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 Iranian situation

December 16th, 2011

Some friends urged me to comment about the Iranian situation, here is a summary:


Six years ago I wrote my first assessment of the Iran nuclear danger. I pointed out then that the Iranians would not back up; they are determined to get the nuclear bomb, AND USE IT AGAINST ISRAEL- FIRST. Iran wants to control the total Middle East and influence beyond it.

I also mentioned that the only non-military way to stop them is a united and concentrated international economic pressure and that is unlikely to happen. Russia and China have been against sanctioning Iran since they want the commercial benefits from Iran and are eager to cause trouble to the West, especially the US.

The long, imbecilic attempts by the US especially and other nations to talk first gave Iran the time to achieve their goal: They now have enough material to make several nuclear weapons, and have almost completed the long-range missile to use it. The interesting sabotage of Iran’s nuclear facilities and the explosion of their missile site just slowed them by a few months.

I have written again over the years that the danger is increasing since the religious fanaticism of the Iranian leadership is deep, dangerous, and beyond our grasp. The Iranian leadership are fanatic Shia, while the majority of the Muslim world (85%) is Sunni, and not so fanatic. The Sunnis are afraid of the Iranian drive to nuclear domination. To grasp Iran nuclear drive read in depth about the Twelve Imam that is supposed to return to earth to reestablish the Muslim Caliphate all over the world, and for him to return we must have global destruction. That is the core belief of most of the Iranian leadership.

Now I believe that the only way to stop them is a concentrated US military air attack on Iran’s military installations, not civilian centers. Only the US has the capability to inflict a serious damage that would curtail Iran military rebuilding in a short time. No occupation, no ground troops.

The retaliation by Iran would be directed mostly towards Israel, from Hezbollah and Hamas unstoppable rockets. The excellent Israeli unti- rocket system, Iron Dome, could handle a limited number of rockets, not a full scale war. Also the US fleet near Iran would be attacked. As we leave Iraq the danger to our troops there is minimal. However Iran will try to incite intensive sectarian massacres in Iraq, as before. But beside that the Iranians are weaker than we think.

Israel would suffer intensely, either from Iran nuclear attacks, and that could finish Israel as we know it, or from the Hamas/Hizbullah rockets mentioned above.

Between these two bad options I would rather take the risk of military destruction of Iran. Leaving Iran with the ability to use nuclear weapons is intolerable according to all experts. The US must destroy all possible military targets in Iran first. Israel should concentrate on massive attack on Hamas- Gaza and Lebanon- Hezbollah. Civilian casualties would be large on all sides, but not so much inside Iran.

The best option would be coordinated attacks by both US and Israel.

Note that we do not know at all what the US and Israel are actually planning. Note also that even if President Obama may criticize Israel verbally, it may be a cover for a more intense cooperation between the two military forces. I read that while President Obama publically denied the Israelis the previously promised massive, ground penetrating bombs, the US actually delivered them quietly.

There is no other way that I can see to stop Iran’s nuclear buildup but mass attacks while we still can. I wish we would not have to go in this military direction and Iran would collapse otherwise, but it is not likely. We can not take a chance of being wrong here.

Remember, it is not what your enemy says/think that matters, but what it is ABLE TO DO.

The Iranian leadership would rather die first than give up their desire for absolute power. It preoccupies all their existence – it is a deep religious obsession.


Matania




ISRAEL - FACTS ON THE GROUND

November 21st, 2011

To understand the Israelis you must attempt to grasp their unique experiences. No other nation has been treated so shabbily by the global community as Israel. Every promise, almost every attempt for peace the Israelis have made in their century on the land, was rejected by Arab terrorism. Numerous invasions by Arab states have killed twenty three thousands Israelis to date, rockets from Gaza are frequent, and the burden of huge military budgets on their shoulders. Plus Iran’s nuclear weapons are almost here.

Therefore, the Israelis believe that the most important action is to establish are FACTS-ON-THE-GROUND. This means strong military capabilities, unique security services, and Jewish communities wherever possible, in the West Bank, Hebron, and any disputed territory. After all most of the Jewish homeland was taken away. First by the British occupiers who took away most of the land their Balfour Declaration promised in 1917, and giving it to Jordan. In 1947 the UN took away much of the rest that was promised to Israel by the League of Nation in 1922. The League dedicated all the land west of the Jordan to a Jewish State.

