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.

*******

THE U.S. WOULD NOT PROTECT ISRAEL

March 12th, 2012

Even if Iran never used a nuclear bomb, one of the key dangers of Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is nuclear proliferation! A Nuclear Iran will force several Arab states to develop/buy their own nuclear weapons, which the Saudis can do with ease. Nuclear weapon proliferation in the highly volatile Middle East with its sectarian and tribal hate would be uncontrollable.

Yes, it is drastically different to have nuclear weapons by a Western country, like England, France, or Russia, than an Arab country. The reverence for life of their own citizens is so drastically different.

To stop Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program, I believe that the best way now, so late in the game, is for the US and Europe to severely attack Syria’s military ASAP. It would be so much easier, even with their Russian air-defense system, compare to attacking Iran’s hidden installations and massive, advanced Russian air-defense systems. Attacking Syria would send a powerful signal to Iran that the World means business, and it could be better for Iran to stop its nuclear weapon program before it is being attacked.

 

If the danger from Iran was only to Israel, the recent promises of president Obama not withstanding, Israel could not depend on the US to stop Iran’s nuclear weapon’s program. What leaders say and do are two different things much of the time. Not only that, there is some possibility that the US may try to stop Israeli’ attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. It may not suite the President’s reelection plans, or another reasons. It is doing it now verbally; note all the trips to Israel of top U.S. officials, from the previous US Chief of Staff, to current US Chief of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. More over, why is it the responsibility of the US to protect Israel unless it is in the interest of the U.S?  However, the danger is much larger, not only to the total Middle East and the global oil supply, but to Europe and the US too.

Because of the different levels of risk, and the immense capabilities of the US military, Israel and the US naturally view the situation very differently. Israel may be able to destroy some critical portions of Iran’s nuclear fabrication system that may take a relatively short time to rebuild. The US can inflict significantly larger damage that may take years to rebuild.

The US could wait; however Israel is under the gun and can’t wait too long. The risk that Israel, such a miniature country, is facing is almost a national destruction, a second holocaust. The risk to the US in the coming years from  Iran with full nuclear weapon capability is considerably smaller, but also very real. To name just one: Iran supplying nuclear weapons to terrorists who ship it to a US harbor destroying one of our cities. There is no way to stop that relatively easy attack, while Iran would seem innocent.

 

Israel’s urgency also stems from a different grasp of reality. The Israelis can understand the unique mentality, the danger emanating from the deeply religiously grounded Iran’s leadership and its many supporters. As ex. Mosad head Daggan just said, Iran’s leadership is very smart and calculating, able to outsmart the West for many years. They are not fanatically erratic; they know what they are doing. But, the majority of Western leadership and people, especially the less realistic US Left, are unable to grasp the danger from all the various leaders of Iran. It is not just President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who want to menace the world; they have huge support from the vast military and significant portion of the residents, especially the conservative rural population. Their desire for supremacy is based also on their ancient historical power, an attitude held by a great portion of Iranians.

 

The U.S. promise of American military support has no security value. Israel history is full of false promises and pressure on Israel by different US Administrations. Here are some examples:

1. The State Dept. under General Marshal was dead set against the creation of the State of Israel. And for many decades the State Department continue to support Arab states and against Israel on many occasions.

2. The US embargoed all military supply to the Middle East during the 1947-8 Arab/Israel war was one sided: the US refused to supply even steal plates to protect Israeli buses from sniper attacks. At the same time Syria, Egypt, Iraq and the Saudis had their huge national resources to support their attack on Israel.

3. President Eisenhower stopped the England/France/Israel coalition effort to regain international control of the Sues Canal during the 1956 war after Egypt confiscated it from its owners and stopped Israeli shipping.

