Israel The Good And The Moral

By Rodney Mazinter

In their obviously ill-judged comments about Israel, critics choose to waste their time at checkpoints on the borders gazing at the brave boys and girls making up the Israeli Defence Force, whose sole job is to protect Jews living in Samaria and Judea who just go about getting on with their jobs, and to provide a strong deterrent that ensures that murderous individuals do not infiltrate into Israel.

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People’s Army. Out of necessity, Israel is one of only a few countries in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. According to the IDF, 535 female Israeli soldiers were killed in combat operations between the period 1962-2016.

When I visit Israel, I look in another direction:

–  I see schools and youth villages where at-risk children are given the care that will give them hope and a future in life

– I see Ethiopian children given the means to make that leap across centuries and cultures and find their own excellence.

– I see the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where, when Israel’s enemies decide to destroy lives, they continue saving them

– I see The Bar-Ilan Medical Centre in Safed set up to bring the finest possible medical treatment to Muslims, Christians, and Druze villages throughout the country.

– I see the Laniado Hospital in the Netanya whose founder, a holocaust survivor who lost his wife and 11 children in the Nazi camps of death and there made an oath that if he should ever survive, he would dedicate the rest of his life to saving life

– I see the Wolfson Medical Centre where free, quality, paediatric cardiac care is provided for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease, and whose dedicated doctors and surgeons have created a programme to create centres of competence in those countries so that they can carry out life-saving surgeries on the spot

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Heartwarming. An Echo Technician from Wolfson Medical Center in Israel, examines the heart of a child at the Save a Child’s Heart clinic in Zanzibar, March 5, 2018. The Israeli organization that provides life-saving heart treatment to children in developing countries won the prestigious 2018 UN Population Award for outstanding contributions to the world’s population. (Nati Shohat/FLASH9)

– I see caring for every life and notice that every life is sacred, where mind-blowing Israeli technology, and eye-opening developments in medical science are applied to the common good.

That and much more is what I see in Israel, the will to life with its hospitals, schools, freedoms, and rights.

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Saving Syrians. An injured civilian from the civil war in Syria being transferred to Ziv Medical Center in Safad, Israel. Photo by Simon Haddad/Ziv Medical Center

– I see, Christians, Hindus, Sheiks, Muslims, and from my experience, Israel is a source of inspiration to everyone because it tells every single person on the face of the earth that a nation doesn’t have to be large to be great. A nation doesn’t have to be rich in natural resources to prosper.

Israel has been surrounded by enemies and yet it has shown that even so, you can still be a democracy, still have a free press, still have an independent judiciary. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a Palestinian can stand up on national television and criticise the government and the next day still be a free human being.

Israel’s demonisers would have us believe that they have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart. Quite the contrary – their decisions and actions are far more likely to bring war, poverty and hunger to the West Bank and Gaza.

The only conclusion any reasonable person can come to is that only prosperity, with robust industrial, commercial and even cultural relationships between the Palestinians and Israelis can lead to mutual acceptance and a durable peace. This can be achieved if only the BDS activists would acknowledge the true interests of the Palestinians above their own narrow, political ambitions and shallow priorities, and the Palestinians would recognise Israel’s right to exist.

Some twenty years ago, Palestinian businessmen and workers from the West Bank and Gaza entered Israel without much interference. Security over the years increased commensurate with the increase in attacks against civilians. Approximately 146,000 Palestinians working in Israel at the time accounted for about 20% of Palestinian GDP.

A very successful industrial zone was created at Erez, employing about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate, scheduled to provide up to 50,000 jobs. In addition, a joint industrial zone was planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians. Additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.

And then came the politicians and BDS for whom such developments meant nothing. They are the true destroyers of peace, jobs, families, development and prosperity.

Israel has much to offer the world. The chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Cape, Rowan Polovin recently returned from the 2019 “Our Crowd” Global Investment Summit in Israel where the technological advances were on display to 18,000 delegates from 182 counties who reveled in what 500 vendors had on show and business to the tune of one billion dollars was transacted.

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Cherishing The Past, Israel Has Its Eyes On The Future. The Summit is an annual gathering of innovation and startup ecosystem players offering a broad range of opportunities across tech sectors, startup showcases, VC perspectives, strategic networking, and more.

This makes the destructive tactics of BDS seem irrelevant” said Polovin.

Rather than follow the “destructive” path of boycotts and diplomatic downgrades, why not in the interests of South Africa benefit from Israel’s advances in medicine and the sciences and capitalize on lucrative business opportunities.

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Wonder Women. Women in the Forbes 2018 Under 30 Global Summit, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, ringing the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Bell. In choosing Israel to host 1st Global Women’s Summit, the Magazine’s chief content officer said ‘Israel is a great place to show how we can accelerate the cause of women in leadership.’

Surely this is the better way where all will benefit!

 

Why an Israeli Hospital is Treating Wounded Syrians

 

 

About the author

image003 (48).jpgRodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape

 

The Arab Voice – May 2019

Turkey and the EU: A Doomed Engagement

by Burak Bekdil
BESA Center Perspectives
April 28, 2019

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This cartoon captures Turkey’s appalling treatment of journalists.

Two decades ago, the big question in Brussels and Ankara was, “Will Turkey one day become a full member of the EU?” A decade ago, it was, “How soon can Turkey become a full member?” Today, the question is simpler: “Will it be Turkey or the EU that puts an official end to this opera buffa?”

In March, the European Parliament forcefully reminded the West’s Turkey hopefuls that they are wrong. In a non-binding vote, the assembly recommended to suspend accession negotiations with Turkey (370 votes in favor, 109 against with 143 abstentions.) An EU press release after high-level talks with Turkey in Brussels confirmed that accession talks were at a standstill and said that the “Turkish government’s stated commitment to EU accession needs to be matched by corresponding reforms.”

There are plenty of reasons – all open secrets – why Turkey does not qualify to become a member, according to the assembly: ongoing human, civil, and due process rights violations; concern –  over Ankara’s lack of respect for minority religious and cultural rights;

-the state’s “shrinking space for civil society,”

-its arrests and suppression of journalists;

-its dismissal of dissident academics,

-its treatment of Middle Eastern migrants within its borders;

-the government’s abuse of due process rights of its own citizens under the guise of terrorism suspicions;

-its intimidation of its own citizens;

-and Turkey’s fractious relationships with neighboring states such as Cyprus and Greece, as well as (the lack of) normalization of diplomatic relations with neighboring Armenia.

The European Parliament said:

Respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, including the separation of powers, democracy, freedom of expression and the media, human rights, the rights of minorities and religious freedom, freedom of association and the right to peaceful protest, the fight against corruption and the fight against racism and discrimination against vulnerable groups are at the core of the negotiation process.

