A TENACITY TO LIVE

December 31st, 2014

A little personal story

Background…

My life, starting at the ripe age of 15, when I joined the Underground to liberate Israel from British occupation, was so full of challenging events that a month seemed like a year, a year seemed like a lifetime. From running way from British bullets when gluing pamphlets in the streets, to facing the reality that my young, beloved leader, Menachem Rivenbach, only 18, was just killed in a Lechi Underground operation. So much happened, so many friends lost, and so many emotions were buried in me since I could not share them with anyone. I was not alone with this isolation, since we knew that we could be the next one to go, our emotions were well-hidden, no external recognitions of personal loss. Even when the body of our murdered kibbutz friend was in a casket on the truck with us seating around it, we just made jokes.

And we just kept going.

In the Lechi underground, I was mostly alone, until I found my girlfriend, that is. I had to be quiet and unassuming to disappear in a crowd. No personal friends. Not outside, or inside Lechi either. Secrecy above all. Unlike military, we were alone with no release by shared experiences. Just a double life of lies. I was unable to share my story and especially feelings, with anyone. I was unable to tell the truth to any one, especially not to my own family. They must not know or I would be sent away like my brother was.

After spending four years in Lechi fighting the mighty British to liberate Israel - I spent a year at the Lechi border kibbutz, Neve Yair. We were close to the Gaza strip as well as to the established kibbutz Nirim. Arab terrorists murdered savagely three of our members, a few months apart. We got numb to death. On another occasion, coincidentally, when a bullet was shot towards my heart, a tall friend, Yaacov Avnery, was walking in front of me and got the bullet in his stomach since he was taller. Badly injured, he survived. I would not have. I risked my life to get him to the hospital, but that was standard to all of us. I barely thought about it, but when I do, I thanked him in all my heart.

Our small kibbutz was full of challenges, from security to lack of water, but especially for me since I was the only technical guy there. I enjoyed building the electrical system and repairing tractors. I enjoyed dancing nearly every night, until my legs almost gave up. I risked burning to death mounting phosphorus mines under the barbed wired fence since I did not trust anyone else to be as diligent as me. I slide slowly on my back, inch by inch, underneath the barbed wired fence, mounting these fiery mines one after another and activating them. I knew all the time where every part of my body was while I slided on my back not to ignite the mines. In addition to doing all the hard technical tasks nearly alone, I had almost no rest since I also had to guard during my time off.

But the toughest thing was being far from my girlfriend R. - (I missed her a lot, she visited but did not stay in the kibbutz since she was a city girl, desiring comfort that a new kibbutz was unable to give). So, eventually I left the kibbutz after a lot of soul searching. Our Lechi leader Itzhak Shamir (later Israel Prime Minister) asked me to return to the kibbutz. It was hard for me to refuse him since I admired him considerably, but I did not want to return. I then started to relax, with no need to look behind my back if someone was ready to shoot me, either British or an Arab. I was happy to spend some time with my girlfriend, teaching new Yemenite immigrants Hebrew and a new way of life, in a transition camp, a tent city.

And then I was called to military service, I joined the Israel Defense Forces, IDF.

Two months of IDF basic training taught me to take orders, which I did not like, and train others to safely throw live hand grenades. And despite all the discipline troubles I caused my sergeant, (we actually did like one another but he ordered me frequently to run around the training grounds with my gun in the air...) He wanted to send me to officer training, but I was tired of years of duties and did not look forward to committing extra years to military service and told him: thank you, but no.

I served in the Air Force late 1950- to early 52, just 18 months, a shorter service than normal because I got 6 months credit for my four years of Lechi service. I worked in Unit 206, the electronics unit. My huge base originally was Sarafend, later called Zrifim. It was peace time and in the beginning it was not too interesting, equipment maintenance and the like. However, one thing that made it enjoyable was the daily visit from my older brother Pinhas.

Pinhas was doing his officer training at that same huge base, and he felt that he was insufficiently fit physically. So, every day he run around that huge base and visited me on the way.

It was lovely to see him frequently especially after his years in a British prison and later in a British detention camp in Africa after he was arrested as a Lechi leader.

