Wednesday, January 19, 2011


January 19, 2011

Dear Pastors:

At 2:15 this morning unbearable pain drove this ole aching body from the bed, so I have been up now for 2 hours and 45 minutes working on the "Booklet" we are to produce of "Lessons from Football about Combat" and then give to IDF soldiers who view our American Football Demonstrations next month in Israel.

One of those lessons has to do with the Village of Hanita in North Western Israel and the very famous battle which took place there back in 1938 on the night of March 21st. That Battle will be included in the booklet.

However, my letter to you today only includes some of the history about Hanita. I do hope that I will be privileged to take those Deaf Football Players to Hanita and let them learn something about this famous battle.

Today is the Birth Day of our Second Son, Lorne Matthew Vineyard, who went home to be With the Lord when he was 3-1/2 years old back on July 18th, 1967. Lorne was escorted by Angels through the realm above the earth by angels after dying during a simple tonsillectomy. His death allowed his father to become a Funeral Preacher, and as I wrote recently, the Lord has allowed, with the funeral of my wife’s mother, this ole preacher to preach 1270 funerals, if my count is correct.

With all that the Jews of the World are going through in the rise of "anti-Semitism" this story of the settlement of Hanita is a good story. Tomorrow, the Lord Willing, I shall tell you of the Battle that went on that night back in March 1938 at Hanita.


When we read the history of the present-day nation of Israel, it is always a pleasure to read of the heroism of the pre-WWII settlers of that Nation. In 1938 the Jewish National Fund, at David Ben Gurion's direction, which was seeking to re-settle Jews into their Everlastingly Covenant Land, acquired several hundred dunams of land in that north western corner of what is called "upper Galilee," flush up beside the border of Lebanon. The JNF notified the British Administration which at that time had the Mandate for control of Palestine of its intention to establish an agricultural colony on the newly purchased territory. As a history buff, stories like the story of Hanita really appeals to me.

Today Hanita is a kibbutz in northern Israel. Located in western Galilee approximately 15 kilometers northeast of Nahariya, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Asher Regional Council. In 2006, it had a population of 447.

Back in the time of the 12 tribes of Israel, the area northeast of present-day Nahariya fell under the tribe of Asher. That area is rich in Bible History as well. In Bible days, that area was one of the most densely settled and most flourishing agricultural areas in all of Palestine, but, with the blessings of G-d Almighty taken away, it had become a howling wilderness of rock and treeless solitude.

And, then, in character with their "attitudes" toward the Jews from the Balfour Declaration time of 1917 onwards for the next 21 years, the High Commissioner, Sir Harold Mac Michael, based his veto on the argument that colonists taking up residence in so remove and isolated district would present a "constant temptation to Bedouin raiders," both from across, but also from inside the borders of Palestine.

The nearest Jewish habitations were in eastern Galilee, too far for their settlers to come to the aid of an establishment in western Galilee in the event of Bedouin danger or attack. If the Jews, the High Commissioner intimated, instead of starting the extreme northern wilds of Galilee, would establish colonies in the south of that province and then gradually push northward establishing colonies chain wise or rather like steppingstones in the direction of the frontier, something might perhaps be said for the reclamation of Galilee.

But, Mr. Mac Michael said, " establish the first settlement at the extreme limit of Palestinian territory, in a godforsaken "sort of no man’s land," was "too hazardous an enterprise" for which he, Sir Harold, would not assume responsibility.

The directors of the Jewish Agency replied that they would be glad enough to establish an entire chain of colonies, but that the administration’s land-buying regulations had so far precluded the purchase of sites that might serve as steppingstones on the road to the north.

They must, therefore, start where they could—that is, on the spot which had just recently become the property of the Jewish people. Sir Harold proved adamant. His interpretation of the mandate which had charged Britain with facilitating "the close settlement of Jews on the land" worked out in practice in placing, by order of the government of Great Britain, of course, as many "obstacles" in the way of the purchase of land by Jews as possible and after that, if the Jews still were to succeed in getting hold of a plot of barren, rocky, desert land on which no human being in his right senses would live, in discouraging them from the settling of it.

Only the Jews would not take "no" for an answer. They could not abide by the High Commissioner’s decision. In withholding his official fiat, the High Commissioner may well have been carrying out his duty in that they acted in the spirit of these restrictive measures designed against and imposed upon Jewish Palestine by a narrow-minded, anti-Jewish bureaucracy in the sole interests, not of the British Empire, but of a handful of feudalist Arab landowners.

The Palestinian Jews, on the other hand, could not do otherwise than what they did at that time. They insisted again and again that the High Commissioner’s decision be revoked and that the colony be opened up—that particular colony and others, always more colonies and settlements "by hook or by crook."

For the Palestinian Jews felt behind their backs the ever-growing anguish and desperate pressure of the homeless and hopeless Jewish masses in Europe still seeking "a way out" of what had become to millions of them "a gruesome death trap" or a living hell after Hitler’s advent to power.

After months of wearisome palaver, pleading and insisting on the one side, haggling and quibbling on the other, with references to the Colonial Office in London going to and fro, the High Commissioner finally, reluctantly, gave in.