Alparslan Kavaklıoğlu a member of Erdoğan‘s AKP and head of the parliament’s Security and Intelligence Commission, said in 2018: “Europe will be Muslim. We will be effective there, Allah willing. I am sure of that.”

The EU and Turkey each have their own interest in endlessly prolonging this opera buffa. But the audience is growing increasingly bored.

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is also a founder of, and associate editor at, the Ankara-based think tank Sigma.

 

 

 MAY 1, 2019 19:21

SRI LANKA AND THE 100-YEAR BATTLE
Asharq al-Awsat, London, April 23

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On Tuesday, April 23, Harshani Sriyani weeps over the body of her daughter who was killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo. Eranga Jayawardena/AP

Here we are again, coming to terms with yet another ghastly terrorist attack waged against innocent civilians. This time, terrorism struck Christian worshipers in Sri Lanka. Prior to that, it struck worshipers in New Zealand. And beforehand, it struck Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Europe, America and a wide host of other countries.
I am convinced that this battle – the battle to eradicate terrorism – is going to be a long one, spanning maybe even an entire century. The world has been combating terrorism for over three decades, yet the problem persists. Every time we defeat one organization, another one rears its head.
The wars of terrorism are more dangerous than tribal and state wars, because they are rooted in deep-seated ideology. They are the products of antiquated doctrines that have been reinvigorated in distorted ways and have made their way into modern society. The weapons of this war are quotations from holy books, propagated using modern technology that enables these ideas to be published at nearly no cost.
Sadly, without an international coalition fighting terrorism in its ideological roots – nipping it in the bud – radical ideas will continue to spread around the world, threatening the entire future of mankind.
The way we have been confronting terrorist organizations is by trying to defeat them militarily or financially. We destroy their secret hideouts or restrict their ability to pay for their operations. But the strongest fuel that feeds the terrorist engine is the scores of people who promote their radical agendas. Terrorism, therefore, lives in the minds of people. The problem is that we live in denial.
In the aftermath of the attacks last week, Islamist organizations were quick to deny their involvement. They attempted to sow confusion about the perpetrators. Then they sought to justify the attack. Then they claimed responsibility. Throughout the process, they used the same old explanations and excuses: “Islamic State never had a physical foothold in Sri Lanka”; “the attacks must have been foreign nationals”; etc. However, Islamic State does not require a physical infrastructure in Sri Lanka in order to carry out an attack. It simply needs to live in the minds of people.
The battle on the ground may continue, but the ideological battle is just beginning. Unless we change our mind-set, new organizations will come to life as soon as their predecessors are destroyed.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla.

 

 

FIGHTING FOR OUR PAST TO PRESERVE OUR FUTURE
Al-Ittihad, UAE, April 22

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One of the main attractions at Palmyra, the Temple of Baal was mostly flattened by explosions detonated by ISIS.

The fire that consumed Notre-Dame de Paris was a tragic event and a great humanitarian shock for everyone who understands the value of human history. It is therefore not surprising that the fire received widespread media attention across the world.
One thing shared by all mankind is our collective care for our history and archaeology, the construction of museums and the preservation of physical and intangible signs of our heritage. No nation that respects itself can ignore its cultural and civilizational symbols.
This has been especially true in the UAE, where history-preservation efforts have been under way for several decades. This national project has been led by Sheikh Zayed, who sought to document and preserve the history of our region.
But preserving cultural and religious artifacts in the Middle East is no easy feat. The political situation in the region has not been serene, to say the least. Fundamentalist religious organizations such as the Taliban movement in Afghanistan have systematically destroyed all artifacts associated with ancient civilizations. For example, the Buddhas of Bamyan, carved into a sandstone cliff in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, were dynamited and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Similarly, Islamic State detonated and destroyed the Temple of Bel, a Mesopotamian temple dating back to 32 CE. It also destroyed the Roman theater at Palmyra, which dates back to the second century CE. These sites represented thousands of years of civilization. Losing these monuments is a true loss for humanity.
The important question that arises from the Notre-Dame fire is, therefore, why does the Western world care so much about a cathedral in France but not about monuments located in the Middle East? What about the history that is being erased before our eyes by radical organizations located in our midst? These are no less important than Notre-Dame.
But the responsibility is also ours. We must build a tolerant Muslim society and reshape the cultural discourse surrounding the cultural artifacts found in our countries. The companions of the holy prophet entered many countries in the Arab and Muslim world during the period of the so-called conquests in the era of the caliphs. They did not destroy any statues or monuments. The holy prophet himself passed through many cities that housed non-Muslim monuments. He did not destroy any of their ancient relics. Such barbarity must never be tolerated.
The events in Paris are a stark reminder to all of us. They are a reminder that we must take care of our historical monuments and protect them at any cost – not only as tourist destinations, but also as a fundamental part of our cultural legacy. This is a battle we have no choice but to win, not only for the sake of our past, but also for the sake of our future.

Ali Hussein Bakir

Ali Hussein Bakir is a Jordanian researcher specialized in international relations. He currently works for the International Strategic Research Organization “ISRO-USAK” (Turkey). He worked as an economic editor and researcher at Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group AIWA (Lebanon) and was a research associate at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies (Qatar) and the Geo-Strategic Group for Studies. Bakir has many publications in a number of other prominent Arab think tanks such as the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, the Gulf Research Centre, the Middle East Studies Centre, the Shebaa Centre for Strategic Studies, Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre, and The Arab Centre for the Humanities. Since 2007, Bakir has authored and co-authored various number of publications and books on Turkey, Iran, Arabian Gulf, and China.

SA At Odds With World Powers And BRICS Nations About Israel

By Rowan Polovin

Hating one Middle Eastern country has never garnered the ANC votes or won it any international favour.

There is something foul about SA’s foreign policy. It stands continuously with the anti-Western bloc of dictators, fascists and human rights abusers. It has a horrendous track record of voting at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council that is diametrically opposite to post-apartheid’s values of freedom and nondiscrimination.

It votes against measures that sanction human rights abusers and praises the “diversity” of totalitarian dictatorships. It abstains on the appointment of a special rapporteur on violence against the LGBTI community and on resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Syria.

It keeps consistently but deafeningly silent about all the horrors and atrocities committed in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as on the mistreatment of women, minorities and children. It sits Janus-faced on the international stage, facilitating the work of despots offshore, while proclaiming the values of human rights back home.

There is but one country at which South Africa directs all its opprobrium and judgment. It is the most undeserving country of such hostility but is so targeted because the governing party irrationally believes this will win it votes locally and power internationally.

