmert disagree with Freund and genuinely see Fatah as an important ally against Hamas and a real partner for peace? Or does he view Fatah as an enemy albeit an enemy that is still worth negotiating with?

In any case, while it seems like some freedoms are going to be harder to come by, tomorrow, our Independence Day in America, let’s take time remember the religious and cultural independence we enjoy here in America and the brave rescue mission, Operation Thunderbolt, which freed many fellow Jews from their terrifying experience.

(Matt Ring is the summer intern at MyJewishLearning.com)

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