web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



An American-Jewish Hero In Israel: Murray Greenfield

Murray Greenfield

Murray Greenfield

What did you tell your parents?

I told my mother I was leaving to “do something for the Jewish people.” She said, “In that case, you don’t have to go to Hunter College!”

Could those boats really float?

They were hardly seaworthy, and definitely not made for an Atlantic crossing.

Who were the non-Jewish crewmembers on board your ship?

One Christian Polish man had worked in a Jewish bakery and he knew Yiddish. One Irish guy, McDonald, was on my ship. He was angry with the British. He left Harvard Law School. He painted the four-leaf clover on our ship.”

What happened after Cyprus or Atlit?

I went right to Israel. An Israeli family adopted me. “This is your home,” they said. I worked in the fields in Petach Tikvah. I never left. I just fell in. It was bashert.

Why did you write this book?

Decades had gone by and no historian had told this story. Sailors had died, materials had been destroyed and overlooked. Memories had faded. Historians all built upon early accounts that omitted this story. The Encyclopedia Judaica ignored the American role in its entry on “Illegal Immigration.” The Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel made no mention of American sailors.

Something Ben-Gurion said to me put me on this trail. I met him at his house on other business. I was working on bringing in investments from the United States and Canada to help build housing and provide mortgages. He asked me when I had first come to Israel. I told him on Aliyah Bet, as a volunteer sailor. He was dumbfounded. He looked confused. He did not know the story of Jewish Americans and Aliyah Bet! I realized I would have to tell the story. I found the sailors who were still alive. I spent years interviewing them and finding photographs, newspaper clippings, archival material.

You published the first edition in 1987, and a 2010 edition with an introduction by Sir Martin Gilbert and a foreword by Paul Shulman, the First Commander of the British Navy. A documentary based on the book, Waves of Freedom, was released in 2008. Pretty impressive. But who helped you along the way? In the book, you note that Israeli historians and professors were either disinterested or even hostile.

Israelis understand Americans who give money to Israel. They have difficulty understanding Americans who choose to live in Israel, and still greater difficulty in understanding the Aliyah Bet volunteers’ embracing a mission that held no glory but involved hard work and perhaps danger.

What did you do in Israel after Aliyah Bet and working the fields of Petach Tikvah?

As I mentioned, I was interested in having North Americans invest in Israel. I tried to bring capital in to the Palestine Economic Corporation. Then I helped found the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel and pioneered loans for housing and mortgages. This was hard work because investors were afraid that socialism would be more attractive.

I spent seven years as a volunteer working on behalf of the Ethiopian rescue mission. We would obtain fake scholarship promises, pay for an airline ticket to Rome, give them a visa to Israel, and fly them here. My late wife Chana [Lustig] and I founded an art gallery in Tel Aviv. We sold and exported Israeli art globally.

We got involved in the Terezin Ghetto Museum because my wife saw that without her input, that museum would not be teaching visitors anything about the Jews. She created a program that did that. And she published a book, Fragments of Memory. And then I founded Gefen Publishing House, which has become the largest English-language publisher in Israel.

About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

1 Comment (Click to Comment)

One Response to “An American-Jewish Hero In Israel: Murray Greenfield”

  1. The face of a hero

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.
Four Notes on The Situation
Latest Indepth Stories
Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay is calling for an investigation of Israel's military actions in Gaza. (archive photo)

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

Rabbi Meir Kahane at the National Press Club ~ 1985

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

People test Israel every day to see how serious we really are in knowing when we are right.

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.

More Articles from Dr. Phyllis Chesler
Murray Greenfield

Few of the volunteers were experienced sailors, (Greenfield had been in the Merchant Marine). Few were Zionists.

Dr. David Gutmann

Hundreds of boats tried to run the British blockade on the dangerous, open seas.

My good colleague Kay is wrong about the early demise of conspiracy theories and blood libels against the Jews.

“I am surprised those Zionists are not outside protesting,” says one woman.

“Miral” is a film that has garnered an inordinate amount of media attention. In interviews, the director, Julian Schnabel, defends his right to tell the Palestinian “narrative” for what he claims is the first time. He seems not to know that many others before him have specialized in this particular line of work.

Our beloved, miraculous Jewish state is under siege.

It was assumed that the ceaseless persecution of the Jews in exile would cease once we again had our own sovereign homeland, our own army, navy, and air force.

In 1947-1948 I lived in Boro Park where, against parental and rabbinic advice, I joined a Zionist group. By 1950 I was packing machine-gun parts for Israel in a home not far from the Young Israel. But what I did as a child does not compare to what my friend and colleague David Gutmann did for love of Zion at that very time on the dangerous open seas.

Reality has become somewhat Scandinavian. It grows dark early and it is bitterly cold here in New York City and over a good portion of our fair land. Our Prince of Peace (The Norwegian Nobel, not the noble variety) is not yet asking whether “to be or not to be.” Perhaps he is not entirely convinced that “that is the question.”

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/an-american-jewish-hero-in-israel-an-interview-with-activist-and-entrepreneur-murray-greenfield/2014/07/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: