ASHLEIGH BRILLIANT – ISRAEL DIARY, 1953  -- PART 2, July 29 - August 22


July 29, 1953

(2:30 PM)  Today we began our big Tiyul (tour)  to the North of Israel.  (7:25 PM)  But I have not had a happy day, and more than ever I bewail my plight, and long to escape from this organized scheme at which lies the root of my woe.  The 2 most happy times I have had in Israel so far were my 2 free weekends, on which I travelled & met people by myself.  There are times when I feel that everyone in the Institute is still a stranger to me, that I dislike them all, & want nothing more to do with them.  Under such circumstances, I do not know how much longer I can continue in my present situation.  Many thoughts and possibilities are in my mind.  I have given meditation to the wildest schemes, like refusing to go home at all, and staying on in Israel on a kibbutz until I grow tired of it.  I would like to travel from Dan to Beersheba (the Biblical limits of the country) and to Eilat, southernmost point, on the Red Sea.  I want also to take the opportunity of accepting the invitation of Mrs. Havatselett (see July 25) to visit her home in Tel Aviv.  But at all events, I have decided that, if it is possible, I will stay in Israel a few weeks after the end of the Summer Institute.  Mr. Harry Sobel, the official in London, gave me definitely to understand, before I enrolled in the scheme, that it would be possible for me to postpone my sailing date and not sail home with the group.  But Sam Sherwin, with whom I spoke today about it, seemed to think it not so definitely possible, & said he had already written to Marseilles to inquire about it.


Although this is by far our longest, most important tour, we have already well established a tiyul routine—the early rising & breakfast, the “bagging” the seats in the buses, the loading of luggage. It is for me a depressing business, especially since, unlike many of the people, I have no great friend with whom I regularly sit, and am always very anxious about who is going to sit next to me.  I particularly did not this time want to have Arthur Vis, the Dutch boy who sat next to me on the Negev tiyul, with me again.  There is something about him which I do not like.  But, when I secured what is, for viewing at any rate, the best seat at the front of our bus, he seemed intent upon sitting next to me.  My efforts and good fortune, however, finally arranged it so that next to me sat a man who was not a member of the Institute at all, but an official photographer of the Jewish Agency, coming with us to cover our trip.


During the first part of our ride, I spoke much with him, learned he was 22, a Sabra (native born Israeli) from Jerusalem, married, with a 6 months old son from whom he was sorry to be even a week away.  He had studied photography in New York for 10 months, and complained that he did not have as many opportunities in his work as he would in America.


As usual we filled 4 buses (who was to go in which bus was arranged beforehand) and the buses were the usual very poor kind, practically the same as those used for local transport.  Our eating arrangements were also bad, as usual. Lunch we took with us in paper bags – each person had 2 cheese sandwiches, 2 buttered slices of bread & tomato, & a hard-boiled egg.  Since I do not eat tomatoes or cheese (which I removed from the sandwiches), I had as usual a poor meal.


As usual, we left late.  Our guide was again Dr. Vilna-ee (that is how his name sounds) whom the photographer, Davis Harris, told me was supposed to be the best guide in Israel.  Certainly he seems to know a great deal about the places he takes us to, but his on-the-spot talks, in which we have all slowly to crowd around him, are never very interesting.  His English vocabulary is rather poor, & he concentrates too much on the military importance of places.  His term “strategic point” has now become a stock joke in the Institute.


The route given in our programs is useless to us, for Dr. Vilna-ee seems to take us wherever he pleases.  We went from Jerusalem along the familiar road to Ramle, then north through Sharon to a kibbutz or moshav (settlement for new immigrants) called Kfar Haroe, which possessed a Yeshiva, or religious college, which we visited.  It was housed on a hill-top, in good modern-looking buildings, from which there were good views of the lush surrounding country.  Unfortunately the yeshiva students were now on vacation, so we didn’t see them.


It is inconvenient and tiring to keep getting into & out of buses.  Some people are so tired or lazy that they do not even get out when we stop at a place.  This sort of touring is really, I feel, the worst way to see a country.  My only consolation is that, although I may not enjoy it now, the knowledge & experience I gain on these trips may be useful to me when I revisit these places alone.


At Hadera, we turned off the Haifa road, & I was now in country completely new to me.  We went east across the hills of Samaria to Megiddo and the Valley of Jezreal.  All these were such places as, when I first contemplated coming to Israel, I expected to visit with interest & joy.  But now, on the contrary, my interest was scarcely evoked at all in this most historic of regions.  I was, however, impressed to see, how, for most of the way, there seemed to be a natural highway right through the hills.


I discovered today that I had boils developing on my left elbow, left thigh, & right face.  The Nurse put some small bandages on them.


Arabs were a not uncommon sight to us today, usually in towns.  Before I came to Israel, I cannot remember ever having seen an Arab in person.  But here I think it is only their clothes which distinguish them.  The men wear a sort of white silk scarf draped over the head, over which is placed a double black band.  Some of our boys have bought and wear these scarfs, though without the bands.  The men wear also long robes.  They seem somehow mysterious-looking to me.  I would like to know what is their real attitude towards the State of Israel.


At last we emerged from the hills into the valley of Esdraelon (Jezreel) which was, I believe, a swampy waste before the Jewish National Fund bought it up & began developing it. Now it is fertile & well-cultivated.  We passed in the distance Megiddo, the ancient fortress which I feel I must eventually visit alone.


Then on we went along a very straight road across the valley to Afula, an old settlement, where we ate our lunch on benches, but were not allowed much time to rest.  The landscape, with distant mountains, was often very beautiful.


We had been given to understand that we would all be spending our nights on the tiyul at a place called Ohala at the south end of the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Tiberias & Lake Kinneret.)  But now, after lunch, we were informed that only half of us would be staying there, & the other half would be staying in a hotel at Tiberias.  I was in the latter half.  We forthwith divided, 2 buses to each place.


The ride to Tiberias was not uninteresting.  We saw the rounded Mount Tavor, with its Franciscan Monastery on top, settlements amid their “oases” of trees.  Then at last the Lake came into view, & I was surprised how blue it was.  Its surroundings were beautiful, & Tiberias looked an attractive town, but at its outskirts was a large ugly immigrant town of metal huts in regular rows.  The hotel we were taken to was quite a surprise. Its name is the Gennesareth Hotel, & my first impression was very good.  From the outside, it looked quite fine.  It is large, & quite well decorated inside.  I was put in a room with 3 other boys, where we each have comfortable single beds – and pillows, which we have so far not had in Israel. (In Jerusalem, we use folded blankets)  Also, there is a sink in the room.  Our room looks to the back, but there is a large public balcony, with an excellent view of the Sea of Galilee, where I am sitting now, but cannot see the Lake in the dark.


But I do not understand our position here exactly.  I know it is off-season, but we are all apparently the only guests.  I have heard that the Hotel was, in Mandate days, a British resort, and that the Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion has stayed here.  But the place somehow wears an air of second-rateness.  Our service was not good at dinner tonight.  The drinking water has a strange taste.


After arriving at the Hotel, we were given 1½ hours before we were to set out again.  I decided to utilize my time by taking my first swim in the Sea of Galilee, which is, incidentally, below sea level.  One disadvantage of the Hotel is that it is quite high above the Sea, but it took me only a short 7 minutes to get down by myself, across the waste land.  The ground at the Sea was stony, but apart from this, the water was warm & excellent, & I had an enjoyable swim, after which I climbed back up, wearing only my bathing suit, shoes & socks.


I would have been content to spend the rest of the day here, but we had to go off touring again.  Our 2 buses went along the shores of the Lake, to join the others at Ohalo, which is just a small new collection of buildings right beside the sea.  I would have preferred to stay there to here.  It seems there is an uncertain possibility that we may change round.  Right adjacent to Ohalo we were shown some excavations which had been made on the site of an ancient Canaanite temple to the moon-god, some Roman baths, a Jewish synagogue, & a Byzantine church.  But there was very little to see.  We saw also nearby a modern Jewish cemetery.  Across the lake from here is Syrian territory.


After this our buses very unromantically crossed the Jordan River, and we went a little way south to a large rich kibbutz called Afikim, with new double-story buildings.  There we saw a plywood factory, the largest of 2 in Israel.  After this, we divided again, & my group came back to Tiberias for supper.  The tea we were given had just the same taste as the water.  It is now 10:15.  I am going to have a shower & go right to bed, for we have to be up again tomorrow at 6 AM.


Thursday, July 30, 1953

I slept quit well last night on what was really my most comfortable bed since I left home, and had little difficulty in arising today at 6 AM.  But today, although it had bright moments, has again been generally unsatisfactory to me.  The acid of frustration is eating into my soul.  The very fact that I am amid a group of 205 tourists destroys my interest and joy in every place we visit.  I keep on thinking how much more I would enjoy these visits  if I were on my own.


I had a shower this morning, & we had breakfast at the hotel.  Then, meeting the other 2 buses from Ohalo on the way, we drove right round the southern end of Lake Tiberias to Ein Gev, a fishing kibbutz on the eastern shore.  The more I saw of this lake and its surroundings, the more beautiful they looked.  The water changes color through the day.  At sunrise, it is white, at noon deep blue, at sunset grey.


At Ein Gev we went swimming, and it was most enjoyable to bathe in such clear calm fresh water, even though the bottom was stony.  After drying & dressing, we went on a very pleasant trip in 2 small boats across the Lake to Capernaum (Kefar Nahum). Sea trips in the sun always appeal to me, & I sat or lay in the open all the time, with no shirt on, & wearing shorts.  There was a possibility that I might get sunburned, but this has not happened, & it seems I can now expose myself to the sun with impunity.  This morning by, & on, the Sea of Galilee was perhaps the most pleasant time I have had with the Summer Institute.


At Capernaum we went to see the remains of the ancient synagogue beside a modern monastery.  The ruins were extensive, & rather impressive in the beauty of some of their carving;  but with Americans all about me taking pictures  (that is all they seem to do at these places – many of them have moving picture cameras) I could not really appreciate it.  Whenever we go to any place where drinking water is available, a crowd is always soon formed about the source, as at this Franciscan monastery, and it is a long time before everyone has had a drink.  This is the sort of thing that annoys me particularly, for if I were alone, there would not be these continual crowds and queues.


From Capernaum, we had another pleasant boat ride back to Tiberias, where we had drinks in a café, then drove off in our buses on the road to Safad.  This was one place about which I knew practically nothing. The road went sharply upwards for a long way.  Safad is a real mountain town, & before 1948 was inhabited mostly by Arabs.  But now it is entirely Jewish.  The more I see of the way Arabs have been displaced by Jews, the more I regret that we are never given an impression of the Arab point of view.  With our guide Dr. Vilna-ee especially, we hear only the ultra-nationalist viewpoint.  He took us here onto a hill whence we could see Lake Tiberias, a hill where once stood a fortress, & now there is a new park & war memorial, & told us how the Jews had captured the town.  Then we drove off to a settlement called Meiron, where there is an old building, partly, I think, a synagogue & yeshiva, housing the tombs of 2 famous men, one of whom was Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochar, who lived about 2000 years ago.  Every year, on the festival of Lag B’Omer, many people make pilgrimages to this place. We were shown a room  a fire-place where a bonfire is then lit, & in it were buttons & metal fastenings (not many) of clothes which people, excited almost to hysteria, throw into the bonfire.


We returned to Safad, & were shown into some of the synagogues there, where girls who wore shorts or short sleeves could not enter, but for boys this did not matter.  I forgot to mention that when we first reached Safad we had lunch at a hotel there, the Hotel Herzliya.  The narrow old streets of Safad were interesting. 

On the way back to Tiberias, where we had supper at our hotel, I sat next to & talked with an American girl named Elana from California, Los Angeles.  She is in need of a job when she gets back, & has studied dress designing, so I gave her Uncle Marsh’s address, on the off-chance that he might be able to employ her.  [Marsh Adler, my mother’s brother, had been a dress-designer in Los Angeles for about 10 years.  Elana  (Elaine Fink) & I became  friends, and through her, when I came to live in Los Angeles in 1956,  I made other friends, including Andy Heinsius, whom she married.  Elaine died very young, and Andy re-married.  I am still in touch with him.]

The time is now 11:15.  I sent a letter home today.


Friday, July 31, 1953

My mind is these days in a strange fluid state, in which I can think of everything & nothing, in which time & place seem to be of little importance.  I think neither of the past nor the future, & indeed give little attention to the present.  I am drifting with whim and circumstance.  The Summer Institute is in itself a good thing, and I would never deny that most participants enjoy it.  I object to it only on the personal grounds that it is incompatible with my habitude and temperament.


Today’s trip, to the northernmost regions of Israel would have been a wonderful experience to many people, but to me it was just another tedious tour, although it had its bright moments.  I was up at 6:45 today after another good night’s sleep.  After breakfast at the hotel, we set off in our buses northwards.  I sat today next to an American girl named Elana (Elaine) Fink from Los Angeles, California (see also yesterday) with whom I talked much & learned much about her. She is 20 years old.


Our first destination was Lake Hula, where a large drainage scheme is in progress.  The Lake looked quite small, & it is shrinking now all the time.  A pumping station to supply nearby settlements with water is now under construction.  For security reasons, because an ordinary station could easily be destroyed by shelling, this one is being built in the side of a mountain.  We were allowed to go inside, but there was little to see, for it is still being built.  It was not very large.


After this we went north along the main road, into the “peninsula” of Israeli territory which lies between Lebanon and Syria.  Here the formation of the Great Rift Valley, which I know runs right down into Africa, was very obvious, with a flat floor & steep sides.  Our road lay along the western wall of the valley, & we went to a point called Tel Hai, where there was a cemetery & monument (a howling stone lion) , commemorating Joseph Trumpledor, a Russian-born Palestinian  hero of the first quarter of the Century, who formed a corps of Jewish defenders of settlements known as the Shomrim [“Guardians”].  Here are buried many of the Shomrim who fell in action.  Dr. Vilna-ee in in his talk here became for a while unusually serious.  He spoke sincerely about the dangers which the State of Israel faces from the Arab states, & said he knew that the Arabs were preparing & hoping, not only to overrun Israel, but to slaughter all the Jews here.  From all I have heard and seen, I must say that it seems obviously true that only Israel’s armed strength lies between her and the annihilation of the State.  Of course this, to my mind, does not justify the use of force in any circumstances, and I would certainly never fight to defend Israel.


The Orthodoxy of many members of the Summer Institute is continually surprising to me.  I can never get used to the way the boys hold their prayer meetings wherever they are, and put on their skullcaps, tallis, & tefillin  [phylacteries] to recite prayers, even on a train or bus.  Some people became really annoyed today at those who sat or stood on gravestones in the cemetery.  One boy actually would not come into the cemetery at first, because he is a Cohen [People named Cohen are traditionally considered to be descended from the ancient Hebrew priesthood]  & there is some rule that Cohens may not enter cemeteries.  But afterwards, for some reason, he did come in.


Next, we went east across the valley, & across many small sources of the River Jordan, to a point near the kibbutz of Dan, right up in the N.E. corner, where we sat to eat our packed lunches, beside one of these swift-flowing streams.  The water here was delightfully cool and clean.  It had an excellent taste, & we could drink right from the stream.


Our next trip was a long & roundabout one, up the western side of the valley, to a kibbutz called Ramim, which was right on the Lebanon border.  Here as usual were the long curls of barbed wire – but it would not have been difficult to cross over.  Here there was a strong breeze, & the air was considerably cooler.  On this ride we had spectacular views of the valley, across which could be seen a mountain with snow on it, and one could see how the Rift Valley came to an end in the north.  But I wondered what was the geological reason why it should end just there.


After this we came back south.  Elana had discovered, or I had discovered for her, that her camera shutter had been set at “Time” rather than “Instantaneous,” & therefore all the photographs she had taken in Israel were no good.  This naturally dismayed her very much.  Her most recent attempts had been at the ruins at Capernaum (see yesterday) & I, wishing in any case to revisit this place, decided to go back there with her.  We asked to be put off the bus at the point where our road came nearest to Capernaum, just where it touched Lake Tiberias.  Avraham, the Madrich, let us go, but he said it was purely on our own responsibility.  We left the bus at about 5:30.  Dinner at the hotel was to be at 8:30.  We planned to hitch-hike back to Tiberias.  The walk to Capernaum from the main road was about 2 kilometers, & took us about half an hour.  Elana complained most of the time, & I was worried that we would have to walk back to Tiberias, a long distance.  But I was confident that everything would be alright, and had to use similar encouraging words as those I have used on many other of my travelling companions, especially Philip Thomson [with whom I hitch-hiked in France] and Peter Hitch [in Scotland] ;with similar negligible effect.  But we talked pleasantly, & it was an enjoyable walk over a very rough road, with many beautiful things to see by the lakeside.


At Capernaum, we rang the bell at the gate of the excavations, & a robed monk came out of the monastery & opened it for us.  I, with her camera, took a photograph of Elana sitting by some of the ruins – but by that time the light was not very good.  Then we walked around a bit, but soon came away, because we were anxious to get back onto the main road while there was still light.  On the way there, we had seen a long black snake slither across the road, with what looked like a lizard in its mouth.


The lake looked very beautiful as we walked back to the main road.  We took a slightly wrong path, & came upon a place where a group of soldiers with rifles was resting. We too rested there a while, then climbed up a hillside to the main road.  By this time Elana had become rather tired, but we walked along the road, hoping for a lift.  The first vehicle which came by did not stop, but the second, an army lorry, did, & took us on its back to Tiberias – a lovely ride in the sunset.  We arrived back at the hotel at 8:30, just in time for supper – a fish meal.  This was the beginning of the Sabbath.  I had really enjoyed the little trip.  It was just an excursion to me, but Elana seemed to consider it a real adventure.  Dr. Vilna-ee, when we saw him at the hotel, was surprised & a little angry at what we had done, & said that it was very dangerous to walk to Capernaum.  But this seems ridiculous to me, for the border was at least 6 kms. away, & there were people & soldiers about.


Sitting on the hotel balcony writing this entry this eve, I saw the moon rise quickly above the mountains & lake, change from gold to silver, & bathe the lake in soft light.  It was a beautiful sight.


Saturday, August 1, 1953  (written Aug. 2)

This was a very full day for me.  At our hotel last night stayed a party of French people.  They were accompanied by some priests, & I think they were Catholic pilgrims visiting the “Holy Places.”  It is of great interest to me to realize that such groups still come here.  The Sea of Galilee is of course much associated with the life of Jesus.  We have seen the mountain, where there is now a monastery, where the Sermon on the Mount is supposed to have been delivered.  And last night Elana and I passed by a church on the shore called the “Church of the Loaves and Fishes, associated, I suppose, with the Gospel miracle of Jesus multiplying a few loaves and fishes to feed the thousands who followed him.  But I feel it unfortunate that I have yet had no time to sit down & read through some parts of the New Testament.


Today was the Sabbath. At our meal last night there was the usual singing & banging of tables.  If we did not choose today to go to synagogue or listen to Hebrew lectures, our time until 5:30 PM was our own.  Of this I was glad, & decided to go on some kind of excursion of my own.


The more I have seen of the Sea of Galilee, the more I have liked it.  To ride in a boat across the quiet waters, to bathe in their fresh clarity, to walk about the edge of the lake or look upon it from the high hills, to watch the sun set and the moon rise, and the colors merge from blue to grey, from black to silver, are all for me very moving experiences, though I feel that I have not yet had a chance to appreciate them fully.


So, after breakfast today, I set out with my usual equipment – my water-bottle, pith helmet, shoulder bag, camera, & map, as well as my bathing suit & towel, and descended along the steep narrow trail down the hillside to the seashore, along which runs the main road.  I decided first to go for a swim, although I had had my usual morning shower at the hotel. (I again slept quite well last night, but in the morning, the flies became troublesome, and, once one is awake, it is very difficult to get back to sleep again.)


Finding a pleasant spot by the shore, where long green grasses grew, I there left my things, & went in to bathe. I have seen several times goats and cows grazing by the water’s edge, tended by a shepherd boy.  They look very picturesque as they advance nibbling by the lake side. After my pleasant swim, I did not get dressed, but remained in my bathing suit, & just put on shoes & socks.  I have had several exposures to the sun lately, & no longer had my fear of sunburn.


By this time, I had decided what I would do next.  When we visited Capernaum on July 30, our guide Dr. Vilna-ee [since I don’t seem to have mentioned it, I remember that we jokingly called him “Dr. Villany.”] pointed to a steep cliff on the Tiberias side of the lake, said something about a fortress which once stood there, and indicated that a climb to the top would be a fine experience.  So I decided now that I would go there.  On my map, it did not appear to be very far away, but, as usual, it turned out to be more distant than I thought.


I walked along the road a short way, past a lakeside building which I was surprised to see belonged to the Y.M.C.A., until I reached a spot where the actual mountain which I wished to climb appeared to begin.  The name of this mountain, or at least of the fortress on top, was Arbel.  The climb was unique in my experience.  I was alone, wearing only a bathing suit.  My difficulties were many – heat, thirst, steepness, but most of all the vegetation, which was often of a dense, dry, and prickly nature.  After a while, I gave up trying to avoid the many plants, and simply ignored them.  The consequence was that I received many small pains and scratches, especially on my legs.  But in a way, my suffering was worthwhile, for my scanty clothing gave me great comfort and freedom of movement, and enabled me greatly to augment my sun-tan.


At first, and for some time, I followed a narrow trail leading up the mountain, which grew more & more difficult to follow, running along the bottom of steep rocky cliffs.  From time to time, I rested in what shade I could find.  For drinking, I had only my 2-pint water-bottle, so tried to drink moderately.  At times, I sweated a great deal.


Eventually I grew tired of following this tedious slowly-climbing path, and decided to strike out for myself up the rock cliff.  This was a bold decision, and involved considerable hardship, for there were briars and prickles everywhere.  Moreover, footholds were not always easy, and twice I slipped dangerously, but managed to hold on with my hands.  At last, after hard climbing, I reached the top of the cliffs, but found, as is so often the case, that what I had thought was the top was really only the end of the first stage.  But the steepest part of my climb was over. From here on, I had only prickles to contend with, but there was still much walking to be done.


My original intention had been to get back to the hotel in time for lunch at 1 PM, but as time went on, I realized that I could never accomplish this, and so did not hurry unduly. It was not until almost 1PM that I reached the actual cliff top, which Dr. Vilnay had pointed out, and from there, there was a very fine view of the country north of the lake. I felt glad to have surmounted obstacles & reached my goal.  Of the fortress, there little was left.  I was surprised to see carved in a rock a well-preserved coffin.


(Continuing now Aug. 3rd)  I did not remain there long, for I was hungry, & had no food with me.  In the distance, in the direction of Tiberias but still in the hills, I could see a settlement where I hoped to obtain water & food.  The walk there was across many farm fields, some just of plowed earth, some of sunflowers, some I think of maize.  At last, tired & hungry, with the water in my bottle almost consumed, I reached the settlement, entered the gate, and looked about for someone to help me.  I was still wearing just my bathing suit.  It was Shabbat, and few people were about, but I soon saw a man, who did not speak English.  I well know the word for water, “mayim,” but for food I could say only “lechem” (bread.)  I hoped that if I said lechem the man would understand that I meant any kind of food.  But, whether he did or not, he took me to what was evidently the settlement bakery & there opened a cupboard,  & from it gave me a loaf of bread.  A sink was there, & I was able to drink my fill & wash a little.  For some reason, the man did not want me to eat there, so directed me towards Tiberias.  From him in a few words I learned that the settlement was a moshav, settled by people from Bulgaria.  But I did not leave right away, but sat in a shady place where there was fortunately a tap giving very cold water, to eat my meal of bread and water.


Then I set off along a path which eventually brought me down a hill alongside a water-pipe, to the main Tiberias road.  Tiberias was not far away, but I was tired, and when I reached a pleasant high spot on the roadside where there was a view of the town & lake, and a tree gave shade, I spread out some things and lay down to rest.  But as usual, the flies gave me no peace, and I regretted that I did not have my anti-insect cream with me.


At length I descended into the town, going purposely through the large ugly and squalid immigrant camp of one-roomed metal shacks in regular rows, on its outskirts.  The conditions here seemed very bad to me, but these places are supposed to be only temporary, and there are already more permanent, though scarcely less ugly, suburbs of 2-storied buildings in other parts of the town.  In many of the shacks, I was surprised to see what looked like electric refrigerators – but they may have been only ice-boxes.


Returning to the Hotel Genessareth, I arrived at about 3:30, & went first to the kitchen to see if I could get anything to eat.  But only one man was there, & he said I should come back in an hour’s time.  So, feeling hot & dirty, I decided to go down to the lake for a swim.  With me came David , the boy from Iraq, who was in my room.  We descended the steep path to the shore, and had a pleasant swim.  I am becoming really proud of my tan.  I think it is the best I have ever had.  I was very tired when we climbed back up.  In the kitchen, I was given one egg sandwich, which held me until supper.


At 5:30 we went out on a tour of Tiberias with Dr. Vilnay.  Since half of our people were at Ohalo, our party was fortunately smaller than usual.  Dr. Vilnay indicated to us the different parts of the town, the old city, once enclosed by a wall, & formerly inhabited only by Arabs, now largely destroyed to make room for new buildings;  the new section, where our hotel was located, named after Lord Samuel, and the recent suburbs & mabarat (immigrant camp.)  We went to some tombs, ugly whitewashed things, of some famous rabbis & scholars, including Maimonides & someone named Shimon bar Yachai.  Like so many other things in this country, these tombs & their surroundings seemed very strange & unfitting to me.  I was interested to see that at the so-called Tomb of Maimonides, as at Christian shrines, there was a container of holy water supposed to possess curative properties. 


