Someone has discovered Cross-Currents as an alternate media source — namely, some in the media. WGBH in Boston, a PBS station, produces a show called American Experience. Monday night’s episode is called “Hijacked,” and they sent us a press preview copy on DVD. So, irony of ironies, you get an advance review of a TV show from someone who thinks it’s a bad idea to own a television.

While I do retain that opinion, I can at least say that if one is going to be watching television on Monday night, this will be far preferable to most any alternate selection. It is a very informative, hourlong presentation of the first major airline hijacking — with multiple allusions to the Palestinian contribution to the history of terrorism against the civilized world.

For more than 30 years it would be known as “the blackest day in aviation history.” On September 6, 1970, members of the militant Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.), hijacked four commercial airplanes. They commandeered a fifth aircraft three days later. Wanting to attract attention to the Palestinian cause and secure the release of several of their comrades, the P.F.L.P. spectacularly blew up four of the planes.

Today the commanders who planned and carried out the attack resist comparison to the terrorists who masterminded the events of September 11, 2001… yet more than three decades later, it is clear that a connection exists between the two seminal events, that September 6, 1970 gave birth to a new era of terrorism.

Without even trying, it comes across as a very pro-Israel film. The Palestinians are (rightly) depicted as the fathers of modern terrorism. The Israelis are proven right in their adamant refusal to negotiate with terrorists. Jordan is shown declining into civil war thanks to Palestinian forces (the anarchy only came to an end when King Hussein expelled the PLO forces).

There are some very interesting moments — you briefly see Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zt”l, Dean of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in New York, sitting (and, though you cannot see it, undoubtedley learning) with his son-in-law Rabbi Yonason David. You also learn a profound difference between the terrorists of that day and those of today: despite the passage of multiple deadlines, the terrorists could not bring themselves to murder hostages. They simply put the “Palestinian cause” on a dark road that led inexorably in that direction.

Even if you don’t have a television, you don’t have to miss “Hijacked:” they promise to post the transcript on their site after the broadcast. One way or the other, I’m glad that I was able to give my first TV review two thumbs up.

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3 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    Television reviews by Rabbi Menken. If I were to be watching TV I would watch the show tonight.

  2. Jewish Observer says:

    Did anyone watch this? I would love to see footage of Rav Hutner…

  3. Toby Katz says:

    I remember that when the NY Times published a list of the hostages, they deliberately misspelled R’ Hutner’s name as “Hunter.” The whole Torah world was shaken as the knowledge spread by word of mouth, “Rav Hutner was on that one of those planes!” His daughter, the famous R’n Bruriah David, was also one of the hostages, along with her husband. The Arab hijackers never knew — until after the hostages were released — who they had. Had they known, one shudders to think what might have happened

    One wonders if, today, the NY Times would be as cooperative in hiding important news in order to save a life.

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