Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A flight is hijacked

Let's face it. Do we really want to get on a flight where they drop the temperature so low that icicles form on your nose and you have to wear a mask throughout the flight while your legs are dangling in the aisle because there is no leg room? Well, of course we do. It is the quickest way to get somewhere, although the most uncomfortable.

Since 9/11 or it should be 11/9, the security checks are long and since corona, the corona check is even longer. But since the early seventies, Israel-bound flights were always under the highest security. There was always the risk of a terrorist attack or a hijacking.

However not every airline took the same precautions. November 21 1974 British Airways flight BA870 flew from London to Brunei via Beirut, Dubai, Calcutta and Singapore. The flight had about 48 people on board, crew and passengers. At Dubai, four Palestinian terrorists, members of the Abu Nidal Organization, disguised as airport workers, approached the aircraft firing weapons, shooting an Indian stewardess who was standing on the plane's steps. The terrorists forced their way on to the aircraft and threatened to destroy the aircraft and kill the passengers, demanded that the aircraft should be refueled. With the agreement of the Dubai authorities and of British Airways, the aircraft was refueled and permitted to take off from Dubai. They wanted to return to Beirut, Lebanon but were refused entry with the excuse that the airport was closed.

The aircraft flew directly to Tripoli, Libya, where it landed and was refueled and took off bound for Tunis, arriving there on 22 November 1974. No one knew what they were demanding. In Tunis the hijackers finally made their demands:

  • The release of Palestinian terrorists held in Cairo, Egypt.
  • The release of two jailed Palestinian terrorists in Holland.
  • An admission by Britain that the establishment of Israel was a crime.

The Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) after it split from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974, over a dispute regarding the establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel. The ANO wanted Israel destroyed! Abu Nidal is the alias name of Sabri al-Banna. His nom de plume actually means "father of the struggle" in Arabic.

Egypt and Holland did not immediately negotiate and the hijackers stuck to their demand for the release of 7 Palestinians held in Cairo and Holland. They set a deadline of 24 hours and promised to execute a hostage every two hours past that time. When no progress was visible after 24 hours they murdered a German Banker and dropped his body to the ground from the aft passenger door. Negotiations resulted in the Cairo-held Hostages being brought to the plane in exchange for 7 Hostages. The terrorists held in Egypt where actually only under house arrest in Cairo for the firebombing of a Pan American 707 jetliner at Rome Airport the previous year in which 32 people were killed.

The terrorists held in Holland were serving five‐year prison sentences for another hijacking, almost a slap on the wrist. When the two terrorists from Holland arrived, the remaining hostages were released, leaving only a three member crew.

The hijackers were informed over the radio that all Arab governments as well as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had condemned their action and they became desperate,. They then requested political asylum in Tunisia which was rejected. They were ordered to surrender. The hijackers refused and set two deadlines for their demand for asylum to be met otherwise they would blow up the aircraft and their hostages. Time passed and deadlines went but the crew was still held inside with various explosives set around the cockpit.

After an ordeal totaling 84 hours a hijacker came to the cockpit and informed them that they had decided to surrender. It was over!

On board was a huge amount of mail, about 2.5 tons, most originating from the the UK between the 16th and 20th November 1974, and was destined for the Far East and Australasia. The mail was undamaged and returned to the UK onboard. Strangely only mail destined for Western Australia, received a two line instructional message: "Delayed en route -Aircraft Hi-Jack". This was probably added in Perth.

Less than 50 covers are known with this message and to date it is the only known message for a hijacking.

For more information see:
The Asia Pacific Exhibitor, no. 82, "POSTAL HISTORY - AIRCRAFT HIJACKING BY PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS - 21 NOV 1974" ~ Darryl Kibble

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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Irish Christmas stamps invoke anger

December 25th, Christmas Day, a time for rejoicing for the entire Christian / Catholic world (some celebrate a week or so later, like in Georigia). Despite being Jewish and not celebrating Christmas, it is nice to see the spirit of Christmas and the many pretty stamps that are issued all over the world.

Ireland innocently brought out a set of stamps, or adhesive labels for Christmas 2021. The set includes four stamps for local postage with the words "Peace and Joy", "Naughty or Nice?", "Ho Ho Ho" and "Sending Hugs" and two stamps for international postage for "Nollaig Shona" (which means Merry Christmas in Gaelic Irish) "Love". It was the local stamps that invoked the ire of the public. Who would have thought that these stamps would have invoked such feelings?

The outrage began with a call to a popular program named Liveline where someone emailed them to pent his frustration at the choice, saying that the stamps used for Irish addresses were secular and didn’t include scenes from Jesus’ birth, such as the Nativity scene or anything that wasn't to his liking.

He made a claim that instead of the Nativity scene, local stamps had phrases such as ‘naughty or nice’, and ‘ho ho ho’. This was actually a part of the problem.

Other callers felt that the phrase ‘naughty or nice’ implies sex and another said that she didn’t want to send a Christmas card to her local priest with a naughty or nice stamp. The phrase ‘ho ho ho’ stamp together with the sexual implication of the naughty stamp concerned people about the possible innuendo.

"The national Christmas stamp range, which supposedly celebrates a major and very ancient Christian festival on December 25, is, as one caller said to Joe Duffy, effectively discriminatory, because if you want a religious stamp you have to pay extra."

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Just news for today

As stated in the title, there is just news today.

You remember I asked you to vote for me last week? The PTS (Philatelic Traders Society) awards ceremony to announce winners of the People's Choice is today. If I win, it is thanks to you, if I don't, well at least we tried. Thank you very much for your votes, much appreciated.

On the 20th November an exhibition was held in New Zealand for Philatelic Literature and I entered this Website. I received a Large Silver award. I think that is quite good for a new site. I need to find out how to improve though.

A colleague of mine from Israel Stamp Reviews wrote this: 

"The number of independent content creators devoted to or operating within the philatelic culture of #Israel is in the low single digits. We are fortunate to count Lawrence Fisher in our ranks, and his "Stamps and Stories" website is an invaluable philatelic resource. Congratulations!"

I prepared another video which I uploaded to YouTube. It is, of course, based on a previous blog  entry but simple people prefer vlogs. I hope you enjoy it.

Edited: Just in (14:40),  I was runner up in the category of "Legacy Champion of the Year"

(14:48) I also got runner up for "The People's Choice"