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Speak Of The Devil. While separating from the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, South Africa embraces one of the world’s worst human rights abusers and prime promoter of instability in the Middle East, Iran, as seen here with SA’s Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Reginah Mhaule (right), expressing this past March in Cape Town before Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi (left), “we remain committed to continue to support the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The ANC is dangerously wrong on both accounts: hating Israel has never garnered it votes in any election, and targeting Israel internationally only isolates South Africa itself. It carries out an inverted foreign policy that bashes the ‘Jew of nations’ and applauds the scoundrels.

The ANC owes the public an explanation about why it does this.

Last week, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, recklessly steered into dangerous territory when asked about her country’s relations with Israel. She spoke of removing the South African ambassador to Israel and of kicking out the Israeli ambassador to SA. She even declared that the ANC will dictate university policy on Israel.

She forgot about SA’s esteemed constitution and rule of law, and that the ANC sits below, not above it.

Our constitution was carefully written by wise people who recognised that freedom of religion, speech, association and academia are fundamental values that ensure the longevity of a democratic state. Any unjust attempts to undermine those values, as Sisulu and her faction seem intent on doing, will unravel the very structures of the democratic state her predecessors fought for.

On the issue of cutting ties with Israel and allowing the antisemitic BDS fringe movement to capture foreign policy, Sisulu and the ANC should proceed with extreme caution. South Africa is focused on rebuilding its standing in the international community and hoping to be taken seriously on international affairs.

While still a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) bloc, it parts company with every other member on Israel. Every BRICS country besides South Africa is constantly improving ties and friendships with the Jewish state. South Africa stands at odds with these world powers, including many African and Arab countries that work more closely than ever with Israel.

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India Has Other Ideas. While South Africa considers ‘downgrading’ with Israel, its fellow BRICS’ member, India, opts for ‘upgrading” as seen here with India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the India-Israel Business Summit in New Delhi. January 15, 2018 (MONEY SHARMA/AFP)

Moreover, South Africa needs Israel’s help to solve local problems such as water scarcity, access to electricity and agricultural solutions that would take millions out of poverty and turn our deserts into fields of plenty. Millions of South Africans would not take kindly to their future being stolen by petty short-term interests. Nor will they appreciate the negative effect this will have on local job creation and our already struggling economy.

Cutting out Israel only cuts out SA’s future.

If South Africa attempts to throw out the Israeli ambassador, it will send a signal that it wishes to disconnect the proudly South African Jewish community from their spiritual, religious and historical homeland. The government should take heed that Jews will never allow their bond with the Jewish state to be broken. Nor will committed Christians, who make up the majority of South Africa’s religious communities.

Antisemites may be pleased that their irrational hatred of Jews has resulted in a downgrade in relations with Israel, but the majority of South Africans will not be pleased with the uncertainty and instability it will bring.

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Red Carpet For Killers. While threatening in 2019 to “kick out” the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, its ANC leaders has no problem embracing Hamas as seen here with terrorist mastermind Khaled Mashaal being honoured in Cape Town in October 2015. (AFP/Rodger Bosch).

It is time for principled business people, government officials, political parties and civil society to stand up to the ANC’s desperate and hypocritical obsession with the Jewish state. Our future depends upon it.

 

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Rowan Polovin is chair of the SA Zionist Federation’s Cape Council.

ISRAEL TODAY

Reflecting on the challenges of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

By Harris Green

Many of Israel’s enemies challenge her right to exist as the Nation State of the Jewish people. They deny the historical rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. They deny the archeological evidence that justifies our claims to this land. They deny the irrefutable links of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. They deny our right to self-determination.

I’m not referring to isolated individuals.

I’m not referring to minor league academics who believe their warped and failed political agendas give them the right to change the historical facts and to recreate a narrative that conveniently ignores the context.

I’m referring to organizations within the international community including the General Assembly of the United Nations, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and UNESCO. These organizations are in flagrant violation of the mandates under which they were established and have dedicated themselves to delegitimizing Israel’s right to exist.

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Digging Up The Truth. Despite UNESCO passing recently another resolution denying Jewish ties to Jerusalem, archeological digs reveal that the ‘City of David’ was originally constructed more than 3,000 ago by King David when he created a small village to be his capital city when he ruled over the Israelite tribes. Within a short walking distance, David’s son, King Solomon, built the First Temple, over which the Muslims built Al-Aqsa Mosque in the 7th century AD.

Around 80% of the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly condemn Israel!

Does the international community really believe that if Israel ceased to exist, 80% of the world’s most serious conflicts and issues would simply dissipate?

What has permanent agenda item 7 of the UNHRC done to enhance human rights?

Have UNESCO’s outrageous resolutions regarding Jerusalem and its relevance to Jews done anything to change the historical evidence that supports the centrality of Jerusalem to Jewish life? They have however, had some success in creating doubt thereby delegitimizing our right to statehood. These resolutions fuel the wave of antisemitism currently engulfing even the so-called “more affluent countries” of the world.

Israel is the land where our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, lived and interacted with the same God we worship today. This is where they are buried. This is where the visions of our Prophets were inspired. This is where we built our Temples. This is where our language was born. King David established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago. This land, its seasons and even its rainfall have been sourced in our century-old prayers long before the emergence of those who claim this land belongs to them.

William Albright, an archaeologist of international repute wrote “there can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament tradition.” To deny Jewish rights to the Land of Israel is contrary to the fundamentals of Judeo-Christian tradition.

We lived in exile for nearly 2,000 years. We were scattered amongst the nations of the world. We weren’t always made to feel welcome. Our heritage was ridiculed. Our loyalties were questioned. We suffered through inquisition. We were the victims of pogroms and blood libels. Only three generations ago we suffered an unparalleled, surgically coordinated genocide that claimed the lives of one third of our people.

For centuries we were the eternal and ultimate scapegoats for the mismanagement and personal greed of despotic rulers. Even today Jewish communities in the diaspora remain soft targets for terror. Their institutions require sophisticated security systems. The number of antisemitic incidents has escalated to an inconceivable level. Who – even just a few years ago – would have believed this sad state of affairs would come about during our lifetimes?

More than 70 years have passed since the establishment of the State of Israel. It seems to me that for too many people, the penny has yet to drop. We’re not going anywhere. We’re here to stay.

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Modern Miracle. Founded on sand dunes in 1909, Tel Aviv today is a thriving entrepreneurial metropolis that National Geographic and Lonely Planet travel guide ranks in the top 10 beach cities in the world, while locals and tourists will attest is really “No. 1”.

