By Jonathan J. D’Oleo
“May 30th is a date that will be forever remembered by Mr. German D’Oleo as on that day [in 1972] he survived a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, Israel. He had better luck than 25 of his travel companions who died in the incident, but he couldn’t do anything to prevent two bullets from impacting his left thigh. He was the only Dominican that lived through the tragedy that saddened so many people around the world. He travelled to Israel on a pilgrimage . . . His golden dream was to visit the Holy Land. And he almost lost his life in an attempt to make true a dream that continues to be a dream.”
~Anibal de Castro, former editor-in-chief of Ultima Hora, and now Ambassador to the USA, interviewed German D’Oleo a few hours after his arrival in the Dominican Republic on June 19th, 1972.
watch documentary video: http://jonathandeoleo.blogspot.co.uk/p/40th-anniversary-lod-airport-massacre.html
The journey to the Holy Land began in Puerto Rico. There, German D’Oleo was General Sales Manager at Caribe Grolier and a member of a local Methodist Church.
After taking connecting flights in New York and Paris, he and his fellow congregants made a third and last stop in Rome, Italy. It was there that the terrorists boarded the Air France plane heading to Tel Aviv. Loaded with semi-automatic weapons and hand grenades hidden in sleek violin cases, they managed to get through security without raising suspicion.
Three were the number of terrorists recruited to carry out the attack, all of Japanese origin and trained by the Japanese Red Army in Beirut. Although it was the JRA that trained and recruited these men, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) conceived and orchestrated the terrorist attack.
Two of the terrorists were killed in action. One survived. His name: Kozo Okamoto. In his account, D’Oleo describes the incident as a “tragedy words cannot describe” referring to the terrorists as “people without a sense of humanity.”
After being arrested, Okamoto was tried, found guilty and condemned to spend life in an Israeli prison. But thirteen years later, in 1985, he was released as part of a prisoner exchange arrangement with Palestinian groups.
In an article titled “Portrait of a Terrorist: An Interview with Kozo Okamoto” sociologist Patricia G. Steinhoff describes the victimizer’s culture and ideological background.
As a member of the JRA, Okamoto was a devout believer in Leon Trotsky’s ideas. Trotsky, a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, called for a worldwide revolution wherein the proletariat would displace the bourgeoisie through bloody terrorist attacks carried out on enemy soil.
In his interview with Steinhoff, Okamoto said that the JRA and PFLP’s war strategy was not built upon traditional methods of inter-state conflict, but had, on the contrary, revolutionary underpinnings.
Their intention, he said, was to engage the world in a revolutionary war in which ordinary people standing on the side of what he referred to, in vernacular communist jargon, as the “bourgeois society” would be methodically and indiscriminately massacred.
Steinhoff explains how in the Japanese-Buddhist tradition, life and death are regarded as inconsequential “way-stations” present within a preeminent existential/reincarnational frame.
More specifically, this worldview deems the life of any given individual as worthless in itself and valuable only to the extent it conforms to a predetermined social context.
It was such worldview that led thousands of Japanese soldiers to opt for suicide in the face of imminent defeat in WWII. Furthermore, it is that very same ideology that beguiles many men and women into joining the ranks and files of terrorist organizations even to this day.
Upon his release in the mid 1980s, Okamoto moved to Libya, then to Syria and, ultimately, established residence in Lebanon where he reunited with his fellow JRA recruits.
As for German D’Oleo, after being shot twice on his left thigh, he became handicapped as his sciatic nerve was virtually destroyed in the incident. Doctors said he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
D’Oleo, nonetheless, refused to accept the clinical verdict. He looked at the doctor straight in the eye and told him he was wrong because “God Almighty would get him back on his two feet as a testimony to His power.” The doctor, astonished, remained silent and continued his routine.
Contrary to the clinical forecast, two years after the fact, German D’Oleo was, by the grace of God, back on his two feet. Shortly thereafter he embarked on a trip to Israel to make his dream come true.
He visited biblical landmarks, places that, as a student of the Bible, had great significance and meaning to him. As he surveyed the Holy Land he was, in a sense, vindicating his freedom after it was attacked, almost to the point of obliteration, by a terrorist cowardly pack.
Returning to Israel from the Dominican Republic after having been confronted by brutal terrorists in his first visit is, in itself, and act of commendable valor.
An ordinary citizen of an under-developed democratic republic refused to be intimidated by trotskyan-marxist attempts to undermine his “inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
As he walked on Israeli soil for a second time in 1974, German D’Oleo defied, both symbolically and in actual fact, the mission and vision of Kozo Okamoto, the JRA, the PFLP and every communist movement that worked against the principles of peace, freedom, prosperity and democracy around the world.
The author is one of eight children born to German D’Oleo. Throughout his life, my father - an orphan, born in a small town of San Juan de la Maguana, self-educated, tireless worker - cultivated his career out of a sheer willingness to “learn, earn and return” as he gave back to his community through many philanthropic ventures carried out with utmost circumspection.
After the attack in Tel Aviv, he left his management position in Puerto Rico and went back to his native Dominican Republic where he became a successful real-estate venture capitalist and art collector.
Above all things, my father was a faithful and effective preacher of God’s Word, leading by example and spreading the gospel of truth, love and compassion to all that were willing to hear.
In this fortieth anniversary of the terrorist attack that could have claimed my father’s life, I want to invite my fellow members of the free world to weigh and consider “the riches of freedom and the security of justice” we enjoy today.
Let us ponder on how great it is to have such things and as we do so let us also take account, even two days after Memorial Day, of the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed for the cause of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Perhaps, it is not a historical happenstance that the anniversary of the massacre in Lod Airport coincides with the death of Trujillo. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, just like Kozo Okamoto, was a terrorist at heart, overtaken by vicious ideologies which he used to justify the methodical and, on occasion, arbitrary killing of thousands of individuals both foreign and domestic.
“Thoughts become things.”
We, as a people, should vehemently reject any type of social, political and/or cultural representation of the ideologies espoused by people like Trujillo and Okamoto.
It is truly shameful, that in the recent past, the current Dominican government honored a faithful representation of the aforementioned ideologies in the person of Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a political and paramilitary body of which the PFLP - the author of the Lod Airport Massacre that almost claimed the life of a Dominican national - is a prime member.
To this man, who in his 1982 doctoral dissertation titled "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism" referred to the Holocaust as "the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed”, President Leonel Fernandez called “an ambassador of peace” and decorated him the Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella – an Order which bears the sacrosanct words of God, Country and Liberty along with engraved images of our Founding Fathers.
In all sincerity, I would like to deem this as one of the many inadvertent quixotic pleasantries that are commonplace in everyday diplomatic encounters. But, this was orchestrated as an official state visit of Mahmoud Abbas to the Dominican Republic as part of what seems to be a personal agenda of the president as he seeks to climb the “diplomatic ladder of success” and, perhaps, be appointed to a high level UN position after he leaves office.
Whatever the motivations underpinning such unduly reception, one thing is clear: honoring a person like Abbas adulterates the Judeo-Christian foundations of our Republic and works against the nation’s best interest both nationally and internationally.
The author is a Dominican scholar, political analyst, speaker and entrepreneur.