Alongside one of the roads in Tiberias, we saw 2 stone coffins which Dr.Vilnay had seen uncovered during building operations.  In any other country, he said, they would have been rushed to a museum, but here they were just left where they were. Dr. Vilnay is an interesting character who has impressed all of us.  I wish I knew more about him.  I know he is a very well-known person in Israel, & is supposed to be the best guide in the country.  He has written many books about it, and his knowledge seems to be very great.  He once mentioned that he guided an international commission that was investigating the Palestine Problem, & also, I think, that during the 1948 war, he led an Israeli army which invaded Egypt in the Sinai peninsula.  Many of his sayings, especially those which he often repeats, have become catch-phrases among us, e.g. (to put some of them compositely)  in the time of “our war’ there were “many fightings,” at that “strategic point,” where we lost “much blood.”  “Very unfortunate, we do not hold that place – yet.”  As I have said here before, his is strong Zionist nationalism, and he is always emphasizing the heroic glory of the Israelis who won the war.  We are never at all given any expression of the Arab point of view.  So popular has he become among us that the chorus of one of the dirty songs the boys sing which used to go “singing balls to Mr. Mandlestein,” has now become “Singing balls to Dr. Vilnay.”


We went also to see the remains of a 16th or 17th  Century Turkish fortress in the town, soon happily to be converted into an archeological museum.


Before coming to Israel I don’t think I had ever seen a mosque, but here in the former Arab towns they are abundant, and their domes and minarets look always attractive to me.  In Tiberias we now went into a former mosque.  It consists of only one large domed room with no furniture, but a sort of stone pulpit at one end, and no decoration but some painted designs and Arabic lettering.  I would have liked to go up in the minaret, but could not find the way to go up.


We returned to our hotel for supper, and after that went by bus down to Ohalo for the evening’s program.  Ohalo is the place near the southern end of the lake near Kinerret where half of our group stayed – the more fortunate half, I think, although there was little to complain about our hotel, except that it was rather high above the Sea.  (Our accommodation was quite good – comfortable beds, sinks in the rooms, showers available, lavatories with paper supplied – a pleasant balcony overlooking the Sea, a good dining room).  Ohalo is right at the water’s edge, and next to it are many archeological excavations.  It has fine modern buildings, and, from what I learned this evening, it was founded by a man named Berl Katznelson, to serve as a sort of meeting and seminar place for Labor youth. 


Our program here this evening was not a very interesting one.  First, in the fine meeting-hall, we had a talk given by an old Kibbutznik from Kinerret.  But since he spoke in Hebrew, and his words were summarized by an American madrich whose New York accent I can hardly understand, I occupied my time in writing a postcard to Mr. Betts, my old History teacher at Hendon County School.  In this I had the happy idea of saying I would like to come & tell him & the School about Israel, & asked if I would have a chance to do this.  I know I would have great pleasure in delivering a talk on my travels at my old school, even though most of the people I knew there have now left.  But even if I did get an invitation to do so --for Brian Richmond & I occupied 3 weekly periods in 1951 in telling the 6th Form about our trip to America -- it is always with embarrassment that I remember this, for I think we did it rather poorly.


At Ohalo I had an unexpected adventure in human relations which went not entirely to my credit, but came out alright in the end.  The position was complicated & difficult to explain.  I had been rather alarmed some days ago when I spoke to Sam Sherwin, the boy appointed to lead the British group to Israel and back, who told me that he was not sure whether I would be able to postpone for a few weeks my passage back to Marseilles & go by myself, so as to have a little longer in Israel on my own.  Mr. Sobel, with whom I had negotiated my joining the Institute in London, had told me definitely that I would be able to do this, and this was one of the important factors which made me decide to come on the Institute, for I never liked the idea of being with an organized group, and liked the idea of being able, if I wished, to stay on longer alone. Mr. Sobel was so definite about it that I am still feeling hopeful that things will turn out alright.  But Sam had not yet heard from Marseilles, where he had written to enquire about this, and I felt so strongly that a contract to which I subscribed was in danger of being broken that I felt I must take some counter-measure.


Now my fee for the entire Summer Institute was £60, a very reasonable price, I must admit, when one considers all that this includes – fares & everything.  In England I, through Daddy, had paid £50 of this.  But for some reason, we were (all of us in the British group) asked to pay the £10 to the Jewish Agency in Israel, and to take with us a traveller’s check to that value for that purpose.  I brought my check with me, but I must admit I had a wild hope that if I postponed paying it long enough, it might be forgotten about, and I would save £10.  So I consistently ignored notices & announcements relating to the payment of this money.  This was not altogether dishonest, for at that time I felt so bitter against the Summer Institute, especially for the bad sleeping conditions when the boys in my dormitory kept me awake every night, that I wanted to protest in some way.  Since then, however, I improved my sleeping conditions, and obtained a dormitory of my own.


But, as I knew all along, I had no chance of avoiding financial fate.  People kept reminding me about it, & it was finally announced that those who had not paid the money they owed the Jewish Agency could not go on the tiyul to Galilee.  Even this, however, I did not take very seriously until a girl madrich named Gabriella spoke to me personally about it. But by that time it was too late – the evening before the tiyul.  I could not pay, because to obtain the money I must go to a bank & personally cash my travelers check, and the banks were already closed.  I still was not worried however, & persuaded Gabriella to let me give her my unsigned check to hold until I returned to Jerusalem after the tiyul, when I could cash it.  But it was after then that I saw Sam Sherwin, and felt that I must do something to back my case, and that my £10 was my trump card


So this evening at Ohalo, when Gabriella approached me again to remind me that, immediately after the tiyul,  I must return to Jerusalem to cash my check, I told her that I could not pay, & tried to explain my complaint.  And here another factor enters the situation.  For I had decided that, during the 2-week period immediately following the tiyul, during which we were all supposed to go & work on various kibbutzim, I wanted to stay in a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee.  To go all the way down to Jerusalem, therefore, just to cash a check, would be a great waste of time, especially when I could do it 2 weeks later at the end of the kibbutz period, when we all returned to Jerusalem.


Almost everyone else by now knew which kibbutz they were going on, & this evening, meetings were held of the various groups going to the various kibbutzim.  But I wanted to have a talk with David Ron, the man organizing our kibbutz period.  I did eventually get a chance to speak with him, & told him that I wanted to go by myself to a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee.  He was definitely not in favor of this, & tried to dissuade me – but when I was firm, he said he would speak to Dr. Herman about it.  This was before Gabriella spoke to me.


Now Dr. Simon Herman is the man in charge of the whole Summer Institute.  He has been here only a few years from South Africa.  He is pale, with a rather sickly-looking face & eyes.  He wears thick glasses & has a smooth voice.  He does not have a very likeable personality.  David Ron had not yet spoken to him about me when Gabriella contacted me.  (All this happened outside on the lawns & paths.)  Gabriella was I think very annoyed by what I told her, & insisted on taking me right away to Dr. Herman.  But I was surprised at the attitude he took now.  I know I did not speak very skillfully or tactfully, but he practically refused to consider anything I said.  He was greatly annoyed, & spoke very sharply to me. He said I had no right to refuse to pay for what I had already enjoyed, and the question of extra time in Israel did not really come into it.  I tried to argue with him, but it was hopeless, & I felt completely vanquished.  He gave me the alternatives of promising immediately to return to Jerusalem & arranging to pay the £10 I owed the Jewish Agency, or of leaving the Summer Institute at once.  For a moment I toyed with the latter alternative, and asked Dr. Herman, if I left, what would happen about my return passage to England – but he implied that I would not be able to use it.  This of course left me no choice, but I still felt it rather unfair that my hand should be thus forced, and I said I would like to have something in writing, explaining the hopeless alternative I had been given.


But Dr. Herman was far too angry to oblige, & simply indicated that Gabriella was a witness.  He gave me half an hour to make up my mind.  I felt miserable at being so subdued, & went to sit on the lawn where others were listening to some singing.  But during those few minutes, a happy change came over my attitude.  There was of course only one decision I could make, & I made it graciously.  I went over to Dr. Herman, who was also on the lawn, & told him I would pay because I had decided there was more right on his side than on mine.  I think this softened him a little, and once I had discussed with him arrangements for paying the money, I could even go on to tell him that I had fallen in love with the Sea of Galilee, & wanted to stay on a kibbutz there.  Even now he was by no means agreeable, especially because I wanted to go completely by myself to a kibbutz.  He is, I think, a psychologist, and I was honest, & told him I could not happily get on with the people in this group.  This did not much affect him, but he said he would let me know tomorrow what the situation was.  At length, back to the hotel & to bed.


Sunday, August 2, 1953  (written August 4).

Our grand tour of Galilee continued today, and we saw much of Arab Israel.

Our sojourn at Tiberias ended this morning, and after breakfast our buses headed off along the road to Nazareth.  But first we paid a call at a kibbutz called Lavi, which is a new kibbutz settled by people from England.  A few of our people had been staying there over the weekend.  Dr. Vilnay told us about the heavy fighting that had gone on there during the Israeli war, and pointed out the old Crusader stronghold on a distant hill called Carnei Hittin.  He thought the landscape beautiful, but I thought it barren and depressing.


As we went along the hilly road to Nazareth, it became obvious that we were in real Arab country.  Almost everyone we saw was an Arab.  The women wore very colorful clothes.  There were many donkeys to see, and sometimes a camel.  It was a frequent sight to see a lone Arab resting in the shade of a tree, with his horse grazing beside him.

Nazareth, we were told, is an all-Arab town, and a center of anti-Jewish influences.  At first sight, it was quite a beautiful town, spreading across the hills with many trees.  Of course Nazareth, as a town holy to the Christians, contains many churches & monasteries etc. We went into one church of Italian monks, built over the cave in which Joseph’s carpenter shop was supposed to have been. We were allowed to go down into the cave.


Many things about Israel that would have seemed very strange to me a short time ago I now take for granted.  E.g., when we visit certain towns & places, it is commonplace for girls to be asked not to wear shorts or short sleeves, because the natives will think it immodest & disrespectful.  And yet this does not apply to the boys at all.


I hated to walk around so fascinating a place as Nazareth, with its narrow streets & interesting shops & people, with so large a party, but there was a danger of getting lost (and we had been warned that these Arabs were still very hostile), so I had to stick with the group.  The Arabic lettering, the dress of the people (some men wore the flowing white head-covering, others fezes) and the “atmosphere” of strangeness were all very interesting to me, but we had to keep moving.  There were many shops, & many selling postcards & souvenirs etc. Some of our people bought lace, or Arab drums, or carved wooden figures.


In Nazareth I did a very foolish thing, & paid heavily for it. I wanted to buy an ice-cream from a boy who was selling them.  But I had nothing smaller than a note for £5 Israeli.  So I asked him if he could change that, & he said he could.  He gave me the ice-cream & a handful of notes in change.  Of course I was worried that he would not give me the right change, & tried to count it as he gave it to me, but I am still not very familiar with the money here.  He assured me that he had given me the right change, but when I finally managed to count it, I found I had been given almost £1 short.  By that time, the boy had gone.  I went out of the bus to look for him, but the bus was already moving off.  So I was swindled of an Israeli pound, which is worth about 4 shillings, which could have bought me a great many ice creams.  I felt very mortified, but there was nothing I could do about it at all.


On the bus I again sat next to Elana Fink, the small girl from California, who always has something to complain about, usually concerning her health or photography.  On the whole, I think the Summer Institute has done me more harm than good, but at least in this one respect it has benefited me, in that I have been able to see more of the relations between boys & girls, and have myself become just a little less shy in female company.


After leaving Nazareth, where I would like to return to see more for myself  (and also give the boy who cheated me, if I ever find him, a piece of my mind) we went along a road going towards Acre, and stopped at a village (Shetar-am ?) inhabited I think mainly by the people called Druzes.  Here we watched men threshing wheat, and separating the wheat from the chaff, using very old methods.  I do not know much about this process, but it was the threshing, I think, that was done by a man standing upon a board in the bottom of which were embedded hard rough stones.  The man drove a horse, which pulled the board in a circle, round & round over the wheat lying on the ground.  The separating of the wheat from chaff was done by a method I had seen in Spain.  Wheat and chaff were tossed by men up into the air.  The chaff was blown to one side by the wind, but the wheat, being heavier, fell nearer where it had lain.

It was I think before this that we ate our sandwich lunches at a Kibbutz called Halolelim out of doors, choosing whatever shady spots we could find.  We now continued northwards, but did not go right to Acre.  Instead, passing through part of Nahariya, we went straight up the coast to the Lebanon border at a point called Rosh Hanigia, where there was a police station road barrier & a good view back down the coast.


Finally we came down to Acre, & there went on another walk round.  Acre still has a few thousand Arabs, and we went into a famous mosque which is still in use.  It was the first mosque still in use I had ever been in.  As I expected, we had to take off our shoes outside, & walk in on the matted floors.  Again the mosque had no furniture, but some beautiful painted designs.  Dr. Vilnay said the Israeli Ministry of Religions was paying for the renovations.  A few old men were sitting on the floor, & one was reading from a prayer-book, the Koran, I suppose.  We walked through many old streets, and many of our people bought of the foods that were on sale --  sabras (the fruit of the cactus), “corn on the cob,” melons (now is the melon season & they are everywhere.)


From a distance, we saw the old fortress of Acre.  Written Arabic looks very strange to me.  I wish someone would explain to me what the alphabet consists of.  On a walk in Nazareth, we saw red Arabic lettering, which David, the boy from Iraq said were communist slogans.


At last from Acre we came down to Haifa, which was to be our destination for the night, though we didn’t know exactly where we would be staying.  It turned out to be in a sort of camp right on top of Mount Carmel.  Accommodation was not very good.  Our beds in the dormitories were the same kind of canvas cots as we had in Jerusalem. After depositing our luggage at this camp, we returned to the buses, which took us to a hotel for our supper.  The hotel was called Armon Hacarmel, & we had our meal outside.  It must be a very high-class place, for it happened that the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion and his wife, were staying there on holiday.  In fact, they came down to see us & sat amongst us.  Ben Gurion gave a short talk after supper in which he asked the question, “What is Zionism today?”  The representatives of different Zionist groups in the Summer Institute were given a chance to speak & explain their attitudes to Zionism.  Ben Gurion frequently interrupted them.  His whole point was that no one can claim to be a Zionist who does not himself wish personally to come & settle in Israel.  He did not support the view of some of the American people that it was good for some Zionists to stay in America to lead the movement & urge others to come.  He spoke with an accent.  He is a podgy man with a fair skin & fluffy white hair stretching out on both sides.  I would have liked to get his autograph, or at least shake hands with him, but didn’t get the chance.  I was besides very tired, & anxious to get back to bed.


Monday, August 3, 1953 (written Aug 4)

I was up about 6:45 this morning, after about 6 hours of good sleep.  I was able to have a shower at the camp.  The arrangement for today was that everyone was to go to the kibbutz of their choice for the beginning of the 2-week work period.  I still did not know where I would be going, but had in any case to return first to Jerusalem to pay the £10 I owed the Jewish Agency.  Most of the buses were going back to Jerusalem, but only to enable people to pick up their luggage they had already prepared for their stay on the kibbutzim.  So I got onto a Jerusalem bus with people who were going to a kibbutz called Ein Tsurim.  But we did not leave Haifa until the afternoon.  We had breakfast & lunch at the same hotel as last night, but did not see Ben Gurion again.  During the morning we visited places in Haifa, first the Carmelite monastery whose church, enclosing the supposed cave of Elijah, I thought very beautiful.  Then to the wonderful domed building of the Bahai sect, set in beautiful gardens, where I was angrily and publicly called a “barbarian” by Dr. Vilnay for picking a pomegranate from a tree.  We were allowed inside part of the building, & had to take off our shoes, as for a mosque, but there was little to see inside but the flowered & curtained tomb of the founder of the sect.  A man told us some of the Bahai beliefs about universal brotherhood and international language, the abolition of war, etc.  He said he thought the sect had several million members, but I don’t think I had ever heard of it before.


We had a free hour during the morning, & I used it to write a belated letter of thanks to Alec Posner at Tel Yitzchak Kibbutz , where I spent a pleasant weekend on July 9-12.

The journey back to Jerusalem was a very slow one.  Twice we were delayed by flat tires.  I sat next to a fat-faced girl named Phyllis, from a place called Rome, Georgia, who turned out to be an almost frighteningly serious person, very worried about philosophical problems such as “What is the Truth,” and very interested in writing.  She said she had already written novels privately, & intended to study journalism.  She showed me some of the things she had just written about our trip, expressing her puzzled thoughts about Zionism & Orthodoxy.  It was a long & wearying ride, & we did not arrive back at the Rehavia Gymnasium until 8 PM.  On the journey, 2 boys from my college on the bus learned from people in a bus going in the other direction that they had passed their final exams.  We also had a little bit of a water-battle again (see July 23) but only during one overtaking.


When we reached Jerusalem, my main concerns were where and how I was going to eat and sleep.  All the others were leaving almost immediately for their kibbutz.  I hoped to be able to stay at the Gymnasium and eat as always at the mensa (students’ restaurant).  Sorting these affairs out kept me quite busy for some time after my arrival.  I spoke to various madrichim, and also to Miriam Levine, the Institute secretary, to whom I have to pay my money – but that could not be settled until tomorrow.  Eventually, everything worked out quite well.  One of the madrichim saw to it that I obtained a bed, and I put it in room 9, where I was sleeping by myself before.  About eating, he said that the mensa was closed, but he had Miriam call up the Café Rehavia which, it seems, is in some way connected with the Institute or with the Jewish Agency, and arrange for me to eat free there.  This was a very agreeable arrangement, and I was served a good supper at the Café Rehavia, & all I had to do was sign for it.


But there was to be one more piece of excitement before the day was over.  When I returned to the Gymnasium, I found to my dismay that its front door was locked.  I did not know how I was to get in, but thought that, if I could get around to the side-door which led out into the garden, that might be open.  But this required climbing over a high wire mesh fence which was topped with a length of barbed wire, a dangerous thing to attempt.  Somehow, however, I managed to do it, only to find that the side door was also locked.  But fortunately there was someone on the other side, a Swiss girl who spoke English.  I knew there was a Swiss party staying at the Gymnasium.  I explained my position, & she went to try to get the janitor, but could not.  But while she was away, I saw that I could get in through a window, if it were opened from the other side.  I asked her to open it, she did, & I was in.  But still she & several of her companions, who wanted to go out, could not get out.  I regretted that I could not help them, but I spoke with them for a while, learned that the Swiss party is in Israel for only 3 weeks, & is also organized by the Jewish Agency.


I had a shower, made my bed, wrote my diary for a while, & went to bed about 1 A.M., feeling very tired.


Tuesday, August 4, 1953

This was a day for me full of interest, in which my mind was kept busy making & unmaking decisions.  I had a good night’s sleep, & awoke at 8:15.  But I had hoped to awake earlier, for I wanted to have breakfast, as usual in Jerusalem, at the mensa, where breakfast was usually served between 7:30 & 8:30. I now had to rush, so, without washing, dressed quickly & hurried to the Mensa, only to find it closed.  I then realized that when the madrich Mr. Weiss had told me last night that the Mensa was closed, he must have meant for a vacation period, & not for the evening.  (But at about 12:15 today, when I re-passed the Mensa, I found it open, & meals apparently being served.)  But my disappointment was not very great, for I had hopes that I would again, as last night, be able to eat free at the Café Rehavia.


The section of New Jerusalem in which our Gymnasium is located is called Rehavia.  It was built, I think, during the 1920’s, & settled mostly by middle-class people, largely from Germany.  Its square buildings are almost all of stone, and there are many trees and lawns.  The Café Rehavia is only a few minutes’ walk from the Gymnasium, and on the way one passes by a small apartment house, outside which an armed policeman is always on rather listless guard.  Here lives the President of Israel, Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi.  Today, when I was passing by there (this afternoon) an official car and 2 motorcycle policemen drew up outside the house.  The chauffeur, guard, & policemen stood ready, so I supposed that the President would be coming out, & waited to see him.  At length he did come out, with his wife, & they entered the car – but before they drove off, there was a little incident.  The motorcycle of one of the policemen fell over, & the upper half of its plastic windscreen broke off.  Eventually he righted it, & they drove off.  So now I have seen the President of Israel, as well as the Prime Minister & Foreign Minister.  Things are comparatively so small-scale & informal in this country that this sort of thing is much less remarkable here than it would be in some other countries.


At the Café Rehavia, I was served without question, & had only to sign for my breakfast, for which I had mostly cucumber, bread & jam, sardines & tea.  At this café, I have heard spoken Hebrew, English, French, German, & Italian.  When I had lunch there today, a large party of Italians were there, & made much noise.


After my breakfast, I returned to the Gymnasium to wash.  My plans then were to complete my business as soon as possible and leave Jerusalem, heading north for Galilee –- but I don’t think I was ever very determined in my mind to do this.  Certainly I would like to be back again by the Sea of Galilee and get into a kibbutz – but I disliked the prospect of journeying all the way back up there, and foresaw great difficulties in getting taken on at a kibbutz, especially in an area so near the border.


Back at the Gymnasium, when I was in the washroom, there entered a boy named Norman whom I knew casually from the Institute.  He is Canadian, from Montreal, studies physics at (I think) McGill University, & has a stupid expression on his face.  I was surprised to see him, as I thought I was the only person from the Institute now staying at the Gymnasium.  He told me that he had officially left the Summer Institute, and was now free to do what he liked.  He had been staying at the Gymnasium for 2 nights, having broken in each time.  He was intending now to go to a kibbutz in the south near Yad Mordechai, where he had friends, & work 5 days, then hitch-hike to Elat, the southernmost  Israeli settlement, on  the Red Sea.  At first this immensely appealed to me, & I said I would like to go with him.  It certainly rescued me from my doldrums of indecision, and I have long wanted to go to Elat.  Norman seemed to welcome my company, & told me now about his plans.  But my enthusiasm quickly cooled.


But before pursuing these new plans, I had still to settle my Jerusalem business.  Miriam Levine, the Boston-born Institute Secretary, had asked me to come & see her at her office in the Rothschild School building at 10 AM.  I went at that time, but she was not yet there.  In the Nurse’s room there, I found a big American boy named Paul, who has become very friendly with Daphne, an English girl who is a cousin of Michael Fox, who studies Law at King’s College London & seems to be almost the fiancée of a girl named Sheila Israel.  Paul said he had been taken ill yesterday with shilshul & a little fever, but expected to be alright tomorrow.  I asked if I could help him in any way, & later, when I went out to the bank I bought him a Jerusalem Post & some air-letters.


Miriam Levine finally came about 10:20, & gave me the travelers check for £10 which I had formerly given in, & directed me to a bank just opposite from the Café Rehavia, where I went & cashed it.  On the way back, I met Dr. Herman and several of the madrichim, & one named Avrahom came with me back to Miriam Levine, to whom I gave the money.  Norman was there in the office, & although, after thinking about the idea of going with him, I was now less interested, I did not want yet to completely reject it.  It happened that we both had business to do at 2 places, the Tourist Bureau & the Shoham Shipping Line.  I had discovered that, through some mistake, I had not been given a ration card, which it seems is necessary for staying on a kibbutz, and was told I could get one at the Tourist Office in Ben Yehuda Street.  So we went there first.  On the way, Norman told me that the kibbutz he was planning to go to was a new and particularly unluxurious one.  This did not attract me, & I was further disheartened by the knowledge that he was going to meet a gir-friend at this kibbutz – and so there would be 3, not 2 of us, on the road to Elat.  Furthermore, Norman would not be leaving Jerusalem until tomorrow morning, & I wanted to leave today.  Gradually I revealed to him my waning interest.  At the Tourist Office I obtained my ration card.  Another thing that put me off Norman’s scheme was the fact that he spoke fluent Hebrew, which would place me always in an inferior and dependent position.


From the Tourist Office we went to the office of the Shoham Shipping Line.  Here I wanted to enquire about postponing my passage back to Marseilles, and especially to check up on the dates of departure from Haifa.  I found out that the “Artza” sails on September 22, & reaches Marseilles on the 28th.  This is the voyage I would like to make, but they were unable to help me about postponing my passage on the group ticket, saying everything must be done by my group leader (Sam Sherwin) and through their Haifa office.

After this, I told Norman definitely that I thought it would be better if I travelled on my own, so said goodbye & left him.  I went back to the Secretary’s office just to get a list of the few kibbutzim on which people from the Institute are staying, though I didn’t know what use I would make of it.  I returned to the Gymnasium to write my diary & pack.  I was feeling very confused, & could not decide what I wanted to do.  Eventually I arrived at what I realized was the wisest decision – not to attempt to decide, but to let everything go until I was on the road out of Jerusalem.  By then I knew I would be much happier & more capable of making decisions.  Eventually I went back to the Café Rehavia to have lunch, & it was quite good, including a whole fried fish.


