The finest minds and their games

Although I’d willingly vote for him if he were the Republican candidate, I’ve never liked McCain as a politician.  To me, his “iconoclasm” (which is how the Press has always labeled it), hasn’t been the sign of an independent mind but a lack of fixity of purpose.  Having said that, though, I’ve always strongly admired McCain the man.  What he went through in Vietnam doesn’t bear thinking about, and the fact that he returned and went on to a normal and highly successful life is a testament to his strength and resilience.

There’s one statement in the above paragraph that isn’t true.  I said that what he went through in Vietnam “doesn’t bear thinking about.”  In fact, it’s something we should think about, because it helps us understand that nature of freedom’s enemies, then and now; it helps us appreciate the strength of our American military, then and now; and it shines a light on McCain’s character.  So, if you would in fact like to think about these things, I urge you to check out this article in Leatherneck, the Magazine of the Marines, describing life for American POWs (including McCain) in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.”  And as you’re reading it, do keep in mind how the Vietnam-era anti-War activists gave hope to the Vietnamese Communists and enabled them to maintain their continued attacks on their prisoners.

Hat tip:  Paragraph Farmer

Rejiggering everythough you thought you knew about Communism

Okay, the title of this post isn’t quite true, because it would take a whole book, or maybe a series, to rejigger American conventional wisdom about Communism.  Nevertheless, Randall Hoven makes an incredible start here, debunking myriad myths, and I urge you to read it.

The brainwashing worked

Michelle Malkin has a good photo essay about the gathering in front of the Marine Recruiting Station in Berkeley the other day. The San Francisco Chronicle also ran a story about the protest, which I found interesting only because of this quotation from one of the anti-War protesters:

“They represent the social base that’s giving rise to this imperialistic war. Their so-called patriotic attitude,” he said, “just shows their blatant disregard for humanity and what the flag stands for. The very fact that they’re holding it up is enough for us to be out here.”

You caught that those few sentences have all the familiar Progressive bullet-points: imperialistic war, xenophobic patriotism, disregard for humanity, etc., etc. It would be an unremarkable statement from the Progressives if it weren’t for the person who said it: “David Santos, 15, of Oakland.”  Do you wonder, as I do, where a 15 year old got such a firm grasp of Leftist rhetoric?

I knew I didn’t like them

Mr. Bookworm has liked the singing duo Indigo Girls for as long as I can remember, and I’ve disliked them, very much, for equally long.  To my ear, there is a bullying, hectoring tone to their singing that is just a complete turn-off.  Considering how little I like them, I somehow was not surprised to find them the headline act at the Communist sponsored “Power to the Peaceful Festival” held in San Francisco this past weekend and documented perfectly at a Zombie post.

Netanyahu is in (and a little Netanyahu family history)

Bibi is a larger than life figure, who has allowed hubris to damage his political career. Since I think he’s one of the few Israeli politicians who understands both the Islamist forces arrayed against Israel and America (where he lived), and who has the smarts to put his understanding into effect, I’m glad he’s back in the political game:

Benjamin Netanyahu easily defeated a radical Jewish settler in the race to lead Israel’s hardline Likud Party on Tuesday, a party official said, boosting his ambitions to reclaim the country’s premiership.

While Netanyahu’s victory had been all but assured, a strong showing by challenger Moshe Feiglin could have shored up Israel’s extreme right and hurt Netanyahu’s efforts to rehabilitate Likud after it was trounced in national elections last year. Recent polls have crowned Netanyahu, Likud’s leader since late 2005, as the front-runner for Israel’s top job.

With more than 80 percent of the primary votes tallied, Netanyahu was out way ahead with 73 percent to Feiglin’s 22 percent, party executive director Gad Arieli said. World Likud Party Chairman Danny Danon trailed with 4 percent. Final results were expected early Wednesday.

In his victory speech, Netanyahu made it clear that the race was a dress rehearsal for a much bigger contest.

“Tonight the internal contest ended, and as of tomorrow, we will focus our efforts on bringing a new leadership to Israel,” Netanyahu told dozens of cheering supporters in Tel Aviv.