As time passed by, I was assigned to erect tall military antennas around the country. It was fun climbing a very thin 300 feet antenna without any safety belt, and calling friends from above as they passed below, not realizing where I was. I also had to change safety red light bulbs at the top from time to time. I was very careful, I would climb one-step at a time without safety belts, no one used them then, leaving one leg inside the tower structure, and so even if I lost balance, I would be stuck safely up there. Nothing bad ever happened. I learned to be very careful from sliding under the barbed wired fence in the kibbutz.

At other times, I maintained and operated short wave transmitters at several Air Force bases. With 24 hours on and 48 hours off, week, after week, I was busy. During my off periods, I had just enough time to earn money erecting home antennas for private people on Tel Aviv roofs. It was much safer than the IDF jobs. Eliezer Sirkis, a friend from Lechi, had a radio store a short block west of Magen David Square and gave me jobs from time to time erecting roof antennas. My Air Force salary was $4 a month, and it was not sufficient even for bus tickets to go home on vacation. So I used my BSA motorcycle to drive around and worked during my time off to pay for the expensive gasoline.

With all of these risky Lechi understood and border kibbutz life behind me I thought I was safe. Little did I know what was awaiting me in a quite shelter underground.

CLOSE TO DEATH

For several months, I worked at a radio communication station in a bunker at Ramat David, an Air Force base in central Israel . At that quiet base, at that peaceful time in Israel , I came closer to death than any other time in my life.

It was a long trip to the base from my home in Tel Aviv, but working there 24 hours on and 48 hours off was a good arrangement for me. An “Egged” bus would drop me three miles from the base and I would walk to it. As long as it was good weather, it was no trouble at all, especially with a tasty compensation along the way.

The walk to the camp was between lovely apple orchards, belonging to a nearby kibbutz. Many soldiers walked back and forth to the base that way and also liked fresh green apples. They were not bashful stealing them, neither was I. The kibbutz placed foot square green and red signs all along the path saying: “private property, stay off.” And these signs were enforced by five foot high wired fences all around the orchards. Luckily they did not use barbed wired on the top like the ones that surrounded our military bases.

I love fresh fruits and vegetables and I ignored both the signs and the fences and always took my illegal apples as I passed by. I would first check left and right to see that no one was around, and listen that it was quiet for a time. I would then climb quickly the unstable fence, and pick two apples and climb back fast. I knew a lot about fences. I had already build wired fences in our Lechi kibbutz, and even climbed once a ten foot barbed wired fence, which I survived with millions of cuts, so these apple fences were a child’s play to me.

I stuffed the apples immediately in my backpack that contained spare clothes, books, etc and proceeded to the base, my home away from home.

One time I went to the base, but almost did not return. I was so close to heaven, it was sheer determination that saved my life. It was nearly noon and I was eager for a thick cheese sandwich with all the trimmings. I brought with me: tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, all so fresh- it was picked last evening and brought to market in just a few hours. After smearing the olive oil on the thick slices of black Russian bread, I spread on slices of Feta cheese and vegetables on top, almost drooling with anticipation. Meals were very important events in this boring environment.

There was very little to do alone in these underground bunkers beside reading and studying. On that day, after studying mathematics for a time, I had to stop. I became saturated with numbers and equations. My best high school friend Naftali Vilensky and I were studying mathematics. We hired a private teacher together to help us prepare and I did my homework at the bunker. We were planning to go to the US to study electronics and thought that they were probably so advanced compare to us (since we were 5 years after high school) that we better be prepared. A year later, at the University of Washington , I found out I was so advanced compare to my freshman class that after a short time they moved me to a higher level.

For safety sake, we were supposed to work in teams at the underground transmission centers, but budget cuts had eliminated that a long time ago. We were solidly alone for the duration of the 24 hours shift. No one saw us or knew that we existed. Several times a day I had to change the transmitters’ operating frequency to improve reception at the various bases across the country. We changed frequencies by changing coils, taking one out and replacing it with a different unit.

The powerful 500-watt short wave transmitters were US made, 4 feet cube, boxy, and ominously black. On the front, they had several small lights; one of them -bright red- was especially important. That light indicated that the thousand-volt DC power, enough high voltage to kill you several times over, was on. It alerted us to the danger of possible electrocution when we opened the unit. And several times a day we had to open the top of the transmitters and replace a set of coils.