4. US pressure on Israel. Israel is a very small country, 20 Israel’s can fit into California. Therefore Israel can not fight effectively a defensive war-- there is no safe place for the population, no place to hide military industry, no place to maneuver. Therefore when Israel is about to be attacked, Israel must start a preemptive war whenever possible. Just a day or two can make a significant impact. It did so in 1967 and won in six days. However, in 1973 Prime Minister Golda Meir succumbed to US Secretary of State Kissinger’s pressure that warned Israel not to initiate a preemptive attack before the Arab attacks. Israel was very close to a defeat at in that war, it prevailed almost by luck. The help from President Nixon, against the advice of Kissinger, was too late to help the war effort, since it came after the bloody Israeli victory. That Yom Kippur war was won with considerably more risk and more Israeli’ bloodshed than was necessary if Israel had a preemptive strike. Note also that the Arab casualties would have been much lower if Israel attacked first, because the battles would have been won faster and with less bloodshed.

5. During the1991 First Gulf War, the US asked Israel not to respond to Iraqi’ rockets and promised Israel that the US would do all it could to protect Israel from Sadam. Prime Minister Shamir promised President Bush not to interfere in the war, and kept it despite considerable internal pressure to destroy Sadam’s rocket launchers. It was determined later that the US did very little to protect Israel from Sadam’s rockets. The US had explained that it would have taken too much military power away from the war. An unjustified excuse, many believed, since Saddam capitulated in a very short time and with minimal effort. US inaction was covered up to minimize conflict with a very hostile US Administration. The Israeli’ population was very upset and stressed at that period counting on false US promises.

 

The main interest of the US is to achieve its own goals and aspirations. We have many good attributes, but like all nations we are NOT an idealistic, benevolent country willing to help others at high costs to our own interests. This should not be a surprise to us, that is the global reality! This is a normal direction that most governments take. In the same way Israel must pursue its own best path to protect itself. And the current vital issue is how to stop Iran’s nuclear weapon program in time.

 

I do not know many military facts, but there is only one way I can see and it is a powerful Israeli air attack only on a select set of nuclear targets that would cause the maximum long term impact. The Iranian’ people would be barely impacted and the embargo imposed on Iran could be then lifted, depending on Iran’s support of terrorism. To overcome Israel’s lack of massive earth-penetrating bombs, there is a possibility that Israel could use miniature/tactical nuclear weapons with low radiation similar to the ones the US developed several decades ago. The propaganda damage to Israel would be high, but the survival of Iran’s facilities is not acceptable.

Obviously the US, the strongest military force in the world now, is capable with ease, to destroy all the Iranian nuclear facilities of significance, and relevant military installations too. The US military has immense amount of resources, especially for such a short term operation that would take a week or so.

The Iranian's response would be mostly terrorism by forcing Hizbullah and Hamas to attack Israeli civilians to the maximum extent possible irrespective of risk to them. That would cause tremendous loss of life and property across much of Israel. There would be very few safe places to hide for the majority of the population. But it is far superior than to be under a nuclear attack!

The recent attacks from Gaza, sending over 100 rockets into Israel in a few days, may be a trial run, or an attempt to warn Israel what could happen if Iran gives the order.

Any way we look at it, it is an intolerable situation. A political solution would be the best, but it is not possible, I believe. All options are very difficult. It is a selection between several unwanted options.

p.s. The pentagon just issued serious reservations about attacking Syria. The Iranians can only laugh at our threat of military action when we are unwilling to take on Syria, a much easier target.

 

Matania

3/12

A comment received:

Dear DrGinosar

Now your talking realpolitic. We Jews have a sentimental and emotional attachment to Israel  that can blind us to the realities of international relations. Friend and foe can change overnight and I am glad you wrote this realistic assessment of the situation. Most people make the mistake of seeing nation states as people. I know most Jews would find your conclusions shocking and I hope, "THE US WOULD NOT PROTECT ISRAEL" should be distributed as widely as possible.

B.

 

Is the number of Palestinians inflated?

February 26th, 2012

I have done this population study eight years ago, but because it is relevant now to the Palestinian’s quest for a state, it is important to understand their population number and trend.