A telegenic politician and self-described hawk, the M.I.T.-educated Netanyahu speaks flawless, American-accented English. He’s tough on defense issues and hands-off on the economy, but in recent months has been trying to position himself in the political center to try to lure moderate voters.

Thinking of Bibi always makes me think of his brother, Jonathan, and the role he played in the amazing Entebbe raid. ‘Cause it’s a great story, and because I believe it’s an important part of Bibi’s psyche) I think I’ll tell it again.

For those of you too young to remember, here is a short-ish version of the long and exciting story about the Entebbe raid. (I culled these facts from a much longer article by by Maj. (Res.) Louis Williams, which I found once at the Israeli Defense Forces website, but can’t find now.)

It all started with the metal detector no one looked at. On June 27, 1976, as passengers in Athens boarded the already partially full Air France 139 flight to Paris, no one paid any attention to a young woman traveling on an Ecuadorian passport, a young blond man with a Peruvian passport, and two other men, one with Bahraini and the other with Kuwaiti papers. A little more on-the-job attention could have saved four lives and a world of trouble. It would later turn out that these four people were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Baader-Meinhof Gang.

The flight out of Athens began in ordinary enough fashion. It was a mid-day flight so, as soon as the plane was airborne, the flight attendants began bustling around, preparing lunch. The 246 passengers — 77 of whom were Israeli citizens — settled in to do what passengers do: read, sleep, and talk. Unfortunately, they had little time to engage in any of these ordinary activities. Within eight minutes of being airborne, the women, who called herself Ortega; the blond man, who went by the name of Garcia, but was really Wilfried Boese; and their two Arab companions, sprang into action. Ortega, gun in hand, covered the first class compartment, the Arabs took over the coach compartment, and Garcia, who had both a revolver and a grenade, invaded the cockpit. Within minutes, they had secured the plane.

The first sign the outside world had that something was wrong was when the French captain, Michel Bacos, ceased radio contact. Because of the large number of Israeli passengers on Board, when Ben Gurion Airport management received the news about this peculiar radio silence, it instantly passed it on to the Israeli government and defense ministry. The Israelis had always known about the possibility that something could happen to their citizens in the air, so they quickly set up a command station and began mobilizing forces based on their initial assumption that the hostage crisis might play out at Ben Gurion itself.

Within a half hour of the Israelis setting up this station, the terrorists began issuing their demands by contacting a Libyan control tower. Their first requests were simple, and made very clear where they stood on the ideological spectrum: in addition to fuel, they demanded that the local representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine meet them at the Libyan airport.

The plane did touch down in Libya, although it was clear that this was only a fueling stop. The terrorists released a single passenger, a young pregnant woman. In the meantime, the Israelis huddled, trying to come up with a viable plan, despite the fact that the situation was unstable and the terrorists’ ultimate destination unknown.

That same afternoon, at the terrorists’ direction, the plane took off again, with no one the wiser as to the next landing point. Eventually, with an almost empty tank, the terrorists had Captain Bacos land the plane at Entebbe, in Uganda, in the wee hours of the morning of June 28. Entebbe was an unpromising location for the Israelis, since Idi Amin, the dictator in charge, was no friend to Israel.

Once in Entebbe, it became clear that Amin was working with the terrorists, whether as part of a preconceived plan, or because he was a seizing an opportunity that presented itself to him. Thus, he allowed several more terrorists to meet the airplane, he assembled his troops at the airport, and he himself appeared there, making a speech supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Aside from Amin’s posturing, though, little was happening. Amin’s involvement was worrisome enough. As Shimon Peres (who was then Defense Minister) noted, it would be a catastrophic development for Israeli air travel if a sovereign nation successfully came to the support of hijackers.

Despite the information vacuum, the Israeli Defense Forces started brainstorming. The IDF was lucky in that, as late as 1972, Israeli planes had flown into Uganda. The IDF therefore knew that the airport where the hostages were being held was within flying range and had a fair idea about the site itself. While things might have changed since 1972, finding out about those changes was do-able.

By June 29, the situation was static from the IDF’s point of view, with the terrorists apparently locked into Entebbe. The IDF therefore made the formal decision to start turning its brainstorming into reality. In the meantime, word came that the terrorists were demanding the release of various of their terrorist compatriots who were being held in Europe, Israel and Africa. By the end of the day, the terrorists fleshed out their demand: if their demand for terrorist releases was not met by 2 p.m. Israeli time on July 1, they would kill all the hostages.