At the time of its creation 70 years ago, Israel was home to only 5% of world Jewry. Today 45% of world Jewry resides in the State of Israel. Jews from more than 90 different countries have returned to become useful citizens in a country we can proudly call our own. Our loyalties are no longer questioned. We speak the language of our forefathers – the indigenous language of this land. Our national aspirations could not have become a reality without the belief that this land is our land.

Although Israel has lived under threats of annihilation during her entire existence, we have a strong and resourceful military to protect us. We are now a country that more than pays its way as a sought-after ally and trading partner.

Given the number of failed states that populate our planet, challenging our right to a country of our own is not only an affront to us and our heritage but also to what this country has achieved in the short space of 70 years.

Which country is always the first to provide aid to countries following natural disasters around the world? We don’t only talk about Tikkun Olam. We deliver!

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True Colours. Gloves came off during a meeting of PLO’s Central Council in 2018 with PA President Abbas saying: “Israel is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews.” Revealing exactly what he thinks of Jews, Abbas earlier expressed, that “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They (Jews) have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”

Israeli technology is at the source of everything that opens and closes. From military innovations to cyber security, from medical technologies to life-saving pharmaceuticals, from communications to driverless vehicles, from wastewater recycling to water desalinisation.

 You name it. Israel has done it.

But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. The military threats remain. We have a responsibility to narrow the gap between the more and the less fortunate amongst us. We have a responsibility to those Jews still living in the diaspora.

The international community may have forgotten its responsibilities to us, but we shouldn’t forget our responsibilities to mankind:

  • Given the chance, we can make this world a better place in which to live.
  • Given the chance, we can advance life expectancy in many African countries by up to 30 years.
  • Given the chance, we can easily replicate in other countries what we have so successfully achieved here in Israel.
  • Given the chance, we can alleviate many of the dangers resulting from global warming.
  • Given the chance, we can provide solutions to the diminishing food supplies for growing populations in developing countries around the world.

There are challenges ahead. We have a responsibility to respond.

 

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The Real face Of Israel. Although Israel and Syria are political enemies, Israeli volunteers have been helping Syrians since the start of their bloody civil war in March 2011. Within a month, the Israeli NGO IL4Syrians began sending sanitary items, food, medications and post-trauma care specialists to Syrian refugees. Seen here is IsraAid’s Rachel Lazry Zahavi helping a Syrian refugee in Greece. (Photo by Mickey Noam Alon/IsraAID)

 

About the Author

image001 (9).pngHarris Zvi Green was born in Cape Town, South Africa and immigrated to Israel nearly 50 years ago. An accountant by profession, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of a number of Israel based hi-tech companies. Harris is a founding member of Truth be Told (TbT), an organization engaged in public diplomacy on behalf of Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

3000 years of history are waiting to be discovered by you in 3minutes

Little Blue Hood

By Yahya Mahamid

Serving on the border between Israel and Gaza, Yahya Mahamid – an Arab Muslim soldier – writes this eyewitness account of what it is like to stare down the rioters that Hamas have encouraged to break through the border. These riots have been taking place since March 2018.

Sitting with my back to the metal barrier, I take a second to adjust my helmet when all of a sudden, I hear a loud bang against the barrier.

It has started. The weekly Friday riots on the Gaza border.

I adjust my Kevlar vest, take a breath and stand up to take a look at the other side – all while trying to keep as much of my body under cover.

I am shocked to see mothers going hand and hand with their children. Yes, these are children that are not older than 10 -13 years of age, coming to the weekly protest as if it were a normal Friday activity.

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Gastly In Gaza. What parents would encourage their own children to be in harms way?

Our orders are clear.  Respect human life and the purity of our arms. This is nothing new – after all it is the IDF Code of Ethics that we abide by and that’s how we always operate.

I take my sharpshooter scope and start scanning the crowds looking for anything that looks suspicious such as bombs and guns. While looking through my scope, I start smelling the familiar smell of burned tires. I know that tear gas will soon follow so I put on my gas mask and look at the madness that is assembling in front of my eyes.

The adults, who I assume are mothers and fathers, sit on the green grass hill enjoying some cold drinks and snacks, while their kids are running towards the security fence, throwing rocks and anything they can get their hands on at us soldiers.

One rock hit the barrier.

I take cover after another rock hits the barrier again. I could have sworn that these rocks travel almost as fast as my bullet. I adjust my protective glasses and take another peak; we can’t have the security barrier getting damaged. This could have disastrous ramifications.

The violence is escalating.

I stand up again to take a look at the crowd that’s growing like a hate tumor on steroids and suddenly I hear an explosion. I look through my scope again, while looking through the black and grey crowd.

I see him.

He is sitting, dressed in a large blue hoodie, looking straight at me. I take a look at him through my scope to get a closer look and he is just sitting there, looking straight at me like he’s staring into my soul. He’s not older than 10 years old.

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Friday Frenzy. Typical Friday with youngsters pushed by Hamas to approach as close as possible to the border fence.

I will never forget the look on his face, like he has a million questions on his mind, not reacting to the screams, tear gas, burned tires and the electrified atmosphere that is filled with anger.

He just sits there, looking at me like he wants to ask me “when this madness will end?”

I look at him, wave, and give him the OK sign, hoping to make my first Gazan friend.

Maybe something positive can come out of this ugliness.

He gets up and gives me an innocent smile and waves. I smile back. Another bomb follows immediately after – above us this time and we are told to retreat behind cover.

I don’t see him again, but I hope the situation will improve for both of us one day.

I call him Little Blue Hood.

About the author:

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Yahya Mahamid is a former educator for Stand With Us. This self-described “Muslim Arab Zionist” currently serves in the IDF.

Odd Man Out

South Africa out of step with reality

By Allan Wolman

Brunei recently announced death by stoning for adultery and gay sex.

“Death by stoning” in this day and age?

Well not that surprising given that this is the sentence dished out by the Mullah’s of Iran to women accused – only accused, mind -and not given a fair trial even in the event of being raped by her attacker.

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Brutal Brunei. The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, delivers a speech in Bandar Seri Begawan on April 3, 2019 calling for “stronger” Islamic teachings, including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery. Photo Credit: AFP

But it is Israel that is hauled before the court of liberal public opinion for its abuse of human rights!

It is Israel that the likes of BDS, Jews for a Just Palestine, and other so called humanitarians who find every conceivable opportunity to demonize her, be it for marking the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration or the U.S’s moving her embassy to Jerusalem and any other issue that becomes the topic of the moment that could in any way be associated with Israel!

