Nostalgia Sunday – July 4th 1976

The Bicentennial Celebration of 1976 was a very big event and the entire USA was decked out in red, white and blue. We — my father sisters and I — instead got a plane on July 3rd and flew to Israel. It had been a rough year, with my mother’s death in early November, and somehow coming to Israel to be with family and friends was a comfort. Israel being Israel, we arrived to the latest national crisis: the hostage situation in Entebbe.

The next morning, we were awakened to the news that the hostages had been rescued. Israel’s reaction was euphoric — not since 1967 had there been so stunning a win! — although everyone knew that the victory was bittersweet. Four hostages and IDF Commander Yonatan Netanyahu were killed. Nonetheless, the raid was a tour de force of Israeli think-on-your-feet strategy and bravado in the face of the cartoonishly evil dictator Idi Amin Dada.

That same morning, I went down to Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda Street with my dad and he bought this T-shirt for me.
The text balloon says, “Kol ha-kavod le-Zahal” or “All respect due to the IDF” — probably the last thing Amin was thinking of saying at that moment. The shirt was doubly humorous for having made new use of the most hackneyed of Israeli cliches about the military. As far as we were concerned, it was “Kol ha-Kavod to Lord Kitsch” which had somehow managed to speedily produce the T-shirts in a matter of hours.

And then, the next day, Miss Israel, Rina (Messinger) Mor, was crowned Miss Universe!


It was a double-coup for the Jewish State and its people were ecstatic. We were riding a wave of popularity on the international scene, it was felt. This was only reinforced by Israel’s Eurovision wins in 1977 and 1978. Surely we were becoming a nation like all others, with beauty queens and pop stars, a nation able to vanquish its enemies to the approval of the international community and, like anybody else, glorify those victories in made-for-TV movies. It seemed possible. But those were more innocent times.



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