Unbeknownst to the IDF (although nothing would have surprised them), as these demands were issuing, sinister things were happening in Entebbe. With help from Ugandan soldiers, the terrorists were “remodeling” the airport terminal to create a small passageway between two rooms. Boese, the blond man, then began dividing the hostages into two groups: Jews and Israelis in one group, everyone else in another group. For the Jews, it was a grim echo of Mengele’s sorting technique, with its life and death divisions.

In the small hours of June 30, the IDF continued its non-stop information gathering and planning. The consensus was that the Israelis had to seize the Entebbe airport and free the hostages — a simple idea that was incredibly difficult to put into operation. Every detail had to be considered, including a way by which to co-opt the psychopathic Amin so that he would cease assisting the terrorists and, perhaps, even come to the Israelis’ aid. (As it turned out, aside from buying some time, Amin was not otherwise deterred from his murderous path.)

It helped the Israelis that the Germans, showing more backbone than they had in 1972 during the Munich hostage crisis, were refusing to release the terrorists they had imprisoned, as were the French. Indeed, in a move unimaginable today, the French actually ceded to Israel the decision-making power regarding responsive steps in the face of the terrorist demands. On the ground, the French were also showing true integrity. When the terrorists attempted to have Captain Bacos and his French crew join a group of non-Jewish/Israeli passengers to be released on the Air France plane, they refused to do so, insisting on staying with and caring for their passengers. A French nun also attempted to stay with the Jewish passengers, but was thrust onto the plane despite her protests. The released passengers soon ended up at home and, after being debriefed and providing some valuable information, vanish from our story.

In Israel, the IDF’s plans were sufficiently advanced to begin gathering personnel. One of the soldiers handpicked for the responsibility of leading the raid was Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan (”Yoni”) Netanyahu. Another, more junior officer, Muki Betser, was summoned as well. It was the first either knew of the plan, and they were quickly brought up to speed about the three major plans currently being considered — one of which, of course, was the air raid that ultimately took place.

On July 1, the date the terrorists had given as their deadline for killing the Jewish hostages, the Israelis had an unexpected bit of luck. It turned out that an Israeli building contractor had built the Old Terminal at Entebbe, giving the IDF access to the building’s plans.

Although the Israelis were bound and determined not to submit to the terrorists’ demands — correctly perceiving that to do so would open the door to unlimited kidnappings and hostage situations — the Cabinet voted unanimously to begin negotiations with the terrorists as a means of buying time. Idi Amin, apparently swayed by Israeli flattery that played on his overweening ego, announced that he would allow the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to broadcast on Ugandan radio at 2:00 p.m., Israeli time, thereby buying one precious hour. This one extra hour stretched into two, and then a day, and then two days, until the Israelis had a fortunate reserve of time within which to work.

The Israelis, while simultaneously cajoling Amin, gathering information, and negotiating for time, continued to finalize plans. They gathered more and more personnel, especially those paratroopers with experience with long-range flights over Africa. As a second group of non-Israeli/Jewish hostages arrived in France, the situation improved, both because there were fewer passengers to rescue, and because the new arrivals helped flesh out necessary information about the Entebbe situation.

By mid-morning on July 2, the plan were sufficiently developed that Netanyahu and his fellow officers were beginning to intellectualize actual dry run practices. They also begin focusing on the minutiae of the plan, such as specific geographic landmarks in and around the airport, fueling issues, etc. Air Force ground crews began getting seven airplanes reading for the raid: four Hercules for the trip; one Hercules as a reserve plane; and two Boeing 707 as command headquarters and backup to fly the rescued hostages home. One plane was swiftly converted into a flying medical center.

One soldier, possibly Muki, also had a brainwave about preserving the surprise aspect of the raid once the planes landed. This involved using a Mercedes limousine as one of the assault vehicles, on the theory that Ugandan officials always traveled in these vehicles. Seeing one drive around the airport attended by an entourage of Land Rovers would be so normal at Entebbe that no one would be on guard.