Recently, I was reading research about Palestinian population distribution, and since I have studied population growth the numbers raised a flag in my mind. The numbers seems to conflict with the numbers I usually see in the media, including the CIA website, and some statistical books too.

In the last few years a lot of concerns were expressed that the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza is growing at a very high rate and in the near future will overtake the Jewish population of Israel of 5 million. The former prime minister, Ehud Barak, was so concerned about the growth that he even offered the Palestinans part of Eastern Jerusalem because it is mostly populated with Arabs. He also offered to compensate the areas taken by the "settlements" with land in the Israeli Galil populated by Israeli Arabs to reduce the Arab population in Israel. Barak wanted them be part of the new Palestinian state. Therefore, the actual number of  Palestinian is an important factor in the peace process.

As I looked into statistics of world population growth I noticed that nation after nation has a considerably lower population growth rate then the one claimed by the Palestinians. Then I concentrated on the Arab Middle East and, again, the Palestinians claim of the very high rate of 4% per year is higher than almost all other Arab countries. High population growth is usually associated with high infant mortality, low education, and women subservience. All these factors are not experienced by the Palestinians. Under Israeli administration Palestinian infant mortality was reduced significantly. In addition, the Palestinians education level is much higher than most Arab countries, and Palestinian women have higher education and more freedom than most Arab women.

All of these factors challenged me to look further into their growth statistics.

Let me summarize what I found:

1. Arab [Muslim] countries growth rate:

Syria: 2.6%, a poor country, with life style and culture quiet similar to the Palestinians.

Egypt: 1.9%, a poor country, similar to the lifestyles and culture to the Palestinians

Saudi Arabia: 3.4%, one of the richest countries in the area. Understandably a high growth rate since almost all social services have been paid by the government for decades. Also, Saudi import a large number of foreign workers.

Sudan: 2.1%, with 65% of the population Muslims.

Israeli Arabs: 2.7%, they have a stable life and a much higher standard of living than the Palestinians. Also, many Palestinians have entered Israel both legally [to unite families] and illegally, to become Israeli Arabs to better their standard of living and find security. The number of LEGAL Arab immigration I saw was over 100,000.

2. Palestinian Statistical info *:

Western area: 1967 population 586 thousands; 1986 - 965 thousands, including Arabs in East Jerusalem

Gaza: 1967 population 351 thousands; 1986 - 542 thousands.

Total: 1967 - 937 thousands;  1986 - 1.507 million

Under Israeli control, when data collection was realistic, rate of growth for those twenty years:  2.4%.

I do not see any significant reason why this 2.4% rate would have drastically increased during the period 1987 to the year 2000. Contrary, during the last three years of Palestinian - initiated fighting I would expect that the growth rate would go down due to the considerable disturbance to the population, plus the emigration of many of them to safety, especially Arab Christians that have been discriminated continuously by the Muslim majority. Therefore I used the rate of 2.4%, and the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza would have grown from 1.507 millions to currently 2.25 million. This is a far lower than the 3.5 million usually stated by the Palestinans. The Palestinians are claiming an additional 1.25 million! Essentially inflating their number by 50%.

How is it possible that such a large difference exists? Several significant factors may be involved:

1. From the Arab initiated 1948 war, to date, many Palestinians have been sustained by the United Nation relief organization – UNRWA. Families are paid according to the number of people in the family. Being poor, most families do not report deaths. They also report more births than took place to expand their meager support from the "Rich Western Countries". (The US donates 60% of the funds.) Since local Palestinians supervise these funds they are not inclined to report this distortion of population.

2. I have personally read several edicts by Arab religious leaders that not only permit fabricating facts but say that it is commendable to do so, to help achieve the ultimate goal of defeating the enemy.

3. Professional observer of the Middle East wrote: "Egyptian statisticians, like Egyptian journalists, often seem to make up in imagination what they lack in hard data collection." Raymond Stock, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Middle East Quarterly vol. X-4. I am sure this applies to many other Arab nations.

