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Summary of Recent Posts
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A TENACITY TO LIVE


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December 31st, 2014
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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.

*******

TOM FRIEDMAN’S STATIC VIEWS

June 20th, 2012

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Tom Friedman is an excellent writer and also a biased writer. At least as far as Israel goes. He has not change his views over the decades of the Israeli/Arab situation no matter how solid, repetitive facts proved him wrong numerous times.

We also must realize that because some one writes well, we are inclined to have an aura around them and believe they are right. There is a drastic difference between writing well and the validity of the writer’s views. But we are by nature, inclined to associate the two. The same way we associate a tall attractive man with knowledge and capabilities, even before we know a thing about him.

Most Israeli top leaders made mistakes, some of them serious misjudgments about the willingness of the Palestinians to live in peace with Israel. But Israel is not the sole obstacle to peace as Tom Friedman often asserts. He has great difficulty seeing the rocket attacks on Israelis civilians from Gaza, for example. Many Israeli decisions that he opposed were necessary to reduce the casualties of Israeli citizens and communities. But Freidman’s views do not take this into account.

He can not do it any other way. He is willingly stuck in a position that gives him fame and power and thus economic success. How? By being Jewish and finding Israel wrong in almost all cases. His notoriety is based on his continuous criticism of Israel despite being Jewish. If he would have wrote in favor of Israeli positions he would lose his so called “objectivity.” After all he is Jewish and you expect him to be pro Israel. By being Jewish and continuously finding faults in the actions of all Israeli governments and telling Israel to give more land and more freedom of movement to terrorists, he is standing, in the unaware reader’s mind, for what is “right” and “supports peace.”

He is boxed in; he can not make unbiased observations about Israel since his trademark is finding faults with most Israeli actions.

Next time you read Tom Friedman’s article criticizing Israeli policies, look carefully for the anti-Israeli terms he often uses bordering on prejudice, or more. And understand why he writes the way he does.

Matania

6/12

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Why is it so hard to grasp Muslim's brutal culture

June 9th, 2012

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I rarely copy articles, but this one is so important for us grasp. As one who grew up in Israel, exposed to the good and the bad of Arab culture, it is easier for me to see the crucial elements that make the Muslim world so regressive, so soaked in internal violence. Life doesn’t not mean a thing! Observe the unstoppable murders in the “new” Iraq and in Syria. This brutal way of life murdered a quarter of a million civilians in Iraq from 2003 on, not by the war, but their inner power struggle. Some 15,000 already were murdered in Syria, and it could be much worse once they eliminate Basher’s dictatorship that stabilized Syria.

The immense atrocities one sect of Muslims inflicts on others is so hard for us to grasp, but we must in order to win the struggle in the Middle East that has been impacting our own security- terrorism financed by our oil consumption. And can destabilize the security of much of the world in the near future- Iran’s nukes.

Even India and China are fearful of potential Muslim terrorism inside their own countries and they are just side players in the global terrorism game. Russia devastated Muslim Chechnya to secure its own stability.

Peace loving Westerners rarely take the time to fully grasp the crucial differences between our way of understanding the world and that of most of the Muslim world in the Middle East.

To grasp the following, you must open your mind to thing you do not want to accept!

Matania

 

Existential Questions Facing the Muslim World - Harold Rhode (Gatestone Institute)

  • Many parts of the world, such as Korea, China, and India - basically medieval kingdoms sixty years ago - are now among the pacesetters of the modern world. The Muslim world, however, often better off than these countries just half a century ago, has remained as it was, or has even, in many instances, deteriorated. This inertia in the Islamic world seems to stem not from any genetic limitations, or even religious ones, but purely from Islamic culture.
  • Western culture is predicated on questioning: inquiring of authorities how they came to the conclusions they reached. Although in the Shiite world questioning occurs among religious authorities and the educated elite, in the Sunni world, for centuries, asking questions of those more learned or in positions of authority has been unacceptable.
  • In much of the Muslim world, people are often seen not as individuals but as members of particular families, clans, tribes, ethnic groups, or religions. A problem between two people can become a problem between two families. What an individual might think personally becomes irrelevant, fostering a mindset that obstructs the analytic thinking that defines the modern world.
  • The Arabic word ijtihad means using one's intellectual and reasoning capabilities to determine answers. Today's Islamic culture seems not to encourage this ability. For about a thousand years, Muslims have been asked to accept what they learn from their authority figures. The word "Islam," itself, means "submission." People are educated to memorize, not criticize.
  • In Western culture, making a peace boils down to putting the past behind one, letting bygones be bygones, and moving on from there. But in the Arabic, Turkish, and Persian cultures, such a concept does not exist. If bygones can never be bygones, conflicts can never be resolved. In these Muslim lands, when one side is stronger, it attempts to subdue its ancient enemies. The culture does not permit Muslims to put the past behind them: the Internet, for example, is filled with discussions among Muslims about how they must and will reconquer Spain, which they lost to the West 520 years ago.

