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.
The US has been the “world’s policeman” from W.I.I. on. It profits our economy immensely since we have been the biggest international trader for a century. Our costly navy controls the seas to provide safe commerce for us first and foremost. The rest of the world benefits from a stable worldwide commence. We always think about our own needs first!
But something strange is going on, we are leaving the Arab Middle East that was so crucial for us for so long. Why is this Obama/Kerry fixation on an Israeli/Palestinian peace just now while ignoring the exploding Arab world? Some believe we can ignore the Arab Middle East since with fracking (new type of oil/gas extraction) we now have all the oil and natural gas we need in the US. Nonsense: First, our global commercial partners depend on Middle East oil and if they do not get it, we all suffer economically. Second, the majority of oil reserves are still in the region of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.
Look at few of the severe instability the US is ignoring:
Syria lost 130,000 people in its gruesome civil war, while 4 millions refugees are suffering and creating serious difficulties to nearby host countries. Lebanon is more unstable now.
Egypt internal war with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Hamas (offshoot of the MB) in Gaza. (Why are we supporting the Islamists Muslim Brotherhood?)
Turkey is moving steadily toward Islamism and away from democracy with some instability now.
Jordan is suffering from too many Syrian refugees and pressure to unseat the moderate King.
Yet, the Obama/Kerry team is ignoring these and focusing on “peace” that is considerably less urgent and not likely to succeed now under the best circumstances:
Israel would not accept the mass return of Palestinian refugees or the division of Jerusalem. The PLO will not accept limiting its boundaries or accept Israel as a Jewish state. Its aim is all Israel. Also, there are two Palestinian groups but only one is part of the negotiation: The PLO in the West Bank. Hamas-in Gaza is openly for Israel destruction and against any negotiations. The PLO is also for the destruction of Israel. Their leaders declared on TV that they will make only temporary “peace” to gain more power to eliminate Israel over time.
Why this fixation on Israeli /Palestinians “peace” now?
Because the only place the US has influence is on Israel. And Israel is now very vulnerable. That is the key.
The US is unable to influence any Arab country.
Consider the possibility of this US game:
First, take into account that the US is the Arabs/Iran “Great Satan.” The US is frightened from Islamist terrorism, which would not hesitate to explode a nuclear bomb in any US city. We are spending a trillion dollar a year for internal security. This US Administration think that by forcing Israel to an extremely painful and dangerous peace the US could gain the respect and support of the Arab people and thus reduce the threat to the US from Islamist terrorism.
Why do Kerry and Obama are so relentless on this peace initiative just now? Because they believe that unlike any one else before, they have a powerful leverage on Israel now- Iran’s nukes. In all likelihood, the US threatened Netanyahu that unless he makes extreme concessions the US will interfere militarily in any Israeli self-defense attack on Iran. Possibly, even endangering Israel long-term survival. They don’t have to say it openly; just drop innuendoes at the right moments in the discussions.
If you think it is dirty US “realpolitics”, remember what Kissinger did before the 1973 war. He threatened Israel (Golda) not to make a preemptive attack that could have given Israel a very strong position and saved many lives. He wanted to make this war so painful to Israel that it will be willing to sign peace agreements with the Arabs. He purposely brought Israel to its knees by refusing early critical supply of ammunition. Only President Nixon, against Kissinger wishes, saved the day after Israel defeated Egypt and Syria. But Kissinger achieved his goal.
There is no reason to believe that the US would not pull this kind of trick on Israel again irrespective of the cost to Israel. Neither Obama nor Kerry is a lover of Israel and their belief in their reasons and superior solution drives them. They believe that this is the right path that will reduce the Islamists desire to hurt the US.
Remember, Obama/Kerry duty is to achieve the aims of the US, as they see them, and Israel is just a pawn in their international and ego games. Obama/Kerry do not grasp the Arab mind and that forcing undesirable peace on Israel will not make the Arabs loves the US. It will do the opposite; embolden the Arabs to demand more US concessions. The goal of the Islamists, and supported by many of the vast world Muslim population, is a global Islamic rule. Israel is an insignificant part in their global fanatic goal. Defeating the US is their desire.
Will Israel be able to resist this US pressure, achieve security, and prevent Iran from going nuclear?
May I suggest that you watch this 11 minute speech in Cambridge UK on nuclear Iran. You will see clearly why some British know how to talk well- and this one is especially powerful and worth your time.
Subject: Douglas Murray at his best - Israel & Nuclear Iran - YouTube
On May 2006, I wrote that the Iranians would not stop their nuclear bomb program unless a united world would force them to do so. What I wrote originally was: "Short of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations Iran would not stop their nuclear program." However, I changed my writing since I thought that my readers would not be able to accept it at that stage of the game.
Obviously, a diplomatic way of stopping Iran's nuclear weapon development is preferable to military attack. However, I did not stop believing that Iran would do everything it could to get nuclear weapons, Iran is close to having it, as you can read from 3 experts below.
I still believe that short of destroying their capabilities, Iran will get the nuclear bomb in the near future, negotiations or not, promises or not. As they often delayed in the past.
