4.0994 Israeli Diaries: Werman (1/227)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 6 Feb 91 21:48:20 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0994. Wednesday, 6 Feb 1991.

Date: Sun, 3 Feb 91 18:34 +0200
Subject: Where is the Left?

Sunday, 3 February

Where is the Left?

I was sending off yesterday's report to various friends and
to nets where they are reprinted. [From letters I learn that
there are other nets which are reprinting my letters, some have
informed me - even asked permission; others have not bothered.]
And to those who have written and told me that they had
difficulty in obtaining the material but wanted it. It was
actually after 1 AM this morning when I began to send out the
copies. My tardiness resulted from a number of factors; these
included the fact that I am an observant Jew and do not write or
use a computer terminal between sundown Friday and sundown Satur-
day, in fact do no work at all in that 25 hours. [When I tried
to explain this to my hosts during my recent trip to China, they
obligingly decided to lock me in my room for that period. I ex-
plained to them that this was not necessary, that I could walk
around within the city. Reasoning logically they argued that I
should be able to ride in a car, for after all riding in a car
is even less work than walking. A number of other interesting
confusions arose from their never having had to deal with Jewish
mores and religion, but this is neither the time nor the place
to expand upon them.] - thus, I was delayed by the wait for the
exit of the Sabbath and then, later, there was the attack that
I have already reported. That had to be survived and recorded
and added to the report. As I said, it was after 1 AM and then
we had another attack, the second this night.

1:37 - I hear the radio broadcast [I have been calling a battery
operated radio a transistor radio; this is a direct trans-
lation from the Hebrew and, as a reader pointed out, is
incorrect.] interrupted by the sisma [code slogan that
indicates that a certain group has to go into action. All
of Israel now recognizes this sisma, which clearly is a
signal to the operators of the local sirens to turn on
their sirens. It may also activate other groups [Patriots?
Not likely. They seem to have, just as the General Staff
does, direct access to the sightings reported by the US spy
satellite over Iraq.] but that is not obvious to us. In
fact, some 30 seconds later, the siren is heard clearly.
I note that this and the last attack both took place on or
about the half-hour. But I must avoid this silly game of
looking for patterns, looking for meaning. A friend writes
that my search for patterns is a product of a Western out-
look; that, to understand Saddam Hussein better, I should
study Chaos, of which he is a prime example.
My wife, mother and I are joined in the sealed room by our
son, who arrived from the Far East on Friday afternoon, and
his girl friend who is visiting. His second attack; and he
has here less than 12 hours.
1:43 - Nahman Shai tells us that this is a real attack and not a
false alarm; all of Israel is requested to enter the poison
gas-free rooms and don their masks.
1:45 - He tells us that one SCUD has been fired and landed in Israel,
that the situation is similar to the last attack, five hours
1:53 - We are all released from the sealed rooms except those living
in the Shomron [Samaria] and in greater Tel Aviv.
1:57 - Those living in Tel Aviv are also released.
1:58 - Only those in the northern part of Samaria have to remain in
their rooms. The same pattern as in the earlier attack.

My son's girl friend has to call her mother to tell her that she
is safe; other calls. Some confusion. I forget to note when the
general all-clear is given - on the radio, again no siren is used.
Once again this compulsion to record, to tell takes hold of me; I do
not go to sleep until after 3:30 AM.


The last four SCUDS have fallen short of the coastal population
centers which have been the targets of Iraq's missile attacks. The
missiles have all landed in the Shomron, or Sameria, in the occupied
territories where mostly Palestinian Arabs live as well as far few
Jewish settlers. The Palestinian Arab's are bewildered by these
events. A short lived sport popular in the first week, climbing to
the roofs of houses and cheering encouragement to the missiles pass-
ing to the west, on their way to the Jewish population centers, is no
longer so common. The Palestinian Arabs have made a great emotional
investment in Saddam Hussein, whom they see as a possible savior, the
only effective Arab leader on the scene sympathetic to them - as well
as strong enough to make the hated and - in their eyes - treacherous
west back down. They find both reasonable explanations for the rain
of missiles on their territories - either it is deliberate or the
Iraqis are screwing up - unacceptable.

The Palestinian Arabs note that the Patriot anti-missile
missiles have not been used against these last four SCUDs, and feel
that this is the result of a deliberate decision on the part of the
Jews whom they perceive as wanting to exterminate them. [They are
not impressed by the argument that the Patriots only have an effect-
ive range against missiles of about 5 miles; that the concentration
of Patriot batteries near the the large cities does not allow inter-
ception of these SCUDs which fall out of range.]

Some Palestinian Arabs even claim that the missiles are
actually fired by the Israelis, and aimed at them. Good heros are
hard to find; and apparently even harder to give up.