Another safety feature was wisely built in- a visible power switch. In order to change the coils I had to open a 10 by 10 inch door at the top of the unit to reach the coils. As I opened that little door I saw clearly a large 2-inch long, open safety switch. I could see that the power was interrupted when the door was open by the position of the safety switch. And to be safe I looked again at the front red light. It was dark- clearly off. I believed that all was safe and I started to replace the coil.

I inserted my right hand inside the unit, grabbed the coil inside and froze. I saw only black with some bright stars moving around. I was awake but unable to move at all. Just a piece of granite, for all practical purpose. But something was still alive in me, my brain. I knew that high-level electricity, especially if crossing the heart from my hand to the ground, froze the muscles and thus I had negligible time to act, or die.

I ordered my body: "PULL, PULL, PULL, YOU MUST BREAK THE CONNECTION!" "DO IT NOW."

But my muscles were frozen by the one thousand volt going through me.

As electronic technician I was always careful with electricity, almost always wore rubber-soled shoes for insulation from electricity. I never wore a ring or other metal things on my fingers, to reduce likelihoods of electrocution. And luckily then, I was standing on a thin rubber mat. But none of it helped enough then.

I pulled and pulled with the last strength in my muscles. Nothing.

Finally, my determination broke my frozen state and I pulled my right hand away from the coil with the infinitely small strength I still had.

I have no idea how long it took, but it had to be in milliseconds otherwise I would not be alive. I did not feel any damage or pain. But I did not wait, I was not sure I was really ok so I ran up the concrete stairs to the ground above, saw the beautiful sunlight, breathed my lungs full again and again and said to myself loudly: “I am alive, I am alive!”

A few soldiers passed by looking at me and my strange exhilaration. One of them asked me, are you ok? You seem so white?

I wanted to tell him: if you just knew. But I told him, everything is fine. I could not explain what happened. They would not understand.

I sat on the entrance at ground level, looking around and continued to smile.

Wow! That was a close one.

Finally, after enjoying the beautiful day for a time I went back down and as I approached the door to the transmitter room, I saw again the big sign on the door:

IF YOU LOVE WINE, WOMEN AND SONG, BE CAREFUL, ELECTRICITY CAN KILL YOU.

I saw it many times before, but this time I did clearly know what it meant.

I felt then like killing the bastard who modified the safety switch. If he were there then I would have loved to give him a test of my 1000-volt DC.

I never found that idiot.

*******

SYRIA - FACTS VS. DESIRE

September 6th, 2013

We have so much human misery throughout the world; we certainly do not need to add to that the immense suffering that wars inflict on combatants and civilians too. I deeply hate wars and I spent many years trying to reduce human suffering. Nevertheless, I try not to mix my feelings with reality. What I write is not what I want to happen but what I think is part of the reality we need to face.

There is no possible good outcome to the war in Syria. But let us not divert our attention, nuclear Iran is the critical issue before us. Syria is a sideshow. Just imagine if Iran had now nuclear weapons.

Every one has an opinion of what should be done in Syria. Americans want a democratic state with full equality and personal freedom, but do not want to do anything about it. It also may not be possible.

President Assad wants to go back 3 years when he was an absolute dictator as was his father for decades.

The Israelis want the stability and security they had in the last forty years when Syria did not bother them almost at all. It was like undeclared peace.

Russia wants a base in the region to project its power and boost its economy. Iran wants the most: to control the total region.

The majority of the Syrian people by now wish they could go back several years to a stable dictatorship when they could at least sleep in peace, no one was shooting at them, and poverty was their main concern. Freedom was not paramount on their mind, despite what we think. The majority want, like most people, to have a safe home, raise a family, enough food to eat, and a reasonable income. Stability and safety are superior to the agony and the promises of Democracy and freedom of the last two years.

The Syrian rebels have a different desire- power and control, which they hope will bring safety and wealth to their own tribe. Every one is for his own group, be it Shiite, Sunni, Alawite, or Kurd.

