Stealing Home: Israel Bound and Rebound

By Haim Chertok | Go to book overview

HEAVYWEIGHT VISITORS FROM JERUSALEM

That first week of February proved a time of unlikely configurations. I did not that chilly Thursday evening much want to be outside hefting aloft one-half of a floppy, two- poled picket sign, even one that direly proclaimed (in Hebrew) YOU SHALL NOT INHERIT THE LAND WITH BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS. At 46, surely I was getting a touch old for this uncivil sort of thing. But then, just a few weeks before I had completed my most recent stretch of reserve duty--a mock, four-day exercise during which we elderlies routed "the enemy" who presumably had infiltrated our huge military airport. "Civics" in Israel is not, after all, the exclusive reserve of the young.

I stood among 15 others well back under an arcade between Shekem and Bank Hapoalim in Yeroham's central plaza. Could I already have lived here for seven years! It seemed incredible. The last time I had "demonstrated" on this plaza was four years previously on a Yom Atzmaut--Israel's Independence Day--when I had stood more or less at attention for a two-hour, mid-day stint in front of a ceremonial flame, unloaded M-16 in ceremonial readiness.

It had been hot. Until I was relieved, except for the buzzing flies on that occasion I had stood alone. This time a knot of police clustered some 20 paces away, a barrier between our line of 15 and the crowd that ranged between 60 and 75 persons. Nearly all of them at first confusedly noticed, then pointedly ignored us. They had come to see and hear the man whose

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