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A Mapping Marvel at Tel Hai College

Check out my new article posted on Times of Israel regarding Alon Margalit and his revolutionary software system for making maps available to people around the world. Alon is in charge of the library at Tel Hai College in the upper Galilee, near the border with Lebanon. I met him in January 2020. Read more here.

A Tennis Coach in Israel and a Security Simulation

As many of you are already aware, Times of Israel recently approved me as a blogger on their site. My first blog, Using Tennis to Better the Lives of Children with Special Needs, appeared on May 17, 2020. That article sprung from an interview I conducted with Shaul Zohar in January 2020 after learning of him while researching my book, Living in Heaven, Coping with Hell.

 

Times of Israel published my second bog article on July 2, 2020. I titled it Simulation of a Security Crisis in Northern Israel. It is about my experience testing a Zoom virtual simulation produced by the Alma Research and Education Center in Northern Israel. Soon that simulation will be available for teaching interested groups about the unique security challenges present in Northern Israel.

 

There will be more to come!

Speaking About a Holococaust Survivor to Schools by Zoom

On Friday, May 15, I had the opportunity to speak by Zoom to the Jackson Hole Middle School about my mother’s experience as a Holocaust survivor. The story begins with her life in Vienna as a carefree teenager, but quickly moves in order to the:

  1. Anschluss when my mother was forced to scrub the streets
  2. Kirstallnacht
  3. Her family’s escape to France
  4. My grandfather’s attempt to recover money sent out of Austria
  5. Her family’s forced move to Belguim
  6. Her attempt to escape German bombing
  7. How she escaped transfer to a concentration camp twice
  8. My mother hiding for two years
  9. What happened after the war ended

Topics included are the introduction of forced wearing of the Jewish star on clothing, Auschwitz, and the rise of Hitler. In addition, I make it relevant to current themes by bringing in issues of bullying, survival and perseverance, and of course now, the virus.

I augment the story with a power point presentation that includes maps and pictures. Afterwards, I leave time for plenty of questions.

I have presented my mother’s story in person to student groups ranging from Elementary School to High School  but tailor it to the audience (see how I got started doing this in 2016). Always I did it in person. Never did I think the day would come that I would do it virtually. But it did.

And, it was a success! The Principal of Jackson Hole Middle School, Matthew Hoelscherr said:

[T]hat was great.  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to our students.  I liked the format and I think it held their attention even better than in person.  When they’re at home and muted, they can fidget and fiddle and roll around yet still pay attention.  Plus, the comments they were making showed their deep interest in your mother’s story and the historical timeline of the Holocaust.  Nice job! 

Such a success that I am now looking for more opportunities to speak to other school groups. Holocaust survivors are almost all gone. Their children are now aging as well. But the story of the Holocaust is important – not only to remind young people of what happened but to warn them to be vigilant to prevent it from happening again to any minority. Therefore, while there still exists people who can speak with knowledge and emotion of what happened that resource  should be tapped for the benefit of mankind.

If you would like me to speak to any group by Zoom (see short sample of the audio below), student or adult, about my mother’s Holocaust experience please contact me. I do not charge a fee.

Authors, I’m Looking for Books to Review About Israel or Jewish History

Hi all:

I have written two books about Israeli history:

I know from hard experience how difficult it is to convince book bloggers to review books, especially if they are self published.

I want to help. And also, I would love to enter into conversations with you about marketing your books.

Therefore, please reach out to me if you would like me to review your book. I will require either a paperback copy or kindle eBook. However, if your book is short, I would be willing to read a PDF.

Cliff Sobin

 

Clifford Sobin’s New Book About Israel’s Northern Borders

Living in heaven, Coping with HellMy New Book, now available on Amazon and Kobo (soon on B&N): Living in Heaven, Coping with Hell: Israel’s Northern Borders—Where Zionism Triumphed, the Kibbutz is Evolving, and the Pioneering Spirit Prevails, delivers a vivid portrait of Israel’s haunting and unpredictability violent northern borders. Here, amid widespread tranquility, a pervasive hint of danger lingers within communities that dot Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria.

“You don’t know when it will blow, but you know it eventually will. It always does. And you know that when it does blow, it might kill you.”

Written in a conversational style, this compelling narrative answers why Israelis live in this dangerous region and illuminates the challenges they face. By intimately profiling many of its current residents and explaining how selected communities in the region took root, the book weaves forty interviews with historical fact to highlight the region’s heroic past and challenging future.

Recently, I received the following testimonial from award winning author and Writing Professor at the University of Victoria , David Leach:

Living in Heaven, Coping with Hell is a meticulously researched, deeply reported and compellingly written account of the unique challenges and remarkable resilience of the Jewish communities along Israel’s often precarious northern borders. Clifford Sobin seamlessly combines the big picture about the region’s history, politics, economics and culture with detailed profiles of individual Israelis who have built their homes and lives on the nation’s “periphery”.  The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the transformation of the legendary kibbutz movement or about this often misunderstood region of Israel in general.

