“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
For Yossi Ayache, one such defining moment was when he first heard the details of the Entebbe Rescue Operation of 1976. In that year, an Air France Flight A-300 was hijacked by ruthless Palestinian and German terrorists and taken to Entebbe, Uganda where the Jewish passengers were separated from the others, held captive for a week and threatened with death. In a brilliant operation, an elite unit of the IDF freed the passengers and brought them back home safely. Yossi’s father was among them. Yossi heard that story at bedtime repeatedly. His father shared with him the details of the operation and the miracle that gave life to him almost twenty years later. It was during those recounts that the determination to defend Jews wherever they are began to ferment in Yossi and shape his destiny.
The moment in which this decision first translated itself into action was when Yossi was a fourteen-year-old boy in Paris, France. His Jewish school was situated near the home of one committed anti–Semite who used to bother the Jewish children each time they passed by it. The principal of the school advised the students to avoid it. Yossi was defiant. Accompanied by a few of his fellow students, they walked by the home of that man. When the latter commenced with his anti Jewish diatribe, Yossi and his friends responded by throwing stones at his house.
The following day, the principal called Yossi into his office and asked him to apologize to the man or face suspension. He elected to be suspended.
Yossi has always been grateful to Israel the Jewish Homeland that has never nor ever will forsake its children. It gave him the gift of life. He made Aliya in 2001, served in the Golani Brigade and participated in the Second Lebanon War. But he never forgot his Jewish brothers and sisters that he left behind in France where they had to face mounting threats of anti-Semitism.
In 2009, he moved back to France and joined the lines of the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ) and became its leader. Yossi had set up a training program for those who joined the LDJ. These included intensive training in various forms of Martial Arts and other means of defense
It is important to note that the LDJ does not have as its set goal to target any particular ethnic or religious group. Its sole purpose is to protect French Jews against attacks stemming from anti-Semitism.
It seems that the French police also understand that premise of the LDJ. It is no secret to the French police that Jews are targeted in France. The police also know that the LDJ is not a criminal entity. It is not involved in drugs trafficking, money laundering or other illegal activities. It regards it as merely another organization that helps defend the civil rights of a segment of the French population, the Jewish one. “And what democratic country in the world would not want its citizens to live in safety and security?” Yossi told me.
“The LDJ,” Yossi explained to me, “is not waiting for a complaint on an attack on a Jew to be filed. If we get a tip, we get there before the police get involved. We are, in many cases, proactive.
Yossi is back in Israel. From his apartment in Tel Aviv, he conducts the operations of the LDJ along with its new leader.
Though it is his wish to see all French Jews making their way to Israel, one day, Yossi understands that for some, himself included, it may only remain a dream. “The conditions for Jews in France are getting bad and will get even worse, “he believes. “And wherever there are Jews, there will always be anti-Semitism and where there is anti-Semitism, there is a need for such a body as the LDJ. Seventy years ago,” he told me,” we Jews had to wear a Yellow Badge in the shape of a Star of David. Nowadays, we should all wear a blue and white Star of David and we should wear it with great pride.