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.
I have wrote a lot recently to my friends about the flotilla to Gaza incident, but this is so much better than my own, I would rather you read his ideas.
Those Troublesome Jews
Washington Post Op Ed
Friday, June 4, 2010
The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers.
But as Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets.
In World War II, with full international legality, the United States blockaded Germany and Japan. And during the October 1962 missile crisis, we blockaded ("quarantined") Cuba. Arms-bearing Russian ships headed to Cuba turned back because the Soviets knew that the U.S. Navy would either board them or sink them. Yet Israel is accused of international criminality for doing precisely what John Kennedy did: impose a naval blockade to prevent a hostile state from acquiring lethal weaponry.
Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.
Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.
Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?
But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense.
(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense -- fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.
Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don't have to fight them here.
But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies -- and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.
Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land -- evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack.
(2) Active defense: Israel then had to switch to active defense -- military action to disrupt, dismantle and defeat (to borrow President Obama's description of our campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda) the newly armed terrorist mini-states established in southern Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew.
The result? The Lebanon war of 2006 and Gaza operation of 2008-09. They were met with yet another avalanche of opprobrium and calumny by the same international community that had demanded the land-for-peace Israeli withdrawals in the first place. Worse, the U.N. Goldstone report, which essentially criminalized Israel's defensive operation in Gaza while whitewashing the casus belli -- the preceding and unprovoked Hamas rocket war -- effectively de-legitimized any active Israeli defense against its self-declared terror enemies.
(3) Passive defense: Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses -- a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.
But, if none of these is permissible, what's left?
Ah, but that's the point. It's the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who've had quite enough of the Jewish problem.
What's left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.
The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.
Some good people are concerned about the deprivation of necessities in Gaza. They care, but they were mislead. The following pictures from Gaza in Arabic newspaper show their full markets, filled of food, clothing, candies, goodies of all types, hardly a deprivation. Just look at their faces, smiling.
In addition, from the time of the Gaza miniwar a year and a half ego, Israel shipped about one million tons of supply into Gaza, almost a ton per each man. Woman, and child.
Not only that the amount of luxury restaurants and large swimming pools is growing all over Gaza. Of course there are some who are poor, as in every society, but it is as always, the rich take a large chunk of the wealth, the poor are shafted.
Note,this is a Palestinian newspaper. Not Israeli.
Please send around to people who believe the people in Gaza are suffering.
You may be interested I reading the communication with few American friends of mine on the possibility of a two states solution. From the reading you could see the personal bias of each one of us.
Friend XX. I want a two state solution!
Those of us who feel as I do regarding the Palestine issue listen closely to the "the other side" and finally must ask the question: "What else do you have to offer"? If not statehood, what other option do you propose? Opponents of statehood seem to prefer an eternal situation of flux, disarray and tension.
Mat and I differ on certain issues in this drama. However, regarding the economic viability of a Palestinian state, I do agree with him. I don't expect to see "Palestine" a thriving, dynamic economic power in the region. But I do believe that Israel will be far better served by an aspiring neighbor next door which is struggling to succeed, rather than living adjacent to a smoldering population which lives with no hope and can see only an eternally bleak future.
Let me be clear. Gaza is an imponderable. I do not speak of Gaza. However, the lands of the West Bank offer an opportunity to treat this (Palestinian) problem. And ... if those who feel otherwise would care to offer an alternate solution, I'd love to hear it. But, no other remedy is ever forthcoming. Ever. The silence would suggest that this present condition of tension, and negativity is preferred by the ruling (Israeli) establishment. If this is so, it is to be regretted.
As you know, I was on your side for a number of years. Let’s say I had an epiphany. I awoke one day and reached the conclusion that this partition will never take place. It might have happened in years past, but the positions are too hardened now. Abbas, if he is confronted with an independent entity, wouldn’t know what to do: No infrastructure, no economy, no idea how a country is run and probably burdened with endemic graft and corruption like most Middle East countries . The West Bank Palestinians will be comparable to the “illegals” in this country, doing manual tasks for the Israelis.
