On July 4, 1976, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) executed a daring raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda. The IDF freed almost all the Jewish hostages captured a few days earlier when an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris made an ill-fated stop in Athens. The IDF killed all the terrorists as well as Ugandan soldiers patrolling the site on the orders of brutal dictator Idi Amin, losing only one of its own men–Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu (aka “Yonni”).
The world-wide effect of this rescue can best be judged by the fact that this film, Raid on Entebbe, was released less than 6 months later, with major American stars such as Charles Bronson playing Israelis!
Raid on Entebbe, directed by Irvin Kershner, received two Emmy Awards in 1977 & was nominated for 8 more. The following year (1978) it also received a Golden Globe Award (“Best Motion Picture Made for TV“).
One of the Emmy nominations was for Peter Finch (“Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama or Comedy Special”) who starred as Yitzhak Rabin. Finch died 5 days after the broadcast & this performance was his final legacy. (The winner was Ed Flanders in Harry S. Truman: Plain Speaking.)
The dominant theme on the soundtrack is “Hine Ma Tov” which is never translated, but this traditional prayer is something almost all Jews know: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”
I know I saw Raid on Entebbe ages ago, but I recently watched it again after I saw the new French mini-series Carlos (about terrorist “Carlos-the-Jackel”). I was deeply affected by this memory refresher & by the time of the final “Hine Ma Tov” (as the IDF & their passengers headed for home), I was in tears.
Bravo, IDF! If people want to know why most Americans (especially Boomers like me) still root for Israel, look no further than Raid on Entebbe!