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Yisrael Medad is a revenant resident of Shiloh, in the Hills of Efrayim north of Jerusalem. He arrived in Israel with his wife, Batya, in 1970 and lived in the renewing Jewish Quarter, eventually moving to Shiloh in 1981.
Currently the Menachem Begin Center's Information Resource Director, he has previously been director of Israel's Media Watch, a Knesset aide to three Members of Knesset and a lecturer in Zionist History. He assists the Yesha Council in it's contacts with the Foreign Media in a volunteer capacity, is active on behalf of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and is involved in various Jewish and Zionist activist causes. He contributes a Hebrew-language media column to Besheva and publishes op-eds in the Jerusalem Post and other periodicals.
Iyar 8, 5768, 5/13/2008
I "met" Shmuel Katz for the first time, as probably most people have done, through one of his books. I was on a year's program in Israel in 1966 when "Days of Fire" in its original Hebrew edition appeared and it was one of several dozen books I brought back with me. Unlike some of the other Irgun memoirs, this book presented history not only from a personal perspective but it read on an additional level entirely as if an academic was writing. Dr. Rafael Medoff, of the Wynman Institute, has noted that Katz also authored the first book to expose the Allies’ failure to bomb the Auschwitz death camp.
Using documents from British and Zionist archives, Katz recounted how Jewish Agency leaders were rebuffed by British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden in July 1944 when they requested an Allied air attack on Auschwitz and its rail lines. “It was fifty-seven days, September 1, before the British Foreign Office sent its reply, a period during which the majority of the Jews of Hungary were exterminated,” Katz wrote. At that same time, air drops to the Polish Home Army forces were undertaken by British planes, flying from the Foggia air base in Allied-occupied Italy. “The death camp at Auschwitz was 200 miles nearer than Warsaw to the base at Foggia,” Katz pointed out.
In 1973, when his classic "Battleground", putting forth the Zionist claim for a national homeland and unraveling the mendaciousness of anti-Zionist propaganda was published, "Moekie" Katz's position as the foremost disciple of Ze'ev Jabotinsky had been cemented. Shortly thereafter, I made contact with him (although we never really managed to pinpoint the exact circumstances of our first meeting. I seem to recall a meeting in Flushing, Queens on one of his Land of Israel Movement trips when I also happened to be in New York but it could have been earlier and in Israel). Upon my return from a two-year stint working with Betar England, during which time, incidentally, Barbara Oberman and I traveled to Paris to join Moekie for the launching of the French edition of Battleground when I first met Michel Gurfinkiel, we discussed my working with him. He was expecting that Menachem Begin would appoint him Minister for Public Diplomacy and that we would set aright the failings of Israel's chronic Hasbara (information services). But it was not to be as Moshe Dayan sabotaged the project.
We agreed that the anthology would follow the pattern I had proposed 25 years earlier: the articles on a specific subject would follow in a chronological pattern to show how Moekie had been correct in his analysis. I supplemented my own files with archive material made available through Elliot Jager from the Jerusalem Post and the total number of articles from which we were to make our selection seemed to be over 400. But I succeeded in transferring to him only the titles and my idea that the section headings would be more generalized. I had come up with a name, "Battlesense", but that, too, came too late. My hope is that the book will yet be published.
My last visit was two weeks or so before Passover, just after he came out of hospital where they had amputated his lower left leg. He repeated what he had been saying for a few years, that he was satisfied that, at the least, everything above his neck was in perfect condition. And that was true. Until his last hospital stay, he read two newspapers daily and we talked usually once a week or so when he displayed a complete grasp of events - and jokes - along with, by now, his regular withering critique of Israel's leadership. What was obvious to us both was that it pained him to be as pessimistic as he was and I am sure that contributed to his final physical breakdown of his body.
There exists a public persona of each of us and in that role, Moekie was towering. As an unofficial diplomat, as a participant in academic colloquia, an advisor, commentator and author, he was undefeatable and indefatigable. Rarely did I observe become angry but he could do that, too, and his words and tone could become slashing. He never hesitated to criticize, those near and far, when an error he perceived was to be made. But he was kind, gentle and considerate and, as he sometimes admitted to me, all he wanted to be was a Yiddishe mentsch, a good Jewish person.