    The writer joined the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1982 as an advisor on Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. From 1994 until 2010 he served in the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment.

Copied From Daily Alert

Anti Israeli Jews unlikely to change their minds.

May 12th, 2012

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American Jews and Israelis of all varieties argue all the time about the different ways to stop the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.. There is very little chance that we will be able to change the minds of those Jews who put all the burden of the solution on Israel. Despite all the long history to the contrary, they believe that it is incumbent on Israel to give more and more land and rights to the Palestinians who demand more and more without giving an inch and want all of the land west of the Jordan.

It is not possible to change the minds of most of these well meaning, peace loving Jews since contrary facts could not penetrate the minds of the majority of them. It is not lack of knowledge. It is a rejection of facts they do not agree with. I have tried with many American “liberal” friends, but without success. However, in Israel, the stark reality converted most “leftist” Israelis.

 

Most people’s beliefs can not be changed by facts. The same goes for liberal Jews. Most critical to them is to feel they are “Good Jews.” Which means: consideration to your enemy, love the stranger, and other idealistic feelings they would like others Jews to do so they can feel “good” as Jews. They often show more kindness to the enemies of Israel than to other Jews.

There are multiple reasons for this well ingrained attitude unique to Jews. Many of these Jews have marginal associated with Judaism, or, they believe they can rightfully select and chose what is useful in Judaism or may be somewhat uneasy about their Jewish association.

Obviously this is just a sketch of a multifaceted, very deep issue. For example, how much are we Jews, still living in fear deep in our souls fearful of the danger of being Jews and believe that we should not stand straight and acknowledge our Judaism with pride and satisfaction? Also, what is the impact of the Galut (miserable Diaspora) on all Jews?

It is likely that the impacts of the Jewish Galut will take hundreds of years to wash off and allow Jews to be emotionally free from fear, and the uneasiness not to “irritate the other,” or be too noticed, so we can be safer?

Another important reality is that most people, including well educated people, are strongly inclined to be very selective in the information they accept as valid.- They accept “My Side” information and reject what is not suitable to their belief. And we all do that to a variety of degrees:

 

“My Side” bias – the tendency to judge a statement according to how conveniently it fits with one’s settled position is pervasive among ALL American political groups.

A great deal of research shows that people are more likely to heed information that support their prior positions, and discard or discount, contrary information....

…The classroom is no great corrective for “my side” bias, at least when it comes to public policy issues.

Daniel Klein, professor of Economics George Masson Univ. - The Atlantic Dec 11, 2011

It is a waste of time to try to convince determined, liberal Jews that Israelis have the right to determine their own future. Let’s spend our passion and energy on other groups, non Jews, to convince them that Israel needs American support to continue as a free nation.

Matania

5/12

 

Outstanding presentation by Colonel Richard Kemp on IDF conduct

May 2nd, 2012

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Outstanding short presentation by British Colonel Richard Kemp on the conduct of the Israeli Defence Forces -IDF- during the Gaza war.

He said:

..."The Israeli Defence Force did more to safegurd the rights of civilians in the war zone than any other army in history."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX6vyT8RzMo&feature=colike

Rabbi David Wolpe talk about Israel

April 10th, 2012

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Rabbi David Wolpe loves Israel, we have been communicating about Israel for many years. He knows how to reach our soul.

Please listen to his 10 minutes talk, you will grasp the situation better and your heart will be warm with appreciation. Matania

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDKfPMDjLDs&context=C439ca2eADvjVQa1PpcFPR8zemyNt5fHEMWOGW0ZCIig6jRW3P1uI=


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