This is a massive urban war and both sides are mass murderers. According to reliable independent sources, some 40,000 of Assad’s security forces were killed in the fighting. Some 40,000 rebel forces were also killed, and some 35,000 civilians were murdered probably equally by both sides. One side is not kinder or more humanly oriented than the other is. And since the fighting is within civilian areas, it is causing immense amount of innocent civilian deaths.

And most important, significant amount of terrorist forces, some of the most extreme Muslim Jihadists, including el Qaida associated groups, are participating in the fighting against Assad. No one knows for sure the distribution of power among these rebels. President Putin just stated that Secretary Kerry was dishonest when he said that there are no significant el Qaida forces in Syria.

Now, who would you like as your ruler if you lived in Syria, or lived in Israel or Lebanon?

It is clear that if these terrorists would be in power it would be much worse for the total region. They would subjugate the civilian population to strict, oppressive religious laws. Subdue women severely and start fighting with Israel, Lebanon and Iraq to spread their power. As Hamas is doing in Gaza and Sinai. They may or may not attack Turkey since Turkey would not use kid’s gloves and would retaliate more inhumanly that any other nation. As they have been doing for years with their Kurds.

Regarding the use of poison gas. I do not trust the rebels at all. Some of the pictures I saw seem like a staged scene. The rebels were not getting anywhere and most likely fabricated the attack, that is use poison gas themselves to get the US and the West to help them. They have nothing to lose; they are not nice kind “freedom fighters”. They are mostly extreme terrorists. A terrorist is some one who deliberately induces the killing of civilians to gain his aim, as Hamas and Hizbullah have been doing with their “human shield.”

Assad has shown himself to be a rational dictator. Obviously, he is rootless, but he is not reckless. He wants to stay in power and would not use gas unless he is put in his last corner, and he is not there now.

The global political game is there under the surface. The US desire to have more global influence, not just for a better world but also for more economic influence. Russia, for its own global power game. Iran desire to control the region, and the Arab world fears and hope for power and more oil profits are all mixed in this game. It is not all about the human suffering

The fact is there is no practical, desirable solution to satisfy our Western dream of a good outcome for the local people. But, again, that is not what drives the global power agenda. Every country is for itself.

May be the humanitarian question should be: how could we minimize long-term human suffering in that region?

Punishing Assad would achieve little on the ground. We may need to do it to save face and show we care. And I do not think punishing Assad would make any difference to Iran’s nuclear program.

Let us not divert our attention. The most critical issue now is stopping Iran from having nuclear weapons- They must be stopped soon. They are determined, and as I wrote eight years ago, no economic or political pressure would stop them. Focused military air attack is the only avenue left now. Israel does not have the required capabilities.

The US is the only power that can inflict significant damage to make a lasting difference.

Matania

9/13

MLK- 50 years ago

August 29th, 2013

Fifty years ago we listen with owe, respect and admiration to the powerful words of Dr. Martin Luther King about the plight of the African American people.

As Jews, we were supportive of that fight for human freedom and dignity. Many Jews participated in the marches, some died for that cause.

However, we did not tell the African-Americans what to do, or what to say. We did not tell them how and if to break the discriminations laws. We stood with them and knew that to give advice was wrong since our experience was not theirs.

And to put pressure on them to change their ways? We would not dare!

Their experience was not ours.

They had to struggle in their own unique ways.

We went hand in hand THEIR OWN WAY.

 

Amazingly different is the attitude and actions in the last few decades by some American Jews regarding Israel.

They are sure that they know full well how the Israelis should behave at every step. They have the answer and they criticize Israel on a regular basis. They are sure they know what the Israelis should do and they feel they have a right to pressure Israel to change its path. After all, they are also Jews.

These well meaning Jews still do not grasp that their own life, their experience, their own communities, their country, the USA, the most powerful country in the world militarily, is not little Israel.

And they do not want to see how their constant critic of Israel is used worldwide as justification by anti-Israeli to weaken Israel strength and survivability.

Matania

8/ 28/13

IF I AM NOT FOR MYSELF, WHO WILL BE?

August 9th, 2013

As Jews we must focus on our own needs

I would like to write today on three closely related subjects: the concentration of modern Judaism on improving the external world instead of Jewish causes, the unreasonable fighting between different ideologies and beliefs in Judaism, and the lack of kindness and understanding among Jews in general. These may have developed from the same source: carrying the Galut (Diaspora) mentality to this very time.