(Continuing now on August 5)  I took with me my packed rucksack, & it was fairly heavy.  After my meal, I sat writing for some time, bringing my diary up to date, then at length set off, walking to the Egged bus station in Jaffa Road, where I took a no.1 bus to the city outskirts.  But before setting out on the main road, I went to the nearby bus depot, for I had discovered that I had left my pith helmet on the bus yesterday, & wanted if possible to recover it, although the loss itself did not much worry me, for I have an identical one at home.  At the depot my quest was disappointed, but I was told there might yet be a chance, & asked to call again on Friday.  So I returned to the main road & began walking along it, as I had done on July 26.  My mind was still not definitely made up, but I had by this time arrived at the vague general plan that I would this evening try to get to the kibbutz called Maale Hachamisha.  This is not very far from Jerusalem, near the Arab village of Abu Ghosh.  A group from the Summer Institute was staying there, and I had already been there twice on visits myself.  It also is the kibbutz of David Ron, one of our madrichim, and parts of it are quite attractive.  I thought I could go there & ask to stay the night.  If I liked it there, I might continue to stay with the group;  if not, I could always leave & go on north to Galilee.


As always, I became much more cheerful & started singing once I had started off along the road, and, as luck would have it, although I had left behind me a place where many people were waiting for lifts, a vehicle soon stopped for me, a small lorry in whose back I sat.  This lift had come so quickly that I wondered whether I should not again change my plan, and continue with this lorry as far as it was going, to Ramle. But I decided against this, and alighted at the road  at Abu Gosh, leading to Moale Hachamisha.  On this ride, we also picked up a young French boy from Paris who told me he was studying the chemistry of dyes, and on a visit to this country.


I did not even have to walk up the hilly road to the kibbutz, for I got another lift almost immediately, in a jeep, which took me right there.  The driver of the jeep was a friendly man, who took me to the dining hall first, where I had some bread & milk & jam.  Then I had to find David Ron, & ask him if I could stay there, but this proved much more difficult than I expected.  Moale Hachamisha is a kibbutz about 15 years old, and has quite pleasant parts, of trees, lawns, & gardens., as well as an adjacent holiday resort run as a profit-making enterprise by the kibbutz.  On one of these lawns I found some people I knew, lounging  & playing cards.  They were people I did not particularly like – Alan Braverman, an English medical student who apparently knows only dirty songs, Ruth Deans, a blonde Scottish girl who seems always to be flirting with people.  They were interested in my arrival, but had no welcome for me, & in fact, when I tried to talk with them, they said, though in a joking way, that they wished I would go away.  It depressed me to know I was not wanted, & recalled to me similar occasions all through my life, when I have been made to feel an outsider.  I knew then that I would not want to spend 2 weeks with these people on this kibbutz.  Still, I was interested in staying the night there, but they said they did not think there would be any room.


All the time while I was at Moale Hachamisha, I heard in the distance sporadic gunfire from rifles & machine-guns.  It was coming from the direction of the border not far away.  I don’t know what the firing signified, but it may really have been some actual border clash going on somewhere.  If so, it was the closest I have ever knowingly been to real fighting.  But the people on the kibbutz did not seem concerned about it at all—and those on the lawn went on playing cards the whole time, even though only a few days ago, as I had read in the paper, there had, very close to Moale Hachamisha, been some sort of border incident, in which 2 Arabs were killed.  But I was very interested to know what was going on, & climbed up a water-tower, but could see nothing but the bare hills to the north.


Eventually a girl from Egypt guided me to the little house of David Ron.  He was there, but, as I half-expected & almost hoped, he said there was no room.  He is a good-natured man, & had done his best before now to persuade me to come to his kibbutz, or at least to make up my mind which kibbutz I wished to go to.  So I now admitted whole-heartedly that it was all my own fault.  I was not very worried about my plight, for I had heard that there was room at Tsora, another kibbutz on which our people were staying, about as far again as I had come from Jerusalem.  I could reach it by hitch-hiking to a crossroads near Eshtaol, & walking from there.


So I started walking back down to the main road, but, instead of going along the kibbutz’s roadway, I tried to descend a quicker way down the hillside, through the orchards & vineyards of the kibbutz.  But, as usual, it proved to be a very long short-cut, but I was able to eat some ripe grapes on the way..  The last part of my descent was through part of the village of Abu Gosh.


Again I was lucky in my hitch-hiking, and in just a few minutes stopped a car bearing a French license plate.  It was a comfortable American car, & the driver was a young Frenchman from Paris, on a visit to Israel by himself.  I spoke in French with him, & he took me to the Eshtaol crossroads.  From here I had quite a long walk to the kibbutz Tsora, but on the last part of it, I met a group of people who were going there, & walked with them.  We walked as darkness was falling, & I spoke with a big South African named Abbie who lives at the kibbutz.  He told me much about it, & it sounded like an interesting place.  When we arrived, we came straight to the dining hall, & there I met most of my group who were already here, & who were naturally surprised to see me.  I was very glad that the madrich was the Australian Yitzchak whom I like, & whose wife is expecting a baby soon.  He received me very kindly, & after I had had a meal, he fixed me up in a cabin with himself & 2 other of our boys, Erol from Turkey & Philip from Liverpool.  There are about 16 of us here, but it happens that there are no American boys, & Philip & I are the only 2 English boys.


After I had had a shower, I watched some dancing in the dining hall & spent some time writing my diary. Then I was invited to a little tea-party in one of the cabins, & did not get to bed until almost 1 AM.



Wednesday, August 5, 1953.

This has been my first day at Tsora kibbutz.  I don’t know if I will stay the whole 2 weeks here, for I did not on the whole much enjoy today.  During the 2-week kibbutz period of the Jewish Agency Summer Institute we are supposed to disperse to various kibbutzim & there spend 6 hours a day working & also have some organized activities.  I find myself on a kibbutz called Tsora in the Jerusalem Corridor, in country associated in the Bible with the story of Samson.  (It is actually mentioned in the Bible that the spirit of God came upon Samson between Tsora and Eshtaol.)  It is bleak & barren hill-country, and this is a new kibbutz, established in its present site only a few years ago.  Nearby is an immigrant camp called Har Tuv, and a large cement works called the Shimshon (Samson) works, still under construction.  This kibbutz has hardly any greenery.  Most of its buildings are very poor.  Its sanitation is primitive.  Insects abound, and I do not much like the food, which is largely cheese & raw vegetables.  The kibbutz consists, I think, of about 150-200 people, of whom all but about 30 are native Israelis.  Those 30 are almost all South Africans.


We had to be up at 6 o’clock this morning, & I was surprised to see our madrich Yitzchak saying prayers with his prayer-shawl & phylacteries.  I did not know he was religious at all.  In the schedule of jobs which had been allotted last night, Yitzchak & I, with 4 of our girls had been given work in the vegetable garden.  We thought of course that this would be out-of-door work, but instead we sat all the time in a large shed sorting onions directed by an Israeli, who did not speak much English.  No one on this kibbutz is over the age of 27. Besides sorting onions (3 kinds – large, small, & rotten ) – I also helped sorting some potatoes  & unloading empty wooden boxes from a lorry.  It was not very pleasant work, but at least it was not hot, & we were cheerful, sitting in a ring on boxes around the pile of onions, sorting them.  We were hardly ever urged to work faster or better, & took our time, talking, singing, telling jokes etc.  But the smell was unpleasant.  From time to time we had short breaks, & once melons were served, but I do not like them.


The system is that, after getting up, one has only a small snack, & then works for about an hour before breakfast.  We stopped work about noon, & did not have any more to do for the rest of the day.  There is plenty to eat here, but not of the kinds of food I like.  But I have been having much tea (without milk), & have been growing accustomed to eating cucumbers with bread.  In the afternoon, I tried to rest on my bed, but it was very hot, & there were so many flies that I was always uncomfortable.  Eventually I managed to rig up a mosquito netting over my bed.


Since I have lost a pith-helmet, I managed to borrow a hat from the kibbutz store, one of the kind with a wide soft brim.  There is now practically nothing in my dress (except perhaps my black shoes instead of sandals) to distinguish me from an Israeli.


For some days I have been suffering from some sort of running sore on my right buttock, which has made it uncomfortable to me to sit down.  This evening I had the kibbutz nurse attend to it.


I went up a nearby hill to watch the sun set, alone, this evening.  We had a meeting this evening of the Summer Institute group, & someone spoke to us about the economy of the kibbutz, but it was not very interesting.  This is an ugly & rather depressing place.


Thursday, August 6, 1953

My second full day at Tsora kibbutz. 

The lavatories here are of the most primitive type.  There are taps everywhere, but during the daytime, the water from many of them becomes so hot from the sun that one can scarcely touch it, let alone drink it.


This kibbutz was founded in 1948, but on another site.  I think it moved here 3 or 4 years ago.  Its lands are extensive, though I have not seen much of them—and grapes & tobacco are among the crops.  My wristwatch strap broke a few days ago, & I now have to keep the watch in my pocket.  Thank goodness water is plentiful here.  I have discovered that, if I want to do any reading or writing, the best place is the corrugated metal shower-house, where I can sit with a towel on, & get under the shower whenever I feel hot or bothered by insects.  But the showers do not in fact shower.  Instead of a sprinkle, there comes from the pipes a steady single pour.


We were up again at 6 AM.  I had slept very well.  Mine was the only bed with its own mosquito net.  I have hung this over the bed in the form of a tent.  Because our cabin was not as good as most of the others, and did not have screened windows or a tiled floor, it was arranged today that we should move to another one.  But I decided that I was satisfied where I was, and would in any case prefer to be in a cabin by myself.  So I have remained, while everyone else has moved out.  My only problem is how I will wake up in time in the morning.


My work today was supposed to be on the big farm machine called the combine.  But I learned this morning that for some reason the combine was not working today.  So I was given a job by a South African boy named Werner, who was a student of Architecture & is now in charge of all the building in the kibbutz.  He took me to a place where some small new buildings were being built.  One, near completion, was to be the kibbutz “cultural center.”  Beside it were being dug the foundations of a smaller building.  It was here that I was to work.  Werner said that these foundations were not exactly level, & he wanted me to level them.  He gave me a pick & shovel, & a tool like a very large hoe, but he did not tell or show me how to set about the job, & simply went away, leaving me to my own devices. My first problem was that the ground already looked practically level to me.  I started picking & shoveling away in a very haphazard fashion.  I worked stripped to the waist, for I now have no fear of sunburn.  I always wear shorts.


I attacked the work with gusto, but was surprised how soon I grew hot & tired.  I had to rest quite frequently.  I was working in the sun all the time.  Eventually Werner came back & gave me a little guidance, after which I was able to work more methodically, breaking the ground with the pick, gathering the dry grey earth together with the hoe, & then shoveling it out of the diggings.  I felt rather guilty about resting & going for drinks so frequently, but I could not work other- wise.  (Continuing now on Aug. 7)  The water here is never very cool, & has a rather unpleasant soapy taste.


So I worked on through the hot morning, & at noon went for lunch.  There is always plenty of food here, but never much that I like.  There are tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, bread, tea & coffee, cantaloupe, Lebani (a sort of Israeli Yogurt) ad lib.  Sometimes there is a good thick soup which I like.  We get half a hard-boiled egg each day, and a tiny portion of margarine. Pregnant women & other special cases get extra food.  There was porridge for breakfast this morning.  Usually I get enough food to fill me up, but this evening, after supper, I had an unusual burning sensation in my stomach, & I wondered if it was something I ate.


I had heard about rats in the cabins here.  On my first night here I saw & heard a mouse or rat shuffling about by the windows of our cabin inside.


After lunch I went & had a shower.  It gets so hot here in the afternoons that I feel completely listless, and want only to find a cool quiet place to rest, away from sun & flies.  But, after my shower, I had to return to work, for I had started late this morning, & still had 2 hours of my 6 to do.  I again took up my tools – but after I had been working not long, a Romanian builder, who was working on some new grey-brick cabins nearby, called me over to him.  He was by himself & wanted help.  I helped him load sand, stones, & cement into a cement-mixer, then held buckets while he poured the finished mixture out into them.  Then I had to help him carry buckets of cement into the building where he was working, & hand them up to him. This man came from the nearby maabara (immigrant camp) at Har Tuv.  (From this kibbutz 2 or 3 other bare & ugly settlements can be seen.)


After I had been helping the man a while, Werner came along & took my place.  I returned to my digging, but did not go on for very long, for Yitzchak, our madrich, who has a sharp nose & chin, & looks like Punch, came up & said I had worked enough for today – he did not want me to get too tired.


For the rest of the afternoon, until “tea-time,” I retired to the shower-house, which is the only place here where I know I can keep cool – although even there the flies are troublesome.  There I had 2 or 3 showers, & between times, I sat wearing only a towel, writing.  I wrote an air-letter to my parents, who should now be on holiday at the Regina Palace Hotel, Interlaken, Switzerland, & also sent a postcard to Mrs. Havatselett whom I met at the Salamons’ in Haifa on July 25 (q.v.)  When she invited me to her home in Tel Aviv she did not specify whether she wanted me to stay there or only to pay a call.  I was anxious to clarify the position.  I would of course like to stay there.  I asked Yitzchak what would be the most tactful of approaching the question, & he suggested that I should say on my card that I would be glad to accept her invitation, but could not yet say when I would be coming to Tel Aviv, because I hadn’t secured accommodation yet.  This I did, mentioning on the card that I would be free after August 17, & giving my Jerusalem address.  I must now hope to receive a letter from her conveying a definite invitation to come & stay at her home in Tel Aviv, which it would be most pleasant to receive & accept.


At “tea-time” in the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) I had some more of the soup I had enjoyed at lunch, as well as some milk.  Yesterday I had gone with 3 other people to a Hebrew lesson given by an Israeli boy named Gidion in his cabin, but today I missed the lesson.  This evening after supper we had a film show.  The theater was the lawn outside the dining hall, & the screen was a sheet hung over the side of a bus.  I sat with Elana Fink & Erol the Turkish boy & a sabra named Lever on a blanket on the lawn.  The film was “That Forsyte Woman,” based upon the first book of  John Galsworth’s “Forsyte Saga.”  It was quite old, & had big stars like Greer Garson, Errol Flynn, Robert Young, & Walter Pigeon.  I have not read the book.  In some respects, the film was good.  Its complicated love stories were interesting, and its theme of the life of the upper middle class in England was, I thought, well put.  We saw also a cartoon.  It was not til after midnight that I got to bed.


Friday, August 7, 1953

(Written Aug. 8)   Another day at kibbutz Tsora, & one in which I grew very disgusted with the place, & decided that I would leave on Sunday.  There is too much inconvenience here – the heat, the flies, the rats & mice, the dust, the bad sanitation, the ugliness.  I have now several times seen rats & mice very plainly for minutes at a time in my cabin.  But they have so far done nothing to annoy me.  What I dislike most is the fact that, when work is over, there is nowhere to go & nothing to do.  There are not even any benches anywhere.  The flies are well-nigh intolerable.  Moreover, the food here is in general even less to my taste than that at the mensa in Jerusalem.  Here there are no luxuries like orange juice or plentiful margarine.


My night’s sleep was not as good as the previous night.  There was a visitor to the kibbutz sharing my room, and he disturbed me by going to bed earlier & getting up earlier than I did.  But in fact I overslept, & did not get up until about 7:15.  My work today was to be in the carpenter’s shop.  The shop, like all the other larger buildings here, is a temporary-looking place of corrugated metal, but it seemed to me to be quite well-equipped with some large & valuable machines.  I worked with the Turkish boy named Erol from our group.   Our job was to paint new window-frames with linseed oil.  We took them off one pile, painted them on one side, turned them over & painted the other side, then put them on another pile.  Altogether we did 15 frames.  It was not very hard work, & we were fortunately indoors in the shade.  But after every frame I went outside to put my arms & neck under a tap.  I worked bare to the waste.  After a while we grew quite dexterous at the job.  We talked & sang much together.  Erol, who is 23, told me about Turkey, its government, its national anthem etc.  We worked all morning, & finished our pile of window-frames.  At noon we had lunch, & then returned to the carpenter’s shop for 2 more hours of work, which we spent making piles & stacks of wood.


In the afternoon I sat for some time in the cabin of several boys of my group, for my own wood cabin is insufferably hot & full of flies, but this one is more comfortable.  The 28 year old Dutchman Axel Moller is here, & he suffers much from the heat.  I also passed much time again in the shower-house.  At tea-time, could not even get any jam, so had just warm milk & dry bread.


This was the eve of Shabbat, & in the evening our tables for supper were arranged differently in long rows, & we had for the first time some fruit other than melons – grapes.  After supper, our group sat out on the lawn, sang songs, told jokes, & then we went into one of the cabins & had lemonade & biscuits.  Some of the Israeli boys sang songs to us.  I went to bed about midnight.


Saturday, August 8 1953

This was my 4th, & what I intend to be my last day at the young kibbutz called Tsora, south of Eshtaol, in the Judean hills.  I have not enjoyed my stay here, & that is why I am leaving.  The food situation is particularly discouraging.  I would not so much mind the depressing heat, the flies, mice, poor sanitation etc., if I could look forward to 3 good meals a day.  But in the last 2 days there has been hardly anything at all which I have enjoyed eating.  Even the tea today was cold.  I am leaving, then, because I dislike the discomfort and ugliness of Tsora, but I should not give the impression that my stay here has been wasted.  I have certainly obtained a good idea of life on a new kibbutz, and cannot but admire the spirit of the people who are willing permanently (or at least for a long time, until they improve) to put up with these conditions..  I have done 3 different kinds of work, and came as near to “earning my bread and board” as I have ever done in my life.


If I came back to Tsora in a few years’ time, I would be astonished by the improvement of everything.  2 days ago, when Werner was my “boss,” I helped him for part of the time measuring out for a diagram the position of such things as the lawn, path, & trees near the dining-hall.  He was going to submit the plan to a professional landscape gardener, who was to prepare a scheme for the improvement of the area.


There was a very interesting incident yesterday, which I forgot to record.  When I was working in the carpenter’s shop, I had a splinter in my finger, which annoyed me with slight pain.  I had not received the splinter there, but I wanted to get at least a bandage put on it.  So I asked Jeff, who was our boss there, if he had one.  There was another man working there, who came originally from Poland.  He was an experienced carpenter, & he said he would take it out for me.  He went to the tool-chest, & took out a chisel!  At first I thought he was joking, but he was not.  I grew very worried, & was most reluctant to submit my finger to this rough surgery.  Erol laughed at my fright.  I was worried not only about the pain (I am always a coward in these things) but the unhygienic method.  For some time I hesitated, & kept withdrawing my hand from the man who had hold of it.  But I was taunted by a South African boy who was there, & eventually I submitted.  So the man dug in with his chisel.  The splinter was right beneath the surface of the skin, but he worked expertly. He removed only a tiny piece of skin, & there was little pain or blood.  Within a few seconds, to my surprise, he had exposed the splinter, so that I could easily pull it out with my teeth.  I was so pleased & surprised that the first thing I did was shake hands with my “doctor.”  Then Jeff took me next door to the machine shop, & put a bandage on my wound.


I also forgot to mention 2 days ago that my digging had gained me at least one blister on my hand, which the nurse yesterday put a bandage on, when I went to her about the sore on my buttock which the other nurse had seen, and which still has not healed.  Of the latter, she said it might have been caused by the heat, & put a new bandage on it.


Today was Shabbat, on which most people do not work.  It was possible to have breakfast until 10:30 AM, & I looked forward to a good sleep.  But in fact I slept longer than I expected, & had no breakfast at all, for I did not wake up until after noon.  I had thus had about 12 hours’ sleep – my longest sleep since I left home.  But I was in good time for lunch, & able to have a shower first.  The others in my group had gone this morning on a visit to the new Yemenite village, but I was not sorry to have missed this.


I spent the afternoon until 4:30 doing very little.  I sat in the cabin of some of my friends, & heard Axel Moller, the Dutch boy tell more about his problems.  I had heard on the ship about his wartime experiences, how he was put in a German concentration camp, & shot when he tried to escape.  Now he showed us the 5 bullet wounds, some of which have deformed his left leg  He was born in Germany, & lived there til the age of 13.  He told us how the boys of the “Hitler Youth” in his class used to beat him up because he was a Jew.  So his family had to stop sending him to school, & eventually they moved, or fled, to Holland.  Now he had a job as a bank clerk in Amsterdam.  He is not very satisfied with it – the hours are hard, pay poor, & chances of promotion slight.  But he is disappointed with Israel because of the hard conditions, & says he fears he has not the courage to start all over again in a new country.


Late this afternoon I went on a pleasant journey with 3 other members of the group  -- Philip, the boy studying agricultural chemistry, from Liverpool, Erol, the Turkish boy, & Joan Diamond, the girl studying Physics at Cambridge – and 2 young South Africans, to a monastery called Beit Jimal, which can be seen in the hilltop distance from Tsora.  We went across fields and a wadi (dry, of course, at this time of year) then along a good road & up a winding dusty one to the monastery, which seems to be Italian.  There we were given welcome drinks of water, & shown around by an English-speaking guide. The present building is only about 30 or 40 years old, but was built on the site of an old Byzantine church, the remains of whose mosaics we were shown.  Then we saw a chapel built as a reconstruction of the Byzantine church, which I think was the church & burial place of Saint Stephen. It was painted with imitation mosaics, & looked very fine.  I was interested to see the Byzantine style.


My companions bought bottles of wine there. Eventually we started back, & on the way we picked figs from some trees.  But I do not like raw figs.  We were also given some sabras (the fruit of the cactus) by a French-speaking monk.  I had tried this fruit last year in Spain, but had not liked it because of its many pips.  I tried it now again, with the same result.  We walked back by a longer route, & didn’t return until 8:30.  The sky here looks beautiful after sunset.


Raffy, one of the madrichim, a fine handsome boy, is a member of this kibbutz.  But he arrived here only this evening.  I saw him, & learned that he is going tomorrow morning in a car to Galilee.  I asked if I could come, & he said if I were at the main road by 7:30 AM, he might have room.  To get to the main road will be about an hour’s walk, but I will try.


Sunday, August 9, 1953

This has been a day of hard traveling for me, often tedious and depressing – but it has ended very well, with my spirits high, and things at last going right.’


It was my intention to leave the kibbutz of Tsora this morning, and hitch-hike north to Galilee.  I was not sure exactly where I would make for.  I wanted ideally to stay in a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee;  but at Yiftach, north-west of Lake Huleh, there is a kibbutz where I knew were staying a group from our Summer Institute.  Joining this group might be much easier than trying to be taken on at a strange kibbutz, but the distance was greater, & I had not yet decided what I would do.


Yesterday (q.v.) Raffy had told me, or rather I had heard him mention, that he was going to Galilee today.  I asked if there would be room in his car.  He said there might be, & I should be at the main road between 7:30 & 8:00 AM.  I had planned last night to get up about 5:45 today, have some breakfast, & then walk the long way to the main road.  But things worked out differently.  The boy named Jackson (an Israeli) who was doing guard duty last night, & who was to wake several of us up this morning (for many of our group were already leaving the kibbutz for various reasons, & tomorrow there will probably be left only about 6 of the original 16) evidently forgot or misunderstood the time I told him, & got me up at 5 AM  This meant that, after having my shower & some breakfast, I was still in time to catch a bus which was leaving the kibbutz at 5:45.  It was going to Jerusalem, but I could get off at the main road.


For breakfast today we were for some happy reason given a whole hard-boiled egg instead of half, & there was some good hot tea & bread.  I knew I would be in need of food during the day, so I put into my food-box several large pieces of bread & a small cucumber.  (Before I came to Israel, I had never eaten a cucumber in my life.  Now I still don’t like them, but if hungry, will eat one together with bread.) The bus began to pull out of the kibbutz  before I had finished my cup of tea in the dining-room.  I made a wild dash with my rucksack, & caught the bus, but it was unnecessary, for there were afterwards several delays, & I even had time to come back & finish my tea.


The morning sky at daybreak is very beautiful.  I had heard that all over Israel on kibbutzim there is a problem of too many men and too few women.  This was true also at Tsora. 


On its way to the main road, the bus stopped at the Har Tuv immigrant camp, & it was a long time before all the people waiting there had crowded in.  There are many things in Israel which I still find hard to get used to, & which still impress me.  One of them is the presence of these large camps of immigrants coming from scores of different countries, living & working together in bad conditions.  Another is the presence of monasteries & foreign religious interests all over the State.  Israel is in many ways at present an “international country” where widely differing peoples and ways of life can be seen side by side.  I am impressed also by the way Jewish immigrants have completely taken over old Arab towns like Ramle and Beersheba.  It all seems so strange.


I had well over an hour to wait before 7:30 when I got off the bus at the main road.  The first part of this time I occupied by reading my Bible & visiting a filthy nearby lavatory.  There are always people at this crossroads near Eshtaol waiting for lifts, but there is just one building there, a sort of café, which was now closed.  After I had been waiting a while, I saw that Elana Fink, the little girl from Los Angeles, had arrived.  She had got a lift here in a lorry from Tsora, & was now going to Jerusalem to look for a job, (for she has decided not to go home with her group) calling in first at Maole Hachamisha.  She intended to hitch-hike, & became depressed & pessimistic when she did not immediately get a lift.  But I assured her, as I had done on July 31 (q.v.) & told her that she would be at [?] for breakfast.  She did not believe me, but I was right, for she got a lift at about 7:30


Raffy did not come along in the station wagon until 8:10.  They had come from Jerusalem.  But the vehicle was full.  Raffy said they could not take me, but they could, if I liked, take my luggage (my rucksack) to Yiftach.  But this was for me out of the question – for, not only does my rucksack contain everything I need, but I did not know when, if ever, I would arrive at Yiftach.  So I said goodbye to Raffy, whom I know only slightly.  He is a very handsome boy with a good personality – but Elana says he is married & his wife is ugly Though slightly disappointed (having made such an inconveniently early rising in order to be there on time) I was not very sorry about being turned down.  For the prospect of a long dull ride north with these people did not much interest me.


