Renowned writer Aliza Bas Menachem bids farewell to Barry Chamish, OBM, an investigative journalist who wrote a book about the 2005 Disengagement from Gush Katif called ‘Bye Bye Gaza.’
by Aliza Bas Menachem
Barry Chamish wrote a book about the 2005 Disengagement from Gush Katif. He called the book ‘Bye Bye Gaza.’ So when I heard the news of his death, the phrase Bye Bye Barry came into my mind. Barry’s life journey was unusual. Barry was unusual. He was a man with passion and purpose. A few days before his death he emailed to his list of followers that his landlord was refusing to provide air conditioning in 95 degree weather. And he was too sick to move. The next I heard was that he was gone. For sure I am not going to say Shalom Haver. Boruch Dayan Emes and Bye Bye Barry is just fine.
I first met Barry years ago in his apartment in Modi’in, not far from Tel Aviv. We spoke about his work. We discovered we were born just months apart in Winnipeg. He in the north end, me in the south. He gave me a number of books and signed them for me. The visit was my last stop before going to the airport for my flight back to the US. I had the books with me to read on the plane. A young security guard saw them. She read the title ‘Who Killed Yitzhak Rabin?’ and told me that they knew who killed him. I just smiled. I was more concerned about getting on my plane than letting her know there was an enormous amount of circumstantial evidence to the contrary of what she had been told.
When I got back to Crown Heights, I took the inscribed books to Certified Graphologist Yaakov Rosenthal. I just wanted to know about Barry. He was such an unusual character. OK. The real reason. I wondered if he was dangerous. Yaakov put my mind at rest for that. No danger, at all. After getting to know him, I see how unfounded my fear was. What Yaakov did tell me was, “This guy is a wacko genius.” Isn’t that a great description? And it is so true. Yaakov also told me that Barry was a source for detailed data. He knows a tremendous amount of information. Years later Barry and I had occasion to speak about our childhoods in Winnipeg. He remembered details I had long forgotten. Sure I recognized what he was saying – but I never could have recalled it. He had me in stitches as he reminded me of the Winnipeg flavor of a childhood long ago.
Barry Chamish bore the label of Conspiracy Theorist. A title that ranks together with Racist and Bigot – to repel people from questioning why this person has the label, and to prevent people from entertaining the thought that maybe the reason for the label… might not be as repulsive as the name caller wants it to be.
Barry’s passion was for the safety of Eretz Yisroel. He left Canada and settled in Eretz Yisroel. He joined the army and served in Lebanon. But he kept being confronted with what looked like shady activities that made him realize there was corruption in powerful circles in his new country. And then the Rabin assassination took place. I have spoken to a lot of people who sensed something was amiss – but no one took it as seriously as Barry. He kept following leads and reporting his findings. He made a very good case for an alternative explanation for the murder – and the press ostracized him. Then he analyzed the story with Borch Goldstein in Hevron. It’s not hard to do. Most of the information is online. There is a report from the Israeli court to the UN that clearly shows that there was plenty of evidence for two different stories. And the judge chose to pick the story that benefitted the government.
Barry wanted people to be aware of what was happening. He was appalled by the so-called leaders of the anti-disengagement camp. Leaders who compromised away the good will of the people who trusted them.
Thanks to Barry there is a shift in public awareness for the kinds of things Barry investigated and reported on. Despite a contrary media – he did a great service – at a great price to himself.
Barry kept writing, kept publishing, emails and books. He made speeches. Often his books would sell out and his audiences were numerous – but he was always pushed to the sidelines.
He survived what seems to have been attempts at his life. Attempts that left him alive, but in poor health.
There is a picture of Barry putting on Tefilin in 770. That was the morning after he spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Crown Height. I know it was Motzei Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah – but I don’t remember the year. The deal was that if he came and kept Shabbos, there would be an event for him. And that’s what happened.
Barry returned his Neshama on the 19th of Menachem Av, 5776. On the same day, Rebbitzen Esther Jungreis, the same thing. Rebbitzen’s Jungreis’ event was well publicized and she received praises for her dedication to her people. Barry, not so much publicity. And if it was reported, it was with clear implications of disassociation by the reporting entity.
Rebbitzen Jungreis was rescued from the Holocaust by what came to be known as the Kastner train. Malcolm Gladwell might refer to the Kastner Train as Moral Licensing. The Kastner Train is not something Rebbitzen Jungreis would want to publicize. It was a murky project. It is the kind of project that Barry Chamish would want to have publicized so that people should be aware of what happened in hopes that they would not let it happen again in some similar form by the same people, or their adherents, who are still in power today. And yet, for Barry, on his life’s work, the media is silent.
His life’s work. It is in his books. But I find some, not all, of his writing to be problematic. Afterall, he is a Wacko Genius. I think that in his writing he expects others to be able to follow his train of thought – when we need more steps along the way. He assumes a level of understanding that a lot of people don’t have. I would love to see his books summarized and made understandable for the average mind. And yet, when I was researching material for my novel, BANISHED, his books were a great resource for me.
So what can we learn from Barry’s work that we can apply today? We can distance ourselves from mainstream media that avoids reporting the truth. I presume no one subscribes to the NYTimes anymore. Even on the internet – you can get news from alternate sources. Roger Stone is probably the foremost reporter for the election and he is not given exposure in the mainstream media. He has more personal experience with politicians and election than anyone else. We can focus on what Mayor Rudy Giuliani has to say. He has a lot of facts on the important topic of law and order from his hands on experience with police departments and the Department of Justice. Newt Gingrich has also been vocal with tough, effective ideas for reducing domestic terrorist attacks.
If anyone is in a position to help select people to advise Donald Trump on the Middle East… I recommend: Dr. Aryeh Eldad, Journalist Caroline Glick, Uri Ariel MK and Dr. Ben-Ari. These are people who think outside the box of the likes of people who condemn all settlers for the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the alleged actions for Boruch Goldstein.
So, Bye Bye Barry. Take care. Don’t forget about us. We are not forgetting about you.