Here is an example of facts-on-the-ground that happened in my own family:

“We were so alone, surrounded by Arabs fighters for months, and all of us sick,” Rafi told me, my relative from of kibbutz Yehiam in the Galil when we visited him this summer. He told us of the struggle to hold the land of the Galil during the 1948 War of Liberation. “We were weak and thin without sufficient food, but lucky sometimes to get fresh food from a local Arab. He knew how to pass through the Arab troops surrounding us, and we gave him a pistol to protect himself; we needed his food so badly. The skeleton of the Crusaders Fortress protected us from mortars, but still we lost a lot of our members from sickness and bullets.”
“We had to stay there. The National Fund had bought this the land, but without our own presence there the region would have fallen to the Arabs. So, when they asked for volunteers from my kibbutz in Southern Israel we came to hold the land. We helped the Galil to be part of the new Israeli State, at the cost of many of my friends.”
Rafi, who still works in the kibbutz despite his advanced age, was very proud of the sacrifices he and his friends made to add the beautiful Galil to Israel. All told, Israel lost a hundred people to hold this little spot. (A total of one percent of Israel’s population killed in the 1948 war). But, he reminded me: Yehiam is still not secured; a number of attacks came from Lebanon and Hizbullah which are just 5 miles north of them.

Rafi’s bravery and that of others gave Israel more land than the Arab’s wanted. It is one of the reasons why Israelis believe in FACTS ON THE GROUND rather then promises and paper agreements. Even the critical peace with Egypt is now in question. Before Independence the Hagana Defense Force was very wise to build kibbutzim throughout the land to establish facts on the ground. They knew that treaties and promises mean little in real life in the Middle East.

Facts on the ground led all Israeli governments, irrespective of ideology, to establish more and more “settlements” around Jerusalem to secure the area for future generations. Now there are one and a half million Arab-Israelis living with equal rights all over Israel. The Jewish population in the “Territories” is now 330,000 but it is on less than 2% of the total West Bank region. No Arab land was taken. And building of more apartments was never in contention with the Palestinians before. Only after the current US Administration jumped on Israel for adding apartments in ALREADY ESTABLISHED Jewish communities, did the Palestinians joined the attack. The Palestinians have stated that they would not allow any Jews to live in their future state.

I just saw Israel defense minister Ehud Barak on US TV emphasizing that when he was prime minister, (and leader of the Left Labor party), negotiating for peace with Arafat and president Clinton in 2000, no one questioned Israel’s right to establish robust communities in the “territories,” knowing full well that the region would be part of Israel in the final agreement.

The hindrance to peace is not “building in the settlements” but the commitment of all Palestinian leadership to the destruction of Israel.

Matania

American youth ignorance about the Middle East

November 4th, 2011

I just watched the following short video showing students at UCLA, one of our top 25 universities, answering a few basic questions about the Middle East. They are so ignorant, it is beyond imagination.
And these ignorant young people want to lead the US in the future?

Matania

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=w-dyMsXNHx4

China immense impact on the global community

October 24th, 2011

Introduction:
China is becoming the most powerful player in global events. Its economy is projected to overtake the US in less than a decade!
The US and China are the key players in a tightly woven global community and must cooperate and find common paths to help ourselves and the global community.
China is also the largest generator of greenhouse gases and also suffers considerably from global warming. Reducing GW and increasing economic growth are interwoven elements.

This is just a brief exposure of some key differences between the US and China.

China with its rapidly growing GDP of $6 Trillion is often more influential internationally than the US with its 15 Trillion GDP, a quarter of global GDP. We have by far the strongest military power in the world, but economic power is as important, or often more important, than military power. Exerting military power is not a good option in most cases.

The key reasons that China is so powerful are that it has:
1. A strong central authoritarian government that can make decisions relatively quickly
2. A government which actually care to improve the lot of its population,
3. The ability for planning and executing long term national goals
4. Immense foreign exchange reserves of over $3 Trillion; all of which allow China to achieve its goals rapidly.