David Leach, author of Chasing Utopia: The Future of the Kibbutz in a Divided Israel

And another testimonial from Yuval Achouch Ph.D., a professor focusing on kibbutz industry and its transformation:

Living in Heaven, Coping with Hell may be read as a kind of anthropological work since Cliff Sobin describes so well the experience of living on Israel’s Northern border from the standpoint of its inhabitants. His enthusiasm is quite contagious and his erudition impressive. After more than thirty-five years living in Galilee, I have learned a lot about my own region due to this book. The author takes you for an exciting trip where history, present, landscapes and people intertwine. His talent for writing prevents you from putting the book down before you reach the end of each chapter.
—Yuval Achouch Ph.D., University Lecturer in Sociology at Western Galilee College and research fellow at the Institute for the Research on the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea, University of Haifa

Why I Support Kibbutz Hanita

On March 21, 1938, a convoy of fifty trucks and 500 men parked east of the Arab village of Bassa. The Haganah brought them together. They planned to build a tower and stockade Kibbutz, called Hanita, in the hills adjacent to the Lebanese border, only a few miles from the Mediterranean.

Kibbutz Hanita, May of 1938

The goal of the Tower and Stockade movement was to create “facts on the ground” on land already purchased by the Jewish National Fund. The movement knew that the British Mandate authorities would generally abide by Turkish Ottoman law still in effect that prohibited dismantling existing settlements – even if they were illegally created.  Thus, if they could construct a permanent structure, a new settlement would likely be born. That was important. A settlement in the region was necessary to stop Arabs in Lebanon from infiltrating into Palestine and creating havoc.

During the day, the 500 men worked hard but failed to complete the fence and tower. High wind, the steepness of the hill and the amount of equipment that needed transport from the roadway to the settlement site delayed them. That night, 400 men left. One hundred stayed behind to defend the day-old site. Included among them were Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon. On two adjacent hills, Arab irregulars massed. At midnight they started shooting. In little more than an hour, Arab fire succeeded in killing two Jewish defenders and injured several more. But the remainder survived and the Arabs withdrew into Lebanon.

Today, Kibbutz Hanita remains, standing proud and strong with seven hundred residents including two hundred children. Within its confines, there are two factories and agricultural fields. One of the factories makes contact lens and the other, which makes coatings for films and laminates, was recently purchased by Avery Dennison, an American corporation. The Kibbutz’s agriculture products include bananas, avocados, orchards and olives.

However – there is a problem, a need – and a solution.

The problem is security. The Kibbutz must spend much of its available discretionary funds on securing its perimeter and creating the ability to react to threats. The need is for its children. The solution is funding. I will discuss each in turn.

Security

The northern outer ring of the Kibbutz’s homes are on a ridgetop and lie within meters of the Lebanese border. Below is a heavy forested valley that in one spot snakes into the Kibbutz, resulting in a U-shaped penetration that creates a much longer perimeter than if the hill was straight.

Hanita on Both Sides with Lebanon in the Valley Below

In 2002, members of Islamic Jihad penetrated the border and killed six Israelis at nearby Matzuva Junction. Two were a mother and teenage daughter from Hanita. Since then, Hezbollah has threatened to overrun a border Kibbutz in any future confrontation with Israel. Through its proxy, the Lebanese army, not too long ago Hezbollah built an observation tower on an hill adjacent to Hanita that overlooks the homes and children of the Kibbutz. One can only imagine what Kibbutz members felt like to wake up one day and see the tower on a previously barren ridge line that provided a sight line for terrorists, bent on  their destruction, directly into the Kibbutz

Fortunately, the IDF is not oblivious to the threat. In March of 2017, using bulldozers, they carved out a cliff from what once was lush vegetation on upward sloping terrain. The IDF’s hope was to make it more difficult for intruders to scale the heights and enter Hanita. Furthermore, there is a fence with sensors and a security road that is patrolled by the IDF. But, those measures alone do not seem sufficient to stop a determined enemy. In fact, just a few paces from those defensive measures, on April 20, 2017, Hezbollah gave a field tour to journalists and mocked those defenses. The danger Hezbollah presents is further expressed in an article by Sarit Zehavi, CEO of ALMA. Thus, the Kibbutz must employ its own defensive measures as well.

But that costs money.

The Children

Some two hundred children live in Hanita. All of them require educational and/or supervisory support. The children’s programs involve the following age groups:

  • Eighty kids ages 0-6 in Kindergarten or toddler day-care
  • Seventy-two kids ages 6-12 that require after-school programs
  • Fifty teenagers ages 12-17 that require after-school programs

Unfortunately, after touring the facilities it is clear that they are in dire need of upgrade. After my meeting with Orly Gavishi-Sotto, the Business Director of the Kibbutz, she identified two primary needs:

  1. Finish the playground that is only half done; and
  2. Upgrade the two buildings used by the children.

Hanita Children’s Area

To that I would add an inexpensive third, provide more modern toys, games and educational products for the teachers to use with the children.

