A little personal story
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.
In some people’s minds, the Palestinians fight with Israel remind them of the struggle for equality of our US African-Americans against the brutal South. And Arafat as similar to Martin Luther King (MLK). This often-subconscious image urges them to support the Palestinians- “the underdog…” This is also the reason why so many African American support the Palestinians. But this is false similarity. Martin Luther King (and his successful movement used non-violence as its core approach. The Palestinians use murders and extreme violence.
If MLK and its movement have been using force and murders, as the Palestinians have been doing for many decades, the US public would have turned against them and no race equality would have been achieved.
“Palestinians are celebrating the vicious murder of four innocent Israeli Rabbis praying in a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday morning. Twenty-four children were orphaned.
Palestinians in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria went out to the streets on Wednesday to celebrate the brutal murder of four Rabbis praying at a Jerusalem synagogue. Twenty-four children became orphans and several men were wounded.
Palestinians served sweets and baked goods to people on the street and launched firecrackers in a display of celebration. Students in Bethlehem joined in the festivities by sharing candy.
Ynet reports that the parents of the two terrorists broke out in a joy upon hearing of the lethal attack that their sons perpetrated. “They are both Shahids (martyrs) and heroes,” the families declared.”
United with Israel
Let me tell you a little true story. I was an idealist to my core. But reality slapped me in the face- so I woke up. I did not just talk the talk, I walked the walk. First I dropped my lucrative, interesting work for the military- industrial complex and moved to the environmental field working on alternative energies. And when president Reagan escalated the nuclear arms race, I spent a decade working pro-bono, extremely hard, to help pressure Congress to reduce the nuclear arms race. After that, some 20 years ago, I started to write a book – “Towards a Just world.”
It was after the peaceful fall of the cruel USSR communist empire, after the peaceful emancipation of South Africa, and especially after the peace agreement between Rabin and Arafat. I then became quite optimistic about future global events. I believed, then, that in a few generations humanity would slowly but surely approach the benevolent world we liberal idealists Jews were dreaming about for millennia.
Among other things I saw a future with considerable less global inequality, less human suffering, more cooperation, and above all, drastic reduction in internal and external wars, such as Arab terrorism against Israel.
I sent my basic thoughts to two liberal friends, one was Justice Leonard Friedman, and the other was on a state Board of the ACLU. They both shot me down as too much a dreamer. They wrote me individually that I did not consider many negative human characteristics: the wide variety of human nature, the power of money and the selfishness of many powerful people, the inherent religious competition and hatred by some. And more. After a lot of thoughts and witnessing the deteriorating Israeli Peace agreement, I realized that my strong idealistic wishes were unrealistic, dropped the book writing, and started to look more carefully on internal and external conflicts.
I increased my analysis and reduce my wishful thinking, and I applied my technical education and engineering experience to the political and economic struggles around us.
In short, I moved from being an idealist and a dreamer to becoming a hopeful realist. Not every one around me liked it. They wanted to continue to dream, and often ignored glaring facts, it is amazing..
What does this little confession has to do with today?
Many things, but I will touch on one thing only, optimistic Jews relationship to Christians.
It is amazing to me that some Jews with good hearts who care for Israel, consider the Presbyterian Church a friend, while they are anti-Israeli to the core, while despising Christians supporting Israel who are evangelistic. Why? Probably because Presbyterians are liberals and evangelistic are conservative politically, or may want “secretly” to convert Jews to Christianity in the distant future. Or, who knows why they fear Christians United For Israel (CUFI). It is so illogical, I is hard to understand their rational.
Israel needs all the friends it can get, especially ones who are so dedicated to stand by Israel, like CUFI, with nearly two millions members. Israel is in extreme danger for its survival! It needs US support and CUFI helps get this political support. Iran’s leaders would not change their fanaticism to destroy Israel, as they just declare again, using the nuclear weapons they will soon posses because of the ignorance and naivety of the president of the USA.
And Israel also faces the danger from the vast, murderous, extremist Muslim world: Hamas, Hezbollah, Qatar, and other Arab states who desire to destroy Israel. As Arab-Muslims, they can not and will not accept Israel existence since it is against all they believe in -the superiority of Muslims over all other religions. Idealists dismiss this as just Muslim posturing.