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Birds Of A Feather. Shunning Israelis, South Africa’s leaders prefers the company of airplane terrorist hijacker Leila Khaled (left) who is seen here with ANC officials in South Africa on February 6, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube/BDS South Africa)

I grew up in apartheid South Africa and well remember the degradation and humiliation of having to take the lady who worked for us and helped raise our children to the “pass office” in downtown Johannesburg to obtain that most valuable of commodities, a simple rubber stamp that would allow her to remain in Johannesburg for another year.

Something that had to be repeated annually.

There are no words to explain that humiliation and degradation – that was Apartheid. Yet Israel is labeled an apartheid state, a country where every citizen is afforded the very same right to education, healthcare, political emancipation, labor relations – in fact every aspect of life that is enjoyed by its entire population regardless of being Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or whatever faith they choose to follow.

The U.S. recently recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the territory captured by Israel in the 1967 aggressive war against Israel, but we hear calls to return this territory back to Syria, a country embroiled in a civil war that has claimed over half a million lives. One must wonder what the fate of the 20,000 Druze living in that territory would be or to be more realistic how many would survive under the Syrian regime? The irony is that those hell bent on the destruction of Israel care less for the carnage going on in the Arab world but hide behind the hackneyed term of “human rights” to justify their mission of destroying the Jewish state, which we all know reads the destruction of the Jews.

On March 31st, the President of Brazil paid an official state visit to Israel, cementing a relationship initiated a short while back by the visit to Brazil by the Israeli prime minister. Brazil, a key member of the BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) forges close relations with Israel as do China, India and even Russia – but who is the “odd man” out from this group, no prizes for guessing.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pose for a photo as they visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City
B & B. In a show of strengthening ties, visiting Brazilian President to Israel, Jair Bolsonaro, accompanies Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to Judaism most iconic site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City . Photo: Reuters

Not only the odd man – but openly hostile to any contact with Israel – are we missing something here?

 

 

About the author

Birds of a feather4Allan Wolman is a recent immigrant to Israel from South Africa. Matriculating from Parktown Boys high School in Johannesburg, in 1967, he joined1200 young South Africans to volunteer to work on agricultural settlements in Israel during the Six Day War. After spending year in Israel, he returned to South Africa where he met and married Jocelyn Lipschitz. The couple have three sons.

Allan ran one of the oldest travel agencies in Johannesburg – Rosebank Travel which he still runs together with his son in Johannesburg.

In March 2019, Alan and his wife immigrated to Israel and live in Tel Baruch between Tel Aviv and Herzliya.

The Israel Brief – 01-04 April 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 01 April 2019 – Gaza protests, Ken Livingstone offends, IsraAid helps.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 02 April 2019 – IDF arrests, Hamas prisoner swap and new embassy in Rwanda.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 03 April 2019 – Remains of IDF soldier returned after 37 years, Nechama Rivlin hospitalised, terrorist killed and Gantz speaks on Netanyahu.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 04 April 2019 – Israel closer to moon landing! Staff Sgt Baumel to be buried and France catches terrorist responsible for Toulouse massacre.

 

“Global Warming Launched Our Rockets”

By Rolene Marks

The art of abdicating responsibility for the firing of rockets onto Israeli civilian infrastructure was elevated to a level that only be described as something out of a Monty Python sketch as arch terror group, Hamas, blamed weather conditions for their recent launching. Really, you cannot make this up!

Hamas, who are charged with governing the Gaza strip, are responsible for the recent spate of rockets that have been fired towards Israeli territory in the last couple of weeks, culminating in a tense escalation.

On the 25th of March, a rocket was fired from the Gaza strip, reaching far into Israeli territory and decimating a house on the moshav, Mishmeret, and injuring a family of seven. Thirty other homes were damaged by shrapnel from the rockets. Israel threatened a strong response and bombed strategic targets in the Gaza strip, including leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh’s secret headquarters. No civilians were killed which is testament to the conduct of the IDF to strike with pinpoint precision while doing the utmost, including warning with pamphlets, text messages and phone calls, to avoid any loss of life.

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Not Guilty! An infant’s swing outside the home of the Wolf family in the central Israeli village of Mishmeret, which was destroyed in the early morning hours of March 25, 2019 by a rocket fired from Gaza and which Hamas blamed on the weather! (Jack Guez/AFP)

The response to this was another barrage of rockets into Israel’s southern communities.

While Hamas would rather have you believe that rockets are self-launching, it cannot detract from the important fact that they are responsible for reigning in rogue elements within the Gaza strip and their inability to control terror groups like Islamic Jihad can plunge the volatile area into another war. Islamic Jihad, like Hamas, is a proxy of Iran and the regime, aiming to gain a closer foothold to Israel is looking to Gaza to do this. Iran is using their proxies on both Israel’s Southern and northern borders to provoke a war. Hamas are in talks with Qatar and Egypt with regards to easing the humanitarian crisis in the strip, but other groups are itching for a showdown with Israel.

This places Hamas in a bit of a quandary.  They don’t want to engage in a war with Israel (hence the epic excuses for their rockets launching) BUT still want to be seen at the vanguard of Palestinian resistance.

Hamas would also rather distract from growing protests in the Gaza strip. Across this beleaguered patch, the citizens are taking to the street to protest that enough is enough. Enough with high taxes. Enough of high unemployment. Enough of poverty while the leaders of Hamas live the high life and using much needed international aid to fund their terrorist escapades. Journalists and human rights activists have been rounded up and tortured and Hamas goons have invaded people’s homes in attempts to squash these protests. The leadership of Hamas has to show that they are still in control of the strip – and while rockets are a distraction from their internal issues, they are reluctant to provoke Israel into a full-scale conflict, so they hedge their bets carefully when they strike. However, I don’t think that they were ready for Israel’s no-nonsense response……

As Israel approaches a crucial election that could very well be a game changer, Iran is wont to challenge the mettle of Israel. Could this be a tactic to disrupt the upcoming elections?

These dangerous cat and mouse game coincided with the one-year anniversary of the March of Return protests and annual Land Day commemoration. Over the last year, Hamas have encouraged thousands of Gazans to protest at the border with Gaza. These are NOT peaceful protests.

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Hamas’ Sacrificial Lambs. Engineered by Hamas, kids stand before the barbed-wire marking the border between the Gaza strip and Israel.

Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, spoke of breaking through the border fence and “ripping the hearts out of the Jews”. Hardly Kumbaya, but rather a sinister call to murder. Sinwar’s words were backed by tires being burnt, creating an ecological disaster, Molotov cocktails and rocks being thrown at IDF troops, animals set alight and the launching of incendiary devices attacked to kites, balloons and kestrels. These incendiary devices burnt thousands of dunnams of valuable agricultural land and fauna and flora and constitute a war crime against Israel.