4. The Muslim leadership in the US funded two Muslim population studies several years ago. I have read that one of them came much lower than they wanted and they fired the individual who did the study and selected another set of results. I believe that their goal was to show that there are more Muslims in the US then Jews, and it is interesting that the number came to six million Muslims, just enough above the about 5 million Jews computed.

The number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is likely to be even lower than the 2.25 million indicated above because many Christians Arabs left the Palestinians areas due to severe discrimination by Muslim Arabs. Also, many wealthy Arabs have left the area in the last three years because of the instability there. In addition, a large number of Palestinians moved to Jordan, the only Arab country who allowed them citizenship. In fact some 60% of the 6.8 million Jordanians have been Palestinians or are their descendents. More Palestinians still want to live in Jordan, but can not. Palestinians who want to pass through Jordan must deposit a very high, refundable, fee until they leave Jordan

In addition, hundred of thousands Palestinians left the areas to work in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other countries with higher wages.

It is questionable if many of the Palestinians who are now living out of the area will want to live in the West Bank or Gaza after the arrival of peace. Even during the "peaceful" years of the Oslo Accord when the Palestinians governed 96% of their own population, corruption and lawlessness have been rampant, the economy was poor, the area small and without many opportunities.

Conclusion: It is likely that the Palestinians have had a similar growth rate** to that of Israel: around 2.4%. Therefore, the number of Palestinans in the West Bank and Gaza is considerably lower than they claim. It is likely to be now around two million total.

Matania

11/03

* Iyunim Bitkumat Israel, Ben-Gurion Research Center, 1999, Vol 9, p.195

** Note, Palestinian growth rate includes their birth rate, minus death rate, minus emigration, the Israeli growth is due to birth rate, less death rate but plus immigration.

Why the Middle East is in Turmoil

February 9th, 2012

Naturally we want every human being across the world to have the freedom, economic wellbeing and rule of law we are having, but our desire for quick solutions drives us to the wrong conclusions, over and over again. We feel more comfortable matching our desires and expectations with our philosophy of life. How great it is to expect the backward, brutal, extremist, poor Arab/Muslim people to fight dictators and regain their rights for individual freedom and democracy. What a magical dream, based on wishful thinking.

It took hundreds of years for Europe to move from a similar oppressive states to todays more evenly representative governance and we hope the Arabs can do it in a year or two?

Would it not be marvelous that our way of life suddenly emerges as the innermost desire of the mostly religiously constrained, poor, low education, easily influenced Muslims of the Middle East?.

Not so fast, this is NOT the essential driving force, it is not the way their world operates.

The forces that we think drive them to liberate themselves from oppressive dictators are mostly economic deprivation, and their essential need to survive in a very difficult, inhospitable region.

Certainly Egyptians want freedom from police-state oppression. But, if they want personal freedom and Democracy how is it possible that the great majority voted for the Muslim Brotherhood and the more oppressive Salafists? The Muslim Brotherhood, a strongly driven religious organization just won nearly half the election seats. The Salafists, a considerably more fanatic Muslim sect won another quarter of the votes! These groups want to institute oppressive religious Sharia laws that rob people of personal freedom and most other freedoms we in the West cherish so much and are the foundation of a viable Democracy.

Half the Egyptian population lives in rural areas on less than $2 a day!. How can they? By being hungry, growing some of their own meager food, and by extracting a life out of any minor opportunity they can find. Before WWII Egypt had 25 million people, now it is 82 million on the same limited amount of arable land. Most of the country is desert, irrigated ONLY by the Nile River. Egypt does not have rain- period.

Half the 82 million people are below 20 year old, eager for a better life and ready to have families. But they do not see a viable future. Although Mubarak succeeded reducing the wide-open birth rate to the current desire of 3 children per mother, the shear number of young people will drive the population much higher with no natural resources in the land and no ingrained, driven entrepreneurial drive.. Religious Muslims have the fatalistic belief, “Insha’Allah”: God will provide.