The Chinese government and their private economic enterprises operate with less moral and ethical constraints than any other influential nation. This allows China to acquire vast long-term- international energy and mineral resources and exerts its economic influence with little regard to its impact on the local population or international concerns think Iran and Sudan. China’s economic power is growing rapidly at over 10% per year with less moral concerns or self imposed or external limits. China GDP was one trillion dollar in 2000; it is now 6 times larger! These numbers do not show the total story, since its labor costs are so much lower, China can build twice as much infrastructure and housing per dollar as the US.

Although some assessments predict that China’s GDP will surpass the US in just five years, it does not seem realistic- there are always unforeseen difficulties. Serious bumps are around the corner, such as a potential housing bubble, (25 million, often expensive, housing units are unoccupied now). Also there are increasing wage demands, and their artificially low currency exchange rate which would not be tolerated for long. China is already planning to change the rate slowly.

There are a lot of negative elements in China: lack of individual freedom, severe corruption, weak rule of law, building empty cities to sustain employment, lack of environmental control, expanding arid areas due to global warming, diminishing water supplies to vast population centers, no social safety net, suppression of native minorities and more. This is all part of the picture of this vast land. However, it is important to note that most Chinese are happy to have these vast economic opportunities, fast rise in their standard of living at the cost of their political freedom.

The US has serious economic problems most of them politically generated:

1. Representative government, in which local interest prevails over national needs.
2. We have huge and growing national and private debts, totaling $50 trillion, 3 and a half times GDP.
3. We do not have a national vision nor national long term or even short term plan.
4. We let short term self-serving financial forces dictate our direction.
5. Both Democratic and Republican administrations and Congress concentrate on benefiting the financial elite, the wealthy upper few percent of the population to the detriment of the lower income half of the population.

The US richest 10 percent control some 2/3 (73%) of our net worth. The lower 90% has only 27%; this is a ratio of 24 to one on a per capita basis. Think about it, for every thousand dollar a person in the lower 90% can spend monthly, a person in the upper 10% can spend twenty four thousand dollars!

Our US government is divisive, polarized, non transparent, and unable to work for the benefit of the country. And because we generally believe that every one should be free to pursue his/her goals, essentially free from central supervision, our widely spread greed burdens the nation by economic collapse, huge national debt ($14 billions, almost equal to GDP) and immense private debts, some $35 trillions. Recently some 20% of our GDP has been generated by the non-productive financial sector, which mostly shuffled immense amount of fabricated capital from hand to hand with no productive benefit for the country but their own short-term financial wealth.

In summary, China concentrates on achieving its long term rapid national growth at the cost of individual freedom and lack of the rule of law. We concentrate on protecting the wealthy, retaining individual freedom, sustaining the rule of law at a sacrifice of our other important national needs.

The impact on morality of overpopulation:

Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.
Isaac Asimov

China is not constrained, nor guided by morality or ethics due largely to its vast population. The more people we have, the less we value each individual. And this is evident especially in China and India. Their population is about 1350 and 1210 millions, respectively; together over a third of the global population.
It is not surprising, therefore, that most Chinese focus on their own economic progress and ignores the suffering of others. It has been so for a long time. The current news from China is that 18 people saw and ignored the suffering of a 2 years old, severely injured girl in a car incident. They looked, did not lift a finger to help, and if you heard the driver explanation why he did not stop you would be revolted of his inhuman attitude. I am glad that a considerable debate started in China about this sad experience.

I am bringing the MORALITY ISSUE up to illustrate the great significance of China to the struggle to reduce economic suffering and global Warming. China is the key to cutting global Greenhouse gases. No effort by any other country, or a combination of countries, will make much impact compare to the impact that China has now and will increasingly have (plus the negative impacts expected from India economic and population growth.)
China is driven; it can not stand still economically. To retain political stability the central and regional governments must supply jobs and housing to the current 600 million urban population and the 200 million more poor rural people that will be moving to urban areas over the next decade.
China is obviously focusing on its own survival and growth and naturally ignores the needs of other nations. China “conforms” to Western moral standards only when it suits it or required to propagate China’s own aims. China is especially reluctant to support UN effort that reduce the ability of dictatorial powers such as Syria and Iran to subdue their population by force since they have been doing it in some cases and will do it again. They are extremely concerned about the desire of some of their minorities for self determination.