For the rest of the day, the selected troops, led by Netanyahu, drilled and drilled. Each knew that seconds mattered. Their rehearsals were so disciplined that, by July 3, they were ready.

As the IDF engaged in this feverish behind-the-scenes activity, negotiations stagnated. It didn’t really matter, of course, since the whole purpose behind the negotiations was to buy time. Nevertheless, it was galling to see the terrorists use these talks as a way to humiliate Israel as much as possible. Certainly no one in Israel truly believed that, if Israel capitulated to the terrorist demands, the terrorists would actually release all 105 hostages safely.

At noon on July 2, 1976, the operation, now called “Operation Thunderball” was reading to go. By 1:30, the commandos were airborne and heading South to Ophir, preparatory to crossing over into African airspace. Even on the plane, the officers and their troops continued to go minutely over the plans, mentally rehearsing and polishing small details. Eventually, everyone tried to get some sleep, so as to be fresh when the raid finally took place. The flight, already stressful, was made worse by turbulence over Ethiopia, which forced the planes to divert. The one good thing was that the same storm meant that the Israelis didn’t need to worry about detection, since the storm ruined incoming radar signals.

Despite the horrific conditions, the pilot landed the plan at Entebbe only 30 seconds behind the scheduled time. Within minutes of landing, the men were piling into the decoy Mercedes, and two Land Rovers. Even as the plane was still moving, the instant the cargo doors opened, the cars drove off the plane. Thanks to the work of paratroopers who also left the plane to place temporary lights on the runway, the planes were able to taxi slightly forward.

The Mercedes, and its escorts speed down the road to the terminal, all the while trying to give the appearance of an official entourage. When two Ugandan sentries challenged them, however, they had no option but to shoot. They hit one soldier, but the other was able to run for the control tower. In minutes, despite the loss of their cover, the commandos secured one of the terminal entrances and moved on to another.

Shortly after entering the building, the terrorists began firing, both at the Israelis and the hostages. A firefight began, with Israeli troopers successful in bringing down two of the terrorists. Sadly, despite bullhorn announcements from the IDF warning the hostages to keep down, one man was killed in this first burst of gunfire.

The second assault team, which had almost been fooled to death by two terrorists pretending to be hostages, managed to kill these terrorists. At the same time, Netanyahu’s group killed Ugandan soldiers assisting the terrorists. Within the building, after only three minutes, the raid was over. The only step remaining was to get everyone — paratroopers and hostages alike — back to the waiting planes for the return trip to Israel.

Sadly, the raid was not without costs. Two hostages died on the ground. Another, an old lady, had been taken to a Ugandan hospital, where she was subsequently murdered on Amin’s orders. And, in what proved to be a terrible blow to the Israeli psyche, Netanyahu was fatally wounded. He died on the flight back to Israel.

And that’s the story. It’s an incredible story of a small force, fighting against the odds, and, with creativity and bravery, freeing over a hundred people from captivity. It’s also a story of sacrifice, because not only did Yoni Netanyahu die on that day, every single one of the paratroopers on the flight was willing to give his life to rescue his fellow Israelis and Jews from a brutal terrorist assault. Lastly, it was a story of remarkable government foresight. By refusing to give in to the terrorist demands, Israel managed for 30 years to insulate herself from hijackings and kidnappings, a situation that changed only last year, within weeks of the 30th anniversary of Entebbe, when terrorists realized that Israel no longer had the will (or, perhaps, the ability) to pull off another Entebbe.

 The grave of Jonathan Netanyahu

Worshipping killers

The Left (both at home and abroad) likes to revile the infamous American President “Chimpy-BusHitler,” but they seem to be taking a pass on some people that even the Left would have to concede have a bit more blood on their hands. Mike Adams and the American Thinker take on the results of that, shall we say, imbalance in beliefs.

Mike Adams’ target is the Che Guevara worship that infects the self-styled “intelligentsia,” who like to swan around in Che shirts, purses and (my personal favorite), darling little clothes for their babies. Che, after all, say the intellectuals, was a “sincere, “Christ-like” “martyr.” Adams’ suggestion is that his University (UNC-Wilmington) acknowledge all this Che worship and build a Che memorial on campus. He further suggests that the University use the Jefferson Memorial as its guide, and that it cover the walls with Che’s own words:

“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” Che Guevara.

