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Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Entebbe Day

Lt Colonel Yoni Netanyahu. Photo (c) IDF, 2022
Lt Colonel Yoni Netanyahu. Photo (c) IDF, 2022

Forty-six years ago today, on July 4, 1976, America’s bicentennial, elite Israeli commandos, led by thirty-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu rescued over one hundred hostages from Entebbe, over 2000 miles from Israel, in a daring operation that stunned the world. The only military casualty of the operation was its planner and leader on the ground, Yoni himself, who died as he had lived, leading from the front.

Yoni Netanyahu z”l. Illustration, (c) T. Book, 2022

Dorron Almog, a reserve General and newly-elected head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, who as a soldier participated in the Entebbe operation, noted that one of the main lessons related to Entebbe is that a few can do something for the good of the many. It was always like that, and, it seems, will always be like that. He observed that:

We will always need the spirit of Entebbe. The spirit of determination to do something for others, not just for ourselves. We will always need those daring individuals who jump ahead of the group. There will always be the few who take heroic measures for the sake of the public. I pray that those few, the pillars of fire who march before the camp, will draw many others, for which the wonderful Entebbe metaphor is a way of life.

The brilliant and selfless rescue operation conducted by Yonni, and his brothers-in-arms, whose sole purpose was to rescue their fellow Jews in distress, reminded Jews everywhere of the Raison d’être of the Jewish State. Jews in distress and danger anywhere in the world always know that the strong arm of the IDF is able to reach out them protect them and bring them home, in the spirit of Entebbe, wherever they are, even from the depths of Africa.

After the bitter-sweet success of the operation, retrospectively renamed “Operation Yonatan” in his honour, Yonni’s family decided that, rather than build another memorial in a country that has all too many, they would publish his writings in order to share with the world the kind of dedication, selflessness and love of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel which were the hallmarks of Yonni’s all too short, but meaningful life. Yonni’s letters are thought-provoking, profound and unapologetically Zionistic. As a sixteen year old, Yonni penned what were to be the guiding principals of his life:

Man does not live forever, and he should put the days of his life to the best possible use. He should try to live life to its fullest…I must feel certain that not only the moment of my death shall I be able to account for the time I’ve lived; I ought to be ready at every moment of my life to confront myself and say—This is what I’ve done.

As we pause to remember the deeds and memory of Yonatan Netanyahu we should also take the opportunity to honour all of his comrades who took part in the operation, and the brave young men and women in the IDF who keep our country safe in the spirit of Entebbe today!

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," was published by Koren this year. To order: https://korenpub.com/products/jewish-journeys
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