But it is all about the optics!

No Kidding

Hamas and other terror elements provoke in order to get a response, hopefully one that racks up as many civilian casualties as possible. To this end, Hamas ensured that children are on the front line, and for the anniversary, closed all the schools so that they could participate. I ask you, do responsible adults encourage children to be active in conflict zones? Civilian casualties mean pity, opprobrium for Israel and front-page headlines. With global interest in the conflict waning, Hamas are desperate for column inches. This one-year anniversary march could have ignited the region but thanks to the diplomatic efforts of Egypt, Israel and yes, Hamas, disaster was averted. The caveat? Calmer protests for the easing of restrictions on the Gaza strip by both Egypt and Israel. The people of Gaza deserve better than to have violence and conflict inflicted on them by the proxies of a tyrannical regime. In the meantime, IDF troops are maintaining their positions on the border should conflict erupt.

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Killing Their Kids. Hamas cynically using children in violent mass protests along security fence between Gaza and Israel hoping for casualties.

As the situation in Gaza deteriorates into a humanitarian disaster, the time has long since passed for Hamas to accept their role and responsibility for this. Blaming Israel is convenient and easy, blaming global warming and weather phenomenon’s for almost igniting war, is, well, just plain cowardice.

 

Under Fire From Gaza

Igniting fires and tension, an inspiring South African couple in Israel responds to terror by sponsoring clubhouses at military bases

By David E. Kaplan

At midnight on the 25th March 2019, I recall the last sound I heard before dropping off to sleep was a clap of thunder.

Five hours later, I awoke to another BOOM! This time it was not thunder but the deafening sound of a missile having landed nearby destroying a house near Kfar Saba in the centre of Israel, injuring seven.

It was a reminder that the murderous intent of those who govern Gaza extends far and wide.

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Israeli Home Destroyed.  This home in the tranquil  village of  Mishmeret north of Kfar Saba in central Israel  was totally destroyed by a long-range rocket from Gaza, on March 25, 2019, injuring seven, including two infants. Had they not run to the communal bomb shelter across the road from the house, all seven residents would have been killed.

It further reminded the writer of a visit to a number of army basses close to the Gaza border a few months earlier organised by ‘English-Speaking Branch of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers’.

There were fifty in our group who were invited to the official opening of two new army-base clubhouses, sponsored by Dave and Rae Kopping, a couple originally from South Africa. It also provided an opportunity to learn firsthand how the Israeli civilian population in the small towns and kibbutzim near Gaza were coping under the constant threat from attack from below the ground from tunnels and above the ground from rockets, mortars and inflamed kites and balloons.

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Fields Of Fire. Agricultural land in Israel burnt from fire caused by incendiary kites and balloons sent from Gaza.

As I write recalling that visit, I cannot fail to reflect that the loud BOOM that awakened my family last week and had us scurrying off to the bomb shelter was nearly a daily occurrence to the brave and resilient Israelis living in the south.

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Merchant Of Death. A terrorist in Gaza about to ignite a kite before directing towards Israel.

While Israel battles politically to get its ‘house’ in order regarding Gaza, Dave and Rae Kopping ‘enlisted’ in their own way to provide club ‘houses’ for soldiers at IDF bases near the border.

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Honouring Our Heroes. Dave Kopping (centre) with granddaughter Monique and soldier official opening a clubhouse at an army base near Gaza.

They began four years earlier following Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when the IDF had to protect Israeli civilians facing a daily barrage of missiles from Gaza for 50 days. The Koppings showed their heartfelt gratitude by donating a clubhouse at the Palmachim Airforce Base for the Drone and Helicopter Pilots. “They operate under enormous pressure, protecting us from this constant threat,” said Ray at the official opening. “They deserve a special place to unwind and relax.”

Four years later, what had changed was not the political but geographic landscape with expansive swathes of black cutting across the North Western Negev countryside caused by incendiary balloons and kites sent from Gaza and landing on fertile fields. This was all too apparent from the bus window as we saw once green fields now black from the fires caused by the balloons and kites.

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Southern Israel Ablaze. Fire near Nahal Oz caused by Gaza kite (Photo: AFP)

As my companion on the bus remarked “how sad that kid’s kites and balloons in Gaza are weapons of death and destruction.”

As a running commentary to the visual horror playing out on a blackened somber ‘stage’, our guide related how much livestock and natural wildlife had perished in the fires.

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Sign Of The Times. A clear message to Israelis on this kite destined for Israel

Southern Comfort

The Kopping clubhouses replete with comfy couches, coffee tables, kitchenettes, TVs and sound systems, honour – like the earlier one at Palmachim – the memory of the Kopping’s daughter Greer-Rose Sandler who sadly passed away fourteen years earlier from an illness, and Rae’s brother Isaac Melcer, who was killed in the Sinai during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. “He was a tank commander who served under General Ariel Sharon,” reveals Rae, “and had only been married a year.”

“What better way to honour their memory,” adds Dave, “than to know that Greer-Rose and Isaac’s names will be forever associated with those who protect Israeli citizens from harm.”

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Soldier’s Welfare. Dave and Rae Kopping’s daughter Lauren Ron (left) and granddaughter Monique in clubhouse sponsored by the family.

Tunnel Vision

The day proved an eye-opening window into the life – with all its complexities – of the civilian population living ‘Under Fire’ near Gaza, and the role the brave soldiers play in providing protection.  Entering the first base, ‘X’, we noted with surprise that far outnumbering the parked tanks, were giant bulldozers.

We did not have long to wonder why!

Earth-moving equipment usually associated with construction elsewhere, were used here to counter destruction “as we dig up the earth in search of terror tunnels,” explained a young soldier. A recent immigrant from the UK, he related a recent incident when they were out nearby on patrol.

“We were walking along single file in the fields, when we passed a plastic pipe protruding from the ground. There was nothing unusual about this, as the area is always scattered with farming equipment.” That was until one soldier, keeping up the rear, “looked back and noticed a slight sudden twitch of the pipe.”

“That’s odd; there’s no wind,” he thought!

Rega (“wait”),” he bellowed.

Doubling back, the patrol discovered it was an oxygen tube for the terrorists deep below who were digging a tunnel, and “we radioed in for the bulldozers.”

Relieved by their discovery, “We also knew from our intelligence there were fourteen more tunnels to locate.” Last year, the IDF destroyed a 2km long Hamas tunnel that entered 900 meters into Israeli territory. The problem is, “The terrorists need to be on the job for us to detect any subterranean movements.”

Such is the day in the life of a soldier protecting Israel’s southern communities – a game of cat and mouse.

