Amichai’s Top 50/19 The Land of Deer ארץ צבי

“אל ארץ צבי
נושרות על שדה חמניות
שעצבונה וששונה
הם שתי וערב בבגד יומה.”

“The Land of Deer
Whose tears keep falling upon fields of sunflowers
Whose joys and losses
are the fabric of her daily wear.”

Dora Bloch, 75, Israeli, was dragged out of her hospital bed in Uganda on the morning of July 4 1976 and shot dead by orders of Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator. She was the last victim of the famous rescue mission – Operation Thunderbolt, later renamed Operation Yonatan – honoring the senior IDF officer also killed during the raid – Bibi Netanyahu’s older brother, Yoni.

I was 7 when Air France flight 139 was hijacked by a group of Palestinian terrorists, with support by German terrorists, on route from Athens to Paris, landing in Uganda. They were there for a week and then in the middle of the night, they were rescued and brought back to Israel.

My father was the spokesman for the ministry of defense and very engaged with the drama – I remember tense phone calls at all hours of the night that entire week. Years later I’d learn that there were fierce internal debates regarding the raid, negotiations and diplomacy efforts.

Bloch was one of four hostages who were killed during the raid – 102 were rescued and flown to Israel.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. The relief, the pride. Then I read the book about it (Flight 139, over and over again), watched the movie, and the theme song, today’s selection, still brings me to tears.

The Entebbe Raid was my waking moment to realize that what it means to be Jewish, Israeli, how complex it is, how proud I am, and how confused about it.

The hijackers demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners. Idi Amin’s dictatorship was backed by Israeli weapons and intelligence. And yet. And yet. Here were Jews and Israelis separated from the other passengers for being Jewish, here were Israeli soldiers risking their lives for their people thousands of miles away, here was my father, Holocaust survivor working at the highest rungs of government to negotiate a deal and not be a victim. Here was this song that longs for home, homeland, solidarity, the honey and the milk and the hope. I still yearn, still seven years old when I hear it, still nostalgic, hopeful.

On this day, Zikaron, remembering the fallen and the killed, the sacrifices made for home-building, for peace-in-making, I honor my father, I remember my friends who died in active duty, the victims of terror and violence in Israel and Palestine, and those in Uganda and all over the world.

May memories be and bring blessing, may healing of hearts and wounds deepen today, may we all be worthy of safe homes, of dignity, of others taking care of us, and we of them, of simple, daily, love.

Photo: Israeli cargo planes land in Tel Aviv with the rescued passengers of flight 139, July 4 1976

Amichai’s Top 50: Soundtrack of my life. 4/20-6-8 2019/Passover-Shavuot 5779

– Amichai

Amichai’s Top 50: Soundtrack of my life. 4/20-6-8 2019/Passover-Shavuot 5779

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