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Chapter 5

Now settled in his upstairs bedroom, Reuben lay restlessly thinking of the 1948 war in Israel. As a young boy he never understood what his parents or relatives had done that was so bad to cause them to be punished so harshly. As he grew older, some understanding came of the hatred between Jews and Arabs. It was as vicious, unjust and cruel as that between some races of different colour. We are the same colour and from the same soil, yet Palestine was partitioned into two independent states in November 1947. He learned that his family and other Arab families could not accept a Jewish state and tried to take all of Palestine. Israel was granted independence after the defeat of Arabic nations. It was proclaimed on May 14th 1948.(1) This resulted in many strong attacks over the next few years by the surrounding Arab nations.

During these years there was continuing hostility by the Arabs, with Egypt closing the Suez Canal to shipping. The Port of Eilat in the south was also affected, disrupting vessels bearing oil. By now, Reuben remembered his father had been killed. He had then gone with his mother and grandmother to live at the Kibbutz. This was where he first met David and his family. Up until he left for university Reuben only heard news of the city from the Jewish point of view. He heard there was a period of mass migration of Jews to Israel, many more than the few that had returned in the early nineteen hundreds. Parliament , the Knesset, had enacted the Law of Return which stated that every Jew had the right to come to Israel as an immigrant. This of course resulted in housing, food and employment shortages. Eventually new immigrants were assimilated and the standard of living rose for many as they became self sufficient. Some Arabs, he was told, shared this progress with increased benefits to education, social welfare, health and home services. They were able to participate in free elections and were represented in the Knesset, which had been formed in 1949. However, just as progress was being made in trades and industry, the Al Fatah, a Palestinian terrorist organization, began sending trained terrorists into Israel for sabotage. Even the Kibbutz settlements in Galilee, like the one where he lived, were bombarded by Syrians.

In June 1967, Israel attacked several Arab countries. Nassar of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan joined forces with Iraq and Syria to defend themselves. This war lasted only six days. During that time, the streets of Jerusalem once again echoed with the sounds of battle. By the time all parties agreed to a cease-fire, Israel had captured the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the entire West Bank area.(2)

Whilst he was at university, Reuben received letters from his mother, telling him this was the first time since 70 A.D. Israel had gained possession of the Old City of Jerusalem. At that time, the Roman legions under Titus had destroyed Jerusalem, killing many Jews and causing the remainder to be scattered throughout the land. About 900 of these held out for three years on the top of Masada.

Reuben recalled reading in the Athenian Cross of so-called Arab terrorist attacks at Israel's northern borders. He also remembered another Olympics, at Munich in 1972 where Israeli athletes were murdered. Could this happen in Athens this Olympics he wondered? Security at Athens airport seemed tight the other day, but there was certainly many Israeli's and Arabs gathered together, apparently at peace with each other, to contest the games. Previously they had fought each other over land, oil, the right to use the Suez Canal, and some Holy places. Reuben also recalled the Yom Kippur War in October of 1973.(3) Egypt and Syria were the two main aggressors. Out of that short war, an agreement was made to begin peace talks. In spite of peace treaties, both then and in the early 1990's, the violence from both sides continued today. Burnt out tanks still sat rusting at The Golan Heights, amidst much travelled roads past Galilee and his old Kibbutz, a reminder to all of the battles fought in this land. Reuben felt sure both Arab and Jew would continue to argue, fight and suffer. Throughout all the world, there continued to be many people living in nations dominated by religious hierarchies, governments, or foreign powers. Most nations lacked true freedom. Like Israel, they suffered violence, or so called ethnic cleansing, and political repression thwarting democracy, causing misery and daily horrors to those who survived these evil onslaughts. Statistics, events, and sounds of the past filled Reuben's head as he remembered things he had buried long ago in the dark recesses of his mind.

More recently, the events of that day in 1995. In November 1995, King Hussein of Jordan met in Israel with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, President Clinton of USA, and dignitaries of many other countries. This time they gathered for the funeral of Israel's Prime Minister of peace, Yitzhak Rabin. He had been shot at a peace rally in Tel Aviv attended by more than 100 000. People came from Israel, Jordan and Morocco and other countries throughout the world.

Only two months earlier, Israel and the P.L.O. had agreed to extend self rule across the West Bank of the State of Israel. Rabin and Arafat signed the accord in Washington, allowing 1.2 million Palestinians to run their own affairs after 28 years of occupation. Israeli troops had begun their withdrawal from Jenin, the first major town to be evacuated under the self-rule agreement. Foreign minister Shimon Peres, who was appointed acting Prime Minister, pledged the peace process would continue.

Rabin had previously faced threats from Jewish right wing extremists, but a lone gunman struck just minutes after Rabin had told those at the rally of the enemies of peace trying to stop the peace process with the P.L.O. Whilst P.L.O. leader Yassa Arafat, once Israel's mortal enemy mourned, Palestinian and Muslim guerrillas in Lebanon fired into the sky in celebration.

Minutes before the gunman killed the Prime Minister, he stood before the peace rally hugging his Foreign Minister, Mr Perez, his long time rival.

"You see," Mr Rabin said, "Things change, not only in the world but also in the middle east - for us."

"We are hugging for peace," Mr. Perez said. The last song heard by Mr Rabin before he died was the peace song Shir Ha Shalom. After singing it he put the words in his pocket. The assassins bullet went through the words of the song into his body.

Reuben recalled times past when initially, Arabs were blamed wrongly for bombings in Australia and the U.S.A., just as those who thought wrongly that Rabin was assassinated by an Arab.
A thought, tiny as a mustard seed, began to germinate in Reuben's furrowed mind as he tossed to and fro in the early hours of another steamy, airless dawn. A passionate desire began to form, blotting out the pictures of the night that had flashed across his eyes as if they had happened only yesterday. "I must sell my computer business," he thought.

"The proceeds could help my Arab people regain more of their lost territory. I know many areas are being returned, including the West Bank and Jericho," he reasoned, "But these will never be enough. We will not be satisfied, until all Jews kneel with us in our sacred Mosque, to worship as we do."

Just how he might help was not yet clear, but he knew a plan would unfold as he waited for the right opportunities to be seized.

The NovelNotes Feature.

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel.

Chapter 5 NovelNotes

1. This is the declaration of independence written about in NovelNotes Chapter 3, when a provisional Israeli Government was formed.

2. This is the six day war mentioned in NovelNotes in Chapter 3. Israel destroyed 452 planes in the first 3 hours. The Jewish possession of the Old City of Jerusalem was the first time they had been in possession since 70 A.D.

3. The Yom Kippur War began whilst the Israeli Cabinet were meeting. Israel's enemies must have chosen this day to begin the war, thinking that Israel's celebration of an annual Jewish holiday and day of fasting and repentance would mean that they could easily win. It was not to be.

Continue to Chapter 6