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Part 2 of the story of Winnipeg’s Machalniks: 20 young men who volunteered to fight for the fledgling State of Israel in 1948

Ed. introduction: Elsewhere on this site we have the first part of a story (https://jewishpostandnews.ca/features/in-1948-20-young-jewish-men-from-winnipeg-went-to-palestine-to-fight-for-the-fledgling-jewish-state) that had been written by my late brother Matt in August 1989. In that first part Matt described going to a gathering of ten individuals from Winnipeg who had volunteered to serve in the Haganah when Israel found itself under attack by seven Arab armies in May 1948, upon Israel’s declaration of statehood. Machal was an acronym for the Hebrew “Mitnadvei Hutz La’aretz” (volunteers from outside the country). That gathering, at what was then the General Monash branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, was the first time that Winnipeg Machalniks had been honoured by any organization in Winnipeg.
Here is part 2 of that story:

Seventeen-year-old, Jack Hurtig served as chief tactical officer of the “Bomb Command” at Ramat David, near Nazareth.
Among other duties, Hurtig was in charge of equipping planes for bombing runs.
“It was like getting aircraft from a scrapyard,” he says. The men in charge of getting planes for Israel’s pledging air force bought whatever they could get all over the world. “We took rusted fence posts, and tied them to the underside of the wing. It was the only air force I know that used fence posts to hold bombs.”
“There were so many encounters,” Hurtig recalls “….Event after event. The air force started as a disorganized group of individuals under very poor direction. In two to three months, it became a first class fighting outfit.
“Anyone from air forces in Arab countries came from wealthy families. They had no desire to die. For the Jewish men and women, it was a matter of survival.”

Jack Olfman, another Winnipeg Machalnik, was 32 when he left for Israel in October 1948.
His younger brother, Mickey, had left Canada in May to join the Haganah.
Jack Olfman had served as a wireless operator and air gunner during World War II.
In Israel, he was based in Akir, south of Rehovot, on the northern edge of the Negev.
“They needed ground wireless men to pass on messages between military camps and take down weather forecasts. The forecasts were all in code.
“ I just passed it on to somebody in the code room and he would decipher it.”

One of Olfman’s most vivid memories is visiting his brother, stationed about 15 miles east of Safed.
To reach him, about 100 yards from the Syrian guns, Jack had to climb a steep hill.
“I got up about 40 feet, and couldn’t see a path any more. It was covered with weeds. The path was mined, but I kept on going. Right on top was my brother on a mule, carrying water. And there was this American kid sitting on a rock, reading a comic book, with a rifle across his knees.
“I said: ‘This is how you’re guarding against the Syrians!’ “ Olfman recalls. “I thought it was very comical.”

The other Machalniks have other colourful memories – like encounters with Ben-Gurion, and gathering in an office the Canadian Zionist Federation ran on the Tel Aviv beachfront to enjoy cans of Chicago Kosher corned beef and pick up mail from home.
But when they returned to Winnipeg after the war, they met with a subdued reaction from the Jewish community.
Olfman recalls gathering at the Peretz School, where he and a few other Machalniks showed off souvenirs they brought back from Israel. But few Winnipeg Jews showed up, apart from some friends and relatives.
Aside from last month’s dinner at the General Monash Branch, the Machalniks can’t recall anyone holding a ceremony to honour the approximately 20 Winnipeggers, including five gentiles who volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence.
They note that several other Canadian Jewish communities have held such events. “The boys aren’t hostile,” but it’s a strange thing one local Machalnik says. “It has been sad that to be honoured by Winnipeg’s Jewish community you have to give some money.”
Bob Freedman, executive director of the Winnipeg Jewish Community Council says “if the community has never honored Mahcalniks, I would simply have to assume it was an oversight.”
Willie Fisher, Freedman’s wife’s first cousin, was one of 2 Winnipeg Machalniks who was killed fighting for Israel in its first war.
“It was nice that Jewish war veterans did something” to honor the Machalniks, Freedman continued.
But, he wonders, what would be the most proper way to recognize them further, four decades later without embarrassing them?
Still, Freedman concludes, “I think something should be done in a tasteful manner.”

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Features

The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

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Features

Dangers from the far-right in America explored in new book

By MARTIN ZEILIG “The United States is confronted by a serious domestic terrorist threat in addition to the foreign ones that have commanded our attention for the past two decades,” warn Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) fellows and leading terrorism experts Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware, says a review of “God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America” on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations (January 2, 2024).  
“Their new book provides a definitive account of how ‘“violent extremism has woven itself into the fabric of national, state, and local politics,”’ from the tragedy that unfolded at a historic African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015 through the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.” 

