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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘underground’

Mother Of Liberty

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Chanukah and Purim have passed but they are not past, because Jewish history is not only ancient. The message of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, is that Jewish history is now. Indeed, some of the Maccabees are still alive.

Seventy years ago, British detectives discovered Abraham Stern, a poet who had organized an army to fight for Jewish independence, hiding in Tova Svorai’s Tel Aviv apartment. A British policeman reached for his gun. Tova instinctively jumped between the gun and Stern, declaring, “You’ll have to shoot me first!”

Today, Stern is famous for having founded Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang or Stern Group. Stern and his followers – a few dozen when he was alive and one thousand by 1948 – fought to eject the British from Eretz Yisrael.

Stern was murdered in the living room of Tova’s apartment an hour after he was found. Tova is now 96 years old. She is one of the last links to the modern Maccabees who started Israel’s war for independence.

* * * * *

Tova Hochglick was born in 1915 and brought up in a religious home in Warsaw. Her family moved to Eretz Yisrael when she was eight but returned to Poland when the children got sick. They made aliyah again in 1934. While in Poland, Tova joined Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s nationalist Betar youth movement.

When Tova made aliyah, Betar charged her with watching over a younger member of the movement on the train leaving Poland. Having no ticket, he hid under her seat. Tova was next assigned to supervise a would-be illegal immigrant on the ship that carried her to Palestine.

“Srulik,” she recalls, “a blond, blue-eyed Betari, loved to sing and entertained the travelers and made friends with them all.” Only Tova knew he was a stowaway. As they approached Haifa, Srulik sat in one of the cabins, waiting for all the legal passengers to disembark; when the guards and officials were gone, he was to jump into the sea and swim ashore.

Unfortunately, one of the passengers was delayed aboard the ship and the authorities went looking for him. They found Srulik, who was sent back to Poland.

After the Holocaust, Tova inquired and learned he died fighting as a partisan.

The night before she left Poland to make aliyah, Tova and a friend walked between their homes, unable to say good-bye. Her friend told her about a group in Eretz Yisrael called Brit Habirionim (League of Toughs), whose teenage members had torn down the Nazi flag from the German consulate in Jerusalem. Tova promised her friend she would meet the heroic teens.

In Haifa, Tova met a Betar member named Moshe Svorai and told him she wanted to meet the man who had taken down the flag. He told her, “He stands before you.” They were married a few years later.

In 1936, “after many meetings and conversations in small and dark rooms,” as Tova recalls, she joined the underground Irgun. Moshe, who had been arrested for incitement against the British in the early 1930s, was arrested again in 1939 as a member of the Irgun. While Tova and her Irgun unit were taking their first lessons in firearms, she made weekly trips to Acco prison to visit Moshe – but she was already an Irgun courier, bringing messages to and from the prison.

The Svorais’ first daughter was born a month after Moshe’s release from prison. They named her Herut (Liberty).

* * * * *

After Moshe’s next arrest, Tova made weekly visits to the Mizra Detention Camp, his new place of imprisonment. Now she acted as courier for Abraham Stern’s Haifa underground. She smuggled mail to prisoners; found visitors from Tel Aviv to take intercity messages; and managed to get a gun inside the camp. Tova hid it in a box of honey and says she “stood near the fence as a nice Englishman looked at everything. I smiled even though I was worried because I had a daughter at home. But the gun got to Moshe.”

On other days, while supposedly leading a quiet life with her family, she looked for young people with whom to “talk about the hot subjects of the day, like whether to respond in kind to attacks on the Jews and whether to prepare to establish an army.” She let the underground know when she encountered potential members.

“So even though I was mother to a young girl and the wife of someone under arrest, I felt I was doing something to establish the state we dreamed of,” says Tova.

While being transported from prison to prison, Moshe and his police escort stopped for some beer and Moshe escaped as they drank and used the facilities. He and Tova were soon back in Tel Aviv, an area Abraham Stern then put under Moshe’s command. One night in January 1942 Moshe brought Stern to his apartment and asked Tova if Stern could stay; he had nowhere to hide and was being hunted by the police and Jews who opposed his war against England.

French Resistance Leader Raymond Aubrac Dies at 97

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Raymond Aubrac, whose parents were sent to Auschwitz, and his wife, were the most celebrated couple of the French resistance, fierce underground fighters against German occupation. Aubrac’s pregnant wife Lucie famously led a daring commando raid to rescue him from the Nazis.

AFP reports that President Nicolas Sarkozy paid homage to “a heroic Resistance figure” whose “escape, thanks to the bravery of his wife Lucie Aubrac, has entered into the legend of the history of the Resistance.”

UN Nuclear Team Arrives in Iran

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

An International Atomic Energy Agency team of nuclear inspectors arrived in Iran on Sunday to investigate allegations of a nuclear weapons program.

The three-day visit could have a potentially significant influence on the West’s strategy for thwarting the weapons dimension of Iran’s nuclear program.

The team is expected to visit the underground enrichment site near the city of Qom, in which Iran recently said it had begun uranium enrichment work.

 

Former IAEA Inspector says Iran ‘one year from’ bomb material

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Olli Heinonen, former IAEA deputy director general and head of UN nuclear inspections, wrote an article in ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine in which he estimated that transferal of production of higher-grade enriched uranium to a new underground site in Fordow will permit Iran to achieve nuclear capability in a year.