I think Obama is pushing this settlement; he wants to make history and “go where no one has gone before”.
Your remarks remind me that most do gooders (respectfully) work as if answers must exist. Scientist keep on keeping on. Religionist invent explanations and repeat them so often they become dogma. Perhaps we must (should) consider that it could be possible that there are not enough answers to match up to all of the problems. Then what? I wont go there.
By M. Ginosar:
Dear friends, a Palestinian state can not be viable. Period. You Dave glorify them as capable of so many things that a regular nation, in miniature, is capable of. I wish it was the case. Many want a solution to free the Jews from this responsibility of controlling them, but it is not so easy.
Almost every one in Israel, including me, wish they wake up and start their peaceful, demilitarize, nation and finally peace will be all around. Not in the foreseeable future.
Palestinians are hated, that is true, hated by ALL THE ARAB STATES AROUND THERE. They have betrayed their Kuwait hosts and cooperated with Sadam. They were murdered by the hundreds afterwards. They love Sadam when every other nation feared him. They kill one another at a drop of a hut, their majority voted no end for many years that the killing of Israeli civilians is desirable and should continue.
You want peaceful coexistence from these people?
Egypt is finishing the erection of a MASSIVE steel WALL to stop Palestinians penetration from Gaza. The Egyptians have been hating them from before the 47 war.
And most important, they do not have the economical base to create a nation. The area is dry hills. Very little water sources. They farm by primitive means unproductively. If you say so let them modernize and be like Singapore; they do not have the many attributes the people in Singapore have: the dedication, hard work, adherence to law and order that require in a modern country.
The main reason Arafat was against agreeing to a real state is because he knew that they can not collect the garbage and clean the streets and all the other mundane things requiring a country to function. Bribery is so deep you could not do a thing without "protection."
They're oriented around their families more than any thing else.
They never were a unit- a Palestinian. They came from all over the Middle East when the Jews came with money 150 years ago. They do not have a unifying entity of positive culture, the only thing uniting them is hatred to Israel.
These are but few of their troubles.
I wish your dream would be a reality, it would be so nice to every one.
To Dr. Ginosar,
It would help me to know how many Israelis agree with you. What is your political party, if any? Are you a native to the area or are you an immigrant that stayed? Where did you live before becoming an Israeli? And, to me, more importantly, how would you go about changing the culture you describe as that of the Palestinians? Is American wasting time, lives and treasure supporting a two state solution? Should we withdraw all together and let the local parties do as they will? What advise do you have for us?
By M. Ginosar.
Go to my Israeli blog to find more info about my views.
I will say that I have been on all side of many issues, left and Right since I analyze issues carefully and try to minimize my bias. This is my nature, to dig deep, and to look for facts not normally seen. This is also my professional training and practice for decades. I look for facts.
BTW, most Israelis feel/believe like me. I am there often and communicate regularly and read a lot from all sides in Israel.
Again, to the wisher of the two state solution:
My dear XX
I am with you, I also want the Palestinians to be free, in a happy state giving good life to its people. It is good for every one.
I simply doubt that it is possible in the near future- until they have changed their attitude toward Israel- until they accept the existence of Israel and stop their hatful education and terrorist attacks too. It will take over a generation.
I want it to succeed, most Israelis wish them success, but how can it be done under the real life situation I mentioned before?
To Matania and XX,
All of our serious goals for world peace and a good balanced world economy can only be worked on and advanced by people of vision and good will. We must recognize completely the agonizing truths about the people and the cultural depravities and behavioral obscenities on going everywhere and through out history. But it is that very history that must give us the hope and courage to continue the struggle. We are better today than yesterday. Slavery of any and all kinds is decreasing not increasing. Good is the goal of every faction. It is the definition of that good that has driven such horrible behavior as the Islamist radical jihadist. Their belief system is so warped as to include the murder of non-believers as their way to paradise.