Tough Times

The name of the 2014 war, “Protective Edge” had a resonance about it as “protection” is what this conflict is about. On a personal level this was brought home when a soldier asked, “Anyone want to try on our bullet proof gear?”

Some did, and were surprised by the weight, and left wondering how soldiers patrolled for hours wearing it in the blazing heat. There was sadness as we were reminded “that one of our comrades, Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi, was killed last week, by sniper fire.” He had been wearing the very same bulletproof jacket! The answer to the predictable question of how the bullet lethally penetrated – “special bullets made in Iran” – was met by a collective sigh.

Moving on to the second base, ‘Y’, we saw from the moving bus, more fields black from fire – a patchwork of this new type of warfare of kites and balloons, which much of the world media presents as “child’s play”.

Passengers flicked away with their cameras in disbelief.

Arriving at the base, we were escorted by young male and female soldiers to the new Kopping clubhouse for the official opening. Members of the Kopping family spoke as did some soldiers, who explained how tense this new warfare was.

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Soldiers On Patrol. A poster in the army base dining room near Gaza

Said one soldier, “We know how terrified the civilian population is of terrorists coming up through tunnels who could murder them.  It is our job to find these tunnels and prevent this.”  A responsibility fraught with anxiety, all the soldiers appreciate after tough days on patrol, “we now have a clubhouse where we can relax and unwind.”

Another female soldier expressed how proud she was to be serving in a combat unit, and this writer could not escape the thought that their peers elsewhere in the Jewish world would be at universities…. here they were immersed in the “university” of life – protecting “our family – Israel.”

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Wonder Women. Combat girls with participant Rocky Muravitz at army base.

Later, seated for lunch in the army dining room, a young soldier, an immigrant from the Argentine, addressed our group:

“These are tough times for the civilian population and for the soldiers. It is a tough war, but we are trained, and we are equipped, and we are inspired –   not only do we know WHAT we are doing but WHY we are doing.”

Yes, these are “tough times”, but so are these ‘kids’ – tough and proud – proud of their country, proud of their units, proud of their service, and proud of each other’s capabilities. The camaraderie was palpable. There was much food for thought to ‘digest’ beyond the lunch!

Witness To War

Our tour concluded with a visit to the Black Arrow Memorial, west of kibbutz Mefalsim near the Gaza Strip.

Operation Black Arrow (In Hebrew: “Hetz Shachor”) was an Israeli military operation carried out in Gaza on 28 February 1955 while under Egyptian control. It was in retaliation to Fedayeen terrorism unleashed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser who broadcast on August 31, 1955:

Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes, the disciples of Pharaoh and the sons of Islam and they will cleanse the land of Palestine….There will be no peace on Israel’s border because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel’s death.”

As we stood at the Black Arrow Memorial, we saw balloons flying from Gaza in the distance then descend on fertile Israel fields and suddenly there was a blazing fire. We were witnesses to war. Over six decades later, the message from Gaza remains:

                                        “…vengeance is Israel’s death.”

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War & Remembrance. The Black Arrow Memorial is both a public lookout of the Gaza Strip and also a monument to the IDF soldiers who lost their lives fighting the fedayeen between 1953 and 1956.

For more information on the English-Speaking Branch of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, contact volunteer Ian Waldbaum at Tel:

(054) 4745 092.

Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers

 

 

(Feature picture credit: Tamara Cohen)

Entebbe Revisited

The passing of a French pilot in Nice this week, brought back memories of the heroism of two South Africans in Israel’s ‘The Great Escape’.

By David E. Kaplan

When the news broke in Israel on the 28 March 2019 that the Michel Bacos – the pilot the pilot of the Air France flight from Tel Aviv that was hijacked in 1976 and landed in Entebbe – had died at age 95, it brought back memories and a huge amount of pride.

He refused to abandon his passengers, who were taken hostage because they were Israeli or of Jewish origin, risking his own life,” Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, where Bacos lived, announced Tuesday on social media. “Michel bravely refused to surrender to antisemitism and barbarism and brought honor to France.”

When the hijackers were planning to let Bacos, the rest of his crew and the remaining non-Jewish hostages go, he refused.

“I gathered my crew and told them there was no way we were going to leave – we were staying with the passengers to the end,” he said. “The crew refused to leave, because this was a matter of conscience, professionalism and morality…. I couldn’t imagine leaving behind not even a single passenger.”

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Captain Courageous. The captain of the hijacked Air France flight, Michel Bacos (right), who refused to abandon his passengers, addresses the media in 1976. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

While President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday that Bacos was “a quiet hero and a true friend of the Jewish people. May his memory be a blessing,”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the pilot “stayed with the hostages through all their hardships, until IDF soldiers – led by my brother Yoni – freed him in a daring operation. I bow my head in his memory and salute Michel’s bravery.”

One of the bravest and most successful rescue operations in human history, many who were around at the time will recall where they were when the story broke. I was a law student in South Africa in 1976 travelling by car between Durban and Cape Town and was sitting in a Wimpy Bar in Grahamstown when the restaurant’s TV broke to Breaking News to announce the unfolding drama. Little did I know at the time that years later I would be interviewing two South African heroes who participated in the rescue Dr. Jossy Faktor and Ricky Davis. Both had been members of South African Jewish youth movements before immigrating to Israel.

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Honouring Heroism. Formally of Pretoria, South Africa, Dr. Jossy Faktor (right) of ‘The Entebbe Raid’ medical team, receives further rank from Chief of Staff, Ehud Barak (left).

The crisis that led to the Entebbe Raid began on the 27th June, when four terrorists seized an Air France plane, flying from Israel to Paris with 248 passengers on board. The hijackers – two from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two from Germany’s Baader-Meinhof gang – diverted the aircraft, ‘flight 139’ to Entebbe. There, the hijackers were joined by three more colleagues who then demanded the release of fifty-three of their associates held in jails in Israel and four other countries. The clock was ticking. If the detainees were not released, they would begin killing hostages.

Shades of the Shoah

The plot of the unfolding saga drew in a global audience mesmerized by the twists and turns of a modern-day Homeric epic. Abduction and rescue – the stage was set for a cataclysmic clash of wills. On the one side, an anguished Israel, while on the other, German and Palestinian terrorists aided and abetted by one of Africa’s most notorious dictators, President Idi Amin. Stories abounded by this man’s evil proclivities, notable that he had a certain taste for eating his enemies.

It was said that his palace fridge had been a real ‘who’s who’ in Ugandan politics – leftovers to go with the salad. Some 3,400 kilometres away, a nervous Israeli government was agonizing which way to move. No options were risk free.