Co-authors of “God, Guns, and Sedition” Bruce Hoffman (left) and Jacob Ware


Bruce Hoffman is the Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service; professor emeritus of terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews; and the George H. Gilmore Senior Fellow at the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. His Columbia University Press books include “Inside Terrorism “(third edition, 2017).
Jacob Ware is a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and at DeSales University. He serves on the editorial boards for the academic journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism and the Irregular Warfare Initiative at the Modern War Institute at West Point. 

Mr. Hoffman agreed to discuss the book in an email interview with The Jewish Post & News.
JP&N: Why did you decide to write this book now?
BH: The idea for this book came to me just a month into the global COVID lockdown. April 2020 was a dark, dangerous, and highly fearful and uncertain time. Odious conspiracy theories, that had been circulating for years, suddenly gained newfound momentum across the internet and social media. Indeed, within days of the lockdown, Jewish people were being blamed and vilified for creating the pandemic in order to profit monetarily from it.
Asians, persons of color, and immigrants, and others, were also being targeted for blame. Only weeks earlier I had been the target of a serious hate crime. Isolated at home, like most of the rest of the world, I had lots of time to think about what was happening and, I quickly reached the conclusion that I needed to return to my analytical roots.
To explain, I had begun my career as a terrorism and counterterrorism analyst in 1981 at the renowned American think-tank, The RAND Corporation. However, by the time that I joined its Security and Subnational Conflict Research Program, all the more prominent left-wing and ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorists active at the time had been taken by other members of the research team.
Surveying the remaining terrorist movements that had not yet been chosen, I decided to focus on the threat posed by neo-Nazi and neo-fascist groups then active in Europe. That in fact was the subject of my first ever professional publication.
Within only a couple of years, I expanded by focus to include their even far more dangerous American counterparts. I therefore studied intently violent, far-right terrorism in the United States from the mid-1980s through the September 11, 2001 attacks. Then, like most other terrorism analysts, my attention was diverted for the next two decades almost exclusively to al Qaeda and then the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).
Meanwhile, terrorist attacks from violent, far-right extremists both in the United States and elsewhere had suddenly started to increase during the twenty-teens. In 2011, for instance, there were simultaneous, tragic terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya, Norway; four years later there was the horrific shootings of worshippers at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina; then in 2018 a gunman stormed into the Jewish Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh killing congregants; and in 2019 the attacks within weeks of one another on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and a Jewish synagogue in Poway, California, and then that summer at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, clearly demonstrated that the same hateful ideology and bloody mindset that had fueled far-right violence during the closing decades of the twentieth-century, when I first began studying this phenomenon, had neither disappeared nor abated.
Accordingly, I approached my friend and colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations and Georgetown University, Jacob Ware, and proposed that we together write this book. And, we immediately began work on it.
 
 JP&N: What is the extent of far-left terrorism in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in the world? Is there a connection between far-right and far-left extremists?
 BH: Let me emphasize that politically-motivated violence—that is, terrorism—in the United States is not confined exclusively to the far-right. Indeed, prior to the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building the most serious incident targeted Republication congressmen. In June 2017, a self-proclaimed supporter of progressive, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders opened fire at an early morning practice for the annual congressional charity baseball game. The then-House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, was seriously wounded, along with five other persons. If not for the U.S. Capitol Police present as part of Rep. Scalise’s security detail, who killed the gunman, the outcome would likely have been very different. In another incident two years later, a self-professed anarchist tried to firebomb a Tacoma, Washington Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility, before being shot dead by responding officers.
But with the exception of those two very serious incidents and some others of brawling, rioting, arson, and vandalism that occurred during Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration in Washington, DC, and in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and some other cities following the death of George Floyd by police in 2021, the threat of violence from violent, far-left extremists has been less pervasive and less consequential than that from their counterparts on the far-right. Indeed, Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss in her book, “Hate in the Homeland,” estimates that there were at least 75,000 armed and violently-inclined far-right extremists in the United States as of 2020—a number that likely completely eclipses that of violently-inclined far-left extremists in the United States: many of whom are not armed and lack the training and expertise possessed by those on the far-right fringe.
The only connection between the two is that they both ascribe to the strategy of “accelerationism.” First articulated by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in their 1848 pamphlet, “Manifesto Of The Communist Party,” accelerationism today is embraced by both ends of the ideological spectrum who believe that the modern Western, liberal state is so corrupt and inept that it is beyond redemption and must be destroyed in order to create a new society and way of governance.
 
