Treasure Trove: Remembering Yoni Netanyahu, a heroic soldier and leader

Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu was the older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. He was the commander of the Entebbe Operation on July 4, 1976 when Israel rescued 102 hostages who had been on a flight hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and ordered to land in Entebbe, Uganda. Yoni was the only Israeli soldier killed in that operation.

Even before the rescue in Entebbe, Yoni was an Israeli hero who had participated in many dangerous missions. In 1973, he was a member of the commando unit that went to Beirut to attack the planners of the massacre that had killed 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich.

After his death, the letters he wrote from 1963 until June 29, 1976 were collected and published in the book, Self-Portrait of a Hero

Author Herman Wouk wrote in the book’s introduction: “Yoni loathed war and fighting. To kill horrified him. Of such are the Israeli soldiers, and of such are modern heroes. Because he had to fight to save his nation’s life, he made himself into a great fighting man.”

The book includes a farewell speech Yoni gave to his battalion in 1975. He set out a number of principles that he considered necessary for maintaining any organization. One of them is “I believe that the buck should not be passed to anyone else–that it should stop here, with us.”

The last letter in the book was written five days before Entebbe. It ends with yiheye b’seder (it will be okay). These words of the soldier/poet are important for us to remember today.