The global food crisis is aggravated by US self-serving politics. When US big agriculture businesses like Conagra, and Cargill, convinced Congress to replace 10% or more of our gasoline with corn-ethanol, (a worse global warming fuel than gasoline) the  global price of corn jumped up across the world. The US is the largest global supplier of corn, and many food products use corn, from cow feed to soda sweeteners.

That jump in global food cost drove poverty stricken Egyptians, Tunisians, Syrians, and Yemenites to the edge: not enough money to feed their growing families from their limited income. Add to that the impact of Global Warming: higher temperatures, less rains, more deserts, then the long simmering fear and the rage rose to the surface.

The young “intellectuals” in Cairo’s Tahiri Square we so admired,  that drove Mubarak out of office, were a vocal minority, but they did not represent  the majority of 82 million Egyptians. However, they visibility touched Western attention, as if their desire for freedom is the key drive against the oppressing Arab dictators. Strangely, in the last five years Mubarak did a lot to improve the Egyptian economy, a growth of a respectable 5% per year, but it was not enough and it was not lifting the poorest of the rural poor out of their misery. Now the Egyptian economy is in tatters, no tourism, and little international business.

Here is another key force we forget: the British conquest of the Middle East a century ago. This is one of many examples  how ignorant, self-serving Western imperialistic nations, from England, France, Belgium to Italy, murdered and ruined the life of millions, especially in Africa (Rwanda massacre), without an once of regard to the local population. They divided their conquests to fit their own need, not according to the natural, local division of religion, or tribal alliances.

 

For hundreds of years the Middle East was part of the brutal Ottoman Empire (Turkey, who now is eager  to reassert its influence in the Arab world, is not so eagerly accepted). Before and during WWI the Turks killed maybe a half a million Armenians and a quarter million Greeks.

During the long Ottoman rule the Middle East was a primitive, scarcely populated region, subjected to brut force feudalism both from the Ottoman rulers and the local village leaders. Most Arabs were almost slaves to the regional Pashas, and local village Muchtars, and had to cultivate a small parcel of land from daylight to night to sustain their large families. We can not grasp today the misery of the region during the Turkish oppression. The Turks do not consider themselves Arabs. As far as the Turks and the Iranians are concerned, Arabs are the lowest people.

The British conquest of the area during WWI let the British and French divide the Middle East to zones of influence to be controlled and drained, not lead them to independence, as promised during the 1922  Peace conferences in Europe. The British gave the French, (who did not participate in General Allenby’s conquest of the region), Syria and Lebanon. England took all the rest: Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. The Western rulers thought only of themselves despite the ruse that they are preparing the area for independent nations. They divided the region to states not according to natural borders, to ethnic, to tribal alliances, or according to religious divisions, such as Sunni, or Shiite.

 

Take Israel for example:

The 1917 Lord Balfur declaration establishing a Jewish state on the two sides of the Jordan was negated by Churchill in 1920 by giving to the irrelevant Hashemite tribal leader “King Abdullah” the Eastern side of the Jordan, some 75% of the Promised Land. Then by placing Sir Herbert Samuel, a Jewish High Commissioner to Palestine, (the 25% remaining Western side of the Jordan), the British gave the impression that their administration would be pro Jewish and help create a future Jewish state as the League of Nation Mandate had directed. Sir Samuel was a British first, and Jewish last. As the Arabs started some minor attacks on Jews in the early 1920s, instead of protecting the Jews he gave in to Arab terrorism (indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians.) Eager to prove his impartiality, Lord Samuel mollified the Arabs by restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine in the White Paper of 1922.

That restriction set a pattern of restrictions on Jewish immigration that caused a heavier blow to Judaism than any of the numerous brutal mass murders/pogroms over the centuries.