JP&N: What are the strategies for combating far-right terrorism?
BH: The book argues that the United States needs a comprehensive, wide-ranging, institutionalized strategy to effectively counter the threat to our democracy from violent, far-right extremism. Measures are required to strengthen American civil society more generally as well as to specifically target violent extremist groups, their activists and supporters, their propagandists and sympathizers, and their recruiters and financiers.
 The policy recommendations we propose fall into three categories: short-term measures to create a stronger regulatory framework, with relatively immediate effects; medium-term measures to strengthen civil society, with impacts over the next five to ten years; and, long-term measures to build national unity and strengthen resilience that will benefit future generations and inoculate them against the allure of extremist ideologies.
This comprehensive counterterrorism strategy will require measures to combat extremists’ free reign online, efforts to build and support longer-term initiatives to prevent new radicalization, and the establishment of new laws to counteract the challenges in prosecuting perpetrators of far-right terrorist plots.

“God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America”
(Columbia University Press $28.95 USD)


 
 

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Features

Israel programs looking for Canadian volunteers

Volunteers with Leket are helping to harvest fruit and vegetable crops in Israel's south

By BERNIE BELLAN Living as Israelis are in a time of unprecedented tension and uncertainty, more than ever volunteers are needed to fill important roles in that country. While there are so many areas of Israeli society that are now in great need of help, we decided to focus on three programs with which we have some familiarity, having written articles about each of them in the past: Leket, Sar-El, and MASA.
Each program offers a completely different experience for volunteers. We contacted the offices of Leket and Sar-El and had previously been in touch with the Canadian representative for MASA.

 Leket Israel
We received the following information from a representative for Leket in Israel: “I’m pleased to share that over the past three months, Leket Israel has seen a remarkable influx of volunteer participation in all of Leket Israel’s operations. In addition to its usual volunteer opportunities at the Leket Israel Logistics Center in Gan Haim and the fields in Rishon Lezion, Leket has begun matching volunteers with farmers in need of assistance in harvesting their produce.
“In routine times, Leket Israel welcomes around 5,500 volunteers in the Logistics Center and fields to assist in its food rescue activities.
 “Over the past 14 weeks, Leket has sent over 27,000 volunteers from Israel and overseas to support over farmers around the country, most of them in the Gaza strip region. Additionally, hundreds of volunteers come every day to help sort and pack produce at the Logistics Center and to harvest produce in the fields in Rishon Lezion.
 “Joseph Gitler, Founder and Chairman: The surge of volunteer participation serves as a testament to the unwavering spirit of giving in Israeli society. This collective effort is making a profound difference in the lives of thousands of displaced Israelis throughout the country.”
 

Sar-El volunteers help to do such things as pack kit bags for members of the IDF


Sar-El (acronym from the Hebrew Sherut l’Israel)

Sar-El is a program that assigns volunteers to work on Israeli army bases for either two or three week stints. (Stays can be extended with permission.) Programs are open to volunteers of all ages.
Volunteers are expected to be physically fit and already in a physical fitness program before applying. You should be capable of light or heavy lifting, or standing for long periods of time.

According to the Sar-El website volunteers can be expected to perform non-combat civilian support duties such as packing medical supplies, repairing machinery and equipment, packing and checking all kinds of equipment.
Volunteers work Sunday-Thursday and are expected to be able to put in eight hours of work per day. Three kosher meals a day are provided.

Recently we happened to meet a couple who are both going to Israel quite soon to volunteer with Sar-El. They told me that, due to the exceptional circumstances, they will not actually be stationed on an army base, but rather will be living nearby.

masa volunteers spend 6 weeks in Israel in three 2-week blocks

masa Israel Journey
masa is a program for 16-40 year-olds that offers a variety of different programs from which to choose. We were recently contacted by a representative of the masa Israel office in response to a question we had about volunteering during wartime. We had received an email that was aimed at American volunteers, so we wanted to make sure that Canadian volunteers were eligible to volunteer on masa programs.
We were told that Canadians are definitely eligible to volunteer: “In regards to your question, yes Canadians are absolutely eligible! The eligibility of the program is 18-40 years old, identify as Jewish, have not received Masa funding in the past / have not spend 4 or more consecutive months in Israel and speak proficient English.”
Currently masa is offering a special wartime program. According to information on the masa website, The purpose of the program is to enable young Jews, ages 18-40, from around the world to volunteer in the State of Israel during wartime. Our unique program is divided into three 2-week segments. The first two weeks, we will be based in a youth village south of Tel Aviv, cooking meals for soldiers. The middle two weeks will be based in Tel Aviv while we volunteer on an army base and the final two weeks we will be based in the beach town of Eilat where we will be planning and implementing activities with evacuees under the age of 18. Interspersed within the six weeks will be agricultural volunteering as well as tours, educational and social events. For more information please register below or email Rina at rinas@israeloutdoorsnext.net.

We have not given email addresses for any of the three organizations cited here. Simply Google each of their names if you’re interested in finding out more about them and you’ll find out how to contact representatives.

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