Iran leadership is extremely dangerous because it has a combination of:
1. Religious extremism: God/Muhammad told us to do it. Nothing else is important.
2. Very wise politically: they twist the naïve US and EU around their little finger.
3. Careful, determined execution of long range planning, and multi path to success.
4. Extremely determined. Using all the resources at their command. To date it cost Iran $40 billions in direct costs, plus $130 billions in losses due to sanctions, some 20% of their GDP!
5. This is their essential reason for existence- to push the world to accept their dominance to the maximum extent they can.
This US Administration is incapable of grasping the danger to the total world once Iran has nuclear weapons. President Obama has been wrong on each move he made in the Middle East. Putin saved him in Syria from international embarrassment, when Obama backed down from his Red Line on chemical weapons use.
The majority of Egyptians hate the US after the military revolt by General al-Sisi because Obama considers the Muslim Brotherhood government legitamate, and punished Egypt. Obama cannot grasp the difference between pseudo- democracy by the dictatorial terrorist-supporting Islamic Brotherhood and the majority of Egyptians desire for freedom from religious oppression. Obama cannot be trusted, he punishes friends and helps US enemies. He seems eager to punish Egypt since he is unable to understand that al-Sisi military leadership is central for a stable- anti-terrorist Egypt and a quiet Hamas. Secretary of State Kerry, one of the most inept, undiplomatic US Secretaries, in Obama behalf, supports the militant dictatorial PLO and admonishes peaceful, democratic Israel.
When Israel and the Arab-Sunni states (85 % of Arabs are Sunnis) believe Obama is wrong on Iran, it is unprecedented powerful combination that must not be ignored.
Only the US is capable of truly stopping Iran's nuclear program. Our military has all the needed specialized weapons to reach Iran's underground installations. Israel can inflict only temporary damages that would set Iran’s back a few years at best. And attack by Israel will increase global anti- Israel mood even further.
Israel is a tiny country, 20 Israels can fit into Califorania. Just one nuclear bomb could devastate Israel. It has no margin for error, while the US is huge and far away. This US Administration can't grasp the difference. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just said: "Put your mind-set that you're in Israel. There are not thousands of miles separating you. It's scores of miles. What we do has to be done right."
Israel is in an extremely bad situation now. If it bombs Iran, every one will blame it for destroying a "sure path for successful negotiation". Fortunately, the French Foreign Minister Fabious is the only one of the negotiating leaders who grasps the situation well. I saw him dismissing Charlie Rose over-enthusiasm of Iran's willingness to "negotiate." Fabious stopped every naive utterance of Rose that it is so good we can now talk, by emphasizing with a smile: "words are nice, but we need real actions."
There are many things not in public domain: it is possible that Obama will order the US military to interfere and stop Israel's attack on Iran's nuclear installations. As a minimum, the US Administration told Israel the immense penalty if it acts without US approval.
I suspect that the US may have already told that to Netanyahu. That may be one of the reasons why he is so concerned; Israel may be now in the corner, possibly unable to attack.
Experts Say Israel Is Right to Be Wary of Iran Nuclear Talks - Karl Vick
Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, was blunt on the danger posed by Iran's stockpiles of "low-enriched" uranium, "which is why I understand the concerns of Prime Minister Netanyahu." Iran has almost 7 metric tons of that material, and "you have done something like 60% of the effort you have to do to produce weapons-grade uranium."
David Albright, an American former IAEA inspector, runs the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). With current stores and no "cap" imposed by an interim agreement on the number of centrifuges it could use, Tehran might create a bomb in as little as a month, an ISIS study concluded.
Albright said Iran's leadership team on the nuclear issue "is very good on making promises - enticements - but has not been so good about delivering." "It happened in '05 the same way: Lots of promises, but in the end Iran wants a centrifuge program that is essentially uncapped." (TIME)
President Obama's former aide on the National Security Council, Gary Samore, warned in October that ending the production of 20-percent-enriched uranium is not enough because Iran can also reach weapons-grade uranium using its stock of 3.5-percent-enriched uranium. Thus, any agreement must eliminate all of Iran's enriched uranium.
People who support President Obama justify his inability to influence Congress as the fault of the rigidity, single-mindedness and the unbending demands of the Republicans.
However, these same people ignore the Palestinians’ rigidity, single-mindedness, their terrorism, and their unbending demands that would destroy Israel’s ability to protect itself.
They erroneously blame the Israelis for the lack of peace with the Palestinians.
If the Palestinians wanted peace rather than destroying Israel, peace would have been achieved decades ago.
I was born and raised in Israel. I fought in the Lechi underground against the British occupation starting at age 15 and served for 4 years until Israel independence. I was a political prisoner twice, escaped once. I was a founding member of a border kibbutz, near Gaza, where Palestinians murdered 3 of my friends in few short months. I taught new immigrants in Maabarot, and served in the Israeli Air Force.
Despite this deep Israeli background, I do not believe I have the right to tell Israelis how to conduct their lives and what political path to take. Why, because I live now in the US and not in Israel. The Israelis live there and this is their country and their decision. They are taking the security risks, we just read about them.
During my visits to Israel to my widespread family, with many diverse political and security views, I never suggested to any of them how to conduct their lives or what political or security path to take.
I am amazed at the audacity of some American Jews that attempt to put pressure on Israel to conform to their own views how Israel should behave.
What a chutzpah!