With the death last Wednesday of Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor – who
converted to Judaism in 1959 – Israel lost an advocate who matched her
unwavering support for the Jewish state, with genuine pro-Israel
RELATED:Actress Elizabeth Taylor dies at 79
In 1977, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Simcha Dinitz,
revealed that Taylor wanted to swap herself for Jewish and Israeli hostages held
by Palestinian and German terrorists at Entebbe Airport in
According to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) news item from
1977, Dinitz told Taylor that Israel “appreciated” her willingness to help, and
“the Jewish people will always remember it.” However, the obituaries written
about Taylor’s passing at age 79 in Los Angeles overlooked the depth of her
activities to advance Israel’s security.
The New York Times devoted only
a footnote to Taylor’s rock-solid commitment to Israel’s security, noting that
she “divided her time between her charitable works, including various Israeli
Ami Eden, however, the editor-inchief of JTA, extracted a list
of news dispatches from the JTA archive about Taylor’s fund-raising activities
for Israel, her opposition to the toxic combination of Western leftism and
Palestinian terrorism and Taylor’s early criticism of the infamous UN resolution
equating Zionism with racism.
After the terrorist members from the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and left-wing German terrorists
took an Air France plane at Entebbe airport in Uganda hostage in 1976, Taylor
offered to exchange herself for the remaining 100-plus Jewish and Israeli
The German terrorists ordered a new selection process –
eerily reminiscent of the Nazi selections at Auschwitz – and separated the
Jewish passengers from the non-Jews aboard the plane.
released most of the non-Jewish passengers. Israeli commandos were able to
secure the dramatic release of 103 hostages. Lt. Col.
the late brother of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, led the mission
and was shot dead during the rescue operation.
A fascinating footnote to
the spectacular Israeli mission was Taylor would later play one of the hostages
in the ABC film version, “Victory at Entebbe,” in 1976.
Taylor was also
one of 60 signatories of a telegram addressed to UN Secretary General Kurt
Waldheim (ex-Nazi) from famous women, slamming the UN Anti-Zionist Resolution in
She did this at time when it was highly unfashionable to come out
against the anti-Israel UN resolution.
In 1967, she pulled the plug on a
trip to the Soviet Union because of its diplomatic attacks on the Jewish
One could continue with this list of her activities in support of
In 1959, Taylor began her lifelong activity to raise funds for
Israel, and bought $100,000 worth of Israel bonds. Eight years later, she joined
other Jewish and non-Jewish actors in London to help raise $840,000 for
Taylor frequently visited Israel, meeting with then Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1976. She would meet with Israel’s first Likud Prime
Minister Menachem Begin in 1983.
He and Taylor conversed for 15 minutes,
and the prime minister presented her with flowers.
Taylor’s conversion to
Judaism and pro-Israel support prompted the Egyptian government, under its
former military president Gamel Abdel Nasser, to boycott Taylor films and bar
her from entering Egypt.
In 1962, according to the JTA archive, “Gen.
Essam Elmasri, head of the Cairo regional bureau of the Israel Boycott Office,
said in the Egyptian capital that Miss Taylor will not be allowed to come to
Egypt because she has adopted the Jewish faith and supports Israeli
Liz Taylor, as she was known in Hollywood, was not only ahead of
the international curve in her support to combat AIDS in the 1980s – her pro-gay
rights positions attracted great attention and respect as well.
Schindler, the editor-in-chief of America’s premier gay newspaper, Gay City News
in New York City, told The Jerusalem Post
on Friday that “She lived a very full
life. Continually bounced back from adversity. Never belly-ached about the
‘burden’ of celebrity. Contributed big time. Stood by her friends in their
Schindler defined her life as “tikkun olam,” the
Hebrew phrase meaning to “repair the world.”
She was also ahead of the
international democracy curve in her advocacy for the State of Israel at a stage
where the Jewish state was building its institutions – and facing terror attacks
from German groups and PLO terrorists. All of this pro-Israel support helps to
explain why the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) issued a statement
mourning her death, and remembering her as an “ardent Zionist.”
piercing blue-violet eyes and sensational acting, she breathed fire and light
onto the silver screen.
With her support for Israel’s security, she
helped light up the Jewish state.