Eli, son of Avraham and Leah, was born in 1931 in Jerusalem. He was the third child in a family of five. His parents were also born in Jerusalem. His paternal grandfather was born in Hebron, great-grandchild of Rabbi Moshe Maislish, who made aliyah to Hebron in 1813 and was one of the foremost disciples of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyady (founder of Habad Hasidism). Fluent in European language and literature, he met with Napoleon, spied for Russia, was imprisoned, escaped and made it to Hebron.
Eli was educated in Haredi institutions in Jerusalem. He studied in cheder and enjoyed praying. In the early 1940’s, the family moved to Netanya, which had no Haredi educational institutions. Thus, Eli was sent to the Tachkemoni School, part of the Mizrahi system.
At a young age, he joined Beitar, where he learned their songs and played sports. Upon finishing elementary school, he went to study in Yeshivat Tiferet Israel in Haifa. There he met Lehi members who were distributing promotional materials in the yeshiva. Eli was captivated by their ideology and started participating in demonstrations against the British and the White Paper, and for free aliyah. The participants were often “rewarded” with beatings. On one of his school holidays, he met with Sheike Beckman. After a few meetings, he was convinced to join.
His first duties were putting up posters, disseminating Lehi propaganda, observing British army bases, seizing soldiers’ arms in cafes and parking lots, and mainly finding new recruits. He and his comrades trained constantly with firearms, practicing in Nahal Poleg, with David “Shaul” Tillman instructing them. They also had ideological discussions.
In 1950, he enlisted in the IDF and served in the Artillery Corps. After being discharged, he was sent by the Mizrahi system to inspect the schools in the transit camps. In the evenings, he taught new immigrant Hebrew. In 1954, he went abroad as an emissary. He returned and fought in the Six-Day War, liberating the Golan Heights. In the Yom Kippur War, he was one of the fighters who crossed the canal.
His academic studies began in New York. He learned dramatic writing, earning a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in Jewish history. These degrees he completed in Bar-Ilan University.
In 1967, he married Esther Kerner, who was a teacher until she retired. They had three sons, who all pursued higher education. They were dedicated to Greater Israel.
Eli spent his life editing and publishing, running a publishing house by the name of Deshe. He is now the assistant editor of the monthly Nativ, which contains long-form writing about national and societal issues.