Dates have meaning because of the people who acted in them. This is My Personal ISRAELI 4TH OF JULY:
My first job out of the military was working at a pre-military school, supporting 18-year-olds through a year’s journey of learning about Israeli society, volunteering in the community, and developing leadership skills before they join the service. This truly magical place was founded by the less legendary but exceptionally admirable retired IDF Colonel Muki Betser.
Muki did many great things in his life, in and out of the military. He is a man of initiative and education. the act he is probably most famous for is the planning of and being next in command during Operation Thunderbolt in Entebbe, Uganda. In short, the operation that saved the lives of over 100 passengers and crew in a plane hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists.
The operation took place on July 4th, 1976. Muki had a big part in planning it, and after the commander of the operation was killed, Muki saw it through until the terrorists were killed and the passengers and crew were brought home safely.
40 years ago, When America was celebrating its 200 independence day, Israel went out on a mission that established 2 ground principles:
1. Not to let acts of terrorism and violence bend your hand backward and force you into decisions.
2. And most important: We bring our people home.
On July 4th, 1976 the state of Israel was 28 years old. Still in the forming stages of its identity.
3 years beforehand, during the 1973 Oil Crisis and the Israeli Yom Kippur war, the USA held its support in Israel despite the oil embargo cast upon it by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries. The embargo was cast as a means to press the Western World to withdraw its support from Israel, in order to isolate it and bring to its destruction during the war.
The combination of the two, I believe, lead to the strong connection we have today between the Two states. The connection is based on joint interests, true, and there is nothing wrong about it, yet I truly believe there is something more to it. Joint interests break as soon as interests change. Joint values, however, keep you moving together even in times of challenge and disagreement.
The 4th of July has a special meaning because of the values that were pursued and established on this exact day, by courageous people.
For me, both Muki and the 4th of July have a precious meaning.
Muki as a person I was lucky enough to know and work with in person, represents for me values I try to live by:
• Resourcefulness in the face of a challenge.
• Personal responsibility and leadership.
• Owning your most glorious failures as well as your highest achievements.
• To always make your own path to create the change you want to see.
Muki is also the reason why I know that as an Israeli, I am protected no matter where I am in this world.
The 4th of July for me as an Israeli, is a day in which I know I am cared for wherever I go by the people of this country, and a day in which I as an Israeli celebrate sharing some core values with the people of America.
I invite everyone who’s interested in learning more and being inspired, to read the story of Muki Betser in the book “Secret Soldier”. I had the honor and the privilege to work beneath him and never have I ever, met a leader who inspired me more than this modest and accomplished man.
Happy Israeli and American 4th of July everyone!