We “modern” Jews want to make the world a better place by Tikkun Olam, while often forgetting the needs of our own Jewish brothers and sisters. We have suffered immensely for two millennia, untold suffering, many millions murders constantly. Demographers estimated that if we Jews were not so widely murdered throughout history we might have now some 250 million Jews instead of just 14 million worldwide.

Is it not wiser to help ourselves first?

We believe that if we help make the world a better place for humankind, then Jews will benefit too. A worthy goal but it should NOT be our primary goal. I believe that we must focus first and foremost internally- on Jewish causes, such as the survival of Israel and reducing Jewish assimilation around the world. Much of the world has hated us from the time of the Roman conquest for our independent thinking and unwillingness to accept their religion. Jews are now hated probably more than at any other time in history. Almost the entire Muslim world hates us, almost as much as they hate one another. Most of the Europeans hate us as they have for eternity, while the Muslimization of Europe adds to that hate. Anti-Jewish literature is in mass demand in Japan. Much of Africa, especially South Africa hates us. Also mass media, smart phones and internet easily propagate this hate worldwide. And we think we, with just 0.2 % of the world population, could reverse their hate by concentrating on Tikkun Olam? And some misguided Jews even believe that it is mostly the fault of Israel. It is so easy to blame the victim.

Our focus on Tikkun Olam reminds me of a large family with sick kids, not enough food on the table, a tired mother while the father proudly spends several nights a week helping other people, instead of his family. He loves the attention and the emotional rewords he gets. Modern Jews often behave this way. “Look how good we are!”

Some years back I had the same mistaken emphasis. For several years, I gave an intensive 8 weeks seminar in several synagogues: “Discovering the beauty of Judaism.” My main emphasis was on Tikkun Olam. I was so idealistic I forgot then the needs of the Jewish people.

Where did this misguided direction came from? Why do we forget the emphasis in Pirkei Avot:

If I am not for myself, who will be?

I believe that we still carry the Galut with us. For two millennia the world treated Jews with the most atrocious means available, from humiliation, Ghettos, pogroms and forced conversions, to the Nazi Holocaust. The Galut taught us correctly then, that to survive we had to ingratiate ourselves to the outside world. Unfortunately, we still carry this old Galut mentality. It is extremely hard to break two thousand years of fear and subservience. It is deep in our collective memories. Nevertheless, it is time for Jews to stand straight, to be proud Jews and drop this sick mentality of fear that tries to show how “nice people” Jews are. We are still trying to justify our existence.

We do not need to prove ourselves to any one!!

We must concentrate on our own needs. Rabbi David Wolpe (Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles) told me that when the second Lebanon war started in 2006, his congregation raised a million dollar in one week and sent a delegation to Israel to donate it to the Israelis. Bringing nearly a million Jews from the former USSR to Israel was a marvelous effort that empowered Israel immensely. That is the right way to focus our attention, helping our fellow Jews! But most Jews usually focus on repairing the EXTERNAL world, be it Sudan, Palestinians, or minorities in the US. And some times we help our own enemies by our misguided idealism.

There is a tremendous wisdom in Judaism we so often forget: One guideline says:

Do not neglect your own needs when helping others.

Instead of taking care of and seriously and systematically supporting our own people, in the media, standing with Israel, working to unite us, educating our new generation, we fight with other Jews because they do not live according to our own preferred ways. At times we treat Christians and Muslims better than we treat our own people who do not agree with us. For example, the hate we have towards orthodox Jews is appalling. We listen politely to other faiths, we may even see some merit in their ways, but would not listen to many outstanding aspects of Orthodox Judaism.

We focus our attention on every one else who suffers, but not our own people. There are millions of poor Jews in Israel; many in the US. Do we do much about it? I used to give significant money (for me) to Mazon, (a Jewish Response to Hunger) because they gave mostly to non-Jewish institutions. Now I give directly to Jewish institutions. The Jewish community needs all the support it can get. Very few Jews donate to their own Jewish institutions. Some would rather build museums to carry their names then Jewish schools..

