.....We stopped to explore the frontier post and stare at the ruins of a
Byzantine city on an adjacent hilltop. To the banshee accompaniment of
two Israeli Phantom jets turning south just over our heads, I read a
bullet-riddled metal sign in English, erected by the Israeli government:
THIS VILLAGE NOT [bullet hole] FROM
BIBLICAL KADESH BARNEA IS THE
ORIGINAL SITE OF THE BYZANTINE
CITY OF [bullet hole]
THE TURKS USED THE STONES
FROM ITS RUINS TO BUILD
THEIR ARMY ENCAMPMENT ON
[bullet hole] HILL
WHEN THE BRITISH MANDATE
TERMINATED ON PALESTINE ON
THE 15TH OF MAY 1948 [bullet hole]
WAS SEIZED BY THE [bullet hole] PTI
IT WAS CAPTURED [three bullet holes in a neat row]
DEFENSE FORCES IN DECEMBER
1948, AND [bullet hole] THE EGYPTIAN-
ISRAEL ARMISTICE AGREEMENT,
[bullet hole] AS DECLARED A DEMILITARIZED
AN EGYPTIAN BATTALION SEIZED
CERTAIN STRATEGIC HEIGHTS IN
THE ZONE IN OCTOBER 1955.
THEY WERE DRIVEN OFF BY ISRAEL
FORCES IN A DARING NIGHT
ACTION AT THE BEGINNING OF
IN THE [bullet hole] BROUGHT TO LIGHT
SOME [bullet hole] APYRI FROM THE
7TH CENTURY B.C.E.
(From: SINAI, the great and terrible wilderness, by Burton Bernstein,
[I visited Sinai (and Israel) in 1987, climbing the mountain--still
called Mt. Moses in a trilingual (Arabic, Greek, English) sign near
the top--in the late afternoon/early evening, spending the night
at the top and watching the magnificent sunrise in the morning.
I do not know if this is the case today, but back then there were
two Beduins at the top, selling tea and biscuits; about a dozen of
tourists spent the night there, climbing down shortly after sunrise.
I made friends there with an Egyptian soldier (we actually did the
climb together) and a German Religion student who acted as a
translator. In an interesting twist, the German student turned out
to have an Israeli boyfriend studying Geology in Germany. On the
way down she stopped to collect some stones for him. I remarked
that her boyfriend would be particularly touched to get those
stones from a (formerly) Israeli mountain; not so, she responded,
if he was that nationalistic then she wouldn't have dated him :-) ]
[Posted on soc.culture.israel in November 1993]
Jorge Luis Borges' "Israel (1969)"
In Israel I was fearful
of treacherously lurking sweet nostalgia
accumulated by centuries of diaspora
into a sorrowful treasure
in the cities of the infidel,
inside the ghettos,
through the dusks in the steppes
and the dreams;
the nostalgia of all who longed for you,
Jerusalem, by the rivers of Babylon.
What else were you, Israel, but this nostalgia,
precisely this determination to preserve,
through the changing forms of time,
your ancient magical book, your rites,
your solitude by God?
And yet ... the most ancient nation
is at the same time the youngest.
You did not deceive the world with gardens,
with gold and its vanity,
but only offered pain, the ultimate land.
Israel told Man in no words:
You shall forget who you are.
You shall forget what you were.
You shall forget who you were in those lands
that offered you their dawns and dusks
and the places you must no longer long for.
You shall forget the tongue of your fathers
in order to master the language of Paradise.
You shall be an Israeli -- a soldier.
In the swamps you shall make your homeland,
and in the desert you shall build it.
Right next to you your brother shall toil,
a brother whose face you have never gazed at.
We promise you only one thing -- a place in battle.
"At 12:30, [Boneh] called and told us he was in Rambam and that we
shouldn't worry," Boneh's mother, Heska, said. "We came here immediately
from Hadera. It's very hard for me [to deal] with what is happening. I'm
Dutch and I wasn't educated on the army, and it's very difficult for me to
deal with the fact that he's a fighter. But I am with him and I trust him
as well as the entire army."
"We have no other country and no other way" -- Moshe Merhavia, father of
Lieutenant Amihai Merhavia (+ Bint Jbail, 7/26/06 +)