As much as I hate to say it, the almost universal belief in physical and spiritual miracles among religionist of all stripes gives each a finger to point at the insufferable ignorance of the other’s belief systems. I suggest that they will all learn, perhaps through osmosis and the incredible computer generated communication learning curves, but they will learn and they will better themselves through that learning. Including me, I hope.
But learning has been our best ticket to progress, and now that ticket is stronger by huge galloping dimensions even in just the last decade. I am talking across the world sitting at this computer. As a personal tool for communication, that is not two decades old.
Let’s send tons of TV’s and computers to Palestine, such that every child has web access. What would it be like if every child in the Middle East had web access, 24/7? Even pornography would teach them more than they have ever been allowed to know about everything there is to know.
That is the magic paradigm shift toward peace. Not in my time, certainly, but hopefully on yours.
I beleiveit is important to read these views by the the prior mayor of New York, a life long supporter of Israel.
Jewish World Review April 13, 2010 / 29 Nissan 5770
A Dangerous Silence
By Ed Koch
I weep as I witness outrageous verbal attacks on Israel. What makes these verbal assaults and distortions all the more painful is that they are being orchestrated by President Obama.
For me, the situation today recalls what occurred when the Roman emperor Vespasian launched a military campaign against the Jewish nation and its ancient capital of Jerusalem. Ultimately, Masada, a rock plateau in the Judean desert became the last refuge of the Jewish people against the Roman onslaught. I have been to Jerusalem and Masada. From the top of Masada, you can still see the remains of the Roman fortifications and garrisons, and the stones and earth of the Roman siege ramp that was used to reach Masada. The Jews of Masada committed suicide rather than let themselves be taken captive by the Romans.
In Rome itself, I have seen the Arch of Titus with the sculpture showing enslaved Jews and the treasures of the Jewish Temple of Solomon with the Menorah, the symbol of the Jewish state, being carted away as booty during the sacking of Jerusalem.
Oh, you may say, that is a far fetched analogy. Please hear me out.
The most recent sacking of the old city of Jerusalem — its Jewish quarter — took place under the Jordanians in 1948 in the first war between the Jews and the Arabs, with at least five Muslim states — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq — seeking to destroy the Jewish state. At that time, Jordan conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank and expelled every Jew living in the Jewish quarter of the old city, destroying every building, including the synagogues in the old quarter and expelling from every part of Judea and Samaria every Jew living there so that for the first time in thousands of years, the old walled city of Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank were "Judenrein" — a term used by the Nazis to indicate the forced removal or murder of all Jews.
Jews had lived for centuries in Hebron, the city where Abraham, the first Jew, pitched his tent and where he now lies buried, it is believed, in a tomb with his wife, Sarah, as well as other ancient Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. I have visited that tomb and at the time asked an Israeli soldier guarding it — so that it was open to all pilgrims, Christians, Muslims and Jews — "where is the seventh step leading to the tomb of Abraham and Sarah," which was the furthest entry for Jews when the Muslims were the authority controlling the holy place? He replied, "When we retook and reunited the whole city of Jerusalem and conquered the West Bank in 1967, we removed the steps, so now everyone can enter," whereas when Muslims were in charge of the tomb, no Jew could enter it. And I did.
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I am not a religious person. I am comfortable in a synagogue, but generally attend only twice a year, on the high holidays. When I entered the tomb of Abraham and Sarah, as I recall, I felt connected with my past and the traditions of my people. One is a Jew first by birth and then by religion. Those who leave their religion, remain Jews forever by virtue of their birth. If they don't think so, let them ask their neighbors, who will remind them. I recall the words of the columnist Robert Novak, who was for most of his life hostile to the Jewish state of Israel in an interview with a reporter stating that while he had converted to Catholicism, he was still a cultural Jew. I remain with pride a Jew both by religion and culture.