So began my day’s journey on my own.  At first my luck was good.  After walking a while into the hills, past a tree nursery which we had visited in one of our Summer Institute tours, I got a lift in an army lorry to Ramle.  On this ride, I thought of the letter I would like to send to Dr. Herman, giving my impressions of the Summer Institute.  I would praise the madrichim, the mensa, the situation of the Gymnasium, but deplore the poor organization, the large tour parties, the dry sandwich lunches, & the lack of any historical background in our lectures.


The rest of my day’s journeying was very difficult.  It took me a long time to get lifts, and they were never very good ones.  The heat & flies oppressed me.  I did not like walking in the sun with my heavy rucksack, but often had to.  At various places during the day, I bought orange juice & ice cream.  My lunch I ate on my blanket, which I spread by the roadside.  I had bread, water, cucumber, & chocolate spread (which I had brought in a carton from England.)


I walked out of Ramle, & then had a lift into Lud on a horse-cart.  It seems always so strange to me that none of the people living in these former Arab towns have been there more than 5 years.  My next lift, after a long wait, was also on a horse-cart with a talkative driver whom I could not understand.  This is a pleasant way to travel – slowly, in the sunshine, with one’s legs dangling over the side.


More long waits & walks.  It greatly depresses me when vehicle after vehicle passes, which has obviously plenty of room.  I passed a gang of men working on the shadeless road, and wondered how long I could last in such a job.  At length, 2 army lifts took me to a point on the road south of the Natanya crossroads, & here I waited unsuccessfully with a young sailor & air force boy.  The sailor eventually got a lift up to the crossroads, but the other boy & I had to take a bus there.  Time was flying, & it now looked unlikely that I would reach the shores of Lake Tiberias today.  After waiting some time in vain for a lift, I decided to take a bus to Hadera, the place where my road turns off to the right.  The bus ride itself took much longer than I expected.  While on the bus, I met a man who had lived 12 years in England, & has a British passport.  He was glad to talk to me.  His name is Salamon (no relation to the Haifa Salamons) & he insisted on giving me his address in Tel Aviv, & invited me to come & stay with him.  The address is:  50, ARLOZO REHOV.  I was very pleased to accept this invitation, & will surely visit him, though if Mrs. Havatselett is agreeable (see August 6) I will not have to stay with him.  He said he would like me to take some messages back to his friends in England.  He helped me on the bus, & told me where to get off, at a crossroads at the beginning of the road to Megiddo. 


The time was then about 6:30.  I knew the sun would set at 7:30.  At first I thought I would try to get to Afula & stay there.  A young soldier from Morocco was also waiting for a lift.  I spoke to him in French (I used my French much today) & learned that he was very dissatisfied with Israel, & contemplating returning to Morocco at the end of his army service.  I waited with him for a while, but there was very little traffic , & I decided to walk on by myself & try to get into some kibbutz before sunset.  For I had heard that this region is after dark made very dangerous by wandering Arabs.  I was inspired by a strange bold confidence, & had not been walking long before I was picked up by a lorry.  The driver spoke English, & I told him I was looking for some place to spend the night.  He said he would take me to a nearby kibbutz called Ein Shemer, & there I would probably be admitted.  Ein Shemer was surrounded by barbed wire & blockhouses, but inside, it was the most pleasant kibbutz I have seen, with lawns & gardens everywhere.  I walked boldly into the fine dining-room, & asked at several tables where people were eating if anyone spoke English.  A man came up to me, & told me he was English, from Leeds.  His name was Jack Ross, & I was lucky, for he was the only Englishman in the kibbutz. I told him my story, & was surprised at how forthrightly, though politely, I asked for what I wanted.  He in return treated me very well, & became my host at the kibbutz  Everything at the kibbutz is like a dream, compared with Tsora, from which I have just come.  It is 25 years old.  I sat at Jack’s table for supper, & had a very good meal, which included things unknown at Tsora, such as a fried egg, tea with milk in it (though cold) semolina pudding and halva.  I then went with Jack round to various kibbutz officials, for he had to have their permission before he could fix me up here.  Jack is married, & has a little daughter Leah, who knows English, but speaks only Hebrew here.


I was surprised at the fine-ness of many of the buildings here.  The cabin Jack took me to is quite an ordinary one, but I have a comfortable bed.  I share the room with a French-speaking Pole, to whom I had a short while ago the interesting experience of trying to explain to him a passage in English book on mechanics which I could hardly understand myself.  He asked me to do it, & I had to explain in French. 


But the greatest pleasure of my day was when Jack took me into the shower-house here, where there is a beautiful changing-room, & a separate room with mirrors & sinks, and another room for the showers, where there was really hot and cold water.—the first time I have enjoyed such a luxury in Israel (even at the Salamon’s I don’t think their water was very hot.)  I felt really happy in the shower, & all the sufferings of the day seemed to have been worthwhile.  I told Jack I was willing to work here to repay my keep, but he said that would not be necessary.  My water-bottle is leaking again.  I will have to get it fixed here tomorrow.


Monday, August 10th, 1953

My journey from Tsora to the Sea of Galilee, which at one time I hoped to accomplish in a day, is now becoming a regular holiday in itself, for now, at the end of my second full day of traveling,  I have not yet reached my destination, & it looks as if it may yet take me all tomorrow to get there.  But I am not sorry, for today has been interesting and full of incident, and has ended earlier , but quite as pleasantly as yesterday, in another kibbutz.


Often there are things I want to put in my diary that I forget about when the time comes for writing them down.  On August 8 I forgot to mention that soldiers’ maneuvers were going on when we went for our walk to the monastery, & we saw the “judges” going about in jeeps.  One of the South Africans  told me how, during one of these mock battles, a judge had seen a soldier going across a bridge.  “Hey!” said the judge, “you can’t go there.  That bridge has been blown up.”  “That’s alright,” said the soldier, “I’m dead.” 


Israel is like one vast army.  Everywhere there are men & women in uniform, army lorries & camps, barbed wire, fortified police stations etc.  Most kibbutzim put guards out at night.  At Tsora I heard that Arabs had broken in & stolen many tools 2 weeks before.  The gunfire that I heard at Moale Hachamisha on August 4 might possibly have been Israeli army maneuvers.  Today, when I was sitting by the road near Ein Shemer, fighter planes of the Israeli Air Force dived low over me.  Now that I am traveling on my own, I have a much more interesting time & am beginning to pick up a few words of Hebrew, though I meet many people who speak English or French.


Israel is unique in many ways, including its traffic.  Here one sees very few private cars, and no old ones.  Most cars are taxis, and they are fairly new American models.  There are very few cars here bearing foreign license plates, but I have seen a few French & United Nations vehicles.  Most of the road traffic is lorries – large for carrying goods, and small for passengers.  Then there are the buses, always crowded, and there are again very few bicycles or motorcycles.  Trains I have seen a few times, but I haven’t yet ridden on one.  Fares are generally cheap in this country, for distances are small.


It may be my imagination, but I seem to have been seeing many people lately who do not look very healthy.  I notice people especially with eye troubles – red eyes, or a cloud in the eye.


The colorful costumes worn by the Arabs & the Eastern immigrants always delight me.


The sheep I see here are not many, & they are always of a brownish color.


Last night I slept very well indeed.  I woke up at 7:15, but fell asleep again, until 8:15.  I  had another very enjoyable shower, though this time there was no hot water.  Then I went to breakfast, where I had porridge, milk, bread & margarine & green pepper.


The lavatories at Ein Shemer matched the other conveniences in being completely civilized, except that newspaper & not toilet paper was provided.  At Tsora the lavatories had consisted merely of a hole in a wooden floor. 


My one concern before leaving this pleasant kibbutz  was now to have my water-bottle repaired.  I had had trouble with this bottle before, & already it had been once soldered (see July 28).  Now it seemed the soldering had come apart, or a new leak had developed somewhere else.  But I knew there must be some place I could have it repaired, probably for nothing, so asked, & was directed to a machine shop where there were several men. One, the oldest, said he could repair it for me.  He took a long time soldering, & kept saying the bottle was no good.  When he had soldered up one place, he found water was coming from another.  For a while, I thought he was going to give up.  He handed the job over to another man, the man whose room I had shared last night. (I went to bed last night at 11 PM.) but then he came back to it.  At last he finished the job, tested it (though not thoroughly) and the bottle appeared water-tight, though I had my doubts.  In fact, it still has a small leak, from which one drop comes about every 10 seconds, but this is not enough to worry me, & I can carry it safely, as usual, in the side-pocket of my rucksack. [I don’t know why I apparently never considered getting a new one.]


While I was waiting in the machine shop, I met & spoke with Jack Ross again (see yesterday) to whom I had said goodbye last night.  He told me that Ein Shemer is a Mapam (extreme socialist) kibbutz, but this does not much affect its way of life.  Its average age might be about 35 (much older than at Tsora).  It was established about 25 years ago, & the early founders had a very hard time. (It is hard to imagine, but I suppose that Tsora, when it has reached the age of Ein Shemer, will have reached or surpassed its beauty and convenience.)  Ein Shemer is almost completely self-supporting.  It makes its own clothes and shoes, has its own school & high school, library & swimming-pool.  If I had to live on an Israeli kibbutz, this is certainly the kind of place I would choose.  I had thought, with most others of my group, that Moale Hachamisha was a comparatively luxurious kibbutz, but Ein Shemer puts it to shame.


I left Ein Shemer at about 10:30 AM, & walked to the main road, hoping soon to get a lift, at least as far as Megiddo.  But it was not until well after 1:30 PM that I got my first lift. I still don’t understand hitch-hiking in Israel.  I would like to know why so many drivers, especially of small lorries, which actually have benches in the back, pass by, even when they have plenty of room, with such stony looks.  I don’t think the reason is personal, for it is often the same when I am hitch-hiking with other people.


My heavy rucksack makes walking in the heat unpleasant, so I took short walks & long rests.  For a time, I sat on my rucksack by the roadside, leaning my back against a milestone, and finishing the Second Book of Samuel in the Bible which I began to read on the ship to Israel.  But I felt depressed as the hours went by & no lift came.


At length I came upon a man repairing a patch in the road with only a shovel and one of the thick rubber baskets [made from old tires?] which are common among laborers here.  I tried to talk with him, but he spoke no language I understood.  I took it for granted at the time that he was a Jew, but from what followed it seems he must have been an Arab.  Somehow I explained to him my position – but when I started to walk on, he told me to wait.  I waited, but for a long time I didn’t understand what was going on.  At first I thought he was going to try to stop something for me, then that he was going to take me on a bus to Megiddo, though I told him I couldn’t afford to pay.  I had to wait quite a long time, but what eventually happened was that, about 1:35, a lorry came by whose occupants evidently knew him.  It was a large open lorry & I got on the back, but he did not get on.  All the people on the lorry were Arabs, & it was my first real personal contact with them.  On the back with me there were an Arab man & woman in their beautiful costumes, another man in a funny felt hat, & a boy about 17 who fortunately spoke a little English.  Him I stood beside and talked with.  He told me he had a job in a soft-drink factory, but was now coming home for a few days to see his family.  He had a brother & 2 sisters.  His father was a laborer.  He said he lived in the town of Umm El Fahm, where there were 12,000 people.  I told him I was a Jew, but I think the fact that I was English made him more friendly to me than he would have been otherwise.


He asked if I were hungry (I never say no on these occasions) & gave me a bunch of blue grapes from a large basket of them which was on the lorry.  In return I gave him an apple – one of about 4 that Jack Ross had given me at the kibbutz this morning.  He told me he liked the English language better than Hebrew.  Our ride was through the mountains, along the same road our tiyul had taken on July 29th. But this time I felt really a part of the road.  Sometimes our lorry stopped to talk with Arabs on the way.  We passed many Arab houses & villages on the mountain slopes.  At one of our stops, some men descended from one of these houses & joined us.  I felt I was in another world, among all these Moslem Arabs.

My friend & the others got off where the road turned off for their village, but I continued in the lorry a little way further, to the village of Musmus, though I regretted for a while that I had not gone with the boy to his home as I might have done, & perhaps had an interesting time there.  But at Musmus my time was interesting enough, for, as I was walking along the road after getting off the lorry, some Arabs who were threshing wheat called to me.  I did not know what they wanted.  One spoke a little English.  I told him where I had come from & was going.  He asked if I were hungry, & invited me to have lunch with him.  I told him I could not pay, but he said I could have it “without money.”  So I followed him to the shade of a nearby tree, and enjoyed my first taste of Arab hospitality.  Sitting there were 2 other men, one rather old & one younger, with a face that might have belonged to any London Jew, also some boys. 


Previously I had asked for some water, & one of the little boys ran up the hill with my water-bottle to fill it.  This was one of the most interesting meals I have partaken.  We sat on the bare dusty ground, and not even a cloth was laid.  First, I was invited to drink from a can of water.  I would not be fussy now.  (Incidentally, if I had not been offered this meal, I would not have gone hungry, for I had brought with me bread, green peppers, & apples from Ein Shemer.) Then I was given a large rough thin doughy disk of Arab “bread,” some watermelon, & some green figs.  The figs were the best raw figs I have so far tasted, but I do not like watermelon, & had only a little.  I ate about half of my “bread,” which my host remarked was unlike Jewish bread.  We talked while we ate, & I was asked a lot of questions – what I had in my rucksack, why I had no money. 


My host wanted to know if I had any shirts.  If I did, he said he would buy one from me.  I was unwilling to sell my shirts, but had the idea of exchanging a shirt for an Arab head-dress – which I much desire, but my host would not agree to this, if he understood what I meant.  I was asked if I had any books, & showed them my Bible, which, I explained, was an English Koran.  In return for what I had been given, I presented these people with the grapes I had just received from the other Arab boy, whose name was Mohammed.  When the little boy brought my water-bottle, which he had filled, I gave him some of these grapes.  He did not want them, but the others persuaded him to take them as I suppose they thought I would be offended if he did not.  These Arabs must be very poor & hard-working people. There was no rest after the meal.  As soon as they had finished, they went back to threshing the wheat with their primitive instruments.  And I departed with many thanks.  But there was still one surprise to come, something so incredible that I still can’t believe it really happened.  It seems they took pity on me because I was so poor, and asked me if I wanted any money.  I assured them I did not, but one or two of the children actually ran after me holding coins in their hands!!!


I was lucky now to get a lift in an army van immediately, which took me to Apula.  As soon as we emerged from the mountains at Megiddo, into th Plain of Esdraelon, I knew I was back in the beautiful Gallil. 


But at the crossroads outside Apula I found several people waiting for lifts on my road.  Among them were 2 young men who spoke French, one 22 years old from Lyon, one 20 from Toledo in Spain.  The latter was a soldier.  I sat & waited & talked with them for some while.  The French boy told me they had already been waiting for 2 hours. Chances looked bad.  He said he was going to Deganya Beit, a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee, where he lived.  For a time I had the idea of going with him, and trying to get onto his kibbutz for a few days, for any place on the Sea of Galilee (if I ever get there) will satisfy me.  But I grew tired of waiting there, so said goodbye  & walked on, though with little hope of a lift.  Before me stood the mountain of Har Tavor, a rounded hump.


Eventually I did get a lift, but it was on a horse-cart with 2 men who was carrying boxes of melons & grapes.  The men didn’t speak English, but we conveyed some information to each other. They took me a kilometer or 2, then I had another wait.  Time was getting on, & it looked unlikely that I would reach Kinneret tonight.  I looked at my map, & wondered where I would be staying tonight.  There was a kibbutz up ahead called Dovrat to which I could walk. Then I got a lift on a lorry which, as it happened, was going right to Dovrat.  The man in the cab spoke English.  I told him I was looking for someplace to stay.  He said I could come to their kibbutz.  It was then only about 5:30 & I could have tried to go on, but with this welcome invitation I could not refuse.  So I came to Kibbutz Dovrat, which is only 5 years old, but in many ways considerably better than Tsora of the same age.  I have already made several friends here, played 2 games of chess, had a shower & a good supper.  For this meal there was the unheard of luxury of a bowl of sugar on the table.  There was also cocoa which was mostly milk.  Cool water can be drunk here from a fountain.  I am sharing a cabin with 2 boys.  I have been taken on a tour of the kibbutz.  This is a fine location.  People are here of many nationalities, including some Brazilians.  The kibbutzim of Israel, I am finding out, are better, far better, than youth hostels.  I can see now that I need have had no fear of coming to Israel alone.  [Here ends this volume, which is #19 of my whole series of diaries, begun in 1944.]


Tuesday, August 11, 1953

I begin my new diary in Israel at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, in the kibbutz Deganya Aleph, whither I have journeyed from kibbutz Dovrot. 


My overnight stay at Dovrot was made pleasant by the friends I made there, Ezra & Yaacov, 2 boys from Romania, who showed me around, sat with me at meals, & talked with me in their small English.  It was in Ezra’s room that I slept.  This was quite a small kibbutz, having only about 100 full members.  It was pleasantly situated, and, though it was founded only at about the same time as Tsora, the conditions were much better, at least as far as sanitation & food were concerned.  From it could be seen Har Tavor in the distance.  Ezra did not have to work this morning, so I got up at 8 AM, after a good night’s sleep.  I have been suffering another attack of boils, but none of them have been very large or painful.  I had a good breakfast, & took away with me a single slice of bread for my lunch.  Ezra seemed sorry I was going, & asked if I could not stay for today.  His parents live in an immigrant camp at Migdal Gad.  He had just returned from visiting them.  Most kibbutzim (but not Tsora) seem to have at least one place where cold drinking water is available, usually attached to the refrigeration house.


At last I was ready to leave Dovrot, so said goodbye to Ezra, & walked the short distance to the main road.  One very good thing about staying overnight at a kibbutz is that one never has to pay.  In contrast to yesterday, my hitch-hiking went very well today.  I had not been standing on the road more than about 5 minutes, when I stopped a large American car.  The driver spoke English.  He told me he was a professional guide.  He had of course heard of our Summer Institute guide Dr. Vilnay, & told me he made use of his books.  But I was not with him long enough to be able to profit from his profession.  He had with him a man from Argentina.  He took me to a point a short distance before Kefar Tavor.  I walked past olive trees to Kefar Tavor, & had a good view of the rounded mountain Har Tavor on my left.  Just past Kefar Tavor, I came to a junction  where the road to Kinneret turned right.  This was the road I wanted, but it was a secondary road, & there would not be much traffic upon it.  But I was extremely lucky, for, just as I arrived, a jeep came along & stopped for 2 men who were already waiting there.  There was room for me too, so off we drove, & stopped by a turning which led to a kibbutz called Sharova. Here I waited for a lift with one of my companions, a young man from Hungary, who spoke English, & told me the trouble he had had with his various motorcycles.


We waited some time on this lonely road, & were eventually picked up by another jeep, which took my friend to Yavneel, and me right down to the Sea of Galilee, which looked very beautiful as I saw it once again, blue in the sun & surrounded by brown hills & fertile green lands.  My plans now were rather confused.  It had always been my intention, ever since I first saw the Sea of Galilee about 2 weeks ago, that I wanted to spend the kibbutz period of the Summer Institute on its shores.  I had no particular preference, but I knew that there were several kibbutzim to choose from.  Now that I had returned, the most convenient place seemed to be that marked Kinneret, at the place where this secondary road met the main road, & I asked my driver to put me down at Kibbutz Kinneret.  But what I did not realize was that Kibbutz Kinneret and the place marked Kinneret on my map were 2 different places.  A the place where my driver put me down, a sign pointed along a road inland to the Kibbutz, & I realized at once that, because of high land at the shore, it would not even be within sight of the Sea.  This immediately decided me against going there, for what was the good of being by the Sea of Galilee, if one could not even see the Sea?


I decided that I would go instead to the place called Ginneisor on the NW shore of the lake.  I had seen this settlement before, & I thought its situation would suit me.  But before beginning this journey, it was time to partake of that pleasure which most of all I had come thither to enjoy, that of bathing in the lake.  I was now quite close to Ohalo, the new group of buildings on the lake shore where the other half of the Summer Institute had stayed when my half resided in Tiberias.  We had already been here more than once, & I knew a little of the lie of the land.  I knew that next to Ohalo was a group of archaeological excavations, where we had been, & next to these, a small cemetery.  I made my way to a spot on the shore just past the cemetery.  Between me and the road was a plantation of date-palms, with the green dates hanging in strange clusters from the trees.+


My bathing in the warm water was very leisurely, & I much enjoyed it.  I spread my blanket upon the shore, & there had my lunch.  My carton of chocolate spread, which I had brought from England, was coming apart, so I finished off its contents, with bread & water.  I lay for a while in the sun, then went back again in the water.  After I had finished bathing, I decided to revisit the archaeological excavations.  There are the remains of many buildings, of different types & periods, e.g. a Canaanite moon-temple, a Roman baths, & a Christian church with parts of the mosaics remaining.  But I regretted that I had not someone to show me personally around & explain the many things which puzzled me.  I don’t know how long ago work on this place was started, but, according to a man at Ohalo who directed me to a sink for some drinking water, it is still going on.  When it was at length time for me to begin my journey to Ginneisar, I made a discovery which changed my plans again.  The place Ginneisar, I noticed, was marked on my map not with a blue spot but with a white one.  This meant that it was not on Jewish National Fund land, and was therefore probably not a kibbutz.  So I had to look again for somewhere to go.  Yesterday I had met a French boy from a kibbutz called Deganya Beit.  He told me this was right on the lake, &, since it wasn’t far away, I decided I might as well go there.  Again I was very lucky, & stopped a lorry which took me right where I wanted to go.  But when I arrived there, I saw that, of the two Kibbutzim, Deganya Aleph and Deganya Beit, the former was right on the coast, & the latter somewhat inland.  I decided therefore to try to get into Deganya Aleph.  As I walked into it, I realized that this was just the type of place I wanted, with beautiful trees and lawns and a view of the lake and mountains, and only a very short distance (in fact, right across the road) from the place where the River Jordan leaves the Sea of Galilee.


By some people who spoke English, I was soon directed to the kibbutz office, and there to 2 men who spoke no English.  I tried to explain who I was, & that I wanted to live & work here for 3 or 4 days.  I showed them my Summer Institute program & my passport, though I am never asked for such things.  They seemed at once agreeable to my request, which was a relief to me, for I did not know how I would be received.  It taught me the lesson I have experienced a hundred times, but still have not learned – that things of this nature are never as difficult as they might first appear to be.  As I remarked last night, I see now that, had I come to Israel alone, as I first intended, I would have had no difficulty about staying in kibbutzim.  Mr. Sobel, (who had recruited me in London for the Summer Institute) as I always suspected, painted me an over-black picture of the difficulties of travelling alone in Israel.  But still the Summer Institute has done me much good, for I already feel I know my way around a little.


One of the 2 men in the office – a grey-haired middle-aged man – took me to the dining hall, where I had some bread & tea, then he took me to a cabin where there were about 5 beds, & gave me one.  Then I went to have a delicious shower, & afterwards walked around the kibbutz.  In my walking I came upon a building around which a man was showing 3 people.  This man spoke English & told me this building was, I think, a place for the study of agriculture & nature.  It was a fine building, containing laboratories, libraries, and a museum.  After the 3 people had gone, I spoke with this man, & learned some surprising things which changed my whole view of this kibbutz.  Deganya Aleph, I learned, was the first kibbutz to be established in Palestine.  It is over 40 years old, & must be very famous in Israel. (Continuing now on August 12).  I have looked around the kibbutz, and seen its extensive chicken-sheds, and the small tank which, during the 1948 war, the Syrians drove right up to the gates of the kibbutz.  Here it was “knocked out” by a “Molotov Cocktail” (a bottle filled with explosive), & the occupants shot as they got out.  It stands as a sort of memorial.  It is a small tank, made by the French Renault company.


As I waited for supper, I felt rather unhappy, for I was very hungry & had no one to talk to.  But at supper, though it was not a very good meal, which began about 7:45, things improved, for I sat next to a talkative man who spoke good English.  He had been in Israel from Poland since l933, and I discussed with him Israel in world affairs.  He said whether or not there is another war with the Arabs depends entirely upon the interests & wishes of the United States and Great Britain.  He thought the United States with its “McCarthyism” was going the same way as Germany under Hitler – though I said I thought this only a temporary phase.


I met too a man who is in charge of the olive groves here, & he invited  me to come & work with him tomorrow.  I had not hitherto been sure how I stood with regard to working here.  I thought it might be up to me to offer to do some work.  But I now agreed to work with this man, whose name was Yochanan, & later I was informed by a woman in the dining hall that this had been officially arranged --- and also that there was an American student staying in my room.


After supper I went to the reading-room, & wrote a letter to my family. In this room were a wide selection of Hebrew periodicals.


