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.

*******

Iran, the most crucial issue

June 5th, 2014

Nuclear specialists say Iran is very close to getting its nuclear weapons.

With that the Middle East would be transformed into a tinder box.

At best Iran could dictate its fanatic militant agenda to the region.

At worse they could use it against their declared key enemy-Israel, and later the Big Satan, the US

WHAT IS CRITICAL IS WHAT YOUR ENEMY WOULD BE CAPABLE OF DOING,

NOT WHAT YOU THINK HE MAY DO!.

Turkey, Saudia and Egypt will have to go nuclear too. They started already.

With the instability of the Arab world, with terrorists gaining more power this tinder box can explode.

Iran could give nuclear weapons to terrorists to use at any place they like globally. Put one in a container ship, and it can go to any harbor.

AIPAC is diligently educating members of Congress on the increasing danger of a nuclear Iran

As a minimum each of us who cares about Israel’s survival must help AIPAC, one of the few organizations who understand this crucial danger. Don’t sit by without taking part, join AIPAC!

On the opposite side is J St,

J St does not grasp the key issue of the Middle East – Nuclear Iran

J St is opposing increasing pressure on Iran

J St does not grasp this existential danger to Israel survival.

J St is increasing the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation in the Middle East

Therefore J St is a dangerous organization, and we must fight to diminish its power.

Look at this short 12 minutes video to grasp it better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saJS3uBHJR0&app=desktop

Matania

A note to a friend: Why Kerry failed and accused Israel

May 28th, 2014

Friend, It is very simple and does not require deep analysis.

This administration is unaware of the real Middle East. They ignore the mentality of Arabs TRIBALISM- the murderous tendencies they have towards any one who is not in their tribe, or inner group.

Syria and Iraq should have opened any logical person eyes to the terrorist mentality of Muslim extremists who are supported by a significant part of the civilian population.

Hamas would have not allowed rockets/missile into Israel without strong local support.

Egypt new government (thank God for Assisi) knows that to wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood they need also to destroy Hamas. That is one of the reason Hamas, with no friends remaining, is eager to get power via the PLO, despite their deep hatred of one another.

Kerry demonstrated multiple times his hatred towards Israel. "Israel apartheid state?" Is he ignorant or make "mistakes" on purpose?

I believe that it is the same for Obama. Both have immense egos and they failed at almost all they have done. Even progressives now admit their utter failure in most if not all foreign affairs.

Obama/Kerry fail on almost every foreign adventure the US made for years. Why? Because they are unable to accept reality they do not like.

They have had very little international experience and their may be even admirable idealism leads them to the wrong path. They think as Americans while the Muslim world is diametrically oppose to our way of seeing the world.

Do not pay too much attention to what different people say that Israel is to blame. Much of it is false and opinionated. And in this case, to direct the blame to Israel.

MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, NOTE THE LONG TERM ANTI-SEMITISM UNDERLINING THE BELIEF, THINKING OF MUCH OF THE WEST, INCLUDING THIS US ADMINISTRATION.

AS ML KING SAID: Being against Israel, the Jewish state, is in fact anti- Semitic attitude, (he said it much better.)

Kol Tuv

Matania

WHERE IS OUR HUMANITY?

May 28th, 2014

Is Israeli blood different from European blood?

Is Palestinian blood different from Syrian blood?

Of course not.

So why are we ignoring the worst current mass massacres in the world of innocent people in Syria? Some 160,000 civilians have been murdered in the civil war in Syria.

Yet the liberal media and many liberals are only focusing on minor agonies of Palestinians in the West Bank (W.B.), while ignoring the lessons of Gaza. Those W. B. Palestinians have the best safety in the Arab world, because the Israeli military is stopping them from murdering one another. Their tribalism is similar to the ones in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

The Palestinians in W.B. want their own country? OK, first let them show that they are capable of running a country. All evidence to the contrary: They excel in fostering hate and terrorism. We must fully absorb the lessons of the terrorist-state of Gaza, and understand that the West Bank can be a much larger terrorist haven. Note that the West Bank is 16 times larger, with a border 6 times longer than Gaza. And it sits above the narrow neck of central Israel, just 8 miles wide.

The Arabs have demonstrated immense duplicity. What is crucial is to plan for the enemy potential capabilities if they get their own state, not what we feel they may do. That is: some say, don’t worry, the W.B. Palestinians will not be like Hamas in Gaza eager to destroy Israel. On what basis do they make this assumption? On their own wishes, not potential reality.

Again: WHAT IS CRITICAL IS WHAT YOUR ENEMY WOULD BE CAPABLE OF DOING, NOT WHAT YOU THINK HE MAY DO!.

The Palestinians have the highest standard of living in the Arab world (of states without oil), free high quality Israeli medical care. They get free electricity and water because they do not pay their bills to Israel, while receiving billions of dollars from Western countries, the highest per capita donation in the world. The US and EU are the main donors financing Palestinian hate education and terrorism. Terrorists get generous monthly support from US and EU funds while in Israeli prisons. Palestinians have no motivation to stop terrorism, it is a high-income business. Beside one can be a hero in that society to boot. No idealist fully grasp that. Why?

Israel is the only home of the Jewish people, therefore:

I am angry at those who show so much concern for the plight of the Palestinians but ignore how the Palestinians have murdered and terrorized innocent Israelis for a century.