Optimists are steady, facts do not matter. Even the Gaza rockets did not penetrate some of them. They still do not see the immense danger Israel is facing. Ask the Israelis – they are living with continuous stress to their own lives and their community. Too many US Jews still dismiss the danger of global hate to Israel and believe it is due to Netanyahu's “settlements policies” and other Israeli “sin
Israel is not hated because of its actions, but because of its existence.
A few days, on the 19 anniversary of the murder of Itzhak Rabin by an idiotic/fanatic Israeli youth I listen to two Jewish American progressives talking about Israel’s “peace” problems and their severe disagreements with PM Netanyahu. And then one of them said: “If Rabin was alive, all these Peace problems with the Palestinians would not exist.” His friend nodded his head in agreement. I did not say a word. Their minds were made up a long time ago.
Sadly, they never really read or understood Rabin. His views were more “conservatives” than Netanyahu’s today.
When you read Rabin’s final speech delivered just a month before he died, then the picture seems different then their dream. On October 5, 1995, Rabin explained his vision for peace to the Knesset:
“We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.
And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:
A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six Day War.
D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one inGush Katif.”
Let there be no mistake about it, Hamas is a unique – and evil – manifestation of genocidal anti-Semitism. These are not words that I use lightly or easily, but there are no other words to describe the toxic convergence of the advocacy by Hamas of the most horrific of crimes – namely genocide – anchored in the most enduring of hatreds – namely antisemitism – with state-orchestrated terrorism as the instrumentality to pursue these goals.....
From: Irwin Cotler, co-chairs Canadian Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Democracy in Iran
Gaza: The road not yet taken | Irwin Cotler | The Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/gaza-the-road-not-yet-travelled/#ixzz3HlpRZvCI
For decades, US officials have not had a clue to the elemental security needs of Israel, while stating that Israel’s security is a paramount concern to them. And they are often clueless about the Middle East key problems in general. For half a century Israel warned the Western world about the terrorist mentality of the Arab world and its future danger to the West. But was rebuffed, saying it is your problem, Israel, not ours. That is one of the main contributors to the emergence of the Islamic State. IS might have been stopped in its infancy.
One US Administration after another believed that if Israel will have peace with the Palestinians most deep sectarian, economic and other key problems in the regions would be solved. Secretary of State Kerry said something similar to that last week.
Fortunately for Israel, the Egyptians have now realized that Hamas, an offshoot of the radical Muslim Brotherhood that has been advocating an Islamic State for a long time, is their enemy too and must be stopped.
In 2005 when Israel offered to leave the Gaza strip it planned to have a buffer zone – the “Philadelphia Corridor” between Gaza and Egypt. US Secretary of State, Condalisa Rice, forced the Israeli chief of Staff to relinquish this plan. The lack of this buffer zone was the singular cause that allowed Hamas all these years to import rockets parts to bomb Israeli citizens. President Mubarak tried several times to have a buffer zone, but failed. The Current Egyptian military, due to their own fight with terrorists from Gaza, finally (below) will create this zone in a very similar way to the previous Israeli plan. Egypt does not need US approval and the Obama Administration would not attack them, as it frequently does Israel.
Let’s hope it will reduce drastically the importation of weapons into Gaza, and reduce their ability to bomb Israeli civilians.
Egypt to create buffer zone along Gaza border. [Associated Press]
EL-ARISH, Egypt – Egyptian authorities on Tuesday ordered residents living along the country’s eastern border with the Gaza Strip to evacuate so they can demolish their homes and set up a buffer zone to stop weapons and militant trafficking between Egypt and the Palestinian territory, officials said.
The measure comes four days after militants attacked an army post, killing at least 31 soldiers in the restive area in the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula. After the attack, Egypt declared a state of emergency and dawn-to-dusk curfew. Authorities also indefinitely closed the Gaza crossing, the only non-Israeli passage for the crowded strip with the world.
The buffer zone, which will include water-filled trenches to thwart tunnel diggers, will be 500 yards wide and extended along the 9 mile border.