My support for the Jewish state has been long and steadfast. Never have I thought that I would leave the U.S. to go and live in Israel. My loyalty and love is first to the U.S. which has given me, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, so much. But, I have also long been cognizant of the fact that every night when I went to sleep in peace and safety, there were Jewish communities around the world in danger. And there was one country, Israel, that would give them sanctuary and would send its soldiers to fight for them and deliver them from evil, as Israel did at Entebbe in 1976.
I weep today because my president, Barack Obama, in a few weeks has changed the relationship between the U.S. and Israel from that of closest of allies to one in which there is an absence of trust on both sides. The contrast between how the president and his administration deals with Israel and how it has decided to deal with the Karzai administration in Afghanistan is striking.
The Karzai administration, which operates a corrupt and opium-producing state, refuses to change its corrupt ways — the president's own brother is believed by many to run the drug traffic taking place in Afghanistan — and shows the utmost contempt for the U.S. is being hailed by the Obama administration as an ally and publicly treated with dignity. Karzai recently even threatened to join the Taliban if we don't stop making demands on him. Nevertheless, Karzai is receiving a gracious thank-you letter from President Obama. The New York Times of April 10th reported, "…that Mr. Obama had sent Mr. Karzai a thank-you note expressing gratitude to the Afghan leader for dinner in Kabul. 'It was a respectful letter,' General Jones said."
On the other hand, our closest ally — the one with the special relationship with the U.S., has been demeaned and slandered, held responsible by the administration for our problems in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The plan I suspect is to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish state and its leaders that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israel's needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch.
I believe President Obama's policy is to create a whole new relationship with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq as a counter to Iran — The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Muslim world which we are now prepared to see in possession of a nuclear weapon. If throwing Israel under the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.
I am shocked by the lack of outrage on the part of Israel's most ardent supporters. The members of AIPAC, the chief pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington, gave Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a standing ovation after she had carried out the instructions of President Obama and, in a 43-minute telephone call, angrily hectored Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Members of Congress in both the House and Senate have made pitifully weak statements against Obama's mistreatment of Israel, if they made any at all. The Democratic members, in particular, are weak. They are simply afraid to criticize President Obama.
What bothers me most of all is the shameful silence and lack of action by community leaders — Jew and Christian. Where are they? If this were a civil rights matter, the Jews would be in the mall in Washington protesting with and on behalf of our fellow American citizens. I asked one prominent Jewish leader why no one is preparing a march on Washington similar to the one in 1963 at which I was present and Martin Luther King's memorable speech was given? His reply was "Fifty people might come." Remember the 1930s? Few stood up. They were silent. Remember the most insightful statement of one of our greatest teachers, Rabbi Hillel: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"
We have indeed stood up for everyone else. When will we stand up for our brothers and sisters living in the Jewish state of Israel?
If Obama is seeking to build a siege ramp around Israel, the Jews of modern Israel will not commit suicide. They are willing to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians, but they will not allow themselves to be bullied into following self-destructive policies.
To those who call me an alarmist, I reply that I'll be happy to apologize if I am proven wrong. But those who stand silently by and watch the Obama administration abandon Israel, to whom will they apologize?
In 2007 the British MI5 records revealed that the much respected, beloved even, past mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kolak spied for the British against the Lechi and Irgun undergrounds and caused damaged to both. He died in 2007 at age 95.
An Israeli friend, somewhat younger than me and a supported of the Hagana asked me about that period. My quick answer may be of interest to you too.
You wish to know if the Hagana was alone, and Lechi and Irgun did not exist, could the struggle and outcome of Israel independence be the same. No one can go back and try it, but here is my assessment:
We needed each of these three groups. Each contributed an important element to the fight for freedom. Obviously the Hagana transformed to be the Israeli Army. The Irgun and Lechi join the Hagana a short time later. I was at the Lechi ceremony, at Shech Munis, operating the public address system I installed, just behind the leaders of our Merkaz.