There is nothing wrong with having strong independent opinions, I have them, but our own way is not the only right way. Many Jews have lost compassion, and understanding towards other Jews. Every one thinks they are right and every one else is drastically wrong. The fights and often, even hatred, between orthodox and liberal/secular Jews in Israel especially, is agonizing to see. Misguided Jews in the US put all kinds of pressure on Israel to behave their own way, while the Israelis think they know better how American Jews should behave. This inner fighting drives some Jews away from our marvelously wise faith to seek Eastern philosophies or just assimilates. Jewish education is an afterthought among modern US Jews. We should focus inward and invest in the facilities, and wise educators needed to teach the outstanding fundamentals of Judaism to our own young generation.

A wise, mature family would focus on being kind to one another, understanding and respecting one another, and seriously helping one another to flourish IN THERE OWN CHOSEN WAY. We are not so wise to know what is right for other people.

Also note: when we Jews disrespect and fight with one another, the outside world has considerably less respect for us and they more strongly believe that Jews are at fault! After all, the Jews say so themselves.

Let us be kind to one another, accepting differences, respecting and learning from one another, and truly be helpful to our fellow Jews before venturing out to show others how “good” Jews can be.

IF I AM NOT FOR MYSELF WHO WILL BE?

Matania

8/13

IF I AM NOT FOR MYSELF, WHO WILL BE?

August 9th, 2013

As Jews we must focus on our own needs

I would like to write today on three closely related subjects: the concentration of modern Judaism on improving the external world instead of Jewish causes, the unreasonable fighting between different ideologies and beliefs in Judaism, and the lack of kindness and understanding among Jews in general. These may have developed from the same source: carrying the Galut (Diaspora) mentality to this very time.

We “modern” Jews want to make the world a better place by Tikkun Olam, while often forgetting the needs of our own Jewish brothers and sisters. We have suffered immensely for two millennia, untold suffering, many millions murders constantly. Demographers estimated that if we Jews were not so widely murdered throughout history we might have now some 250 million Jews instead of just 14 million worldwide.

Is it not wiser to help ourselves first?

We believe that if we help make the world a better place for humankind, then Jews will benefit too. A worthy goal but it should NOT be our primary goal. I believe that we must focus first and foremost internally- on Jewish causes, such as the survival of Israel and reducing Jewish assimilation around the world. Much of the world has hated us from the time of the Roman conquest for our independent thinking and unwillingness to accept their religion. Jews are now hated probably more than at any other time in history. Almost the entire Muslim world hates us, almost as much as they hate one another. Most of the Europeans hate us as they have for eternity, while the Muslimization of Europe adds to that hate. Anti-Jewish literature is in mass demand in Japan. Much of Africa, especially South Africa hates us. Also mass media, smart phones and internet easily propagate this hate worldwide. And we think we, with just 0.2 % of the world population, could reverse their hate by concentrating on Tikkun Olam? And some misguided Jews even believe that it is mostly the fault of Israel. It is so easy to blame the victim.

Our focus on Tikkun Olam reminds me of a large family with sick kids, not enough food on the table, a tired mother while the father proudly spends several nights a week helping other people, instead of his family. He loves the attention and the emotional rewords he gets. Modern Jews often behave this way. “Look how good we are!”

Some years back I had the same mistaken emphasis. For several years, I gave an intensive 8 weeks seminar in several synagogues: “Discovering the beauty of Judaism.” My main emphasis was on Tikkun Olam. I was so idealistic I forgot then the needs of the Jewish people.

Where did this misguided direction came from? Why do we forget the emphasis in Pirkei Avot:

If I am not for myself, who will be?

I believe that we still carry the Galut with us. For two millennia the world treated Jews with the most atrocious means available, from humiliation, Ghettos, pogroms and forced conversions, to the Nazi Holocaust. The Galut taught us correctly then, that to survive we had to ingratiate ourselves to the outside world. Unfortunately, we still carry this old Galut mentality. It is extremely hard to break two thousand years of fear and subservience. It is deep in our collective memories. Nevertheless, it is time for Jews to stand straight, to be proud Jews and drop this sick mentality of fear that tries to show how “nice people” Jews are. We are still trying to justify our existence.

We do not need to prove ourselves to any one!!

