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.

*******

Obama and Israel

July 24th, 2009

All my life I have dreamed of peace and harmony with the Palestinians and Arabs, for the benefit of both people. I also have been a democrat all my adult life. I believe we should help the underprivileged in our country and the world. I have dedicated many years to world peace and I believe that a more cooperative and peaceful world are critically important, but I am not an idealist. Idealists, by definition, are not realistic. They often believe so much in the optimum that they neglect essential realities and the lessons in front of them. I have been especially concerned for a long time about president Obama plans for Israel, and unfortunately my concerns seem to be founded.

There is considerable arrogance in an administration, or any person, who comes to a top position and considers every prior leader incapable and/or mistaken. I know how to solve the problem, the previous presidents were either too friendly to Israel or were incapable of seeing the facts.

Louis Hale, the American foreign-policy thinker from the 1950, explained that if you were clinging to a flawed image of the world, no amount of dexterous policy execution could save you from disaster. [The age of Unthinkable]. That is the reason why one US administration after another, for sixty years, has tried to promote peace in the Middle East and failed. Actually the US often tried to impose peace on Israel as if Israel is the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflicts. Since Israel is somewhat under the thumb of the US, it can dictate to the Israeli government whatever it wants, when Congress is not objecting. [That is why AIPAC’s education of Congress is so critical]

Here is the basic scenario: Israel is a country governed by a central government elected by its people, the ONLY democracy in the region. The Israeli government have the ability to force its laws (generally, but not on the Israeli Arab population). So when the US dictates demands to the Israeli government, the Israeli population has to abide by it.
Often, to encourage peace between two nations you influence both leaderships by the carrot and stick technique to find some compromise. Some times it works if you have real carrots and sticks, and the partners ARE WILLING.
But in the Arab-Israeli situation the US can put pressure only on Israel. The Palestinians do what they want, they are not governed by a central government. The Palestinians are loose arrangements of local tribes, powerful families, and endless numbers of small self-governed groups.

Since one US administration after another can not control the Arab streets and people, the only option the US really see is to pressure the Israelis. There is no central control by Fatah and when there is any control it is oriented to the destruction of Israel. All the media in the Palestinian areas is influenced by the desire to eradicate Israel. The education system is geared to the destruction of Israel in particular and Jews and the US in general. So, now, the new, inexperienced Obama administration comes with a new idea, we will show the Arab world we are their friends by pressuring Israel further then before.

Will this lead to any improvement in the prospect for a peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians? Why should it? They will demand more concessions and more billions of dollars. The carrot work for them very well. The Palestinians receives the highest per person monetary support in the world, by a great measure more than people with so much larger needs, but are not oriented to kill us.
Why is the US is the main financial supporter of the Palestinians? Ponder that sometime.

There is no clear benefit to the younger Palestinian generation, over 60% of the population, to seek peace. For 60 years they were raised on Western subsidies, and on a deep hatred towards the Jews and Israel. Killing Israelis is the core honor among many Palestinians. Any one with initiative, desire for a better life, left a long time ago. The majority that remain do not want peace, but eradicating Israel. Listen to their own media, not to the idealist Western media who sanitizes all information that disturbs the Western mind. The ruthless murders of Palestinians by Palestinians are frequent examples. I showed a documentary of Palestinian hatred in their own media to a friend of mine, an idealist Jew, and he was so angry at me for exposing him to the facts on the Arab streets. The reality disturbed his idealism.

So, once again, the US puts pressure on Israel so that the Palestinians will change their attitude and agree to live-and-let-live coexistence with Israel. A nice dream, but devoid of reality. As long as we assume that the Palestinians think and feel the way we feel, we are destined to fail. The Israeli political left has nearly disappeared in the last five years. Most Israelis finally learned that they have no one to talk with. It was a hard lesson. The Obama administration is still clueless and will experiment at the price of Israel.

That is not the way the Arab mind works for centuries. Each Arab country is for its self; the Palestinian cause is not their central concern. Most Arab governments and their citizens despise the Palestinians. No Arab country allowed Palestinians to be normal citizens. Each state, each tribal unit, each family is for itself. Honor is preferred to life.

When the Western world accepts these realities in the Arab world, we may be able to encourage changes in attitudes, and education, as a basis for all future peaceful coexistence.

What is needed is slow process of change in the Palestinian mind, but if it possible in the repressive Arab Middle East, it will take decades. Some security improvements, however, were developed by Israel’s drive to create a local Palestinian police force. That is a beginning that allowed Israel to reduce its forces in the West Bank, and help the Palestinians to govern themselves.
This change and further, more encompassing ones, could not be forced by famous, high titled outsiders, in a media atmosphere, bringing in one political envoy after another. It has to be done quietly, by dedicated, non-famous experts who work continuously and closely with the limited number of moderates Palestinians to encourage the right internal changes in that undemocratic society.