“If the nuclear missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City.” Che Guevara.

“We will march the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims… We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm.” Che Guevara.

“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial bowl.” Che Guevara.

“Don’t shoot! I’m Che, I’m worth more to you alive than dead.” Che Guevara.

“(T)o execute a man we don’t need proof of his guilt. We only need proof that it’s necessary to execute him. It’s that simple.” Che Guevara.

Wasn’t it Jack Nicholson who blasted Tom Cruise with the words “You can’t handle the truth“? I wonder what the Che faithful will do when confronted with their hero’s blood-soaked feet of clay.

In Britain, they’ve done away with that problem altogether, according to a letter republished at the American Thinker, by simply coming up with an alternative history when it comes to teaching about Hitler:

So waiting for the Dolphin swim at Discovery Cove in Orlando, my daughter Nikki and I were seated with a Brit family–mom, daughter and son. After small talk about the great value of the pound vs the dollar etc, I mentioned that Churchill was one of my heroes. The son, no more than 16 countered that he really liked Hitler, and his sister Gandhi. I was stunned and sickened.

According to him, Hitler was a great leader and did great things for the German people. He brought them out of depression. His quest for land was only to provide “living space” for the German people. The reason for the London bombings was because Britain “carpet bombed” German cities. Hitler had to attack France, for they were a treat to his effort to gain land for living space. The atrocities of the Holocaust were attributed to the fact that he was “mad”, so it wasn’t his fault. In general, his intentions were noble.

In speaking privately with his mother after my discussion, she stated that this is the new curriculum in the British schools to combat “prejudice” against Germans. They teach the children not to “judge” Hitler.

Of course, this won’t be a problem much longer in England. The British have decided to do away with Hitler altogether, along with such iconic British figures as Queen Elizabeth I and Winston Churchill. Makes you wonder how much longer America’s Europe loving intellectuals can continue to pretend that Europeans out pace us educationally.

England — birthplace of awful political systems

I used to live in the North of England, before it became Islamisized. I doubt I’d recognize it now. When Earl sent me a link to an article entitled “My brother the bomber,” which traces the trajectory one of Britain’s 7/7 bombers took from ordinary northern Muslim to mass murderer, I thought I’d read about recognizable things. I didn’t. The new Britain is an utterly alien place, open to influences no one even contemplated 25 years ago.

I’m having the same lack of recognition when I read Melanie Phillip’s Londonistan, which describes the radicalization of England’s Muslim population (with lots of help from radical immigrant Islamists, kicked out of their own countries).  I’ve actually had Londonistan on my reading list — and available to me — for months, but I haven’t been able to make myself read it.  Melanie Phillip’s is a superb writer, both lucid and vivid but, for a long time, I avoided reading this book the same way I would avoiding watching a car wreck unfold.  You know what’s going to happen, and the outcome is too terrible to contemplate.

It also pained me on a level entirely separate from the fact that London, specifically, and Great Britain, by extension, have become completely radioactive when it comes to disseminating the worst and most violent forms of Islam throughout the world.  It pained me because the book truly sounds the death knell of a very lovely time in my life, which was my sojourn in England, an England that was just starting down Thatcher’s road to recovery.

When I lived there so long ago, I was especially delighted that I had the opportunity to live in the North, because it was still the “real” England, as opposed to the more internationalized (and definitely more tourist oriented) South.  People up North still spoke with strong regional accents, and traced their ancestors back hundreds of years.  Now, when I read books about the North, I learn about a place where entire towns are indistinguishable from backwards villages in Pakistan.  It’s very depressing, more so because the English have been so leeched of any sense of self and morality, that they’ve passively watched as their world has been destroyed.

An aside, related to Phillips’ book:  Phillips notes that Al Qaeda essentially got its start in Britain, because that’s where the money and organization first flowed to set up its structure and spread its ideas.  I couldn’t help remembering that it was during his exile in England that Karl Marx lived out most of his life, and where he wrote the books that seeded modern C0mmunism.  Indeed, it was the fact that London has served as a petri dish for two of the most destructive political ideologies of our time that gave me the title for this post.