The Jews were permitted to establish the colony on their own land in their own country. They could go out there to that desolate spot in Galilee if they wanted to, but they must not blame the administration if "Bedouin disaster" should overtake them on the pioneer trail.

"Mi yivne ha-Galil? Who will build Galilee?" the young Jews sang that night all over Palestine, when the government’s decision became known. "El yivne ha-Galil! God will build Galilee!" came the answering chorus.

The tract of four thousand dunams had been thoroughly explored and surveyed in the meantime. It would provide a living for eighty families, or five hundred souls, if they could engage in mixed farming, sheep raising and poultry breeding, with tobacco the chief crop. All this had been settled by the agronomical experts who had examined the land.

One third of the area was to be used for pasturage, and one of the first tasks of the settlers would be the planting of a forest of eucalyptus trees, for deforestation and consequent soil erosion constituted one of the worst blights of the Holy Land.

The candidates to take up the work were in readiness, too. The occupation group consisted of ninety young people, eighty men and ten women. They were to proceed ahead of the bulk of the settlers and make the place fit for habitation. The pioneers had been carefully selected from many localities with reference to their fitness and courage for occupying a new tract in a frontier region where only recently "fierce battles" had raged between government forces [Ord Wingate’s boys] and Arab bands.

The occupation [March 21, 1938,] took place in what then became in later years the usual form for establishing new settlements in Palestine: the colony was completed in all essentials between sunrise and sunset in one single day. The danger from their Ishmaelite throat-slitting enemies necessitated this "sunrise to sunset" time frame.

Back at the foot of {Bible} Mount Carmel [oh, so much rich Biblical history is there,] the preliminary preparations were made in the workers quarters in Emek Zebulon.

Let Me give you a story from Emek Zebulon from July of 1938:

On the afternoon of 11 July 1938 Lily Tobias (née Shepherd, 1887-1984), from a Yiddish-speaking immigrant family in the Swansea valley, was at home in Mount Carmel putting the final touches to her novel The Samaritans. An aunt of the future famous Welsh-Jewish poet Dannie Abse and his flamboyant politician brother Leo, she was already a published writer. Her The Nationalists, and other Goluth Studies, a book of short stories, had appeared in 1921; her novel In My Mother’s House, which tells of a Welsh-born Jew who rejects, and then reclaims, his heritage, in 1931; her anti-war novel Eunice Fleet, about a conscientious objector, in 1933; and The Tube in 1935.

Lily had made aliyah in 1935, the year before the eruption of Arab disturbances in Palestine, with her husband Philip Vallentine Tobias, who was originally from South Africa, and her widowed father, a retired furniture dealer from Poland. Philip Tobias, who had been active in the Cardiff Jewish community before moving with Lily to London, where he was a founder and leading member of the Finchley Hebrew Congregation, ran a glass company in Palestine.

And on that afternoon, as Lily was at work on her latest novel’s closing chapter, he was alone in his car en route to Haifa.

Philip knew that Palestine was in the grip of what an official report covering 1937 termed "a campaign of murder, intimidation, and sabotage conducted by Arab law breakers", a "terrorist campaign" which entailed "isolated murder and attempted murder; of sporadic cases of armed attacks on military, police and civilian road transport; on Jewish settlements and on both Arab and Jewish private property". He knew of such violent incidents as an assassination attempt on the Mayor of Haifa and another in Jerusalem on the Inspector-General of Police; of the brutal murders near and in Beisan of a young Jewish agriculturalist and a Jewish doctor; of the slaughter by marauding livestock-stealers of five Jewish shepherds in hill country to the south of Lake Tiberias, and of two others near Nazareth; of an unsuccessful attack on a crowded passanger train on the Lydda-Haifa line; of a series of attacks on Jews’ vehicles on the Jerusalem-Jaffa road in which one Jewish passenger lost his life. And so forth.

Nevertheless, alone on that drive, Philip Tobias had no firearm or other weapon. He seems to have been confident that, going about his lawful business in British-administered Palestine in broad daylight, he would personally encounter no danger. The assumption proved deadly. For, all of a sudden, in Haifa, his car was surrounded by a 30-strong mob of young Arab men in their teens and early twenties. They dragged Tobias from his car and stoned and stabbed him to death. According to a pressman, who accordingly described "the circumstances" of the murder as "intolerable", the killing of Philip Tobias "it is reliably reported", took place in plain view of "a British police patrol led by an officer who witnessed the whole outrage but did not go to the rescue".

By an eerie coincidence, the book on which Lily was working when her husband met his end in cold blood was on a similar theme. Published the following year, The Samaritans proved to be her final book, although she continued to write articles for Jewish papers and to lecture on Israel and literary matters.