We must concentrate on our own needs. Rabbi David Wolpe (Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles) told me that when the second Lebanon war started in 2006, his congregation raised a million dollar in one week and sent a delegation to Israel to donate it to the Israelis. Bringing nearly a million Jews from the former USSR to Israel was a marvelous effort that empowered Israel immensely. That is the right way to focus our attention, helping our fellow Jews! But most Jews usually focus on repairing the EXTERNAL world, be it Sudan, Palestinians, or minorities in the US. And some times we help our own enemies by our misguided idealism.

There is a tremendous wisdom in Judaism we so often forget: One guideline says:

Do not neglect your own needs when helping others.

Instead of taking care of and seriously and systematically supporting our own people, in the media, standing with Israel, working to unite us, educating our new generation, we fight with other Jews because they do not live according to our own preferred ways. At times we treat Christians and Muslims better than we treat our own people who do not agree with us. For example, the hate we have towards orthodox Jews is appalling. We listen politely to other faiths, we may even see some merit in their ways, but would not listen to many outstanding aspects of Orthodox Judaism.

We focus our attention on every one else who suffers, but not our own people. There are millions of poor Jews in Israel; many in the US. Do we do much about it? I used to give significant money (for me) to Mazon, (a Jewish Response to Hunger) because they gave mostly to non-Jewish institutions. Now I give directly to Jewish institutions. The Jewish community needs all the support it can get. Very few Jews donate to their own Jewish institutions. Some would rather build museums to carry their names then Jewish schools..

There is nothing wrong with having strong independent opinions, I have them, but our own way is not the only right way. Many Jews have lost compassion, and understanding towards other Jews. Every one thinks they are right and every one else is drastically wrong. The fights and often, even hatred, between orthodox and liberal/secular Jews in Israel especially, is agonizing to see. Misguided Jews in the US put all kinds of pressure on Israel to behave their own way, while the Israelis think they know better how American Jews should behave. This inner fighting drives some Jews away from our marvelously wise faith to seek Eastern philosophies or just assimilates. Jewish education is an afterthought among modern US Jews. We should focus inward and invest in the facilities, and wise educators needed to teach the outstanding fundamentals of Judaism to our own young generation.

A wise, mature family would focus on being kind to one another, understanding and respecting one another, and seriously helping one another to flourish IN THERE OWN CHOSEN WAY. We are not so wise to know what is right for other people.

Also note: when we Jews disrespect and fight with one another, the outside world has considerably less respect for us and they more strongly believe that Jews are at fault! After all, the Jews say so themselves.

Let us be kind to one another, accepting differences, respecting and learning from one another, and truly be helpful to our fellow Jews before venturing out to show others how “good” Jews can be.

IF I AM NOT FOR MYSELF WHO WILL BE?

Matania

8/13

US POLITICS HELPED INDUCE EGYPTIAN UPHEAVAL

July 16th, 2013

I was stunned and outraged, how could he do it when I was so far away from him? But the trunk of the largest elephant in the world was extremely long, and he stole my sandwich right off my hands. That is, as a 5 years old, my interest, admiration, and fear of Egypt started, in the Cairo zoo.

I have followed the events of Egypt with keen interest from that time on and I believe that the desire for Democracy and personal freedom are NOT the main forces behind the Egyptian upheaval.


It is the Economy- Stupid!


If the majority had a decent standard of living, they would not rush to destroy it. When people are hungry, they are desperate and will overcome their fear of dictators. That is how it all started in the Arab world. And it will be extremely difficult for any Egyptian leadership to correct this serious economic problem that the US plays a significant part in.


My interest in Egypt intensified when I returned from Cairo and “sat on my father’s knees” and heard stories of his interesting youth, being an amateur boxer in the Macabi, in Cairo the largest city in Egypt. As a grocer’s son, he knew well the poor life of the Egyptians. My mother also spent her youth in Cairo after her family fled Ottoman’s atrocities and extreme poverty in Tzfat, Israel. My father spoke seven languages and received a daily English newspaper from Egypt for years. Most of my mother’s extended family remained in Egypt until they were forced to flee in the 1952 military coup without almost anything but their clothes on their back. Some hid diamonds as they escaped, however.