Why? Because it amplified the Holocaust and prevented Israel from achieving full sovereignty of the total east side of the Jordan. The numerous British restrictions of Jewish immigration allowed the Nazis to exterminate six million Jews, many of whom could have immigrated to Israel- the only place in the world partially available to them then. The US had closed its gates to Jewish immigration years earlier, and no other nation was willing to accept Jewish refugees. The Nazis originally wanted to drive the Jews out of their own country and then later from their conquered regions. The Nazis did not methodically plan to exterminate the Jews until the early 1940’s, more than a decade later, and two decades after the first British restriction on Jewish immigration to Israel. A few attempts by wealthy Jews to escape by boats to the Western hemisphere where stopped by the US FDR Administration, while the British did the same in Israel.

British diplomats that served in Palestine admitted later in a documentary that I have seen, that their goal was always to strengthen British rule over the two sides of the Jordan to propagate the British Empire control of the Middle East.. And never to fulfill the Mandate they asked for. A typical British duplicity.

If large number of European  Jews could have come to Israel before the maelstrom in Europe was ignited with WWII, as some wise German Jews I have known did, Israeli Jews would have been a huge majority on the West side of the Jordan, (previously called Palestine,) and the Muslim population an insignificant minority. Israel would have been a full state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. That could have benefited the total Middle East. The Arab leaders would NOT have focused on destroying Israel and saved hundreds of billion dollars they spent on wars. With a strong, full size Jewish state, the Arab nations would not have been so eager to attack Israel and the face of  the region could have been different. The Jewish Scapegoat Arab rulers used to distract their suffering population from focusing internally would have not worked so well. The immense amount of national wealth the Arab nations paid the USSR for weapons over many decades could have been used for internal economic growth and maybe, just maybe, the ME region could have advanced toward more enlighten governance

But, naturally, the French and the British thought only of their own desires. They believed that they were superior to “the natives”. Even the Jews, who were well educated, liberal and cooperated with the British authorities, were considered inferior natives to be controlled and suppressed. I faced this superior attitude as I encountered British officers and their prison system several times. Their “superiority” allowed me to outsmart them, be released from prison, and regained my security clearance despite a large amount of evidence against me, a Jewish Lechi freedom fighter. That superior attitude allowed the British to crush the Arab revolt of 1936-39 using brutality that the Nazis used against their enemies.

 

The key to grasp is that the self- interest of the French and British divided the region not according to the natural, centuries- old local systems of tribal and religious groupings that could have led to peaceful coexistence, but imposed the Divide and Rule approach to control the “natives.” From the beginning these European rulers drove minorities to rule over the majorities in Iraq and Syria, necessitating dictatorial, autocratic rulers to control the majority of the powerless, hostile population .

For the last few years, after the fall of Sadam Husain for example, we have seen the result of this superior European interference with the natural cultural and religious division of the population, some quarter of a million innocent Iraqi civilians were murdered by sectarian Muslim infighting after 2003, having little to do with our own military actions there. This developed because the Sunni minority in Iraq controlled the Shiite majority, and the Kurdish minority.

So, the main forces driving the movements to eliminate the Syrian, Egyptian and other Muslim dictators are the combination of: hatred of oppressive police states, over population, a worsening global climate that causes less rains, expands arid lands, less arable lands with lower food per person, and increase global food prices partially due to increasing demands by China and India.

 

The Middle East is impacted by the global economy and by a worsening global climate even more than other regions since it is a very arid region heavily dependent on diminishing water resources, on external food supplies, and the global supply and demand of oil. The financial resources also are distributed very unevenly between poor, large, population and oil income states. The oil-rich Arab nations will not give the needed massive support to the poorer Arab nations, in part because their own oil resources have already started to decline

What will happen in the near future in the Middle East is more instability since the basic problems can not be solved in the near future. The large oil wealth in the ME is not a possible solution in part because the Arabs are first and foremost family oriented, then tribally, then locally, than nationally oriented, not religiously or “Arab” oriented..

