The days leading up to July 4, 1976, were filled with anticipation. For me and my fellow Israeli students in Boston, the American Bicentennial celebrated the birth of liberty in the modern world. Tall ships sailed into Boston Harbor. Families were planning their long weekends. Picnics abounded.
It would have been a glorious day for me and the other Israeli students at MIT, too, but it was marred by the news we had received earlier in the week of the hijacking of an Air France plane.
Then, on the morning of July 4, breaking news swept the entire world. On the day America celebrated its Bicentennial, Israeli commandos carried out one of the most daring rescues in modern times. An Israeli force had landed in Entebbe, liberated 103 hostages and flew them back to Israel. The report added that “one officer was killed.” My elation over the rescue was abruptly cut short. Why did they say “officer”? Normally they would say “soldier.”
My older brother, Yoni, who was born in New York shortly before Israel’s independence, made the ultimate sacrifice leading the rescue force in a mission that became known as “Operation Jonathan.” His courage and that of his comrades marked the ultimate commitment to freedom.
The rescue of hostages targeted simply because they were Jews epitomized the deepest meaning of the rebirth of the Jewish state. Occurring on the Fourth of July, this historic mission also underscored the deep bond between America and Israel.
The rise of America ensured the rise of freedom in our world. Time and again, the United States defeated the forces of totalitarianism and terror. In this and many other ways, Israel has no better ally than the United States, and the United States has no better ally than Israel.
Happy Birthday America. May God bless our unbreakable bond.