I am angry at those who can’t see how the Palestinians have rejected every Two-States solution since 1936, and unwilling to grasp that the Palestinians want all the land of Israel. Period.

I angry at those who are blind to Gaza/Hamas unending rockets on Israeli civilians and even blame Israel for its limited responses.

I am angry at those who want to dictate Israel’s conduct, while ignoring the immense inhumanity in the rest of the Arab world.

I am angry at those who conveniently believe Israel is so strong that it can relax and reduce its security to fit their dreams.

They do not care if Arabs murder Arabs by the ten of thousands, but only if Israel killed a terrorist or inadvertently civilians.

Do they truly care about human suffering and human lives? It does not seem so. They want to smear Israel, again.

One possibility is that their exclusive focus on Israel is based on a singular dislike of Israelis. Also their belief that the Israeli people are incapable of running their own Democratic country. After all, the Israelis did not achieve peace with the Palestinians after all these trials. It must be the Israelis do not truly want peace, and are not giving enough…. Even some ex -Israelis here saying so. It may make it so much easier for them to justify leaving Israel.

Here is another possibility: Some time ago a close Israeli relative, who is leftist to the core, asked me: “If so many people hate us, it must mean that we are guilty?”

This attitude is called: “Identifying with your oppressor” After long enough exposure to false accusations against you, you start believing in them.

Israelis are hurt by the critical attitude and lack of support of some Progressive American Jews and wonder how could they ignore reality for so long?

Matania


THOSE TERRIBLE ISRAELIS

May 15th, 2014

Three related events came to my attention recently that deserve note.

1. When Middle East Arabs were poled recently about what type of government they wish to have, the great majority, some 80%, said they wanted a government like the Israelis have.

2. I saw recently an Arab video (translated) of a discussion between three non Palestinians Arabs about the atrocities committed in the Arab world, Muslims murdering Muslims on a mass scale. Two commentators attacked verbally the guest, a Muslim cleric, passionately:

“Why we can not behave like the Israelis? When they face Palestinian rioters, and stone throwers they use rubber bullets and water cannons. They do not shoot live ammunition at the Palestinians. While we are murdering one another.

The arguments were hot and the two moderates did not let the Muslim religious leader off the hook. They were angry at his “justifications” for the use of lethal force on other Arabs.

3. In a recent discussion in the Knesset, some members of the Israeli opposition suggested that the Israeli government offer land swap of heavily populated Israeli Arabs areas for some of the West Bank Israeli communities.

They offered the “Triangle” in the north, an area heavily populated with Israeli Arabs as a possibility. The Israeli Arab Knesset member representing that area started to scream against it. He said something to the effect: “We are Israeli citizens you can not just kick us out to be part of Palestine.”

Many Knesset members laughed, why? Because he is one of the most severe, even rabid, critic of the Israeli government and people and often support the Palestinians loudly and clearly.

I wish those quick to criticize Israel saw it from the Arab side.

Matania

My friend Norman D.

May 12th, 2014

My lifelong friend Norman D. was a Mentch. Not because his dedication to honesty and kindness, not because he loved Israel and was a MACHAL (foreign volunteer) from Canada during Israel War of Independence. He was much more than all of these. He deeply cared for people, helped others consistently, but was also sensible enough not to be blind to reality.

Norman received his doctorate in geography from the Hebrew University, and was on the faculty of Louisiana State University for many years. But when in Israel he especially enjoyed studying the famous Market Place of old Jerusalem

He was captivated by the Arab culture. And with his easy and natural friendliness, he could talk with almost any person. Although I studied Arabic and was educated to appreciate Arab culture, both in my Israeli society and also in my Lechi Israeli Underground, he went further. He helped deprived Arab youth both in the US and in Israel.

Norman gave me his study of one street in the Old Jerusalem Market where fathers left their stores to the first born son for hundred of years. He could not understand how they left the rest of the family to be so dependent on the kindness or selfishness of the older son. Norman was a Jew to the core, abhorred needless suffering. He told me how frustrated he was that no one rebelled against this harsh culture despite the hundreds of years of suffering. On one hand he admired their long tradition but could not grasp, or agree with their Eastern way of thinking: No change in Tradition period. Men are superior, women servants to men’s desires. Harsh Sharia laws are the only rule.

He told me about a store he visited often in that Jerusalem market, the owner was a good story teller and so was Norman. It was raining and some of the sensitive merchandise got wet. Norman pointed to the broken window near the ceiling and asked the owner: “Why you do not repair the glass? It is so cheap.” He answered: “This window has been broken for many generations. One day, Insha’Allah (God Willing) some one will repair it.”

And that typifies the way the Arabs see their war to take over Israel and the West. No rush, we have a long history, we ruled half the world before, and will do it again, but this time all the world. And time is with us. The West is decaying, birthrates are so low, they will disappear. We the superior people, with our high birthrate, will eventually take over and institute Sharia laws all over the land.”

It may take many generations, but we can wait.

Allah will be with us to achieve the eventual mastery of Islam.”

Norman was “liberal to his very core,” a kind man, a Mentch. He could not accept agonies and inhumanity. He did not want to see the kindness and benevolent core of Judaism and much of the West disappear to satisfy the aims of the harsh Muslim culture.

Norman was a realist.

Matania