Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July, Israel

by: Mike Evans

America celebrates Independence Day, by far the most important national holiday of the year in the United States. It commemorates the birth of the nation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, with fireworks, picnics, concerts, parades, political speeches and ceremonies. It is a day of patriotism and pride – the largest birthday celebration in America and a true day of remembrance.

It is in this spirit that I, as an American, will celebrate Israel. The nation of Israel and the Jewish people have sacrificed more for American freedom per capita than any nation on earth.

Radical Islamists call America the “Great Satan,” and Israel the “Little Satan.” The reason is obvious; the Jewish people in Israel have, with their own blood, defended America and the Western world against radical Islam since the days of its rebirth on May 14, 1948.

When Jewish poetess, Emma Lazarus, penned the immortal words emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty,Palestine was desert, a wasteland in the hands of the unfriendly Turks. From 1881 to about 1920, three million Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States. Welcoming them to America were Lazarus’ words:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Ties between the Jewish people and the early pilgrims in America were as foundationally strong as the rock on which they stepped ashore in 1620. A group hoping to found a “New Israel” would become highly influential when the colonists began to aspire to freedom. Early founders and presidents of the newly-formed republic would express the hope that the children of Israel might one day find rebirth in their homeland – the land God gave to Abraham.

Our forefathers, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin lobbied for an image of Moses guiding the Israelites on the Great Seal. Such presidents as John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, and Abraham Lincoln lobbied for a homeland in Palestine for the Jews. President Harry S. Truman was the first world leader to recognize the new State of Israel in 1948.

One of the greatest symbols of Israel’s sacrifice is Yonathan Netanyahu, commander of Sayaret Mutkal, who was killed in action during Operation Entebbe in Uganda. His brother, Benjamin, is the current prime minister of Israel. Character and dedication are symbolized in a letter Yonathan wrote to his parents on December 2, 1973. In the letter he wrote: “We are preparing for war and it’s hard to know what to expect. What I am positive of is that there will be a next round and others after that. But, I would rather opt for living here in continual battle than for becoming part of the wandering Jewish people. Any compromise will simply hasten the end. As I don’t intend to tell my grandchildren about the Jewish State in the twentieth century as a mere brief and transient episode amid thousands of years of wandering. I intend to hold on here with all my might.”

On July 4, 1980, the anniversary of his death, I read Yoni’s story in the Jerusalem Post. It deeply touched me in such a way that I made my way to the Netanyahu home to express my sympathies for his sacrifice to the Netanyahu family. Benzion Netanyahu answered the door and very graciously invited me inside for tea. After a few moments, we were joined by Benjamin. I had never seen a more painful agony than I saw in Benjamin’s eyes.

I was so moved by the encounter that I requested a second meeting that week with Prime Minister Menachem Begin through his personal secretary, Yehiel Kadishai. When Mr. Begin came through the door of his office I said, “Mr. Prime Minister, yesterday I met the prime minister of Israel.”

He said, “You are mistaken; it wasn’t yesterday that we met.” I said, “No, it is not you.” He laughed and asked, “Who is this competitive prime minister?”

“Benjamin Netanyahu. He will be prime minister twice. Will you give him a job?” He laughed. “Twice? Isn’t once enough?”

At that time, Mr. Begin didn’t know Benjamin. His senior advisor Reuven Hecht, also in the room, knew Benjamin, and spoke highly of him. Menachem Begin agreed. The following night, Reuven offered Benjamin a position in the Israeli embassy in Washington, DCunder Moshe Arons.

For over twenty years, I kept the story in confidence and did not tell Benjamin that I had asked for an appointment for him … not until he demanded that I tell him the truth. He smiled and said, “Oh, so you’re the one. I don’t know whether to kiss you or kick you in the rear.” Without a doubt, Benjamin is prime minister of Israel and has maintained courageous moral clarity because of the sacrifice of his brother, Jonathan.

The death of Yoni Netanyahu inspired me to write Israel: America’s Key to Survival in 1981. On the front cover of the book areU.S. and Israeli flags sliced in half by an Islamic Saudi Arabian sword. The premise of the book was that Israel was the only democracy and firewall between radical Islam and the West. I wrote that if Israel was weakened, radical Islam would begin attacking the West.New York City’s tallest building would be the first target.

On the back cover is a quote from Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Their goal is to destroy America… destroy it … reduce it to nothing and they feel they can effectively do it through terrorism.”

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