Having now spent at least one night in 5 different kibbutzim, I am in a better position to form general impressions of kibbutz life and conditions.  A great deal seems to depend on the age of the settlement.  Older ones have naturally had more time to develop and improve than younger ones, for they all originally started from scratch.  But enterprise would also seem to be an important factor.  Tel Yitzchak, Alexander Posner’s kibbutz, is obviously not a very progressive place, for, although 15 years old, it still has no stone paths, but only sandy tracks;  its dining hall also was not very attractive, though a new one is planned.  Tsora is the same age as Dovrot, but Dovrot seems to have progressed a little more as regards sanitation and greenery, though Tsora I think has had a hard time, and has had to transplant itself after 2 years.  Its dining hall was much less attractive than Dovrot’s, though about the same size.


Ein Shemer and Deganya are the 2 most well-developed kibbutzim I have so far seen. (I am not counting in these remarks kibbutzim at which I have paid only short visits with the Summer Institute.)  But, although considerably younger, some of Ein Shemer’s facilities, e.g. the dining hall, shower house, & lavatories, were more attractive than those of Deganya. But for beauty of situation, Deganya is ideal.


Wednesday, August 12, 1953

My first complete day at kibbutz Deganya Aleph, on which I have picked olives, made a new American friend, and swum for the first time in the River Jordan.  (Continuing now on Aug. 13).

The American boy who is sharing my cabin is named Jay Furestein. He comes from Boston, & is about my age.  He came to Israel by himself, after travelling around Europe for a while, and yesterday was his first day in the country.  He sailed to Haifa on an Italian ship from Genoa. I have talked much with him, but have so far, I fear, a rather poor opinion of him as a person.  Somehow his character & personality seem shallow, & his intelligence not great, judging at least from his conversation.  He has come to Israel with the intention of studying business at the Hebrew University,  but it appears he did not realize that he would have to know Hebrew in order to do this.  He knows little Hebrew, & is wondering what is the best way to learn it – to stay on a kibbutz, or to go to an Ulpan (special places which give training in Hebrew language & culture).  He intends to stay in Israel a year.  He came to Deganya Aleph because he heard about it somewhere.  It seems to me very foolish that he should have come to Israel with no plans or arrangements made.


Last night (see yesterday) if was arranged that I should work today picking olives.  The people on the kibbutz, as at Tsora (incidentally I have learned that , correctly speaking, this is not a kibbutz but a kvutza, but the difference seems to be only theoretical) normally get up at 6 AM & work 2 or more hours  before breakfast.  But Jay and I did not rise until 6:30.  We went to have a shower, & then met a woman named Yaya, who has befriended us. She must be in her 30’s, but says she was born on this kibbutz & was once with the British Army in Egypt, so she speaks English.  She asked if we wanted any laundry done.  We gave her some, & it was returned to us in the late afternoon washed and dried.  This service, like all others on the kibbutz, was of course free.


I had thought that both Jay and I would be working in the olive groves, but he was put to work planting grass near the kibbutz.  I was sent out across fields in a lovely landscape, past large rectangular ponds where fish are kept, to the olive groves, where I had to look for Yochanan, who was in charge of the workers.  Many children were at work picking from the trees.  At last I found Yochanan, who showed me what I had to do.  The olives were now ripe on the trees, but he said only the green ones should be picked, for the blue ones were over-ripe.  As a container for my pickings I was given a strange but very useful kind of bag.  It was long and snake-like, many feet long, & made of cloth , with a wide funnel-like opening held open by a wire at one end, & a hook there for hanging it upon the tree.  Its other end was tied together, & could be opened for emptying out the olives into boxes.  It would take a long time to fill one of these bags. 


I was shown to a tree, & began work.  At first I had only to walk around the tree & pick from the ground.  I have heard that this has not been a good year for olives.  The work was more interesting where the fruit hung thick, for there I could remove it very quickly into my bag, but I did not like places where it was sparse.  But I felt at first rather miserable, for I had had no shower & nothing to eat, & I soon became very hungry.  We did not eat until about 8:45.  I thought that for breakfast we would walk the long way back to the dining hall, but instead we had a picnic meal at a wooden table put up in the open.  All the food had been brought along, including hot tea in large cans, for which lemon juice was also supplied for flavoring, (large cans of cold water were also available there all the time) bread & margarine, cucumbers & tomatoes & hard-boiled eggs.  After the meal, I felt better, & more like working. 


This picking of olives was not particularly laborious work, but it could become very tedious.  Still, it was not devoid of enterprise and hazards.  For, after completing my picking at ground level, I had to go up a ladder to get at the higher fruit.  At this I was not very proficient.  Yochanan came by & helped me sometimes.  Once he set up my ladder for me, but told me not to go up beyond a certain height.  (I had previously told him that I was not afraid to climb ladders, but my mother wanted me home in one piece.)  But in my eagerness, I exceeded this safety limit, and suffered for it, for the ladder slipped to the side, and I fell.  Fortunately I was able to grab hold of a limb, and arrest my fall.  I suffered only some minor abrasions.


The hot sultry morning wore on.  I was working as usual bare to the waist.  Having finished my tree at last, & had my bag emptied , I was transferred to another tree.  But, after working here a while, a strange feverish feeling came upon me.  I felt as if I might have caught a chill.  The combination of little clothing, hard work, much cold water drunk, and perhaps the shock of my fall, might have had an adverse effect upon me.  My nose began to run, & I began to sneeze.  I went & put on my vest & shirt, & rested for a while.  Soon I felt better, though not perfect.  I worked a little more, but Yochanan said I could stop, since it was my first day’s work.  So I finished at about 11:45, & walked back with Yochanan to the kibbutz.  Since then I have suffered no more from this feverish sensation.  While picking olives, I heard a man from Iraq in another tree singing a strange wailing song.  Sometimes I hear this kind of music on the radio.

Lunch I did not like at all today.  The main dish consisted of a kind of sweet cake and strange disk-like sweet vegetable.  It seems to be the general custom on kibbutzim to have the main dish before the soup.  Knives are always in short supply, because they are very useful, & people take them to their rooms.


After lunch I went to my room & lay down on my bed.  I intended to rest only for a short time, but I slept until about 3 PM, until Jay came in & woke me up, calling me jokingly a “lazy good-for-nothing” for he had voluntarily gone back to work for 2 hours after lunch.  He wanted to go swimming, & so we went to the River Jordan, which leaves the Sea of Galilee just outside our kibbutz. Here there are signs saying no swimming because of deep water.  But at one spot, where there is a lifeguard’s hut, a sign says that swimming is not allowed when a black flag is being shown. But yesterday I had seen people swimming here despite the black flag, and today, before lunch, as I have regrettably forgotten to mention already, I had come swimming here by myself.  We already had our bathing suits on, & as we were preparing to enter the water, along came the lifeguard, a man with very dark skin.  He said something to us in Hebrew, & I replied that we didn’t speak Hebrew.  I then made a foolish remark to Jay that cost me much embarrassment.  I have not been able to help adopting towards him a somewhat superior tone.  I now said in English, “Always say you don’t understand.  Then they can never do anything to you.”  But I did not consider the possibility that the lifeguard spoke English!  Unfortunately he did, and he heard me.  I cannot remember exactly what it was that he said to me, but it was in English, & something bitingly sarcastic about what I had just said.  I felt very embarrassed, but not worried.  For a time, I contemplated going to him and apologizing, but I did not do so.  Actually my sin was not so great as he at first thought, for I really cannot understand Hebrew.  But when he spoke to me again to warn me not to swim towards the Lake, he spoke again in Hebrew, so I suppose that he thought I had really understood all the time.  But I told him again that I didn’t understand, & he repeated his warning in English.


Apart from its bed sloping in rather steeply, the River was not really dangerous for swimming.  The water was very pleasant.  Were only a few yards from the Sea of Galilee.  There was lush green vegetation all about .  The river was not very wide, but at first, though I had the idea of swimming across, I thought it might be too dangerous for me, for I am not a very good swimmer.  But Jay was, and with him nearby in case I got into difficulties, I decided to swim across.  So we did, and it was not very difficult for me, though somewhat tiring.  The current was not very strong.  At the other side, we were on a narrow peninsula, & had only to walk a short woody way before coming upon the shore of the Sea, where a party of kibbutz children were swimming.


Soon we swam back.  After coming out & drying off, we went for a walk east along the lake shore.  Jay is not at all an interesting companion, but I could not shake him off.  We stopped at a big Tegart Police Station-Fortress [these were built in many parts of the country by the British]  on the road for a drink of water.  We saw men at another place having rifle practice.  Then we came upon an open-air theater, apparently still under construction, right on the lake shore.  I thought it a magnificent site for such a theater.  Then we turned back to the kibbutz.


I knew there must be some time in the late afternoon when we could get a snack at the dining-hall, as at Tsora – but by the time we had put on our clothes, it was too late for this, & we had to wait until supper at 7:45, by which time we were very hungry.  During this time, we sat upon the lawn, looking out on the lake, & I wrote my diary.  After supper, I read a copy of “Life” magazine in the reading-room, & was particularly interested by an article on a pair of Siamese twins, born in America, who were joined at the tops of their skulls.  They were surgically separated, & one has survived.  Then I met & talked with an 18-year-old Sabra named Moshe.  He was just visiting here, spoke English, & happened to be sleeping in our room tonight.


At about 10 PM this evening, we had a film show.  This was the 3rd such show I have been to, each time on a different kibbutz, in Israel, and as always, it was in the open air, beneath a starry sky.  I sat with Jay, Moshe, & Yaya.  As usual, it was an American film, and as usual a Hebrew translation was run along the side.  The film was “One Touch of Venus,” quite an old picture, starring Robert Walker and Ava Gardner, a light comedy about a statue of Venus coming to life, which I did not much enjoy.


After this, I hoped to go right to bed and to sleep – but Moshe was a very talkative person, & had many interesting things to say.  He seemed quite intelligent.  He talked about the prosperity of America, & regretted that Israel did not share in it, or at least that Israelis could not see it for themselves.  He said he thought Israel had missed a great opportunity in 1948.  The land could have become a Utopia of one large kibbutz, but the chance was missed when self-seeking immigrants came in large numbers.


Thursday, August 13, 1953

My second full day at Deganya Aleph, in which I did more hard work, but little else.


Jay, Moshe & I slept until 8:30 AM.  Fortunately no one tells us off when we do not get up at 6 AM like everyone else.  I have been with Jay more today than yesterday, but the more I find out about him the less I like him.  He is always talking about himself, his own plans & problems, & this is one reason why he is such a boring individual.  Through long experience, I have learned that this is not the way to make friends.  But those very plans & problems are themselves uninteresting, & he says the same things over & over again, e.g., that he wants to learn Hebrew, & he thinks that he ought to go to an Ulpan – and I have to listen to him repeating these things, not only to me, but to everyone we meet.  Another thing I do not like about him is that he is so much the typical American tourist, “doing” Europe, always talking about cameras & the pictures he would like to take, always talking about money & the cost of things, and the things he would like to buy.  All these things are abhorrent to me, but for some reason he insists on hanging around me.  Today, for example, I sat by the river for hours writing my diary, & he just sat with me doing nothing.  I think it is because, though he is now travelling alone, he has always been used to having someone to lean upon, to moving about (from what I gather about him) with a “gang,” or at least with some friends.  But there are few things about him that do not inspire me with contempt, and I would not be sorry to be separated from him, though here it is difficult. 


Still there is one strange thing about him that does interest me.  He claims to have a great love of learning, and respect for education.  Like me, as I was at one time (though not so much now) he says there are so many things that he wants to study and do that he will never have time for them, and says he would like to go on & on studying and improving his education by travel.  But he seems to have no idea of what this education is, or to what use it is to be put.  Of his sexual experiences he talks openly and disgustingly.

The three of us went to breakfast together – Moshe, whose surname is Stillman, was leaving this morning for another kibbutz.  He lives in a place called Givatayim near Tel Aviv, and gave me his address, which is 141 Modiin Street, & invited me to come & visit him.  I will probably do so.  I now have 3 people to call on around Tel Aviv.


I have been suffering lately many small cuts, boils, & splinters.  The boils are very annoying.  I still have a sore spot on my right buttock, which always makes it slightly difficult & painful to sit down.  This seems now to have developed into a large pimple.  I showed it to the kibbutz doctor when I went to see him (as I forgot to mention yesterday) but he simply put some useless red liquid on it.  I wish he had put on a bandage,  so that it would be slightly less painful when I sit down.


Jay & I worked today.  We were given our job at breakfast this morning, & I was glad that I would not have to work amid the olive trees again.  I don’t know exactly how it was arranged, but we were assigned to a certain man who was to be our “boss.” He took us to a place beneath a large wall-less roof, where some sort of grain had been spread out between low boards.  The man explained to us that this was chicken feed, and that it came from the Negev.  It was now spread unevenly and too thickly, for it must be dried, & in order for it to dry it must be spread no deeper than (I think) 20 cms.  It was our job, therefore, to increase the spreading area, and re-distribute the grain over it.  To increase the area, we had to remove, with hoe, shovel, broom and wheelbarrow the dusty earth from a concrete surface adjacent to the present area.  I did the shoveling and wheeling, Jay the hoeing and sweeping.  Fortunately cool drinking water was available  for us in a large can.  After this part of the job was completed, the real work began.  We had to stand amid the grain, and keep on shoveling it until it was of even depth over the whole area. This was a much bigger and longer job than it looked.  If we liked, we could work barefoot amid the grain.  For a time I did this, & it was an interesting sensation – but the grain caused irritation when it lodged between my toes, so eventually I worked just in my socks.


There was one man working with us.  We all worked hard, but I grew tired sooner than the others did.  As usual, we worked bare-backed, but were fortunately most of the time in the shade of the roof.  At 12:30 we were allowed to stop for lunch, but were asked to come back after lunch for 2 more hours’ work.  For lunch we actually had some meat today  -- some kind of sausage meat, with potatoes, soup, & a strange yellow kind of fruit juice.  After lunch, we felt too full to begin work right away, so rested a while, but we worked only until 3 PM.  I was less conscientious about working than Jay was, & took frequent rests.  But I really was tired.  When we stopped at 3 o’clock, our job was not entirely finished, but not much remained to be done.


After this we went for a swim, as yesterday, in the River Jordan.  Jay has a very irritating conversational habit of expecting me to rely to everything he says.  He will make some random remark apparently requiring no reply, such as that the water is dirtier today than it was yesterday, and then, if I say nothing, he will keep repeating “Huh?” in a very annoying fashion, until I do make some reply.


After our swim, in which once again we swam across Jordan & back, we returned to the kibbutz & had a snack, which, for me, included bread, soup, & fruit juice.  I seem to be past the time now when I am in any danger of getting Shilshul (diarrhea).  Then I sat by the river until supper-time, writing my diary, with Jay beside me.  (Perhaps he wouldn’t have done had he known the nasty things I was writing about him at the time.)


I met today my first Israeli Indian, who has been at this kibbutz 5 or 7 years, from India. He looked & sounded (he spoke good English) like all the other Indian people I have ever met, & it was strange to think that he was a Jew.  He said he was fairly satisfied here, but still might go back to India.


At supper, Jay & I met a 21 yr. old American girl who arrived here today.  She is a teacher from Chicago, & staying only 2 weeks in Israel.  She told us frankly of some of her experiences, including how today she “had a battle with” (i.e. was attacked by) a Tiberias taxi driver in his cab, after she had foolishly accepted an invitation of his to go swimming at a lonely spot.  Somehow she escaped.


I had occupied all my time after supper with writing this diary.  I saw the kibbutz orchestra practicing, which seemed to consist mainly of guitars and balalaikas.


Friday, August 14, 1953

What a lovely region is this in which I am now staying!  The landscape of lake and hills, fields and trees is to me incomparably beautiful.  But a kibbutz, being a farm, can never be a wholly attractive place.  Most kibbutzim have their lawns and gardens, but they must also have their cow-sheds, silo, chicken run, etc.  – and Deganya Aleph is the same in this.  One of the most delightful features of these landscapes is their water-sprinklers.  Every field must be watered, and there are sprinklers everywhere.  Sometimes they revolve, sending out spurts of water in all directions.  Sometimes the jets shoot upwards, swaying slowly and gracefully from side to side.  Here at Deganya, the metal roofs of several of the buildings, including the one in which I live, are, during the hottest part of the day, watered continuously by revolving sprinklers.  But this still does not make it cool inside.  There are some middle-aged women who work at sewing-machines etc. in these buildings. Their work conditions seem to be quite good, for they also have electric fans & plenty of room & comfort.  In one of these rooms today, I ironed a shirt for the first time in my life.  It was my own shirt, returned from the kibbutz laundry 2 days ago.  I knew they had an electric iron there, & was allowed to use it.  I have done ironing before at home, but usually handkerchiefs, & never, I think, an entire shirt.  So I was now of course very inexpert, but did my best.


For breakfast this morning we each had 2 bananas.  They were green, but ripe, & I suppose grown here. This was the first time I had had bananas since leaving home, and surely the closest to their source that I have ever eaten them. But I have not yet had a really good meal here.  For lunch there was a bean mixture.  This evening was the beginning of Shabbat.  People put on their good clothes.  In the dining hall an electric menorah (candelabra) was lit. But the meal was still not very good – some squares of not very good cake, fish (our first here) spaghetti, bread, tea or coffee.  Many people seem to get special food.  E.g. some people at our table were brought egg & potatoes.  I always drink much tea, which never has milk in it, but is always palatably sweet.  The other day I asked the “waiter” once or twice, for different things, like jam, but was told there was none. 


Afterwards, Yaya, our woman friend, who also serves in the dining-hall, told me she had heard about this, & I should not ask for things if they were not on the table.  But this does not apply to tea.  News seems to travel fast in a kibbutz.  I talked with Yaya again today, & she said someone had told her they had seen me doing much writing.  I explained.  Yaya says sometimes too much is known about one on a kibbutz – even what one does in one’s room.  She was born here, & knows everyone by name.


I have been sleeping very well here, but last night was my best so far.  Jay & I slept  until 8:45.  But despite this, I felt sluggish & lazy for much of the day.  It must be the heat.  I hoped that we would have different work today from that of yesterday, & also that we would be separated, but in fact, after lunch we were both sent back to the same place, & there we had to finish the job we started yesterday – leveling out the chicken feed.  This was tedious work, but there was no one to supervise us, & so I rested & went for drinks frequently.  In fact, I did not work very much today – for when at length we finished this job, we were put to work raking hay together.  But this was in the sun, & I went back to the cabin to get my hat. This was the end of my work, for I found that my hat was in my shoulder-bag, which I had left last night in the reading-room.  I went back to get it, & found it outside. 


Then I thought, instead of going back to work, I would rather go & see the doctor.  For a boil on my left leg which I had showed him before had now reached the painful stage, & I wanted him to put a bandage on it.  It is a pity that this doctor cannot speak English, not only because it makes doing his job with me so much more difficult and less effective, but also because he seems a kindly & interesting man, & I would have liked to talk to him.  I told him the words for “much pain” which I obtained from my dictionary, & pointed to my boil.  This boil is remarkable in being the lowest I have ever had.  It was just above my left ankle.  When I first started suffering boils, during the latter half of last year, they were always on the upper part of my body.  Since then I have had them as far down as the knee..  The doctor put a gauze bandage round the boil.  Later today, this boil burst, and, after performing the usual gory but satisfying operation of removing the pus etc., I knew that it would trouble me no more.  But more troublesome to me are the 2 sores of some kind which I have on my buttocks, but cannot see without a hand-mirror.  This has been a troubled region for 2 or 3 weeks now.  I showed it to the doctor, telling him there was also pain there, but I did not understand what he said to me about it.  Fortunately, however, a man came in who spoke English, & explained that I should bathe it twice a day with hot water.  The doctor gave me something that looked like tea-leaves to put in the water.  I have done this bathing once already, using hot water I obtained from the kitchen.  The leaves turn the water red.


On kibbutzim, children are the happiest, or at least the best cared-for people.  I have seen young boys driving horse-carts about with every confidence.  Deganya is a kibbutz which it seems is visited by many tourists.  Today I saw come here, first a bus-load of French people, then one of young English people, members of the “Habonim.” Yesterday there were some Americans here.


There are here still many trenches and underground shelters remaining from the time of the war in 1948.  I wonder if they will ever be used again.  If ever war with the Arabs would break out again, this place would once again be in the front line.  I have tried to get several people here talking about the 1948 fighting, & would like to hear a description of it in detail – but have so far had little success.

After lunch today I felt very tired, & rested half-asleep for about 2 ½ hours on my bed, though I had done far less work than yesterday.  Then at about 3:30 I put on my bathing suit & went out.  I wanted today to swim in a different place, instead of at the same spot as the last 2 days.  I walked to Ohalo, the fine group of students’ buildings on the lake shore, where I have now been several times before.  There I went down a little zigzag path to the lake, & swam there.  I tried to improve my swimming, practicing the stroke (continuing now on Aug. 15) that Jay had showed me yesterday – but I kept getting water up my nose.


This evening a pleasant party was held outside beneath electric lights on one of the lawns.  Tables were laid with grapes, apples, cake & biscuits.  I don’t know if they have this every Friday night, or if this was a special occasion – but thought there was a special sort of ceremony, for a group of 20 or 30 boys & girls who have been living here for 4 years, have now reached the age of 18, & are about to go into the army.  I sat with Jay and Yaya. Yaya explained that 8 of them plan to return after their national service as members of the kibbutz.  All the proceedings were of course in Hebrew. Songs were sung, speeches made, poems recited.  These boys & girls came from many countries, including Romania, Syria, & Iraq.  Yaya expressed satisfaction at their improvement in health & happiness since they came here 4 years ago.  For the first 2 years, they worked 2 hours a day, & studied much.  Then, during the second 2 years, they worked 5 hours a day.  Yaya’s father seems to be an important, or at least a respected, man on the kibbutz.  He was one of the people who made a speech.  Practically all the people of the kibbutz were there for this function, & I was surprised, looking round, to see such a large proportion of old or middle-aged people, & so few young men & women.  This is the oldest kibbutz, & these old people were probably among the earliest settlers here.  But Yaya said they are expecting a new batch of young people.


After all the speeches etc. were over, we began to eat.  The grapes grown here were of course very good.  As the three of us sat together, we talked about Israel in the present world situation.  Jay always seems very stupid in these discussions.  But we managed to get Yaya talking about the fighting which had taken place here in 1948.  She had been here then, & told us some most amazing and horrible things, though she had a disconcerting habit of smiling as she talked.  I already knew that Deganya had been in the front line when the Syrians had attacked here in 1948 with tanks, but had never read the story in detail.  Yaya however seemed now quite willing to talk about it.  She told us how the settlers of Deganya, who were then less than now, waited a sleep [less?] week for the attack to begin, how they posted themselves in trenches & pillboxes along the boundaries of the kibbutz, how the Syrians advanced in many tanks & fired upon them.  Yaya said the settlers were given the option of escaping if they wished – but all except one old woman elected to stay.  Before the tanks came, I think, there was a battle in a nearby Arab village (now destroyed) between fighters from various kibbutzim round about and the Syrians, in which 7 young men from Deganya were killed.  Yaya described how horrible it was to see the wounded return, and how those who could not walk had to be left behind to die.


Yaya of course knew every one who was killed,  how many children they had, who their parents were.  One of them was her brother-in-law.  Then she told how she was in a pill-box under fire, & shooting back only with ineffective rifles.  A shell from a tank had entered the pillbox, and blown off the head of a girl standing next to her, a very beautiful girl, Yaya said.  Yaya had been splattered with her blood and brains, and said that for days she stank of it, because she could not wash.


And how were the tanks at last stopped?  One man courageously went out and threw Molotov Cocktails (bottles full of explosive) at one of the tanks until he set it alight and put it out of action.  At this, all the other tanks retreated.  And who was this hero?  He was Shalom, the man who has been Jay’s & my boss for past 2 days!  As always when I hear these stories, my imagination is really incapable of absorbing them.  Even when I see the tank still there, which Shalom stopped, I cannot believe that there really was once a war going on here. It is interesting to think that, by his action, Shalom might have changed the course of History, for, had the Arabs broken through at Deganya, I think they might have won the war.  But I do not really know enough about this to be able to judge.  The fighting here went on for only 4 days, but Yaya said it was weeks before she was able to sleep properly again.  But she now no longer has bad dreams.


After this part of the party, a play was performed in the open on stage, by teen-aged boys & girls.  It did not begin until midnight!  I had heard that it was going to be a Chinese play, & wondered if by any chance it would be the only Chinese play of which I knew, a play called “The Stolen Prince,” in which I had a part when my class performed it at Whittier School, Washington DC, in May or June, 1944.  As it happened, it was this very play which was now performed, although of course it was in Hebrew. I was only 10 years old when we put on this play, so could now remember only little of it, but enough to be certain that it was the same play. I knew I had played the part of a boy who was to have his head cut off.  I knew too that the most amusing feature of the play was the presence of a “property man,” who walked out onto the stage & supplied the props whenever they were needed, eg whan a lady is crying, he comes & gives her a handkerchief.  When the Narrator says “It is autumn, and the leaves are falling,” (the only line I remembered from the play) he walks on & scatters some leaves about the stage. The only other mention I think I have ever heard of this play was that it was performed at Hendon County School about a term before I came there.  This present production was quite good, but the audience did not laugh as much as I expected them to.