Tobias was the second British civilian killed in Palestine that year (the first was J. L. Starkey, director of the Marston-Welcome Archeological Expedition to the Near East, murdered by Arabs on the evening of 10 January, when he was on his way from his camp at Tell Duweir to Jerusalem) and the first British Jew slain during Arab disturbances in Palestine since the murder of Levi Billig in 1936. Billig, born in London’s Whitechapel in 1897 to a cigar/cigarette maker and his wife, both from Russia, was a Cambridge graduate who in 1926 had been appointed Lecturer in Arabic Language and Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was at home at his desk working on a book based on his recent research, in Persia, into early Sh’ite texts, when an Arab gunman opened fire through the window and killed him. Ironically, Billig was an advocate of Jewish-Arab reconciliation. His An Arabic Reader (1931, reprinted 1963) remains a highly regarded introductory text. (Coincidentally, his co-compiler of that work, Avinoam Yellin MBE, of the Palestine Ministry of Education, was also a victim of Arab violence; shot near his Jerusalem office on 21 October 1937, he succumbed to his wounds two days later.)

The murder of Philip Tobias was symptomatic of a crisis that had gripped Haifa since the opening days of the month; in a report filed 15 July the Jewish Chronicle’s stringer wrote of the eruption nine days earlier of what was "the complete usurpation of authority by unruly elements and the virtual handing over to what amounts to mob rule in the Eastern Quarter, main artery to the Hospital and industrial zones of Haifa and principal lines of communication between Emek Zebulon and Emek Jezreel". Noting that the authorities seemed "powerless in spite of increased forces at their disposal" and that police and marines landed from HMS Repulse seemed oddly inert in the face of Arab hooliganism, he continued:
"What is most surprising about this situation is that the numerous outrages day after day happen at almost the same hour and the same places, so much so, that the Haifa correspondent of a Palestinian newspaper for some days on end ordered a taxi at the same time to go the rounds and ascertain what was happening! On one occasion he helped to take an injured Jewish passer-by to hospital, having arrived on the scene within a couple of minutes of the assault. It seems strange, to say the least, that the authorities could not have been as far-sighted and placed heavier patrols in that area to break up the mobs and hooligans. Today’s issue of Davar, the Hebrew Labour daily of Tel-Aviv, declared that the continuing lawlessness in Haifa represented a riddle. There were hundreds of troops, marines, and supernumerary constables available, yet in a busy street, within a few yards of the Central Police Station, a man was battered to death in broad daylight; shots were fired and bombs thrown at vehicles; knives were thrust into the backs of passersby; shops were looted, and houses set on fire."
And then, let me give you a further bit of History about Hania:
Hanita was an ancient Jewish settlement, situated in the land belonging to the tribe of Asher. The name is mentioned in the Talmud, in the 2nd - 3rd century, in the description of the Jewish settlements on the northern border. The source of the name is "Hanaya", an encampment, a place of rest for travelers going between the plains of Lebanon and the ports of Achziv and Acre.

In those days, The purpose of the settlements was to guard the passes from the mountains to the fertile valley below.

In the 1930s, with the increase in settlements, the Arabs demanded that the British stop Jewish settlement. When they perceived that their demands were not being met, they turned to violence. The Jewish Agency set up a series of 'overnight towns' relying on an un-revoked Ottoman Law allowing any building to remain intact once a roof has been placed on it. The settlers prefabricated the walls and roof of the new kibbutz's dining hall. Its double wooden walls were filled with gravel for protection against Arab snipers, and a prefabricated wooden watchtower was likewise at hand. During the course of the Tower and stockade campaign, 52 new Jewish settlements were established throughout the country.

Against protests from his cabinet, David Ben-Gurion decided to purchase 5,000 dunam of hilly non-arable land. A group was chosen to settle the land, to ascend to a point one kilometer from the road and to erect a base camp, and to prepare food, water, ammunition, clothing and tools ahead of time, in case of need. On the morning of 21 March 1938, fifty trucks carrying 500 people arrived to break a trail, and to carry all the provisions made ready to lower Hanita. With 100 men remaining at the camp, an Arab gang attacked, killing two men. The following day help arrived and work continued. On the fifth day, the road was completed to lower Hanita. After six months, there was a change of personnel. The 'Shimron' group took over responsibility of establishing the agricultural community on the mountain. They were joined some time later by the 'Segev' group.

In November 1947, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine gave the Western Galilee, with its seven Jewish settlements, to the Arab state. When war was declared, Hanita was isolated from the Jewish section, and several battles were waged in the area, so the kibbutz members evacuated the children from Hanita to Haifa. On the day of Israel's declaration of independence, the Jewish army broke through, and the Western Galilee became part of the new state. The kibbutz came to demarcate Israel's border with Lebanon in the Western Galilee
From Emek Zebulon, Mt. Carmel, the caravan of trucks was on the way while the moon still hung over the dark waters of the Mediterranean. 37 lorries loaded with tents, planks, mattresses, cots, length of iron pipes, provisions, and water, rumbled off into the future. The orders were that they must stay closely together, that there was to be no singing on the road, and that no one change from one truck to another.

At the head of the procession rode a party of ghafirs, or supernumerary constables, themselves Jewish Pioneers. Behind them, in motorcars [remember, it was 1938,] were 400 laborers, who were to return in the evening after the colony was established.

At the tail end of the trucks trotted a contingent of donkeys needed to carry loads up the hill. A second group of ghafirs brought up the rear.

Remember where you are in this story, and I shall come back to it, the Lord Willing, tomorrow, with the Battle for Hanita.

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