Like most modern countries, the literary establishment in Israel
is one of the strongholds of the non-Communist left. So complete is
their control of the literary magazines, the media - in this book
hungry country [After all, we are the people of the book.], all the
newspapers, even those directed at the least serious reader, have
serious literary supplements in every Friday [weekend] issues and
expanded editions for the holidays - and the formation of the lit-
erary taste and opinion in this country, that when David Shahar, a
novelist associated with the right politically, won a major liter-
ary prize for the best novel translated into French several years
ago, the almost universal response was "David Who?"

Shahar, who had already published three novels as well as
collections of short stories, was a virtual unkown here as a result
of his systematic exclusion from the eyes of readers [It is quite
common here for the better known novelists to publish chapters or
smaller parts of work in progress in the literary journals and in
the holiday editions of newspaper literary sections. Shahar was
forced to publish through Hadar, a small, little known press also
run by a right winger, a former operations officer of one of the
separatist, right wing groups [Etzel, Lehi, The Stern Gang] that
operated during the waning days of the British mandate in Palestine.
Nor was he reviewed: as a right winger, he was simply did not

[I am pleased to say that Shahar, following a continued and
repeated success in France - and a split with his right wing
publisher (Shahar is still politically on the right) - is now
published by the largest publisher in the country, the Histadrut's
- the overall labor organization, closely identified with the
Labor Party - organ, Am Oved. Shahar's long series, tracing a
group of interesting and colorful characters in Jerusalem from the
30's on, through a series - Is it six now? Or seven? - of novels
that have continued to have great success in France and moderate
success here. Only one of his novels has been translated into
English - as far as I know - "His Majesty's Agent". This novel -
not part of the series - is a romping, pornographic roman a clef
which is probably not too meaningful for American readers, except
for a broad, cruel parody at the beginning, a portrait of a famous
American Jewish literary figure who allegedly attempted, unsuccess-
fully, to prevent publication of the translation. In my opinion,
the third [I think] novel in the series, "The Day of the Countess,"
is the finest novel written in Hebrew in the past 50 years and is
world class.]

Two successful novelists - both deserving of their reputations
- in the camp of the Left, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, have been out-
spoken in their support, both here and abroad, of dealing directly
with the PLO. [There are subtle differences in their political
postures, but these are not relevant to the present discussion.]
They are both clearly embarrassed by the PLO's support of Saddam
Hussein and have backed off, to different degrees, in their support
of that terrorist organization [My words, their implied criticism.].
I do not think that either rejects - even after all this - the option
of dealing with the PLO and even entering formal negotiations with
them - on the basis that there is no alternative. But the latest
difficulty they find themselves in is their inability to make common
cause with their leftist brothers, especially in Europe, from whom
they formerly drew support and sympathy. They see their European
leftist friends leading the peace demonstrations against the war in
the Persian Gulf and happily marching in the first rows - and are
confused and disappointed, isolated and betrayed.

It appears that Oz and Yehoshua are shocked by the inability of
their former colleagues to distinguish between war and war. They no
longer can understand how anyone can be against all wars, no matter
how Evil the nature of the war. For Jews, even on the left, and for
Israelis especially - we have the questionable fortune of being re-
minded, time after time - Hitler's war is too close, its purpose too
unbelievable. But Hitler's war gives us a criterion with which to
measure other wars. Panama, Nicaragua, the Falklands, Granada fail
that critierion. Saddam Hussein who is willing to rape Kuwait and
cynically blame Israel, to fire missiles on civilian populations who
are not at war with him, to murder 5000 Kurds with poison gas - this
Saddam Hussein passes that critierion. This - for all right thinking
people - must be a war worth fighting.

The Israel left is in a very difficult position. They no longer
find they are supported by their counterparts elsewhere who can not
see the different nature of this war. Moreover, their willingness to
sacrifice so much - to give the Palestinians the state they want - is
at least partially meant to find favor in the eyes of their leftist
fellows. Perhaps the realization that their leftist fellows are will-
ing to see them and their families die - in the name of "Justice" -
is just too much for them.


One of my correspondents points out to me that the Hadassah-Hebrew
University Hospital in Jerusalem - generally thought to be the best
hospital in the Middle East -has been designated as a "first stop" for
allied casualties from the Gulf War. Until now, a US Army - hospital
in Wiesbaden, Germany was the "first stop". It would be interesting to
see if any of the Arab members of the coalition allow their wounded to
be taken to Israel. Probably the designation of Hadassah is for West-
erners, only.


Another correspondesnt forwards to me the following "interesting
piece of trivia": The name PATRIOT is in fact, an acronym:

P hased
A rray
T racking
R adar
I ntercept
O n
T arget

And I can add that the H2 and H3 staging areas for SCUD missiles
in western Iraq were originally the Haifa 2 and Haifa 3 pumping sta-
tions of the Iraq Petroleum Company which was British owned and until
1948 served thes stations served to pump oil from the Kirkuk oil fields
to the refineries in Haifa.

__Bob Werman

copyright 1991 USA. All rights reserved.