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American naïveté

January 5th, 2012

1. President Truman’s trusted Stalin…

During the crucial Potsdam Conference July 17 1944 with Churchill and Stalin president Truman said to his assistants:

“I can deal with Stalin; he is honest but smart as hell.”

Comments by the famous historian David McCullough on the above in his biography on Truman:

“Very American- the old American idea that if he can just meet the fellow, shake his hand, look him in the eyes, size him up, that they can work together, to work things out, and every thing would be ok.”

This is still practiced by our current president and is part of the general American belief system:

2. Another example half a century later: Ted Koppel of Nightline admiration of president Putin:

Almost ten years ago President Putin of Russia invited the well known TV commentator of Nightline, Ted Koppel, to visit the veiled Kremlin. Putin spread the red carpet in front of Koppel and his cameras, the glorious halls, the huge and marvelous palace. Koppel was so intrigued, so full of thanks and admiration, he was blind to the reality behind Putin’s generosity. Putin wanted to mislead the West showing us how Western and trustworthy he is: There is no need to worry about the New Russia…

It was sad. Every question Ted Koppel put to Putin, he answered with the best possible way to entice American appreciation, and trust. I watched the players carefully; their faces, their body language. Koppel was blind to the semi-smile that was most of the time on Putin face. Putin is smart; he knew what Americans wanted to hear. He said all the right things, in spade, to get favorable response from the American viewers. He was like us... We are lucky to have him lead the New Russia…

Putin turned out to be of a different color all together.

Koppel was unable to retain the basic attributes of a capable, experienced observer: see the whole Putin, and be skeptical of a person who answers all your questions with perfect appeal to the viewers

Koppel is a typical easily influenced, well educated, liberal American. We want to see the best in every person, independent of reality. Because liberal people are nice, friendly, peace- loving people they believe almost every one else is the same. It is a beautiful dream.

Ignoring reality is a dangerous trait in the actual world.

Palestinian Victimhood and reality

December 30th, 2011

Again and again Israelis and my friends complain how come no one listen to reason about the Israeli/Palestinian reality. After all, the Israelis are going beyond any nation in history to reduce the suffering of its enemies. Enemies that are dedicated to extinguishing Israel. For example: The civilian casualties in the internal Arab world conflicts were 3 to 1 civilians to military, that is three civilians killed for one military person. [Total 5 millions died]. The Israelis have an opposite ratio, ten military casualties to one civilian. That is, the Arabs have been murdering their own civilian brothers 30 times more than the casualties caused by Israeli defending themselves.

Reasons, facts, logic, make very little impact on our emotionally-driven life. We want quick solutions, peace immediately, and solve problems now. That is the American expectation. But that is a dream. The Muslim world is a slow motion world, they wait, and they remember history of a thousand years back as if it was yesterday. Not long ago a million Shia Muslims run in the streets in Iraq cutting themselves in the memory of one of their religious leaders of more than millennia ago.

 

As the Arab world is changing radically in front of our eyes we will see more negative impacts, on the typical Arab life and their relationship with Israel and the West.

Expect serious difficulties in the total region for a long time.

Matania

 

The Narrative of Perpetual Palestinian Victimhood - Shelby Steele
The Arab-Israeli conflict is really a war of the Arabs against the Jews. The Durban conferences, the request for UN recognition of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, and the general animus in the Middle East and elsewhere toward Israel and toward the Jews, what are they really about? Their real interest is to situate the Palestinian people within a narrative of victimization. Supporters of Israel are up against a poetic truth that no facts and no reason can ever penetrate. We keep hitting it with all the facts. We keep hitting it with obvious logic and reason - but it never has an impact.
Who would the Palestinians be if they were not victims? This narrative is the source of their power. It is the source of their funding. The idea among Palestinians that they are victims is the centerpiece of their very identity. It is not an idle thing. Our facts and our reason are not going to penetrate easily that definition.   The writer is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Hudson Institute New York)

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