If you follow this link you may have trouble reading the story, posted to the Israeli site news.nana10.co.il on March 14. So I will translate the Hebrew, with some help from my Israeli friends Sarah and Marc Bregman. Apologies for the somewhat stilted style.
A GAP IN THE ARCHIVE: WHO CONCEALED FROM THE PUBLIC THE EVIDENCE ABOUT UFOS SPOTTED IN ISRAEL?
On the eve of the 2015 elections, the subject of UFOs’ visits to the area of Israel is still hidden from the public discussion, even while in recent years other nations have been willing to disclose precedent-setting documents on the subject. And indeed eye-witnesses and experts in Israel have spoken about incidents in which the IDF [Israel Defense Force] dealt with the subject of UFOs and yet the matter was hushed up. “Science Minister Begin feared that his office would be embarrassed if he were to deal with this in the Knesset [Israeli parliament].”
In the past month, the project of the American intelligence agency that tracks reports of encounters with extraterrestrials over nearly 30 years has leaked out to the Internet. The New Zealanders and the British have similar projects, and the latter have even disclosed a number of reports on the subject. Yet on the eve of the 2015 elections, an examination of Israel’s parliamentary history in dealing with an issue that in general is perceived as marginal in the public discussion, has uncovered a picture of total dysfunctionality throughout the history of the Knesset. This was the case, even when in the 70s it was nearly made possible to establish a committee to examine the subject.
Documents attesting to secret projects of encounters with UFOs have been released in the past five years both in the United States and in Argentina. Yet examination of the Israeli archives has produced a surprise in recent months: instead of reports, in Israel one single brief film preserved in 1970 in the official state archive attests to the visit of a UFO. Yet, as far as eyewitnesses and experts on the subject are concerned, the State’s lack of information conceals a wide story.
“At first it looked as small as the moon, but then it plowed through the sky,” David Ronen—who was 12 years old when, as he claims, he saw a UFO—recalls the experience. “The UFO began to move from side to side with terrific speed. The next day, a number of military personnel came to speak with my parents, and it seems that they requested we stay home for the next two weeks and not tell anyone about it.”
Ronen tells how it was only when he grew up that he came back to examine the unexplained experience, and to track down evidence of similar incidents. Among other things, he came up with the single documented case of the IDF’s involvement in the search for extraterrestrials, when, in the year 1997, an Army “puffin” [that is, a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter] explored the skies of the central region [of the country] searching after a UFO.
In spite of this, to this day the subject has not been discussed in the Knesset, even after a formal question on the subject was directed to the Science Minister. According to Professor Ariel Cohen, who sought from the former Science Minister Benny Begin some discussion of the matter, “Begin was afraid the Science Office might be embarrassed if he were to deal formally with the matter. We have to remember that in the US and England as well, whenever they dealt with this it was in great secrecy. There is a conscious fear of dealing with the subject among people whom we consider rational.”
“Nana 10” is apparently a respectable Israeli news outlet, connected with TV news Channel 10. I must say, though, that the page on which the article appears has a pretty strong tabloid-y feel. The writer, Arik Waisse, describes himself on his Facebook page as a journalist in his late 30s, “always in pursuit of a story worth telling,” with a background of writing for Israeli newspapers before moving to Channel 10.
Of the people Waisse mentions, Benny Begin, son of the former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, was Science Minister from 1996 to 1997. Ariel Cohen, born in 1940, is Professor Emeritus of atmospheric physics and planetary astronomy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As for David Ronen, a search of the English-language Internet turns up references to him as “one of Israel’s leading UFOlogists,” “the only UFO columnist for a major newspaper,” and (same site) “one of the most honest, decent personalities in Israeli ufology.” His “superb research” is credited for the documentation of 1997 as “a vintage year for Israeli ufology,” the year when “an ellipsoid disk [was] captured in 4 PM sunlight being chased by an Israeli Air Force F-15.” (Is this the incident Waisse mentions, with a Sea Stallion helicopter taking the place of the F-15?)
Why do I care so much about all this?
Because I remember the Israel of 50 years back, when UFOs weren’t even a tiny blip on the cultural radar. When the Hebrew word for “UFO,” abam (the initials of etsem bilti m’zuheh, “unidentified entity”), didn’t yet exist, and if you spoke of them at all you had to call them tsalachoht m’ofefoht, “flying saucers,” which sounds a lot sillier in Hebrew than it does in English. When I could be told smugly that Israelis didn’t see UFOs because “we are a practical people.”
Something changed between 1964, the year of my first visit to Israel, and today. When a Channel 10 news story, published on the Web three days before the 2015 elections, can imply that a crucial element is missing from the “public discussion” because UFOs, and what the Israeli government knows but is concealing about them, aren’t part of it (alongside such topics as Iran’s nuclear program and the moribund negotiations with the Palestinians). When, just yesterday, the Japanese defense minister’s denial that extraterrestrial vehicles had ever penetrated Japan’s air space was considered newsworthy by Israeli media.
What changed? My hunch is this: that between 1964 and today Israel shifted from being essentially a Third-World country to being a part of the First World. With the exception of South America–which I admit I can’t explain–UFOs are mostly a phenomenon of the developed, industrialized world. Israel joins that world, and, voila, the UFOs appear in its skies. And, more significantly, in its group consciousness.
The story of UFOs in Israel may be a major clue to the meaning of the world-wide UFO phenomenon. Who’ll follow up that clue, and report on it?
by David Halperin
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