The main problem with the initial Hagana, and the Jewish leadership in general-especially Dr. Weitzman -later the first president of Israel- was too much trust in England. They were with all due respect, stupid- asking your enemy to remove his powerful control of you.
They waited too long, much too long until they joined the fight. May be if we fought the British together earlier we would have been able to save more Jews from Europe? Again and again the Jewish leadership, from my own direct memory and experience, called for prayers or a day of sorrow when the British imposed a negative rule on us., such as the devastating White Paper- restriction immigration to 100,000 total over 5 years and let the Arabs decide what they wish after that.
I followed, by Lechi order, several "hafganot" (public marches) that of course did not bother the British. I learned a lot about mass behavior. Useless, the British were amused by them.
What the Lechi initiated, and later the Irgun followed, and finally the Palmach and Hagana too, was to show the British that we mean business and we are willing to die one after another to have independence and get them out. And many of my friends were killed then.
I remember well the inner agitation within the Palmach and Hagana to follow our lead. Initially there were years of hatred against us, leading to spying on us and the Irgun and arrests by the British of ours and Irgun members, the murder of our leader Yair-Stern. He was discovered by the Hagana and given to the British. After we suffered a lot we warned the Hagana that any further help to the British we will retaliate, the Hagana left us alone and concentrated on fighting the Irgun.
Eventually after years of agony there was a critical period when the three organizations fought the British together, divided the British military targets and blew aircrafts, bridges, trains etc. It was so powerful, the British were upset both in Israel and England.
The British retaliated and arrested most of the Yesuv leadership, by the thousands. Ben Gurion escape to France in time, but the Hagana stopped attacking the British. The Jewish leadership capitulated. Lechi and Irgun continued.
Eventually the frustrating of the British public about their military inability to stop the revolt of this little nothing country was daily in the British newspapers. The Labor government came to power promising accommodation with the Jews and instead increased its atrocities and attacks in a savage way. Bevin, the foreign minister was especially brutal and heartless and we responded. The British public wanted out. They believed the Arabs will finish us and they could wash their hands,...after all they did for the Jews, look how we response without any respect.
I have a documentary of 18 episodes (video 3/4 hr each) called The Pillar of Fire, showing actual discussion by Arab, British and Israeli leaders of that time. Fascinating. I have seen it several times, and several items studied in great details. So, in addition to my own experience, my family experience, my brother was a early leader of Lechi and arrested and sent to Kenya, his wife in prison in Israel, my father and especially mother, helped too. My family apartment was a center and the Israeli government put a plate on our apartment building giving it an historical designation as a center of Lechi.
As a summary, we each contributed a lot to the total effort to get the British out and be a free country. Every group did its part with dedication and a lot of sacrifice. Some of the actions by each of these three dedicated groups were mistaken and might have had some negative impact on the struggle, but as a whole we all did our part. I can list a lot of negative, major negative things that Ben Gurion did against us, against the best interest of Israel in his narrow mindedness, but as a whole he was a very important leader and instrumental in the liberation and direction of the young country.
Just one negative example of Ben Gurion. Before the 1967 war, General Rabin could not decide if to wait for actual attack by Nasser or have a preemptive attack. He met Ben Gurion, his past mentor, in Sde Boker, his retirement kibbutz. Ben Gurion attacked him verbally severely and told him that if Rabin ordered a preemptive attack Israel will lose and the Jewish state will disappear, AND THAT WOULD BE ALL THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY OF RABIN.
After that Rabin disappeared from public view, some say he had an emotional breakdown, some believe he went to a long sleep by injection after they call the chief medical officer to his home. You can read it is Six Days of War book that came 15 years ago, and in other places too. As we know, without Israel preemptive strike our loses would have been much more serious and grave. We can not repeated history under different scenarios to test it.
It would be fascinating if we could.