In 1976, leftist radicals and Arab terrorists hijacked a plane full of Jews to Entebbe; such deadly cooperation is becoming likelier in today’s climate.
Forty-four years ago this week, Israeli commandos freed more than 100 hostages held in Entebbe, Uganda. The daring rescue mission remains one of the most celebrated anti-terror operations in history. But the story behind the skyjacking is sometimes overlooked.
Hijackers Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann were German far leftists whose background bears troubling resemblance to current-day extremists. They founded the Revolutionary Cells terrorist group, which was fiercely anti-Zionist and committed to a violent brand of “social justice.”
On 27 June 1976, Böse and Kuhlmann teamed up with two Palestinians to hijack the Air France airliner to Entebbe.
Plots Against Prominent Jews
Böse embraced radical views in university. Decades later, Western campuses still serve as hotbeds of far left activism. Moreover, both he and Kuhlmann reportedly harbored Antisemitic feelings. Kulmann in particular is known for hurling Antisemitic abuse at the hostages in Entebbe, and for refusing to release Jews when freeing non-Israeli captives.
The plane hijacking was part of a wider collaboration between Western radicals and Arab terror groups. Far left sympathy for the Palestinian cause led some activists to train in Arab terror camps and play an active role in terror operations.
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Notably, the Revolutionary Cells also planned to murder Heinz Galinski, the head of Germany’s Jewish community, as well as the famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Following Entebbe, militant far left factions grew weaker. Over time, the security services largely neutralized groups like the Revolutionary Cells and the Baader Meinhoff gang. While the Anti-Zionist fervor in far left circles persisted, the number of deadly actions against Israeli and Jewish targets subsided.
However, the current atmosphere presents a heightened risk of renewed anti-Jewish cooperation between leftist and Arab radicals.
The latest generation of “social justice warriors” has been working with Arab terror sympathizers for some time. Former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has referred to members of Hamas and Hezbollah as his friends, and Anti-Zionism is by now a key far left cause. But the latest events threaten to push this solidarity to a new level.
Leftist Radicals Embrace Violence
The aggressive protests following the brutal killing of George Floyd have encouraged more far leftists to turn violent. While such violence existed before, it’s now becoming more socially acceptable, widespread and reckless. It features extensive looting and vandalism, and in some cases attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses.
This growing belligerence, coupled with a relentless stream of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda, will erupt into deadly violence sooner or later. The ever-growing radicalization, hatred and frustration will ultimately lead to extreme action against Jews.
The rise of ISIS in the past decade starkly demonstrated the potential for an alliance between radical Muslims and leftists. Throughout the West, non-Muslim citizens traveled to the Middle East to join Islamic State’s fight against the “infidels.” A terror partnership that targets Jews and Israel seems even more natural.
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As this old-new threat develops, it will present a huge security challenge for Israel and for Jewish communities abroad. Israeli aviation and diplomatic missions could again become a target for frequent attacks, as will Jewish schools, businesses and places of worship. Barring a drastic change of direction, darker times lie ahead.