The Funding Required

A significant difference can be made for a relatively modest sum. For approximately $35,000, the playground can be completed. For another $65,000 the buildings can be

Hanita Children’s Buidling

upgraded. And for only a few thousand dollars more, the children’s toys and educational materials could be modernized.

Hanita Children’s Outdoor Play Area

Shortly, I hope to have a link created through Galila – the Northen Galilee Development Foundation, through which any donations you care to make will be directly funneled to Kibbutz Hanita. Galila is a foundation whose purpose is to support “selected, priority needs of the borderline communities who live in a security-threatened region.” It has 501(c)3 status that makes all donations tax deductible. Until then, you can contact me through this page to express your interest and to ask me any questions that you may have.

Why Do I Feel it is Important to Support Hanita?

The purpose of Hanita today is the same as it was in 1938—to hold ground. Seven hundred hardy souls are willing to brave the dangers presented by Hezbollah. True they call it home and that in itself stands for much.

But my reasons are much more.

The moment Israelis stop living along the border regions, Israel shrinks. And then even worse, new border regions are then created that begin at the next town or village back from the border. Those towns and villages will then feel endangered and consider moving away. Thus, once the process of retreating from the “border” begins there is no stopping it. That is Hezbollah’s goal. Therefore, not only do the residents of Hanita need help to preserve their way of life, Israel needs help to preserve Hanita.

I strongly believe that ensuring the normality of life and the well-being of the children of the kibbutz will go a long way towards keeping Hanita strong and vibrant.  I personally visited the kibbutz in October of 2017. I saw the condition of the children’s’ facilities. I walked the path along the fence Lebanon. I witnessed the children’s play area within rifle shot of a Lebanese/Hezbollah outpost. And I saw the potential the kibbutz has. It is located in a beautiful region that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea a few kilometers away and it is within only a handful of miles from Nahariya, where there are beautiful beaches.

Almost eighty years ago the Kibbutz was created amidst much uncertainty and danger. That uncertainty and danger still exists today.

Orly on the left and Sarit on the Right

But as opposed to eighty years ago, so much as been built and there is so much to be proud of. Orly Gavishi-Sotto’s confidence and spirit impressed me. I have contributed my resources to help Kibbutz Hanita.

I hope you will too.

Security Freeze Information

Recently, I signed up for Equifax’s Trusted ID Premier. Unfortunately, that alone does not do an adequate job of protecting you from the recent data breach. What it does do for only one year is:

  • 3-bureau credit report monitoring
  • Copies of your Equifax credit report
  • Ability to lock and unlock your Equifax credit file [To this day I cannot understand the difference between a freeze and a lock]
  • Social security number monitoring [This is on the dark web but is likely to be spotty at best]
  • $1 million identity theft insurance

Equifax also has announced that it will roll out a new program by January 31, 2018 that may make the freeze option permanent as well as other things.

Meanwhile, however, as pointed out by my friend Howie, you remain exposed with the other reporting agencies. Therefore, I have provided a list below of the other credit reporting agencies and their phone numbers/web sites. I just locked my credit on all of those sites (as well as my wife’s). In total, it took about ten minutes for all of them together. I advise that you do it to!

 

Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
https://www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

Experian — 1‑888‑397‑3742
https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze2

Innovis 1-800-540-2505
https://www.innovis.com/personal/securityFreeze

Chexsystems   1-800.887.7652
https://www.chexsystems.com/web/chexsystems/consumerdebit/page/securityfreeze

My First Time Speaking About the Holocaust

Recently, I was approved by Scribe (an affiliate website of Forward). Check out my first article which describes how I became a Holocaust speaker at http://forward.com/scribe/375527/how-should-you-teach-children-about-the-holocaust-one-story-at-a-time/?attribution=blog-article-listing-2-headline

 

Cost of Self-Publishing a Book with Many Pages

I will admit, when I first embarked on my book project, The Pivotal years: Israel and the Arab World 1966 – 1977. The Pivotal YearsI did not anticipate it would turn into an almost 1400 page project that would take several years to finish. Nor did I realize how much a new, self-publisher like myself needed to learn in order to make a manuscript available in print and eBook format. But now that I have published a kindle version that combines Volume One and Volume Two and a print version for Volume One (Volume Two will be available on-line in May), I thought some might be interested in the economics of this endeavor. So, I will break it down for you into four parts:

  • Cost of preparing the manuscript
  • Royalties for Kindle
  • Royalties for print publication
  • Final thoughts

Cost of Manuscript Production

[Read more…]

Footnotes for the Pivotal Years: Israel and the Arab World 1966-1977

Chapter 1  [Read more…]