Saturday, August 15, 1953

It was very hot today.  Temperatures here are always high.  I do not wake up at night, as I have done in Tsora and Jerusalem, feeling cold.  But even I could tell that today was exceptionally hot.  This was my last day at Deganya Aleph, & it was Shabbat, so there was no work.  Tomorrow I intend to head back to Jerusalem.  I do not know how long it will take me (it took me 2 ½ days to get here just from Tsora) but I hope to be back in time for the rally of all visiting students, which begins on Monday afternoon.


New boils are continually appearing on me.  As soon as one bursts, I discover another. One is now coming up near my right elbow.


Jay Furestein & I slept today until 10:10 AM.  Breakfast was served later today, so we did not miss it – but all we had was bread, margarine, jam & tea.  I have still discovered no complimentary thing to say about Jay.  He still seems to me very stupid & contemptible.  The other day we talked about a visit he had made to the Louvre in Paris.  I asked if he had seen the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. He did not even know what the latter was.  The former he remembered he had seen when I reminded him that it was a painting & not a statue, but he said he did not like it because it was too small and an “antique.”  He said he liked only big new things.  His attitude towards walking is very amusing.  He says he does not mind going for a walk,  but 20 minutes seems to be about his limit of endurance.  To walk 2 miles is to him unthinkable.  He originally came to this kibbutz on the same day as I did, with the intention of staying a month or 2.  But now he has decided to try to go to an ulpan, because that will be a better way of learning Hebrew than staying here.  So he will be leaving tomorrow for Jerusalem to make enquiries there – but by bus.  I am not sorry, for I certainly do not want him hitch-hiking with me.


After breakfast, we went round the kibbutz taking photographs.  Like every other American tourist, Jay is mad about taking pictures.  We took pictures of each other, with each other’s camera.  I had him take 2 of me, one with a background of the lake, & one standing on the Syrian tank. 


Yaya is a very friendly person, & seems to like talking with Jay & me, & this evening she spoke with us some more & told us, among other things, about the very well-known American writer, whom she refused to name, but said he was not a Jew, who visited here for a week, & tried, very unsuccessfully, to make love to her.  Afterwards,  she said, he wrote a book about Israel, & told how, when he stayed with Arabs, they used to offer him a girl for the night, but he always refused, because, he said, his wife was always in his mind.  This led Yaya to tell us also about the American ambulance driver who had given her a lift in Egypt & tried to seduce her, but whom she had overcome by will-power – and about the English driver who had put her down in the middle of the Egyptian desert because she had complained about him refusing a lift to a colored soldier.  On each of these occasions she could have got men into trouble had she noticed their license numbers, which she had not.  She told us about the American faith-healer who had come here in hopes of seeing the Messiah, and then left when he did not appear by Pesach-time [Passover] – and of the American girl who married an Israeli boy here & was unfaithful to him.  The boy wanted to shoot her, & Yaya had to smuggle her away to another kibbutz, & then help her get back to America.


We had fried egg for lunch today, & for supper there was cold cocoa, for which I was very grateful.


I had planned this afternoon to go on a walk by myself to Ein Gev, the fishing kibbutz on the Eastern shore of the lake, and back.  But after lunch, as usual, I felt very full & very tired.  I lay down on my bed, & rested for about 2 hours.  Ein Gev is about 12 km or more from here, & I had now left myself too little time, though I did not realize this until I had walked some distance towards Ein Gev.  On the way I passed by the ruined Arab village where Yaya told us yesterday that 7 Deganya boys were killed fighting in 1948.  For part of the way, I tried to take a short cut, but as usual it turned out to be a “long cut” for me, & I was lost for a while in some farm-fields.  (Speaking of cuts, I need a haircut, & intend to get one as soon as possible.  The barber calls at the kibbutz only once a month.)


On this walk, I was very close to the Syrian border, which runs below the top of the mountains which overlook the Lake.  At one point I felt a slight fear at the realization that any Arab who now wished could shoot at me from the mountain – but this soon passed, & my walk was practically without incident.  It was at a settlement called On, just over half-way to Ein Gev, that I realized that it would be useless to try and walk all the way.  So I stopped there & went swimming, but I chose a poor spot, for the water was not very deep, & its sandy bottom felt most unpleasantly slimy to the feet.  After this I walked back, re-passing the immigrant camp at the southern end of the lake, and marveling afresh at the realization of the many different countries from which these people have come.  I saw a man wearing a fez & the baggy kind of Eastern trousers.  I saw an old man lying outside his shack, with a sheep standing beside him.  These camps must have some sort of lavatories, but in many places round about there are the unpleasant sight and smell, with which I have become familiar in Italy and Spain, of indiscriminately deposited  human waste. I arrived back at Deganya about 7:30.


So now I must bid farewell to the kibbutz  of Deganya Aleph, the oldest such settlement in Israel, where I have stayed 4 days, learned much, worked hard (at least on 2 days), & fulfilled my ambitious plan to live in a kibbutz on the beautiful shores of the Sea of Galilee.  But I will not be sorry to depart & return to Jerusalem, and my one big hope now is that Sam Sherwin will have arranged for my passage back to Marseilles to be postponed until September 22, as I requested.  For I have not even considered the frightful possibility of having to go back in about 2 weeks’ time with the English group.


Sunday, August 16 1953

Today I journeyed back to the Summer Institute in Jerusalem from Kibbutz Deganya Aleph.  I am proud and happy that I achieved this in one day, for a shorter journey in the other direction took me 2 ½ days. But I did not hitch-hike all the way, & twice took buses


Jay Furestein, my room-mate, was also travelling to Jerusalem today, but he went by bus.  He had to get up very early in the morning, & annoyed me by insisting on keeping the light on until he left.  By that time it was light, & he had disturbed me so much that I thought I might as well get up then myself.


I should mention here that, after I finished writing yesterday’s entry, I went out & joined Jay talking with Yaya and with the Indian man Shimshon (Samson) who is her brother-in-law, & was on guard duty last night.  Yaya told us her attitude to religion.  Jay was shocked at her near-atheism.  But in this, as in every other subject, Jay seemed to me almost incredibly stupid.  For instance, he told me he did not believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution because that was “a Christian theory.”  Meeting JayFurestein has certainly done much for my own self-esteem.


I did not have a shower this morning, but took a quick wash, & then went for a rather light breakfast, which consisted almost entirely of bread & margarine & tea.  I packed away in my rucksack some slices of bread & a cucumber.


Shimshon last night said that during the 2nd World War he had fought with the British Army in Malaya under General Wingate, who, when in Palestine, was a great friend of the Jews.  Just before he had come to speak with us, Shimshon had learned that a boy had been seen trying to steal some things from one of the kibbutz houses.  The boy had escaped when discovered, but left his loot-sacks behind.  Shimshon & Yaya said the boy was probably not an Arab, but a Jew from an immigrant camp.  Shimshon said he would have shot at him had he seen him, but he  would have aimed for his legs.


After breakfast this morning I wanted to say goodbye to Yaya, but couldn’t find her, so left a thank-you note.  So at 7:30 AM I started out from Deganya.  I knew I had a long day’s travel in front of me, but did not really expect to reach Jerusalem tonight.  The distance was great – about 160 km I think, & my chances of a good lift small.  Nevertheless, I set off bravely.  I decided to take the same route back as that along which I had come, although I knew that the first 15 or so kms of this would be on a secondary road where there would not be much traffic. But this was the shortest route.  So I walked along the coast road to Kinneret, where this secondary road met it, and there began to wait for a lift.  My day’s travelling fell into 2 very distinct parts – a difficult portion up to Hadera, and thenceforth an easy one.  But it was the hard part which occupied most of my day. 


It was hours before I received my first lift.  After waiting some time near the main road, I began walking up my road, which led up the mountainside.  It was very hot, & I had to stop frequently for long rests.  But I had beautiful views of the lake & the Jordan valley.  There was little traffic, but, as usual, there were the unspeakably cruel drivers who, with plenty of room in their vehicles, did their best to ignore me as I waved frantically to them to stop, on that hot, thirsty, mountain road.  (Continuing now on Aug.17).  With my heavy rucksack making walking difficult, I advanced slowly along the winding road, but in fact, almost to my own surprise, I climbed eventually to its highest point, where there was a very fine view.  After this the road descended into the Kajja valley, to reach this highest point, which was just about at sea level.  I must have climbed at least 212 meters, for the Sea of Galilee is, according to my map, 212 meters below sea level.  I had drunk most of my water by the time I reached the top, & obtained some more from an oriental woman’s house in a nearby settlement.


But, as far as hitch-hiking was concerned, I was no better off at the top than anywhere.  Time was flying, it was, I think, already afternoon, and my prospects of travelling any distance today looked dim.  Eventually I decided to walk on.  Across the valley, I could see the settlement of  Yavneel several kilometers away.  Towards this I began to walk – but then at last came my first lift, in a Landrover, which took me just to Yavneel;  but it is remarkable how much even a short lift improves one’s spirits.  Yavneel is one of a group of settlements spread out along the road.  When I came to a café, I decided to stop & have lunch there.  I bought a bottle of cold orangeade, & sat at a table outside.  When I left England, Mummy gave me, among other things, several chocolate bars.  These were intended really just for my journey to Marseilles, & perhaps for the ship as well.  But somehow I never felt like eating them, & they were consumed very slowly.  By today, I still had one bar of Cadbury’s blended chocolate.  It had been in my food-box all the time, had melted & solidified many times; but it was still in reasonable shape, & I decided to have it now for my lunch.  It says much for the wrapping that the chocolate was still edible.  I could find on it no obvious traces of mould or decay.  I ate it with 2 slices of bread, & so far, there have been no ill effects.


When I started off again, there was practically no traffic, & I wondered if I should not take a bus, at least up to the main road at Kefar Tavor.  At length, I did decide to take the bus.  At the bus-stop, where I had to wait some time, I met & talked with a Romanian boy from a kibbutz who has been here 3 ½ years & spoke little English.  Since the fare was not expensive, only a little over a shilling,  I decided to take the bus as far as Afula, a town which is the junction of several main roads.  The ride was a strange one.  One sees things on an Israeli bus which happen probably in few other countries.  One man brought on some large full sacks and wooden boxes. As we rode, he was repairing one of the sacks.  Another man brought on some cardboard boxes full of live cheeping chicks.  The boy sitting next to me had a live chicken in his arms, which he stroked like a pet.  Some Arabs got on the bus in their typical dress.  There is never room enough in the luggage racks of these buses, & much luggage has to be put in the aisles.


The bus stations here are also very interesting places, always full of activity.  Whenever a bus comes in , a crowd of men and boys race to it, trying to sell ice cream & sweets etc. to the passengers.  The cry of “Artic!  Artic!” (a kind of ice cream) is the most frequent. But I am always depressed by this struggling of people to sell things in order to make a little money.


I got off at the Afula bus station, and had to walk through part of the town.  It was already almost 3 PM, & I had practically given up hope of reaching Jerusalem tonight, so I had the idea of having a haircut in Afula.  The barber I went to spoke no English, but was a friendly man.  His establishment was clean, but not elaborate.  He had 2 barber’s chairs.  He took care over my cut, & I was quite satisfied.  The price was 50 piastres, equivalent to 2 shillings, the same price as I pay in England, but rather a large sum for me to pay here in one lump. During the day, I several times bought ice cream, orange juice, or fizzy drinks.


Walking out of Afula, I came, as expected, upon a group of soldiers & airmen waiting for lifts.  The road from Afula runs dead straight across the flat plain of Esdraelon to Megiddo, where an ancient fortress commanded the routeway across the mountains.  After some waiting at various points with the service-men, I got a lift with them to the crossroads at Megiddo.  There I met an American boy kibbutznik, who has been here 3 years.


I now made a mistake of the kind I rarely make when hitch-hiking – I decided to take a bus to Hadera.  I did so because there were so many other people waiting at this spot for a lift, time was flying, & I did not think I would soon get a lift.  So I got on a bus which soon came by, & bought a ticket to Hadera, which cost me about 1/8.  This was a mistake, for, when I eventually began hitching at Hadera, I was soon joined by the people I had left at Megiddo, who had got a lift here.  So my money was wasted.  The ride across the mountains through Arab country is always interesting.  I even saw one camel.


It must have been 5 PM or 5:30 when the bus reached Hadera.  From Hadera onwards, I had no trouble, for I hitch-hiked all the time with service-men in army lorries.  One ride took me down to the Natanya crossroads, another to south of Petah Tikvah.  To my surprise and joy, I realized that I would now in all probability reach Jerusalem tonight.  But there arose another question:  would I be in time for supper, which finishes at the Mensa at 8:30 PM?  This question was answered by my next lift, which was one of the longest & most enjoyable I have had in Israel.  It was my last lift too, for it took me all the way to Jerusalem.  I sat on a bench on the back of an open army lorry with several soldiers.  We went at a good, almost dangerous, speed, and I got out at the crossing of Jaffa Rd. and King George V Ave. at about 8:20.  It was a delightful ride.  I have been along this road many times, but never grow tired of it.  This was the perfect time of day – sunset and after, with a red sky at the horizon, a bright moon, and the dark silhouettes of the Judean hills.  I felt very happy to realize that I had accomplished my aim, & regretted only my second bus-ride.  This was the third occasion on which I had returned to the Summer Institute in Jerusalem after a hard day’s hitch-hiking.  The other two occasions were my returns from Tel Yitzchak and from Haifa.


After leaving my vehicle, I rushed the short distance to the Mensa in Rehov Ben Hillel, and was happily in time for supper, though the last person.  It was not a very good meal, but after many days of meals at kibbutzim, I could appreciate the somewhat higher standard of the Mensa.  For instance, at the kibbutzim, margarine was strictly limited, in small individual portions, but at the Mensa, one can have as much as one likes.


At the Mensa, I sat at a table & talked with a Dutch girl of the Summer Institute, whom I learned is planning to return to Marseilles, as I am, on the “Artza,” sailing from Haifa on September 22nd.  She said there would also be a large party of French students on board.  This is not good news to me, for I am looking forward on this return trip to peaceful days, and nights of undisturbed  sleep, which I now doubt if I will obtain in dormitory class.


After supper, I walked the familiar walk to the Rehavia Gymnasium, where my first concern was to make my sleeping arrangements.  I found room 9, where I slept before, but no bed was there – so I took a bed from one of the dormitories, and obtained some blankets.  Then I went upstairs to the auditorium, where everyone was gathered for an “evaluation session,” and people were then filling out forms asking their opinion of different aspects of the Summer Institute.  In this I joined, but in between times I conducted several pieces of personal business.  I had hoped very much,  & also expected, to find a letter waiting for me from Mrs. Havatselett  in Tel Aviv, whom I met at the Salamons’ in Haifa, & who had invited me to call on her home in Tel Aviv.  I had written to her from Tsora, & hoped to receive in reply a formal invitation from her.  But the only letter waiting for me was from Mummy, from the Hotel Regina Palace, Interlaken, Switzerland, where she, Myrna, & Daddy had gone on 2 weeks’ holiday.  They should just have arrived home by today.  The letter contained nothing important, & was in Mummy’s usual very friendly style, which seems so false to me that I do not even like to read her letters.  They had much rain in Switzerland, and were dissatisfied with the food at the hotel, which they thought too English.


Of more concern to me was the question of my return passage.  I had told Sam Sherwin when I last saw him that I wished to postpone my passage to Sept. 22 on the “Artza.”  I now spoke to him & he showed me a telegram which he had received from Mr. Sobel, the P.A.T.W.A. organizer in London.  It was a long telegram, & mostly about me.  It seems that Sam had written to him saying that I claimed I had been promised that I would if I wished be able to postpone my return passage, & asking how this could be arranged.  The telegram said that no such promise had been made, and claimed that the fact that I was on a group visa proved this.  But this to me is ridiculous, for it was Mr. Sobel himself, I think, who advised me to go on the group visa. For an individual visa would be an added cost, and since I might not decide to stay in Israel, it might be a waste of money.  He therefore advised me to go on the group visa to Israel (which would cost nothing) and then, when in Israel, if I decided to stay, he said I could always obtain an individual visa.  The telegram further said that a postponement could be arranged, but that it would cost more (it didn’t say how much more) and that I would have to arrange about getting an individual visa. 


All this was disappointing to me, and, added to the absence of any letter from Tel Aviv, it put me in rather a bad humor.  But things may not be as difficult as they appear.  The difference in cost may not be much.  At any rate, I am determined not to return with the group.


Another little piece of business concerned my pith helmet.  I knew I had left this on the bus when we returned from Galilee to Jerusalem, and that the bus had subsequently taken a party of people to Ein Tsurim moshav.  I had called at the bus depot in hopes of getting it back, but without success.  But still when I went away I thought there might be a chance that it would show up on my return.  Perhaps someone who went to Ein Tsurim would restore it to me.  And this is just what did happen.  A girl had found my hat on the bus, kept it at Ein Tsurim, & brought it back for me.  I was very grateful, & happy to see my pith helmet again, which has had many adventures.  Moreover, I could now get a weight off my conscience.  At kibbutz Tsora, having no hat, I had borrowed a soft large-rimmed hat from the kibbutz store.  When I borrowed it, I promised to return it when I left, but the hat was my only head-protection from the sun, & I felt I could not leave without it.  So I did not return it, but took it with me to Galilee.  But I told myself that, if I got my pith-helmet back, I would give my kibbutz hat to Raffy, one of our Madrichim, who lives at Tsora, to take back there.  This I now did.  The kibbutz hat had the advantage of foldability, but I think I prefer my pith helmet for general comfort.


Yitzchak, our Madrich at Tsora, who was an expectant father when I left there, is now the father of a baby girl.


I have seen many new houses in Israel, built upon pillars with a space beneath.  I do not know the reason for this, but think it often looks attractive.


One of the strangest things I have noticed in Israel is what I can only call “Israeli anti-semitism.”  The Jews have, for so many centuries, throughout the world, been persecuted, blamed, and insulted, that the Jews of Israel seem to have acquired a sort of prejudice against themselves. Often this comes to light in a sort of joking way, as when an Israeli will say “You know, you can’t trust anyone in this country – They’re all Jews.” But I do believe that there are some people who are really prejudiced against their fellow-countrymen simply because they are Jews, who had always been labeled in other countries with avarice, dishonesty etc.


Monday, August 17, 1953

This was probably my best day in the Summer Institute.  The American people will be going home in a few days, and the British people with then have a free week before their group returns.  After today I will in effect be on my own, but it seems already that tomorrow I will be on my way to Elat.


Today was the day of a big rally held in Jerusalem at the Teacher Training College in Beth Hakerem, for overseas youth on courses in Israel. There are hundreds of students this country on special courses, and this was a good opportunity for them all to get together.  Besides the Summer Institute, there was the Institute for Training Youth Leaders, an American group called Young Judea, a French students’ group, an Italian group, a British group called Habonim, and the Shnat Sherut group giving a year of service to Israel on kibbutzim.  When I saw that the Shnat Sherut people would be there, I wondered if I would see Alec Posner & the other people I know from Tel Yitzchak kibbutz, where I stayed a month ago when I visited Alec, who comes from Edgware, & whose mother knows mine.  I did not realize, as I learned later today, the Shnat Sherut people at Tel Yitzchak, who number only about 15-20, form a large proportion of all the Shnat Sherut people in the country.


We had breakfast this morning at the Mensa, and it was good once again to be able to have cocoa, porridge and orange juice for breakfast.  After the meal, I decided to make enquiries about obtaining an individual visa (see yesterday).  I went first to the Tourist Information Office in Ben Yehuda St., who sent me to the Immigration Office in the Generali Building.  Here, a man confirmed a suspicion I had long had that it wasn’t really necessary for me to obtain another visa at all.  Sobel must have been wrong.  For, once in the country, what need have I for a visa?  All I need, as the man at the Immigration Office pointed out, is what I already have – a stamp in my passport giving me permission to stay in Israel until October.


Buses took us to Beit Hakerem at 9 AM.  On the way, we passed a group of people walking along the road, among whom I recognized Alec Posner and the fat French girl Latissa.  I walked back to meet them after we had stopped.  Alec did not seem surprised to see me at all.  The day’s program was a very full one, & I cannot remember all the details. We sat in a large hall, & in the morning first heard several speeches in Hebrew. There was the usual singing, clapping, & dancing.  This evening we saw, among other dances, some Yemenite dancing, performed by the same people who danced for us one evening at the Gymnasium.  But the main event of the day for me was that in which Moshe Sharett, the Israeli Foreign Minister, played a part.  He spoke in English and French about the need for youth to come to Israel.  His English is very good indeed, and he is an excellent speaker.  After his speech, there was a period of answering questions on Israeli foreign policy.  He spoke very informally, and hearing it from him was getting it “straight from the horse’s mouth.”  But he insisted that no one should take notes of what he said, for he reminded us that anything he said, if it were published, became official Israeli policy, & he wanted to be free now to speak his mind.  Before this, when I think he discovered that his voice was being recorded, he became for a while very angry & knocked over the 2 microphones that were standing on his table.  But he soon resumed unperturbed.  He spoke mostly about Israel’s relations with the U.S., Russia, & the Arab states.  He said little that was new to me, but I was glad that I could understand so well all that he was talking about.


We went to the Mensa for lunch, but had supper at this place, of food which was supplied, & included cold soft drinks.  After supper, there was a sunset pilgrimage to Mount Herzl, where in a ceremony with flags, wreaths were placed by representatives of the different groups on Herzl’s tomb.  All this left me unaffected.  Before this, a group of people from the Summer Institute had gone with our madrich Yitzchak to his apartment home nearby, to see his week-old daughter.  There we were entertained with sweets & cake etc.  Yitzchak’s wife is, like him, Australian.


I talked for some while with Latissa from Tel Yitzchak, who had been my guide one day when I was there.  She did almost all the talking, & surprised me by telling me how depressed & unhappy she was now feeling, because she was not satisfied at Tel Yitzchak.  She said most of the other people felt that way, & wished they could give up the Shnat Sherut.  They were all getting on each other’s nerves. Latissa said she was hardly on speaking terms with Alec, & said she hated him more than any of the others, that no one likes him at Tel Yitzchak, that he is always interfering in things which are not his concern.  I was surprised to hear these things, & they changed my opinion of Alec somewhat, but I see now that it must sometimes be a terrible thing to be forced to live with a group of people for a long period.


When I arrived at the College this morning, I met there a boy named Stan Hyamson whom I recognized from University College, London.  I did not even know he was in Israel.  I never knew him well, but now I spoke with him, learned he is here on his own, & planning to go to Elat.  Since I wanted to go there, I said I would go with him, leaving tomorrow.  He is sleeping here at the Gymnasium in my room tonight, on a bed I obtained for him.  But I had been planning to go tomorrow to Tel Aviv, and I may yet change my mind, & tell him that I do not yet want to go south.


I have had to skip many details in this entry because it is now late, almost 1 AM.


Tuesday, August 18, 1953.

This has been a busy day for me, in the first half of which I felt often depressed, but in the second half of which my spirits revived, when I journeyed to Tel Aviv.


It was a pity that I could not have written more about yesterday.  I met then almost all the English people I had known at Tel Yitzchak.  My meeting with Stan Hyamson was exciting, & it was adventurous the way I “smuggled” him into my room in the Gymnasium, & took a bed for him from one of the dormitories. To avoid possible discovery, we folded up the bed, & hid it behind a cupboard till bedtime. Stan had come to Israel the way I had originally planned to come, with the World Union of Jewish Students, who left him on his own in the country.  He had visited Israel also 3 years ago, on a scheme similar to the Summer Institute.  He was only visiting Jerusalem now, and had brought very little luggage with him.  He had no pajamas , & slept in his clothes on the bed, using his water-bottle as a pillow, and yet he slept well and soundly.


I also re-met yesterday a man named Harold, who is a qualified doctor, and comes from Bristol.  He had been with the Summer Institute for a while, & had the bed next to mine when I was in a dormitory.  From the Institute, he had gone to work as a doctor on several kibbutzim, & says he liked it.  The work was not hard, & he was quite well paid by the government.  Stan, incidentally, is a medical student, & my age.  It was after Stan was asleep last night and I sat writing my diary that I began revising my views about starting today for Elat, which is a long hard journey across much true desert to the Gulf of Aquaba.  Apart from the first brief moment of enthusiasm, I was never very keen on the idea.  In the first place, I know I am at my best on my own. To team up with someone else might make the enterprise more practical, but it would probably prove less fun.  I know I do not make a good companion for most people, for I like independence of action.  Secondly, although I wanted to go to Elat, I had not planned to do so, so soon.  I had plenty of time, and had planned first making visits in Tel Aviv, during which I thought also that I might find out more about the road to Elat, & the possibilities of hitch-hiking there.  These were my 2 main reasons for not wanting to go now with Stan, though there were others.

It was very distasteful to me to have to tell Stan that I had changed my mind, after I had definitely agreed and planned with him to go, & I wondered if I would have the courage this morning to do so.  But I got it over with as soon as we woke up in the morning.  I gave him several not very good reasons, e.g., that he was not well-enough prepared for the journey (which was in fact true, though this shouldn’t have bothered me) but I could tell that he was disappointed.  Anyway, he took it gracefully, and said that he would go on alone.  We had breakfast together at the Mensa, & then parted.