China’s Communist leadership is working hard to improve the lives of its population, concentrating on its Han majority of 91.5%. It controls the major banks and holds the majority of foreign capital and gives just a minimal political freedom to prevent upsetting the apple cart. I admire what China leadership did after the death of Mao and his immediate successors. It understood realistically the needs of the country; the first one was reducing its rapid population growth. Under Mao China’s population grew from 530 millions in 1948 to 800 millions in 1970 at a rate of 2.2%.
China long term goal has been to first achieve a zero population growth and eventually to reduce their population over the next century to some 750 millions. Wise and courageous aims. The one child policy came from that and succeeded very well to limit the growth rate to just 0.5% and cut the expected population by some 400 millions people. But despite this marvelous effort it could not cut the actual population growth - the current population is nearly three times the population of 1948!

In addition, the ability of the central government to influence local affairs, which is the key to actual developments and the rule of some level of law, is limited. Regional leaders are very powerful and influence local development by often making their own rules and even breaking national guidelines.

China not only has cheap labor in combination with low cost capital, it also does not insist on profit. Full employment is the key goal. Therefore, their competitive position borders on illegal product dumping.
In contrast, we must follow long established safety laws, environmental protection laws, pay social security taxes, income tax, sales tax, and many other requirements (which I agree with) undercutting most western industries ability to compete with an industry that ignores almost anything but current minimal salaries to vast labor pool. Most of their product undercut substantially similar US products.

But much of China low cost products also come with big negatives: internally high pollution, and low quality and even dangerous products. It is not only that the color of a toy will fade faster but that dangerous lead paint will be used in children toys. Or dangerous chemicals will be used to modify milk products killing hundreds. Or the death of hundreds (thousands?) of children when their schools buildings collapsed on them in an earthquake because the concrete was well below specified strength- to increase builder’s profits.

I will discuss this important aspect of Chinese products at another time.

DO NOT EXPECT CHINA TO BEHAVE ACCORDING TO OUR WESTERN MORALITY AND OUR THEORETICAL LEVEL OF INTEGRITY. We do not do that fully ourselves.

Matania
10/2011

Israeli massive blunder

October 18th, 2011

A few months ago my family and I rented an apartment in Jerusalem close to the Prime Minister residence. And every day we passed near it we saw the tent that the family of the captured Israeli soldier Shalit erected near the PM’s residence to push for Shalit’s release. Hamas terrorists held him for five long years. I felt sad for the family but I also hoped the Israeli government would not deal with Hamas and release massive amounts of Palestinian terrorists to gain his release. Israel did it before and lost many innocent lives. But this week the Israelis did it again, dealt with the devils, read below.
The willingness to release a thousand Palestinian prisoners, hundreds of them convicted of murder, for one Israeli soldier, is a serious Israeli blunder. Yes, the majority of Israelis approved this illogical swap, but that just shows one of the reasons Israelis are not able to protect themselves and defeat Arab terrorism.
Several Arab leaders have said: We will defeat you because you care very much about every human life, and we will die willingly for our cause. This reality does not yet sink into the Israeli consciousness.

Leaders of substance make though decisions, also unpopular decisions. Think about FDR and Churchill. That is leadership. They do not work for national survival base on emotions. A leader must be logical, look at long term implications and make tough decisions to save more lives in the future. Too many Israeli leaders are unable to do that, and the terrorists take advantage of that and murder and kidnap more Israelis. And worse than that, the Arab eagerness and determination to defeat Israel is strengthen by actions like this.
It is sad for me to report this story from Israel.

Matania

Israel's Deals with the Devils - Robert H. Mnookin

In 2004, Israel exchanged several hundred Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli held captive by Hizbullah (and the remains of three soldiers). Drawing on government figures, Nadav Shragai noted in a report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that "those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis" by 2007.
What explains Israel's decision to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single Israeli corporal kidnapped by Hamas in a cross-border raid in 2006 and held hostage in Gaza? There is a long line of psychological research showing that, in making decisions, human beings will incur far greater costs to save one identifiable being from immediate peril than to enact safety measures that might save many more statistical lives. While no expense will be spared to save an identifiable miner trapped in a coal mine, there is often great political reluctance to spend an equal amount on mine safety. Such a response is entirely human, but it is not rational.

The writer is chair of Harvard University's Program on Negotiation. His most recent book is Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight (2010). (Wall Street Journal Europe)