Matania
7/09
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Entertaining video about modern Judaism

May 3rd, 2009

You may want to watch this well done entertainng video about the Jewish "Tribe" today.
Matania

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWbyZapkWRo

Beautiful 3D short movie of Jerusalem

April 23rd, 2009

Enjoy!
A lovely short movie in 3 D of Jerusalem. Add to it some good Israeli or Jewish music from your computer CD player.
Please open full screen (on bottom right) and let it go on to different scenes.

Matania

http://www.israguide.com/panoramic.asp

Why I do not write

March 13th, 2009

A number of friends asked me why I have not written for awhile. Certainly the Israeli situation has been as complex and uncertain as before and there is a lot to comment about. However, for the last five years I have devoted more and more of my time to an issue that as environmental scientist I could not ignore – Global Warming. That takes now first priority for me.

It is not a new subject for me. Many years ago I talked about GW as I gave lectures across California on alternative energies development under my direction. I was the Manager of the pioneering Wind Energy program of the California Energy Commission and Manager of the Solar Energy Office for the State of California. At that time, like most environmental scientists, I viewed GW as a futuristic event that we would not have to face for a century or longer. I was wrong as most scientists were at the time. It was so much easier to reject the potential severity of GW than face the reality that humanity is on a collision course with nature. I sent my first email on GW to my friends on 7/8/2001. Early public warnings were made then, but our tragic 9/11 captured our full attention from that time on and sadly we forgot for several years the time-criticality of GW.

I could not forget GW as I was immersed in the Israeli struggle. However, for the last five years scientific evidence of the immediacy and increasing severity of GW has accumulated at such an increasing rate that scientists, including myself, can not ignore it. Much of the public is now aware of GW and some are taking a few steps to reduce their own negative footprint on our world. Too many still try to close their eyes. But the impacts of GW are progressing.

The scientific evidence from detailed studies across the globe is now clear that our burning of vast amount of fossil fuels (that started over two hundred years ago) is increasing global temperatures at an accelerated rate. This temperature increase has already caused serious damage across the globe. And that damage will be more severe if we continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas at the rates we have been doing for the last few decades. We must reduce our use of these fuels across the globe as rapidly as humanity is able.
Some wonder how is it possible that people can impact our vast world so significantly. However, the reality is that six and a half billion people spew some thirty billions tons of warming gases into our sky every year. An astronomical amount most of us can’t fathom.

The issue of GW is one of the most critical one facing humanity. The US and Israel are not immune to its pending devastating impacts. Israel supply’s of fresh water, as an example, is at dangerously low levels due to GW. In the US our water sources are diminishing and more erratic, and forest fires more intense.

May I suggest that you start studying GW so you can learn what you can do to minimize its impact. Just read your newspapers, magazines and search the web.
We can individually do our part to reduce GW. And I am not talking about the obvious things we can do such as driving less or turning lights off, all which are desirable actions, but insufficient to make a dent. As a minimum, I suggest that you write MONTHLY brief notes of your concerns to your three Congresspersons. They are the ones who will determine US actions to curtail our overdependence on fossil fuels, the main cause of GW. In order to move Congresspersons they need to sense that people do care deeply about GW. Our Congresspersons are not leaders, they are follower. BE A LEADER!

I will be putting some of my GW material on my blog below, especially if it is a long analysis: I hope you will look into it: (If you forget just Google my full name.)
http://www.zionismontheweb.org/blogs/index.php/Ginosar/

Matania

Moral Clarity in Gaza, by Krauthammer

January 2nd, 2009

This article represents well the situation in Israel just now that I could not have said it better, so read these facts. As sad as it is, and I wish there were not any civilians casualties on both sides, we must realize that some people are unable and unwilling to live in peace. It is against their very core of beliefs. Hamas would not stop its attacks on Israel as long as it retains even minimal power.
Matania

Moral Clarity in Gaza
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 2, 2009; A15
Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.
-- Associated Press, Dec. 27
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.
This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.
For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).
At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.
That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza -- peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.
What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base -- importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.
The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There's only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel's very existence.
Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian casualties. Bring down the world's opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire -- exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d'etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.
Israel's only response is to try to do what it failed to do after the Gaza withdrawal. The unpardonable strategic error of its architect, Ariel Sharon, was not the withdrawal itself but the failure to immediately establish a deterrence regime under which no violence would be tolerated after the removal of any and all Israeli presence -- the ostensible justification for previous Palestinian attacks. Instead, Israel allowed unceasing rocket fire, implicitly acquiescing to a state of active war and indiscriminate terror.
Hamas's rejection of an extension of its often-violated six-month cease-fire (during which the rockets never stopped, just were less frequent) gave Israel a rare opportunity to establish the norm it should have insisted upon three years ago: no rockets, no mortar fire, no kidnapping, no acts of war. As the U.S. government has officially stated: a sustainable and enduring cease-fire. If this fighting ends with anything less than that, Israel will have lost yet another war. The question is whether Israel still retains the nerve -- and the moral self-assurance -- to win.
letters@charleskrauthammer.com