I have followed the Egyptian’s sad saga all my life with sadness and interest. Sadness for the suffering of these simple people and in interest how Egypt with the largest military might in the Arab world would impact Israel. All Egyptian leaders were self centered, eager for glory and neglected the basic needs of their people. Today’s agony is a product of this long neglect, personal glory, and militarism, of all their leaders- except Sadat, a unique world leader, who was murdered in 1981 by the Muslim Brotherhood for signing the peace agreement with Israel.


Basically, and succinctly: The British controlled Egypt for a century through a puppet monarchy until the 1952 Gamal Nasser military coup removed king Farrukh from power. Then substituting 60 years of dictatorial military rule until the replacement of Mubarak by a Muslim Brotherhood dictator- Morsi.


The first military leader General Nasser mismanaged the economy; built the Aswan Dam destroying much of the natural fertilizing benefits of the Nile and the fishing industry. He mortgaged decades of the main export of Egypt- their world-renowned cotton- to the USSR to buy all the weapons he could to defeat Israel. The 1967 Six Days war damaged the Egyptian economy even farther. After Nasser’s death, General Anwar Sadat tried again to defeat Israel in the destructive 1973 war that restored Egyptian honor and scared Israel to its roots. A week after the war started, I told a friend that the combination of restored Egyptian honor and real fear in Israel could open the door for peace. And it did.


Israel was unprepared for the Yom Kippur war but General Sharon saved the Israelis by a cleaver maneuver to cross the Sues Canal and threatens to take Cairo from the rear. President Nixon saved the Israelis from their short supply of ammunition and the USSR’ threat of nuclear attack if Sharon did not stop his advance to Cairo, just 50 clear miles away. Sadat then realized that war was not the way.


The peace agreement between Sadat and Prime Minister Begin gave the full Sinai to Egypt and liberated it from the burden of heavy military spending. Mubarak took over in 1981 after Sadat murder and had acceptable relations with the US and Israel.


Mubarak started to improve the economy in the last decade, but there has been little anyone can do when you have Muslim’s induced combination of high birthrate, no women’s freedom to resist it, and thus tripling of the population in a half century from 28 to 84 millions. Also, with no increase of arable land, just 4% of Egypt, and no other natural resources. Also, religious- based education-prevented modernization of the economy and having some degree of freedom. Tourism was an important economic resource, which disappeared with their recent revolutions. These very tough facts are incredibly hard to break, and the dominating military, which lived lavishly off the people, has little interest to change.


Half of the 84 million Egyptians live on 2 dollars a day and one dollar is spent for basic food. The main source of Egyptian calories comes from imported wheat and corn. The US is the world largest exporter of corn, 50 million metric tons a year. Corn is the single largest agricultural product in the US = $66 Billion a year- we control the global market. The price of our corn influences the price of most foods in the world. Since the US Congress dictated using corn-ethanol in our gasoline, we are using 40 % of our corn to produce corn-ethanol, thus driving up the global price of corn. Corn prices increased 87 percent between 2003 and 2007.


Originally, corn-ethanol was supposed to both reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce our emission of global warming gases. However, corn-ethanol, contrarily to this belief propagated by the gigantic US corn producers and environmentalists, actually accelerates global warming, is heavily subsidized by the US, and has not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This artificial demand of this essential food for industrial use, increased world corn prices in 2011 by additional 35% to some $300 per metric ton. This aggravated the poverty of at least half of the Egyptian population. That is when the average Egyptian started to scream…and took to the streets.


While the Egyptian population tripled to 84 millions now, the consumption of wheat and corn increased 6 times. It cost $10 billion a year for Egypt to buy foreign wheat and corn, and it does not have the money.


They cannot increase their agricultural production sufficiently to compensate. There is no rain and the Nile (controlled by other nations) is their only source of water.


Again: Egypt depends heavily on external food supply, which fluctuates with world demand; the largest demand in the world is the US mandatory use of corn–ethanol.


In summary: the desire for high profit by US mega corn corporations, Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, coupled by their ability to powerfully influence Congress has driven the poor Egyptian to rebel against the dictatorship of Mubarak, and Morsi, who also could do little to reduce the price of food.


And that is why I say: US politics helped induce the Egyptian upheaval.


Matania


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