 

Huge Bomb Buy Raises Question of Attack on Iran

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Speculation of an impending attack on Iranian nuclear facilities has increased, following the US acquisition of a huge bunker buster bomb six times the size the US Air Force currently employs.

The first shipment of Boeing’s “Massive Ordnance Penetrator”  - designed to fit the B-2 stealth bomber – arrived at Air Force Global Strike Command in September, according to Bloomberg News.

The 30,000 pound , 20.5 foot long mammoth will have significant impact, capable of reaching 200 feet underground before detonating 5,300 pounds of explosives. The US military currently uses a 5,000-pound bunker buster to attack nuclear, biological, and chemical sites underground.

The US military’s announcement of the procurement comes just days after the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report stating that Iran is enriching uranium for the purpose of creating atomic bombs.  That report came just as Iranian authorities announced that their uranium enrichment facility in Natanz will be transferred to a more secure location at Qom, 295 feet under rock.

The US has also closed a deal to provide the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with thousands of bunker busters, according to the Wall Street Journal.    The UAE is a strong trade partner of Iran, but has come out publicly against Iranian nuclear development.  The US alsorecently agreed on an plan to sell $60 billion in F-15s and munitions to Iran adversary Saudi Arabia.

In September, US President Barack Obama agreed to sell 55 GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrator bunker busters to Israel.  Israel originally requested the weapons from the Bush administration in 2005, but was denied.

In response to news of the recent explosion at a missile storage facility outside Tehran in which a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards official and missile expert was killed, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated “May there be more like it”.  Israel has been accused by Iranian officials of conducting a stealth attack which caused the explosion.  President Shimon Peres recently stated that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is “more and more likely”.

A Miracle Grows In Poland

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Back in the early 1980s, I was just becoming a journalist – in the democratic underground, for no self-respecting person would serve as a mouthpiece for the military regime that was running Poland at the time.

I was being interviewed by a Solidarity activist – and almost certainly, I thought, someone involved in the underground as well – but of course we did not discuss that. She was writing a book about contemporary Polish Jews and wanted to talk to me.

We weren’t discussing the intricate problems of the underground political struggle, but something more simple and personal – being Jewish.

“How do you see the future?” she asked.

“I believe we are the last ones. Definitely,” I said.

“And there will be no Jews in Poland?”

“In the sense of a religious, national group, no.”

I may have added that Poland might one day be independent and democratic again, no longer a Soviet satellite, though I did not expect to live to see the day. But Jews in Poland? No way. It all ends with us.

A quarter-century later, sitting at my desk in the booming capital of this NATO and European Union member country, I acknowledge that I have lived to see and even grown accustomed to a free Poland. And what about the other impossibility, the Jews?

Well, there is a bar mitzvah in my shul next week. The yearly Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow is just around the corner. Midrasz, the Jewish magazine, comes to my mailbox regularly late. My younger son graduated from the Jewish school. My older son was press spokesman of the Warsaw kehilla for some time. The invitation for the Israeli Independence Day reception just came in.

Why had I once been so sure that it was over? Maybe it was loneliness.

There were so few of us then, Jews trying to do something Jewish. True, there was the shul – but I was the youngest congregant by two generations. There was the officially sanctioned Jewish Socio-Cultural Association, but it mainly served to lay down the party line, even if in Yiddish.

And then it was all over. The Communist Party was out of the government coalition and soon dissolved. The underground press went above ground. The Soviet army left Poland. Poland left the Warsaw Pact. Everything we knew would never happen was happening all at once, the impossible was becoming yesterday’s news – so why not try to be Jewish?

Jews came out of the woodwork, went to shul for the first time in their lives, attended lectures about Jews in Poland, stood up to ask a question, hesitated, blurting out, “Well, I’m Jewish ” and waited for the lightning bolt they had spent their lives trying to avoid.

Society at large reacted favorably. It was a time in which everything was possible, but we were woefully unprepared to meet these fresh-out-of-the-closet Jews. Jewish institutions had to be reorganized from scratch, reoriented and redefined.

An extraordinary young American rabbi, Michael Schudrich, came along and today is chief rabbi of Poland. A kindergarten was set up. The Taube Foundation began supporting Jewish programs in Poland. With that aid and more, both spiritual and material, we grew.

The kindergarten was probably the catalyst. After the early graduates of the Jewish kindergarten of Warsaw entered the regular school system, we hardly expected their parents to return to us and say that the kids were missing out. They needed – and deserved – something more: a Jewish school.

Unlike a kindergarten, an institution of convenience that leaves no trace on those who attended, a school is an institution of commitment that is supposed to leave traces in the minds and hearts of the students.

These parents, even if they had shared the same experiences we did, no longer seemed to think that we were the last ones. When you have kids, the future becomes an everyday presence you want to shape into all that it can be.

I know: My younger boy was one of the first four kindergarten graduates.

So we set up the school, which now has more than 200 students. Parents who had decided to leave their closet wanted to make sure their kids would never need one. This commitment could be expressed only because the country was now free, because assistance and support was at hand, and because there were people around who wanted to be Jewish, even if they had thought of themselves as the last ones.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-miracle-grows-in-poland/2010/01/13/

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