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.
Like a glove puppet operated by a large Hezbollah hand, the leader of the World Council of Churches pops his head up for the usual performance. Like Punch in Punch and Judy, he brandishes a big stick at Israel and the words of the old, predictable WCC script emerge in a squawking voice.
"Our hearts cry out to the leaders of the international community", says Dr Kobia, who describes the current fighting as "a war of ominous dimension and of far-reaching consequences" that is causing "unimaginable and untold suffering to the people in Lebanon".
While "a major tragedy continues to unfold in the troubled region of the Middle East", the world sees the "shocking and disgraceful" spectacle of world leaders announcing "in a most callous manner that fighting will continue till strategic military objectives are met".
Yes, we’ve heard it all before, haven’t we, boys and girls? Words like “disproportionate acts of violence of immense magnitude” (applied only to Israel), the call for an immediate ceasefire, which could only be imposed on Israel, not on Hezbollah, the wish to prevent Israel from defending itself, the sorrow at Lebanese suffering but not at that of Israeli victims.
He also states that "blind faith in military violence to resolve disputes and disagreements is totally unwarranted, illegal and immoral".
Well, it worked in the World War II. Some enemies don’t really give anyone a choice.
Surprise! The BBC, purveyor of hostile propaganda against Israel, allows an authentic voice to be heard. Instead of Hezbollah's point of view, listen to Dr Irene Lancaster's "Thought for the Day" about her forthcoming move to Haifa: From missiles to manna.
So let us all hope and pray that soon, very soon, the destruction and devastation will end. And that the missiles raining down at the moment will turn into the manna from heaven which is so desperately needed instead.
From a personal point of view, it is of great comfort to realise that some many people who are not Jewish but Christian have written to me, knowing that I am leaving, and asked me to reconsider and stay here at the moment.
Why move to Israel? Why should Israel exist? For a good reason, one not acknowledged by anti-Semites, for obvious reasons - it is intended to protect Jews from them. As an Israeli friend tells her.
The reason I am in Israel is because I feel I have to place and cement my little brick in the construction of this country. For it to be a refuge for Jews in bad times, but also so that we have our little corner on earth’.
May God protect Israel and all its people.
‘Massacre’ at Qana? The Red Cross have found 28 bodies, not 57, and there are suspicions that Hezbollah may have organised the deaths for propaganda, according to a Christian Lebanese website.
Here is a real massacre of children which only merited a passing mention on the BBC news this morning, in comparison with the drooling coverage of Qana.
At least 12 people, many of them children, were killed in bomb attacks while playing soccer in west Baghdad.
Those killed and wounded were aged between nine and 20. About a dozen other people were wounded.
Two blasts occurred at a makeshift pitch on waste ground in a mainly Shia district. Police say the bombs had been buried in the middle of the pitch.
This cruel bombing in Iraq might stoke the hatred of Shia against Sunnis, but the rest of the world will show none of the indignation they displayed at Qana.
In a front-page editorial Aug. 2, the Vatican newspaper said that rather than avoiding photographs of the "dirt- and blood-covered corpses" of the children, people should look at them and allow themselves to be horrified and outraged.
Are Lebanese or Palestinian children worth more than Iraqi youngsters? Are their deaths more shocking? No, - but they provide an excuse to attack Jews.
Some Christian ‘justice’ and ‘peace’ groups act as eager transmitters of propaganda against the Jewish State, and are currently circulating what the writer of The Weaponization of Children describes as ‘dead-child porn’
The Palestinians, and by extension their rollicking sidekicks around the Muslim world, are the masters of dead-child porn. Looking at the recent releases from this sick culture is like watching a very unfunny Monty Python clip from the Holy Grail movie where the cart is pulled through the city with the chant, "Bring out your dead!"
And the dead are brought out -- once they are determined to be photo-op worthy. The Killed-Kids of the Palestinians film series, like all standard porn films or magazines, almost never varies in its presentation. What you see is almost always dead children presented to the world on a platter like some grim roasted entree to be grabbed up and consumed by the ever-voracious cameras of the media and played in an endless looping celebration of carnage to a world hungry to note the offering and think, deep down, "Well, it is all happening far away and should stop, but at least, thank God, it's not my kid."
I’m not going to link to the material the J & P folks are emailing round. It was originally intended to stir up the rage against Israel which is deliberately kept on the boil in Islamic countries, but someone decided to share this rage with others. It was eagerly picked up by certain Christians for wider circulation and is being passed from one Christian ‘justice’ and 'peace’ group to another. So the virus of hatred is spread.
None of the recipients, relishing an excuse to get angry with Jews, seems to have questioned the morality of these pictures ? either of taking such photos or sharing them with the intention of spreading hate and rage.
This cynical use of dead children for hate propaganda purposes has received attention in the blogosphere.
Christians should have nothing to do with hatred or with this terrible 'dead-child porn'. So why do they eagerly seize on such material, sent to them from some pit of carefully stimulated Islamist hatred, and try to infect their fellow Christians with it? Why do they not see that it is evil?
I’m delighted to have an excuse to link to Dry Bones. He tells us more about the story of the book of psalms found in an Irish bog. I mentioned that it was open on psalm 83, which seems appropriate to the present situation – but I didn’t realise how appropriate.
When the war broke out, religious Jews began reciting Psalm 83.
A rabbi, being interviewed on an Israeli TV news show called on viewers to read Psalm 83.
The Chief Rabbinate's governing council in Jerusalem announced that at 6:00 p.m. (Israel time) every day, Psalm 83 is to be recited simultaneously by Jewish communities all over the world.
Turns out that Psalm 83 calls out for Divine help to fight off an attempt to wipe Israel off the map.
So what's weird? asks Dry Bones.
Archaeologists have just announced the amazing discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker who was digging in a bog in Ireland two weeks ago. The book, which was buried and lay hidden under centuries of mud, has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries...
Oh, and the book was found "frozen open" to Psalm 83... With all other pages stuck shut.
Mel Gibson has finally admitted that what he said was anti-Semitic and apologised for it.
Although he says that “There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark” he still doesn't really face up to what he is “But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite.”
Anti-Semitism and alcoholism have features in common. They both require an honest admission that the person has the disease before anything can be done about it. Both diseases produce denial in the people who have them. The alcoholic who declares indignantly: “I don’t have a drink problem!” is similar to the anti-Semite who claims: “I’m not anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist!”
I hope the following is genuine and not merely professional damage limitation.
I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.
There is more hope for Gibson, now that he is learning what he is, than there is for other, more dangerous anti-Semites who will never admit it. Compare Mel Gibson and the Presbyterian Church USA, for instance.
Gibson’s background is an outdated form of Catholicism which rejects any recent developments in Church attitudes to Jews.
The leaders of some modern Protestant Churches, on the other hand, have failed to face up to their prejudice and try to deal with it as the Catholic Church has. They are in denial just as much as any alcoholic about a drink problem, and need to be confronted about it.