A third important reason for my decision was the fact that there was much business that I ought to conduct in Jerusalem today.  As things turned out, my decision was a very wise one.  At breakfast today I saw Sam Sherwin, who had news for me.  He had been to Haifa yesterday, and had arranged for my return passage to be postponed, as I requested, until Sept.22, & had booked me a place on the “Artza.”  He said I might have to pay extra for this, but there was a chance that I might not, depending on for how long the group ticket on which I travelled to Israel was valid, which he did not know.  But Sam, though industrious, is inexperienced, and over the question of my train journey from Marseilles back to London, he left me completely in the lurch.  In coming to Israel, I had travelled with the British group by rail & steamer overnight from London to Marseilles.  But going back, I definitely do not want to repeat this agony, especially if it has again to be an overnight trip.  I would much rather hitch-hike.  But Sam could not tell me how I could postpone, let alone cancel, the train journey.  All he could tell me was that it had nothing to do with the sea passage, and that I must make my own arrangements, possibly by communicating “with Marseilles.”  This was both ridiculous and most vexatious to me, that Sam as the group leader, especially after he has postponed half my journey, should rest the responsibility of postponing the other half.  But I could get nothing more out of him, & for a time felt very worried and depressed. 


Eventually I decided that the only sensible thing I could do would be to write to Mr. Sobel, the P.A.T.W.A organizer in London, who had promised me that I could easily postpone my return passage, and ask him to clarify the position.  So I wrote him what I thought was a very satisfactory air-mail letter explaining the situation & asking him to tell Sam as soon as possible how to postpone or, if possible, cancel my rail journey.  The trouble now is time, for I learned today that the English group will sail from Haifa on August 28, in 10 days’ time.  An air-letter to London, should, I have learned, take 4 days, and I am hoping that Sobel will wire instructions to Sam.  I marked my letter “VERY URGENT.”  But I am still not altogether satisfied about my ship passage, for Sam, although he said he had made a reservation, could give me not other information about it.  He had no ticket or anything else to give me.  All he could say was, about 10 days before my sailing date, I should call in at the offices of the Shoham shipping line in Haifa or Jerusalem to confirm my reservation & make further arrangements.  So I can only hope that everything will work out alright.


The Summer Institute has now really come to an end, apart from a farewell party, which I will not be there to attend.  The Americans are departing, mostly I think by air, in a few days’ time.  The English group are now free until they sail on August 28.  And I am free from now on.  But still I must see Sam once again before he leaves to learn about Sobel’s reply, so I have decided to return to Jerusalem on Aug.27.  Also I have left all my luggage that I will not need until then tied up in a sheet, as usual, at the Evelina de Rothschild School.

I felt miserable all the time I was in Jerusalem today, but knew I would feel better once I started off.  This was the last time I would be seeing the people of the American group.  I was not very sorry about this, although I was on friendly terms with several of them.  Some of them I very much disliked.  But it does seem a pity to placed with people for a number of weeks, to eat, sleep, talk, & travel with them, and then to part, realizing that you will probably never see them again.  It makes it all seem a waste of time. In one sense, it has been, for their presence detracted from the value of the Summer Institute for me.  En masse I disliked them.  But, if they have prevented me learning more about Israel, they have at least taught me much about America & how Americans behave abroad.  I am only sorry that I cannot write about everyone I know individually – Julie, the Orthodox boy from New York, Leon with the Southern drawl from Georgia, Ruth & Pearl, the twin sisters who are both teachers, etc.  But in fact I never knew any of them very well, except perhaps Elana Fink from Los Angeles (who is going to stay on Israel) with whom I talked much for a few days.  It is with the people of the English group (including Dutch, South African, Australian) that I am best acquainted.


I left Jerusalem after lunch at the Mensa.  I said goodbye to only a few people.  The Institute staff had the happy idea of printing lists of the names and addresses of all the people in the Summer Institute, as well as a list of their own names & addresses.


Before I left, I went to the Nurse’s room.  There several girls were lying ill in bed with shilshul.  I got one of the Madrichim, Tirga, since the nurse was not there, to put a bandage on my most recent boil, near my right elbow (I also have some coming up in my right armpit) and also to give me some extra bandages & adhesive tape for future boils.  Also I spent some time this morning packing &writing postcards.  I wrote & sent 8 cards, mostly to English relations, but also one to Frank Richmond in Indonesia, and one to the Woolfsons in Australia.


This was the third or fourth time that I had set out hitch-hiking from Jerusalem, but it was the first time that Tel Aviv had been my destination.  I did not know what I would do there, but my general plan was to visit one or two people, and hope to be invited to stay somewhere.  Since I had received no reply to my letter to Mrs. Havatselett (see Aug. 16) I was now less eager to go there, & decided first to call on a man named Mr. Salamon, whom I had met just over a week ago when, on my way to the Sea of Galilee, I took a bus to Hadera.  I had spoken to him on the bus, & learned that he had spent 12 years in England.  He was very anxious for me to come & visit him at his home in Tel Aviv, & gave me his address, 50 Arlozoroff.


My rucksack was considerably lighter now than on my previous trip.  As usual, I took a number one bus out of the city, and this time, instead of waiting at the place where several people were trying for lifts, I walked straight on, & began steadily to hike along the road.  Fortunately the road from Jerusalem is all downhill.  But I had not walked very far before I received my first lift --  and it was the best that I have had in Israel.  (Continuing now on Aug. 19)  I was picked up by an American car whose driver was an officer (I think a Major?) in the regular Israeli army, & came from South Africa.  My heart exulted when he said he was going to Tel Aviv.  He had another  soldier with him, & I sat in the back, but I talked with him all the time.  Afterwards the soldier got out, & he picked up some others.  It was a quick, comfortable, & enjoyable ride.


My driver was a good talker, & told me much about himself.  He had been in the South African army, & came to Israel in 1947.  He is in the Signal Corps, is married, & lives in Tel Aviv.  Like most Israeli settlers from English-speaking countries, he was very active, before he came, in Zionist youth movements.  He studied English & Hebrew at University in South Africa, & I think he has an M.A. in Hebrew.  I discussed many things with him, letting him do most of the talking. – including Israel’s army & foreign policy, South African politics (he recommended a book called “When Smuts Goes,” by someone named Jones, which is a sort of novel predicting with remarkable vision developments in South Africa after the defeat of the Liberals) languages & dialects (he was very interested in this, & surprised me by saying he thought I spoke “standard English.”) 


When we reached Tel Aviv, he asked me where I wanted to go, & after paying a 15 minute call to Jaffa while I waited in the car, he drove me almost to the spot.  He asked me where I was planning to go after Tel Aviv, & I said I hoped to travel to Elat, but didn’t know yet how I could manage it.  To my surprise he then said he might be able to arrange it for me.  It seems he knows someone who has something to do with the army transport to Elat.  He gave me his own name & address, which are:  SHAUL BAR-LEVAN, SHICUN DROM AFRIKA, 1ST HOUSE, 4TH FLAT and his telephone, & asked me to call him in a few days’ time, when he could let me know what he had managed to arrange.  This was all wonderful to me, & shows that I was right not to head straight for Elat this morning with Stan.  My hopes are now high, but I reserve a fragment of doubt, for, from past experience, I know that I can now be very disappointed.


After leaving Mr. Bar-Levan, I walked the short distance to no. 50, Arlozoroff, which, like almost every other residential building in Tel Aviv, is a block of flats.  Mr. Salamon  had given me no flat number, so I asked a group of people sitting outside downstairs where he lived.  But it seemed that none of them knew anything about him.  This was very strange.  I then talked with a woman there who spoke English.  She was ready to swear that there was no one in this or the adjacent buildings named Salamon..  I was most puzzled.  I looked again at the address which Mr. Salamon had himself written down.  It was definitely 50 Arlozoroff.  But the woman could offer me no further help, and there was nothing I could do but leave.  I was just about to do so, when another woman came along.  My woman asked her if she knew of anyone named Salamon.  Apparently, the reply was in the affirmative.  I was directed upstairs.  I did not know what was going on.  At first I thought perhaps Mr. Salamon was living with a family of a different name. But eventually, I got it all sorted out.  It seems that the Salamons are going to move into a flat in this building, but they have not done so yet. Mr. Salamon when he gave me the address evidently did not expect me to call so soon. 


But though he was not here now, his wife was, & I sat & spoke with her in a friend’s apartment.  She spoke English, but not fluently.  She told me some of the things I had heard from her husband – that he had lived 12 years in England, that he worked now at his uncle’s factory where shoe-soles are manufactured.  The factory is I think in Ranana, where Mr. Salamon was now. Mrs. Salamon could not even show me her own apartment, which I think was being decorated, because the door was locked.  She is a native Israeli from Haifa, but she does not like life in Israel, & would like to go abroad.  She has never been out of Israel.  But her husband likes it here, and is determined to stay.  They have, I think, one child.  Mrs. Salamon said they would be moving into their new flat in about 2 weeks’ time, & invited me to come back then.  Probably I will.  I left the place with Mrs. S, & decided to walk to the home of Mrs. Havatselett, & see what sort of a reception I would get there.  It was a considerable distance to walk, but I thought it would be a good way to see the town, and I had a street-map to guide me.


Before beginning this walk, however, I decided that I could not go to see Mrs. Havatselett looking as I was, with dirty shorts & shirt, dusty shoes etc.  So I found a deserted building, & there changed into a clean shirt & clean long trousers.  I put a little polish on my shoes, & washed my hands & face with water from my water-bottle.  Then I started off.


As I walked through the streets of Tel Aviv, I wondered if I would meet anyone I knew.  Israel is such a small country that one cannot help running into acquaintances.  And, as it happened, about half a minute after I thought this, I did meet someone – an American boy named Sam Feinstein  from the Summer Institute , who is a musician, & lives now in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  He had told me before that he knew he had, somewhere in Tel Aviv, a 92 year old grandfather whom he had never seen – and today he told me how, after a long search, he had found him in an old people’s home.  This man was not expecting him at all, and I felt moved myself as Sam described his surprise & joy at seeing his own grandson.


This was the first time I had come to stay in Tel Aviv.  The climate here is very noticeably more humid and less comfortable than that of Jerusalem.  Tel Aviv is in many ways a remarkable city. It was I think the first city in the modern world to be populated entirely by Jews.  It began as a suburb of Jaffa, but now Jaffa is really a suburb of Tel Aviv. Everyone here lives in blocks of flats.  Every flat has a veranda.  The buildings are of the square concrete type.  But here and there in the city are low unattractive wooden buildings.  Many of the streets have trees & gardens, and Rothschild Boulevard is especially pleasant.


I forgot to mention that at the Summer Institute there were for sale many photographs which our official Jewish Agency photographer had taken of our tiyul in Galilee.  Most of these pictures were remarkably good, & I would have liked to possess them all, as an excellent souvenir of the trip and the Institute.  But they cost 25 piastres (1 shilling) each, and I appeared plainly in only 2 of them – so I ordered & paid for only those 2, which fortunately happen to be particularly good.  One shows us on the little ship crossing the Sea of Galilee, with everyone looking very happy.  The other shows some of us, including our guide Dr. Vilnay, looking out from a high point over the Rift Valley north of Lake Huleh.  I don’t know when I will receive my copies.


Along the streets of Tel Aviv, I noticed, even more than in Jerusalem, many doctors’ signs.  These signs are usually in both Hebrew and English, and always specify what type of doctor it is,

and what he specializes in..


A familiar and very typical sight in Israel is that of a lorry-load of children moving along, with all of the children singing Hebrew songs at the top of their voices.  After only 6 weeks in Israel, I now find that I rarely hear a song of this kind sung, which I do not recognize.  A significant feature of many of the songs is the frequent occurrence in them of the word “mayim” (water).


Somehow Mrs. Havatselett had given me the impression that she lived in a large rich old house in Tel Aviv.  But I was mistaken, for I found that no. 60 Boulevard Rothschild was just  block of flats – and in fact older and shabbier than most of them. From the name-plates, I saw that she lived on the top floor.  As usual on such occasions, I felt rather uneasy as I rang the bell.  But Mrs. Havatselett answered, and received me very kindly.  She told me, however, that her daughter Ronny had written a reply to my card.  It greatly annoys me that I never received this.  It was sent some days ago.  I still don’t understand the situation exactly.  It seems that Mrs. Havatselett wanted me to come when her 19 year old daughter would be here.  She is in the army, and I think she wrote to tell me that she would not be here on the date I mentioned in my card when I would be free. But she will be here on Thursday.  But I was not at present very concerned about this.  I was more interested in where I was going to stay tonight.  To my relief, it was not long after I had come in that Mrs. Havatselett said I could stay here if I wished.  Gladly I accepted.  It seems that if I had come when Ronnie was here, there would have been no room for me.  But, as she & her younger sister are both away, I can have her bed.


Soon I was introduced to Mr. Havatselett, who is an engineer & speaks good English.  The apartment has 4 main rooms, plus kitchen, bathroom, & lavatory.  The bathroom is small, & rather squalid, but the rest of the place is quite attractive, though not particularly impressive.  The kitchen is also small.  They have here a refrigerator & washing machine.


I sat & talked with Mr. H, while Mrs. H prepared supper.  He seems a very intelligent man, has visited many countries (he studied 8 yrs. in Paris).  We discussed the behavior of the British here under the Mandate, & he seems on the whole to have liked them, especially for their modesty & sense of fairness.  During supper Mrs. H was mostly silent.  Our meal was the same as I might have had anywhere else in Israel – soup, hardboiled egg, salad, bread, margarine, jam & tea, but we had milk in the tea.


After supper, I decided to go out for a walk.  Mrs. H gave me a key to the door.  I walked along Allenby Road to the sea, then along the front, past all the crowded sidewalk cafes. But I felt rather lonely, & wished I had someone to walk & talk with.  The town seems to possess many bookstores, and almost all the English-language books, of which there are many, are American.  Eventually I decided that it was useless just walking about, so I did what was for me a very unusual thing.  I went & sat at a table of a large café where an orchestra was playing, & ordered a bottle of orange juice.  But this did not make me feel any happier, nor did the price of 40 piastres (about 1/7).  A fat woman sang Yiddish & Hebrew songs with great gusto.  Eventually I left & walked home.  I entered silently because I thought Mr. & Mrs. H would be asleep, & for a long time I kept very quiet, until I was surprised by the front door opening, & my hosts coming in.  I stayed up til 1 AM writing my diary.


Wednesday, August 19, 1953

My first full day in Tel Aviv.  At present, I do not know how long I will be staying in Tel Aviv, or even where I will be sleeping tomorrow night.  I did not phone Mr. Bar-Levov today (see yesterday) as I thought it would be best to give him at least 2 days to fix something up for me.

My bed last night was very comfortable, & I got up at 7:30 this morning, by which time Mr. & Mrs. Havatselett were both up, & I think Mr. H already off to work.  I washed & dressed leisurely, & put on clean shorts & a clean sweater.  Mrs. H had prepared breakfast for me, & I ate alone, mostly bread & jam & tea.  There seems to be someone also living in this flat, besides the Havatseletts, but I am not sure what the arrangement is.  I see another man using the bathroom & lavatory, and he seems to have a few rooms partitioned off from the hallway.  After breakfast & my other meals here today, I have been anxious to help Mrs. H & clear away the dishes. This of course is the sort of thing I would never dream of doing at home.  Mrs. H went out shopping, & when she came back, she took some fish out of her bag which were still alive & moving.  Before cutting them up, she had to kill them by knocking them on the head with a knife handle.  This seems horrible to me.  Then I asked if I could help her in any way, & went out with her, carrying some bags of empty bottles to a store.  But after this, we returned.


My day was now free until 5 PM when Mrs. H had made an appointment for me to see a friend of hers, about what, I knew nothing.  I decided that I would first go and do something I had been intending to do for a long time.  I have long known (in fact, Mr. Sobel first told me in London) that there is a reporter on the “Jerusalem Post,” the only English-language newspaper in Israel, named Moshe Brilliant.  At one time some months ago, I was very interested in discovering the origin of my surname; & I thought it would be pleasant to speak with Moshe Brilliant & find out if  he might be some relation of mine, or if he knew anything about the name.  These, at any rate, would be good pretexts for getting to know a reporter (apparently quite an important one) on the “Jerusalem Post.”  In Jerusalem, where I had enquired at the office of the newspaper, I had been told that Mr. B lived & worked in Tel Aviv.  So today I planned to look him up, & after that I thought I would go to the beach for a swim.  Mrs. H directed me to the J.P. office, & said she didn’t mind what time I came back for lunch.  The offices were in Nahalat Benjamin Street. but I was told that Moshe Brilliant is now in Jerusalem covering a meeting of the Knesset – so my hopes were once again frustrated.


Now for my swim.  Mrs. H had advised me not to go to the beach at Tel Aviv because she said the water was not clean, though I had bathed there on a previous brief visit to the city, & noticed nothing unpleasant.  But I decided to go now to a place called Bat Yam (which means “daughter of the sea”) a new section on the coast south of Jaffa, where I had paid a short visit once with the Summer Institute.  But my decision to walk there was a big mistake, for the distance proved far greater than I had supposed, & I would have done much better to take a bus.  But in my walk, I saw much of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.  But I did not start for Bat Yam at once, but went first to the municipal library, where I spent much time writing my diary.


American books of the “Pocket Book” kind are very common in this country, and very cheap – much cheaper than the similar “Penguin” books in England.  Attracted by the cheapness, I today bought a book for 35 piastres which for years I have been intending to read.  It is Homer’s “Iliad,” and the translation “into plain English” is by W.H.D. Rouse.  I know it is foolish for me to buy more books when I have already plenty to read, especially in the Bible, but somehow I just could not resist the bargain, & have already begun to read the book.


Israel is a land where strange sights are so common that after a while one takes them for granted.  I thought of this today as I passed a man who was sitting on the sidewalk eating his lunch.   On my long walk to Bat Yam, I saw many interesting things, especially in Jaffa, which I have heard called an “immigrantopolis.”  Jaffa was a purely Arab town until 1948, when almost all the Arabs fled.  As at places like Ramle, Lydda, and Beersheba, immigrants have now moved in to inhabit the town.  As usual, they have set up small workshops for their old trades & skills, and everyone works very hard.  There are carpenters’ shops, metal-workers, furniture makers etc.  One section of Jaffa is very largely destroyed.


But, although I saw much of interest, I grew less & less content as I walked on, being often thirsty, & having to buy glasses of “gazoz.”  It was not until 1 PM that I finally reached the Lido at Bat Yam.  This is a pleasant bathing place, with new amenities & a good beach.  I paid 17 piastres, swam in the rough sea, & sunbathed for a while – but I could not stay very long, for I certainly didn’t want to be back for lunch later than 3 PM.


It is interesting to note that my copy of the Iliad cost less than did my bottle of orange juice last night.  But Mr. H says it is very poorly bound & pages will probably soon begin to fall out.

(Continuing now on August 20th).  I took a bus back to Tel Aviv, & arrived “home” just before 3 PM.  Mrs. H gave me a lunch of fish, potatoes, tea & fruit etc.  After that, I stayed here until 5 PM, reading, talking with Mrs. H, helping her when I could, & writing my diary.  Then at 5PM Mrs. H gave me the name & address of the friend she wanted me to meet, & sent me off to Rachel Israeli, who lives in a 3rd floor flat at no. 12 Maze street, not far away.  Thither I walked by myself, wondering if this would be a woman or girl, or what.  Mrs. H said she lived with her parents, and that her father has an important job (I think he is a manager) in the Bank Leumi Le-Israel, which I have found out is the biggest bank in the country. 


Rachel turned out to be a girl of about 22, who wore glasses & seemed to have something wrong with her eyes. (Mrs. H said she had recently had an operation on them.)  She spoke good English, & most of the many books in the flat were in English.  I stayed there about 2 hours talking with her.  I met her mother, but only for a short while.  We discussed many things concerned with Israel, the University (Rachel has been studying English, Hebrew, & Philosophy there) the printing of books (it seems that Hebrew books are much more expensive than American books here) Arabs & immigrants, and I learned much.  Rachel lived on a kibbutz for 5 years during the war.  She now plans to teach for one year, then go to England to study.  She told me that she was in the Haganah when it was still an illegal organization, & how she used to go out at night with others sticking up anti-British posters.  Rachel showed me a room in the flat which her mother had furnished almost entirely in the oriental style, with the tables, chairs, & couches very low, the latter covered with striped material, with a large round brass Arab table, & many objects of Arab origin.  The carpets were Persian.  I was given refreshments.


At about 7:15 I returned to the Havatseletts for supper, & discovered that Mr. H is a very keen mountaineer.  He certainly seems to have many interests, skills, and accomplishments.  Although he has spent only a few months in London, he seems to know it better than I do, especially the Underground system.  After supper, Mrs. H went out, & Mr. H set to work at his drawing-board, as he seems to do every evening.  I sat down & looked through some books.  On the radio was playing the Hebrew version of “20 Questions,” which I have already heard in English and American versions.  I thought I would spend a quiet evening there, reading and writing, & go early to bed.  But then, while I was sitting there, the front door opened, & to my surprise, in came Ronnie, the Havatseletts’ older daughter, whom they had wanted me to meet. It seems Mrs. H had made a mistake in thinking she would not arrive until tomorrow. She sat down in front of me, &, with hardly any introductions, right away began talking to me as if we were old friends. She was very friendly, & insisted on getting me some drink & fruit.  She had had, it seems, a few days holiday from the army, & had spent them at the seaside resort of Nahariya, where she had a good time.  After we had talked & eaten for a while, I suggested we should go for a walk – so she took me along the same route I had walked last night alone.  I felt now much happier.  She said she did not like Tel Aviv, because it has no character.  She would prefer to live in Jerusalem.  She will be coming out of the army in a month, on the day before I leave Israel (I’m due to sail on the 22nd) & plans then to go to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to study Law.  She appears to have a very responsible position in the army, being in charge, I think, of meting out disciplinary penalties to 200 girls, almost all older than herself.  Also at present she is assisting one of the highest officers in the army. 


We walked along Allenby Road, and down to the sea.  Sometimes Ronnie met & talked with people she knew.  At the front, we stood for a while, looking out to sea.  The moon was bright on the water.  Then we walked along the front, past the noisy cafes.  Ronnie wants eventually to come to England to study.  Eventually we took a bus home. Tomorrow Ronnie must return to her work, but she lives, as I did not realize before, at home, so that I will see her again tomorrow evening, & we may go to the cinema. 


The Havatseletts almost always speak Hebrew in front of me.  It seems that Mr. H has an important job, but is not well paid.  There is only torn-up newspaper in the lavatory.  Ronnie’s arrival upset things for me somewhat, for there was now not really any room for me.  Mrs. H had given me to understand, though of course apologetically, that when Ronnie returned, as she thought tomorrow, I would have to find accommodation elsewhere.  But now that Ronnie had come, I could not be+ turned out.  When we returned from our walk, Mrs. H had already, at some trouble, converted one of the couches into a bed for me.  But tomorrow I will have to look for someplace else.


Thursday, August 20, 1953

My second whole day in Tel Aviv, & perhaps my last, but a day full of interest. 


Though the couch at the Havatseletts’ was harder than my previous bed, I slept none the less soundly, & did not wake until 8:45 this morning.  I have got Mrs. H thinking, or at least saying, that I am a very nice boy because I do little things like taking dishes into the kitchen after a meal, and offering to help her shopping etc. Now I had a reputation to maintain, & so re-made my bed into the couch.  The Havatseletts, especially Mrs. H, have paid me many compliments, such as that I must have been very clever at school, and that I will probably be very successful in life (which I much doubt).  Mrs. H seems impressed by my travels.


I talked with Mrs. H at length today at different times, & she told me some very remarkable things.  One of these was that one of the 2 boys who assassinated Lord Moyne, who was a very high British official in Egypt, during the Second World War, was a cousin of hers, the son of her first cousin.  She also knew the other boy, but she had not known that they were connected with any secret society.  The murder had something to do with the anti-Jewish attitude of Moyne,  Mrs. H said, I think, that the boys were caught only because they had tried to save the life of Moyne’s chauffeur (or something like that).  She said that many important Americans pleaded for the boys’ lives, but when the British Prime Minister, Churchill, came to Egypt, he ordered their execution, & so they were hanged.  And yet now Mrs. H is very pro-British, & tells me how many things she likes about Britain & the British. 


But she had some even more surprising things to tell & show me.  She took me into one of the rooms, and showed me many places where bullet-scars had been patched up.  It seems that this flat is overlooked by a building not very far off where British troops were stationed towards the end of the Mandatory period.  Incredible as it may seem, these troops evidently used to make a sport of firing rifles & machine guns at harmless houses.  On this particular occasion, they just chose this one flat, & fired scores, if not hundreds, of rounds at it.  Mr. & Mrs. H were out, but their 2 children were at home.  They could easily have been hit, but saved themselves by sheltering in the hallway.  Mrs. H showed me holes & scars in the inner & outer walls & the furniture, even some in the piano.  These are now mostly repaired, & I had not noticed them before.  But much damage was done, especially to windows & to clothing in cupboards.  Mrs. H said her husband submitted a complaint, & claims for compensation.  They were just “laughed at.”  I wonder how many English people would believe that these things went on here.  I myself find it hardly credible.  But Mrs. H is a very fair-minded woman, & points out that the British lived in constant fear, that soldiers were in continual danger of being murdered, and this was only a sort of revenge.