The terrorists then played a card that simplified the decision.

They separated the passengers – Jews from non-Jews – releasing the latter. Shades of the Shoah colored the unfolding drama and Israel now stood alone.

It also knew what it had to do.

It was a proud cast of characters who participated in the mission dubbed by the Israeli military – “Operation Thunderbolt”. Amongst the medical team on board one of the four C-130 Hercules aircraft, was a former South African from Pretoria, Dr. Jossy Faktor. A gynecologist and obstetrician, Jossy at the time was serving in the permanent force of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and would later rise to become its Surgeon General.

When the call came summoning the 36-year-old doctor to report for duty, Jossy and his wife Barbara were clicking champagne glasses celebrating the tenth wedding anniversary of their old Habonim friends, the Kessels in Ra’anana. Little did they all know when Jossey hurriedly stepped out of Terry and Carol’s front door, that he was about to enter the history books.

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Ready To Rescue. Originally from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Ricky Davis at the time of ‘The Entebbe Raid’, whose unit was tasked with neutralising the Ugandan Russian Migs on the airport tarmac.

At roughly the same time, 21-year-old Ricky Davis was with his paratrooper unit at Wingate when the call came through. Only two years earlier, Ricky, a member of Betar in Port Elizabeth, made Aliyah and within three months joined the IDF. “We immediately packed up and assembled at a base near Petach Tikva. Although we were aware of the hijack drama playing out at Entebbe, we had no idea that we would be connected. We went on so many hair-raising missions into Lebanon and Jordan in those days that we assumed it was another of the ‘usual ops.”

 

Once assembled at the base, “Everything became top secret. We began training, still not knowing our destination. Only at the last stage, were we brought into the picture. My unit was to secure the escape by destroying, in advance, anything that could jeopardize our escape.”

 

“No Going Back”

The next day saw Jossy being briefed by the Surgeon General, the late Dan Michaeli. “I was instructed to quickly put together an aero-medical team.” Although Jossy’s specialization was gynecology, he had been trained in aviation medicine that included ensuring the health of aircrews and aero-medical evacuations. While there had been missions and escapades in the past, nothing would come close to what he was to experience in the next few days. “The success of the operation was secrecy, and because the public at the time was well aware of the hostage crisis, we had to come up with something to deflect attention. Also, we needed to obtain a large supply of blood from Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), and that necessitated a credible cover story. We did not want anyone – least of all the media – questioning why we suddenly needed so much blood. Because nothing quite like this had ever been attempted, we had no idea of what casualties to expect. Anyway, the word went out that a crisis was developing on the northern border with Lebanon, and we would need medical teams and blood. The story held, and we took off with only those involved in the operation in the know.”

The final briefings were divided according to the different roles to be performed by the various participants. “We were briefed by Dr. Ephraim Sneh, who was the overall commander of the medical teams.”

Jossy describes the flight as long and uneventful.

“We left Friday morning and landed at Sharem el Sheik, stopping for essentially two reasons.  Firstly, for refueling. We had enough to get us to Entebbe, but no more. And as we did not expect the ground staff at Entebbe to accommodate us by refueling our planes, we needed sufficient fuel to take off after the rescue and make it to Nairobi.” The other reason for the stopover was no less intriguing. “When we took off in Israel, the Cabinet had still not decided to go through with the mission. The risks obviously weighed enormously with them and so wanted to keep the option to abort open until the last moment. On the runway at Sharem El Sheik, we received the final green light. Now there was no going back.”

The last stretch of the flight to Entebbe “we flew at a very low altitude to avoid radar detection. The turbulence was heavy, but it did not bother me,” says Jossy. “I recall there was very little chatting; everyone was so wrapped up with their own thoughts. I spent much of my time in the cockpit as the captain, Amnon Halivni, was a good friend of mine.”

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Hostage Crisis. Rather than report that Israel recues its hostages, a Ugandan newspaper reports that “Israelis invade Entebbe”.

Jossy traveled with the medical teams in the fourth Hercules. “Our plane was virtually empty ready to accommodate the hostages and expected wounded.”

The other three planes carried ground forces, with the black Mercedes Benz and Land Rovers on board the first aircraft. The word out on the street was that the Mercedes was owned by an Israeli civilian and was apparently sprayed black so it would appear as the Ugandan’s president’s car when approaching the terminal building. However, the intelligence was dated. The two Ugandan sentries on duty that morning were well aware that their President had recently purchased a white Mercedes replacing his black one. They ordered the motorcade to stop. Had they had the opportunity for a closer look they would have also noticed that the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car, but by that time, they were both dead.

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Planed To Perfection. The Black Mercedes used to fool Uganda soldiers in the Israeli raid on Entebbe parked aboard an Israeli transport plane upon return from the July 4 operation. (AP-Photo)

In fear of prematurely alerting the terrorists inside the terminal, the subterfuge motorcade sped up and the assault teams quickly went into action.

Into Battle

Jossy’s aircraft had been the last to land. Throughout the operation “we stayed on board, preparing for the arrival of our passengers. It took just under forty minutes for the first casualties to arrive. The waiting was the worst. We felt like sitting ducks as the battle ensured. In the end we needed only six stretchers, one of which was used for Yoni Netanyahu, who died on the way to the aircraft.”

Ricky’s unit, tasked with getting away safely, took care of the Russian Migs on the airport tarmac. “The real danger was that they could give chase, easily catch us, and shoot us down. We were not taking any chances and blew them up with anti-tank missiles.” Adds this warrior, “Yes, we stopped for coffee in Nairobi on the return flight home.”

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Heroes Return. A crowd lifts the squadron leader of the rescue planes on their return to Israel. (Photograph: David Rubinger/Corbis via Getty Images)

The enormity of what these daring men had pulled off “only sunk in,” says Jossy “when we touched down at Tel Nof Airbase and were met by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres. It was only then, safe on Israeli soil, that people felt free to express their emotions.”

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July 6, 1976 – The World Learns A Word: Entebbe

In the immediate aftermath of the rescue mission, the government of Uganda convened a session of the UN Security Council to seek official condemnation of Israel for violating Ugandan sovereignty. The Security Council ultimately declined to pass any resolution on the matter. The words of Israel’s ambassador to the UN at the time, Chaim Herzog, in his address to the Council resonates no less today: “We are proud not only because we have saved the lives of over a hundred innocent people – men, women and children – but because of the significance of our act for the cause of human freedom.”

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Enter Hollywood. Following the successful rescue, several movies were made including this one – Raid on Entebbe – staring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Martin Balsam, Horst Bucholz, John Saxon, Jack Warden and Yaphet Kotto as Idi Amin.