But the third story Mrs. H told me was the most interesting of all.  In 1947, in the penultimate year of the British occupation of Palestine, she and her younger daughter went on holiday to Italy.  At that time there was great trouble and strife about the bringing of new immigrants into Palestine, whom the British termed “illegal.”  It was the opposition of the British to the entering of desperate refugee immigrants into the Promised Land which most made them hated here.  For reasons evidently purely of charity, Mrs. H decided that she was going to help smuggle a single refugee into Palestine.  Her passport was good both for her and for her 2 daughters.  Since Ronnie, the older one, was not with her, she intended to take some child back, pretending she was her own daughter.  She contacted the Jewish Agency in Rome, who were most grateful for her offer.  They took her to a Displaced Persons’ Camp, and there she chose a girl of about Ronnie’s age (then about 13) who had come originally from Poland, & was sent to Siberia with her family.  She was the only one who had survived.  She spoke only a little Hebrew. 


Now Mrs. H and her daughter  (whom I have not yet met, & whose name I had forgotten) had for a month to prepare this Polish girl for the ordeal of trying to get her into Palestine.  They explained to her that she was supposed to be their daughter, & she caught on very well.  But there was another difficulty.  On Mrs.H’s passport, when she & her daughter  had left Palestine, an official had written and circled the number 2, to show that 2 persons had left.  In Rome, an “expert” had changed this penciled number to look like a 3.  Mrs. H showed me the result.  The alteration was quite well done, but, if closely examined, it would look suspicious.  The penalty for assisting illegal immigrants might be 15 years in prison, & Mrs. H was all the time very worried.  But she carried it off, & many times the Polish girl showed her quick wits, as, when one of the officers on the ship (which was the same ship which had brought Mrs. H to Italy) had said he could not remember her having 2 daughters with her, she rebuked him for his poor memory.  At Haifa Mrs. H was met on the ship by officials of  the Jewish Agency, who assured her that everything would be alright.  Even the British top official knew about it, but I think he had been bribed.  So the girl was brought safely into Palestine, and, after staying about a week with the Havatseletts, went to live on a kibbutz.  Only recently she was married, & Mr. & Mrs. H at her wedding played the role of her parents.  She now lives in Jaffa.  Of course, all the trouble about “illegal immigrants” was completely unnecessary.  The British policy was cruel and absurd.  After this exploit, Mrs. H became quite a hero, & many people came to see her.  She was offered a job in connection with immigration work, but didn’t take it.


Mrs. H also explained to me today what I had been wondering about her flat, & how it is divided. It seems that, before the Havatseletts moved into this flat 15 years ago, one bachelor had been renting 2 rooms of it.  When they came, he let them have one of the 2, but kept the best one for himself – the one overlooking Rothschild Boulevard , which possesses a balcony.  He rents his room, not from them, but from the landlord.  They use the same bathroom & lavatory, & are on good terms.  But Mrs. H complains that they have no balcony – and, because they have no room with a window facing the sea, they can never have a sea breeze blowing through the house to relieve the heat.


(Continuing now on Aug. 21)  I saw Ronnie this morning, before she went off to work at the army camp, which I think is in Ramat Gan.  She said she would probably be home about 7 PM, which might mean that we would be too late for the cinema.


After breakfast this morning, it was my task to go out & seek new accommodation, for, with Ronnie now at home, there was no convenient room in the Havatselett flat for me.  Mrs. H had been very apologetic about it, but had not made any suggestions as to where I might go (except the army, which Ronnie said was ridiculous.)  I had yesterday told her that I would probably try the Police first, although I had as yet had no dealings with the Police. (Policemen seem to be a rarity in the streets of this City, & I can never find one when I want to ask directions.)  But today I had a better idea, & said I thought the British Consulate would be my best bet.  There is in Tel Aviv both a British Embassy and a Consulate, but I decided to try the latter, which is located in Rehov Ferdinand Lasalle.  Mrs. H told me how to reach there by bus, but it still took me some time & trouble to find the place.  When I did at last get there, I told the woman at the desk that I had come to Tel Aviv to stay with some friends, but, through a misunderstanding, I found that they had no room for me.  Since I had not much money, I was seeking the cheapest accommodation available in Tel Aviv for a few days.  This was my “line,” & during this morning, I had to repeat it several times. This woman now said that I would have to speak to someone else, & asked me to wait in the waiting-room.


There I sat, looking at magazines about Britain, & realizing how little I know or have seen of that country.  It seems shameful to me that, in the field of sport for instance, although I have heard of these things many times, I have never seen tennis at Wimbledon, or the Boat Race, or any horse race, etc.   After waiting some time (incidentally, I had brought my rucksack with me) I went to a counter in another room, & repeated my line to the people there. At once they seemed to know the exact solution to my problem, and sent me to the offices of the British Zionist Federation at 53 A Hayarkon St., whom they said would be able to help me. Thither I walked, & found the office on the ground floor of a new large block of flats. I went in & spoke to a woman at a desk, named Miss Lewis.  She called in a Mr. Tempkin.  They were very friendly to me, especially when they knew I was from the Summer Institute.  Mr. Tempkin also knew some people from Edgware on Shnat Sherut, including Alec Posner.  They asked me how much I could afford to spend on accommodation, & I said that one Israeli Pound (4 shillings) a night was my absolute limit, but tried to make it clear that I was very reluctant to spend even that.  At first they thought about hotels, but Miss Lewis said no hotel charged that little.  Then they had an idea which I did not understand at first, but which led eventually to my present accommodation.


The South African Jews are rich, and, for their number, surprisingly active in Zionist affairs.  Here in Tel Aviv there is an office of the South African Zionist Federation, and a hostel attached to it.  It was here that the British office thought of sending me.  They phoned up the South African place, & found that the charge was 1 ½ Pounds a night.  I, however, insisted that I could pay no more than 1 Pound.  Mr. Tempkin assured me lthat I need not worry about this.  He said I could pay 1 Pound a night , & his office would pay the rest.  I expressed my gratitude, but in fact I was slightly disappointed, for I had been hoping to get something free.  The South African place was not far away in the same street, & I was to go there at 2:30 PM, so I left my rucksack in the British office, & took a bus back to Rothschild Blvd., to have lunch at the Havatseletts’.  The portions of fish which Mrs. H serves at these meals are so small that Mummy would be ashamed to serve them – but I suppose that is all they can get.


I was later returning to Rehov Hayarkon than I expected to be, because Mrs. H was worried about a boil on my arm which had reached the bursting stage, & insisted on putting a new & elaborate bandage on it.  She told me about some relation of hers who had neglected a small insect bite, & within 3 days was dead from it.  When I did at last get back to the street, I lost my way, & for some time went in the wrong direction, so that it was not until after 3:30 that I reached the office of the South African Zionist Federation; but fortunately this made no difference, & I was given a key & escorted next door to the hostel, which apparently occupies several apartments in a block of flats.  I was given a very pleasant room on the 3rd floor, which has a balcony overlooking the sea. There is a pleasant bathing-beach only 2 or 3 minutes’ walk away.  In my room are 2 beds, but I am the only occupant.  The place has good bathroom & shower facilities, a good lavatory, & even a kitchen with a refrigerator.  I went to get my rucksack from the British office, & arrived only just in time, for they were about to close for the day.  Then, after settling myself in, I talked with 2 of the South African boys here, one a surveyor & one an architect, & they gave me addresses of people in London they would like me to contact.


Then I went out to the beach for a short swim, returned, polished my shoes, wrote my diary, and at length set off to keep my appointment at the Havatseletts’ at 7 PM. I was in rather a dilemma about this, because I did not know whether Mrs. H expected me to have had supper first, or if she wanted me to have supper there.  As a precautionary measure, I ate some still-edible bread and plums that I had in my food-box before starting out.  But this proved unnecessary, for it seems Mrs. H had taken it for granted that I would dine there. When I arrived, Mrs. H said she was going to take some things over to her sister’s, who lived not far away.  I offered to do this for her, & she gave me a bag of eggs, sugar, & margarine, & told me how to get to the apartment.  But when I went there, nobody was at home, so I had to bring the stuff back.  Mr. H came in, but Ronnie did not arrive until about 8 PM.  She said she was tired & had little appetite, but afterwards I think she felt better.


I forgot to mention that, at about 6:15 PM, on the way to the Havatseletts, I had searched for a telephone, & finally found one in a grocery store – in order to call up Mr. Bar-Levov (see Aug. 18). I got through to his house, but his wife answered but said he wouldn’t be home till 8PM.  So after supper Mrs. H took me to a café at the corner of Allenby & Rothschild where there was a telephone, & I called again.  This time I spoke to Mr. Bar-Levov, but, as I half-expected, disappointment awaited me.  He had never definitely promised that he would do anything for me about going to Elat, & now he said that the friend of his whom he thought could help me had proved unable to do so.  But he told me that I must obtain a permit to go to Elat, & said I should go to the Tourist Bureau here first to inquire about it.  So it seems that my journey to Elat is to be a real adventure after all, and I must go on my own.  I cannot say I prefer it this way, but who can say what luck awaits me?


Mrs. H had gone on to visit a friend, but I went back to call for Ronnie.  She took me first to her aunt’s flat, where I had gone unsuccessfully before, & there we paid a short call.  Then we went to a cinema called the “Ophir,” where a French film “Fanfan La Tulipe” was playing.  We did not know if we would get in, but eventually we did so.  I insisted on paying.  It was the first time I had ever been to the movies like this, with a girl, but I suppose there is a first time for everything.  The cinema inside was, by the standards to which I am accustomed, very plain & bare.  The seats were just folding chairs.  We sat on the side towards the back.  The film voices were in French, but Hebrew and English subtitles were shown in vertical strips on the 2 sides of the screen.  The film was very good indeed – I think the best French picture I have seen, a delightfully fantastic fairy-tale about a peasant who believes a fortune-teller’s story that he will win glory in the army, and marry the king’s daughter.  There was much good humor, some wonderful sword-fighting, and the whole thing was really enjoyable.  I cannot remember the name of the main actor, but he was excellent, like a French Douglas Fairbanks.  After the film, I walked Ronnie to her home, then took the bus back to my hostel.


Friday, August 21, 1953  (written Aug. 22)

Although my bed was very comfortable, it took me a long time to get to sleep last night at the South African hostel.  The howling of some cats outside kept disturbing me.  The sea roared loudly, but I don’t think it was this which kept me up.  My body itched in many places.  But at length I got to sleep, & didn’t wake up until about 9:45.  Mrs Havatselett had invited me to her home for lunch at 1 PM, & I decided I could do without breakfast.  My future plans depended on Ronnie.  She had told me yesterday that some friends of hers had invited her some time ago to go on a trip this week-end to Sodom at the southern end of the Dead Sea, where I have already been once with the Summer Institute, but want to go again, particularly to swim in the Dead Sea.  But she did not know if this trip was still “on,” as she had heard no more about it since the first invitation. She had to telephone these friends today, & find out about it.  I told her I would wait until she had phoned.  If the trip was cancelled, I would stay in Tel Aviv until Sunday.  But if she was going to Sodom this afternoon, I would start today for Elat by myself, unless, of course, there were room in their car, which was unlikely.


I had a shower, wrote my diary, & then went to the government tourist office to inquire about obtaining a permit to go to Elat. (See yesterday.) But I was told I must obtain this permit in Beersheba.  I then went to a nearby bank and cashed a travelers check, my second £5 check since I left home (not including of course the £10 which I had to cash for the Jewish Agency to complete the payment of my Summer Institute fee).  So I have so far spent less than £5 sterling in Israel, but of course I have had little to spend it on, since the Institute has mostly supplied my bed and board.  In fact, looking back now, I wonder where all that £5 itself has gone, for I have had no large expenses.  After I have spent £6, I think, everything I spend will be money I have borrowed from Daddy, and must pay back.  So naturally I am (even more than usual) reluctant to spend any money at all.


From the bank, I went to my friends’ residence, & there had a lunch which, to my surprise, included meat.  They told me it was black market meat.  Certainly it was very poor quality, & obviously came out of a can – but even then, our portions were not very large.  The more I spoke with Mr. Havatselett, the more I came to admire his varied accomplishments and wide learning.  And yet he is a rather modest man.  Today we were discussing the New Testament of the Bible, which he seems to know very well, & he told me a story of how, when he was in London in 1949, he went to Hyde Park and heard one of the “orators” talking about Christianity and the Bible.  But the quotations he was making from the New Testament were incorrect, and Mr. H corrected them.  This began a discussion between Mr. H and the speaker in which Mr. H flummoxed him by making such statements as that, if he wished to “follow in the steps of the Master,” he should be circumcised.  At length the crowd demanded that the speaker give place to Mr. H.  He stepped up on the rostrum, & drew a large audience.  So successful was he that they invited him to come back again, but for this entertainment, he said, he would demand a fee. He told me all this with great enjoyment, & at one time laughed so much that he could hardly proceed.


Ronnie did not come in until after we had finished our meal.  She made her phone call, & announced that she & her friends would be going, not to Sodom, but to Jerusalem this afternoon.  And so it was my lot today to head south.  The Havatseletts were concerned with my welfare. (Mrs. H had already changed the boil-bandage on my arm) and they wanted to know where I planned to stay tonight.  I told them I would probably stay in a kibbutz.  Ronnie indicated to me on my map several kibbutzim on or near the Beersheba road, but they also suggested that I might go to the kibbutz where their other daughter, 17 yr old Ariella, is at present staying.  They showed me the kibbutz, called Hatzofim Dalet, on the map, & Mr. H wrote a letter that I could give to Ariella – but I did not expect to be going to this place, since it was on the coast, not far south of Tel Aviv, & well off the main Beersheba road.  So I made it clear to the Havatseletts that I could not promise to see Ariella.  At length I shook hands, and with many thanks bade them all goodbye.  I certainly hope to see them again, before I leave Israel, but the trouble is that I would have to find somewhere else to stay in Tel Aviv, as I cannot stay at their place, & it might be rather difficult to get into the South African hostel again at the same reduced price.


I now went back to the hostel to pack my things & pay my single-night bill – but I had forgotten that their office would be closed on Friday afternoon, so I had to leave my key & fee (one Israeli Pound) with a boy there.  At length I departed, but the hour was already quite late. (I think it was after 4 PM.)  Ronnie had advised me, in order to get onto the Beersheba road, to take a bus from the central station to a place called Beit Dagon (an interesting name; Dagon, I know from the story of Samson, was a god of the Philistines.)  So I first rode to the Central Bus Station.


(Mrs. H, incidentally, had sometimes made embarrassing remarks to me about Ronnie. E.g. when I said I thought Ronnie’s French was good, she said I thought so only because we were out at night in the moonlight.  But then, it was Mrs. H who had been so anxious for me to meet Ronnie.)


Getting from Tel Aviv to Beit Dagon was really an ordeal.  First of all I had to go to the information office to find out where to get my ticket.  Then I had to queue up to buy the ticket from a man who didn’t speak English.  Then I had to find the right platform, which proved ridiculously difficult – people kept sending me from one to another.  When I did at last find my platform, I found a large queue of people waiting there.  It was only after I had been waiting there some time, eating an ice-cream & trying to read my new-bought copy of the “Iliad,” and our bus had already come in to the platform, that I remembered that I had in my possession a certificate, which I had specially obtained from the tourist office in Jerusalem, that entitled me, as a tourist, to go to the head of any inter-urban bus queue.  But by this time, it was too late.  People were already squashing into the bus, and I fumbled in my fat wallet in vain to find the paper.  So many people were there before me that I did not expect to get onto the bus at all – but somehow I managed to edge into the queue, & so got a standing-place on the bus.  Having my rucksack with me always makes the getting on & off buses doubly difficult.  The ride was naturally uncomfortable, though I was able to put my rucksack on the floor – but at least I got someone to tell me where to get off.


There, at the road junction, I found a few soldiers, male & female, waiting for a lift in my direction.  I was lucky, & almost immediately, a large army lorry stopped, & took us all on the back.  There were 2 soldiers there who spoke English.  They came from Rangoon, Burma.  I learned we were going to Rishon Le Zion.  This is, I think, the second oldest modern Jewish settlement in Palestine.  I passed through it once with the Institute.  (It has just struck me how distinctively the different inhabited places of Israel may be divided up.  There are the 3 large towns, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, the Arab towns which have been taken over by Jews, like Ramle, Lydda, & Beersheba, the Arab towns & villages which have remained Arab, like Nazareth.  Then there are old pioneer towns like Petah Tikvah and Rishon le Zion, then the agricultural settlements of kibbutzim and moshavim.)


On my map, I saw that it was from Rishon le Zion that the road went out to Hatzafim Dalet on the coast. I now debated with myself whether I should go there or not.  It was well out of my way, & I didn’t know how long it would take to get there, but here there lay promise of free food and accommodation for tonight, and perhaps for tomorrow. I thought it better not to travel on Shabbat.  At length I decided to head for the kibbutz, but I was never easy in my mind about this decision, & often wondered how much farther I could have gone before dark on the road to Beersheba.  I walked out of Rishon, and was surprised to see how abruptly the coastal sand dunes began just outside the town.  It was 10 km or more to Hatzafim Dolet, & I could never have walked it, but this secondary road carried little traffic.  However I was lucky, got 2 lorry-lifts, & had only to walk the last 2 kms.  It was interesting to see how all along this road were small settlements, & the sandy land was being cultivated.


I arrived at the kibbutz of Hatzofim Dolet just before sunset.  It was picturesquely situated just above the shore, but was obviously a young kibbutz (4 ½ yrs old I later learned.)  I began asking about for Ariella Havatselett.  I was sent from person to person (all the people here were very young) till at length a girl led me to a new cabin, where on beds several girls were sitting, one of whom was Ariella.  Her English was not very good, but I introduced myself -- she had heard of me from her mother – and gave her her father’s letter, which was in Hebrew, so I don’t know if there was much about me in it.  Ariella was not quite so friendly as her sister & mother, but perhaps this was because her English was not so good.  Some of the girls there spoke better English than she.  When I asked where I could sleep tonight, one of them said I could have, if I did not mind, an empty bed in their room.  I quickly rejected this embarrassing suggestion, & asked if there were no place else.  They took me then to another cabin where there was one boy.  I went to have a shower (there was hot water today) & afterwards returned to these 3 girls’ room.  Through asking many questions, I gradually obtained a general idea of this kibbutz & Ariella’s relation to it.  The Tzofim are the Israeli equivalent of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, about which I have already heard much from Ronnie Salamon in Haifa.  This kibbutz, & several others, have, it seems, been founded by people who had been Tzofim & are still closely connected with the movement.  But Ariella is with a group of 7 girls from another kibbutz called Tel Re’im, who are staying here only for a few weeks, until they go into the army. I think they are all 17 years old.  They are working here to make money for their own kibbutz.  There are only these girls here, because for some reason their boys have already gone into the army.  In the army, they will, I think, all stay in a group, and when they come out, they will all go to be members of a kibbutz together.  I don’t know if this will be Tel Re’im or some other kibbutz.


Ariella & another girl named Rochale showed me round the kibbutz, where they had themselves been for only a week so far.  For some reason today has been their “Shabbat,” but they didn’t know if they would have any work tomorrow either.  The kibbutz conveniences, the lavatories & shower-house, were as primitive as those at Tsora.


As her mother had told me, Ariella was a sort of idealist, who said she believed it her duty to the State of Israel to live and work on a kibbutz.  Eventually we went to supper, whose chief feature for me were some very delicious grapes, of which I ate a great many, & wondered if they would affect me [& make me] ill.  Afterwards I went back with Ariella & Rochele to their cabin.  They sat on a bed doing some embroidery, and Ariella asked me if I would like anything to read.  I don’t think she meant deliberately to ignore me;  it was just too difficult for her to carry on a conversation in English.  I asked if they had anything in English, & Ariella produced a book of short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I read one of these, an exciting story about a man about to be forced to marry a woman he does not know & does not want to marry him.  It was called “The Sire de Maletroit’s Door.”  Then we went back to the dining hall, where at first people sat round a table singing Hebrew songs, of which this time I recognized very few, and then the tables were cleared away for dancing.  Ariella took part in some of the dancing, but I of course did not.  Something went wrong with the electricity, & the lights went out, but the dancing continued.  I began to feel sleepy, & said goodnight to Ariella, intending to have an early night.  But when I went back to my cabin, the lights had come back on, & I found Rochale sitting there by herself.  She had been sewing, & was waiting for the lights to come back on.  I decided to write a letter home before I went to bed, so sat there writing & talking to Rochale, whose English was better than Ariella’s.  In my letter, I told my family of my postponed return passage, and that I was setting out for Elat.


Saturday, August 22, 1953

The boy in whose room I slept last night was a member of the kibbutz.  He spoke English, and explained to me that he was in charge, as a hobby of some grapes which were lying out in the sun, being turned into raisins.  He and I slept until about 10:15 this morning.  We had breakfast in the dining-hall, & I was given a near-liquid glucose to spread on my bread, which I did.  Not much else.  At most kibbutzim, there is a shortage of knives.  Here there were no knives at all.  And, instead of cups, all they had were small glasses which had probably once been jars, with very thick inconvenient rims.


After breakfast, I re-met Ariella and Rochale, who said they had been given no work today, and were annoyed about this, because they earned no money when they did not work.  They had no plans, so I again went with them to their cabin, where they again sat sewing, while I wrote my diary and a letter to Sam Sherwin, the leader of the English Summer Institute group in Jerusalem, asking him, if I did not return from Elat in time, to deposit my luggage, mail, and any instructions he might have for me in the Youth and Hecholutz office at the Keren Hayemet department of the Jewish Agency building.


I intended to depart today for Beersheba, despite the fact that it was Shabbat & I could expect little traffic, so I was particularly pleased when the girls who wanted to go to a kibbutz called Givat Brenner this afternoon, learned that we could all go in a van after lunch to Rehovot.  So I went with them in the van, and was put down at a roundabout outside Rehovot.  They would be coming back that way, &, if I had not obtained a lift, would take me back to their kibbutz.  This was reassuring, but actually the first vehicle which came by, an army lorry, picked me up, and took me about 15 kilometers to a junction where a new southward road began.  Here several people were waiting for lifts in different directions.  There was a little drink-stand at the corner, but the proprietor on Shabbat would conduct no business, & was asleep on the floor inside, with flies crawling all over him.  I spoke with an airman who  came from Iraq & said he wanted to go back there because conditions were better, & work easier to obtain.  This was in strange contrast to what David, an Iraqi boy in the Summer Institute, had told me about his life in Iraq, saying he even had bad dreams about it sometimes.  But this man said that it was only the rich upper classes who were anti-semitic.


(Continuing now on Aug. 23)  Eventually I received a good lorry-lift to a place called Feluja.  The country was changing now, becoming much more open & treeless, with few, scattered, settlements.


I was put down at a deserted crossroads, and discovered that Faluja was a large Arab settlement, now entirely in ruins, and looking very desolate, though from a distance its trees and cactus hedges gave it the appearance of an inhabited town.  On my map, I saw that I was in a lonely region.  But there was one settlement, evidently a kibbutz, in distant sight.  I wondered if I might have to spend the night there, for there was no traffic.  But a large lorry, the first vehicle to come along, picked me up, and I had a splendid ride on its back alone.  I learned it was going right to Beersheba, which was my day’s destination.  I much enjoyed this ride.  We passed through some Arab country, & went by a Bedouin encampment, which may have been the same one I visited with the Summer Institute.  Once I saw a beautiful sight – a crowd of Arabs, some on foot, some on donkeys & camels, moving across the desert.  Just after this I saw 2 young men walking together with rifles in their hands.  I saw the kibbutz of Mishmar HaNegev (“The Guardian of the Negev”) and some of those fascinating flat-topped hills called Tels, which are all, I think, the sites of ancient cities.  Familiar sights along the road were newly-planted rows of eucalyptus trees, and the brown water-pipe-lines running on the surface.  The road was a new one.


As we approached Beersheba, I debated with myself whether  I should go on into the town and risk a vexatious search for cheap accommodation, or whether I should make for the kibbutz of Hatzerim, which both Ronnie and Ariella had pointed out to me on the map, several kilometers before Beersheba, and risk a late start tomorrow for Eilat.  I therefore looked out for a minor road leading to the right off our main road some distance before Beersheba – but I failed to spot it.  So my lorry took me just to the edge of Beersheba, a place looking very strange and quiet in the midst of the desert, and put me down just beside the small cemetery of British Empire soldiers who died near here during the First World War – which is well-kept.  Beside its wall ran a ditch in which was a dead dog.  I was just near the road going out to Hatserim, but I still was not certain whether to go back there, walking along the road with probably little chance of a lift, or to go on into Beersheba. Distance was the main consideration.  On my map, the kibbutz  looked to be about 8 or 9 km away – but a man with a rifle walking along the road, whom I asked, said it was definitely only 3 kms.  Perhaps, I thought, the kibbutz site had been moved since my map was printed, like that of Tsora.  So I began to walk along the very dusty road towards Hatserim.  The time was about 6:30, & I would have only another hour before sunset.  I had serious doubts as to whether the distance was only 3 kms.


There now followed for me a piece of extraordinary good luck – luck consequent upon a person’s kindness, such as I have experienced often before in other countries, but never in Israel.  As I was walking along this dusty road, I saw 2 apparent workmen coming in the opposite direction.  I went to talk to them, & found that one spoke French, though they were both Rumanian.  They were just coming from Hatzerim, which they said was 8 km away.  It had taken them an hour to walk. I decided at once that this was “trop loin” [too far] and began to walk back to Beersheba with them, wondering where I would stay.  I explained my situation to this man in French (the other soon left us, going in another direction), and he said, I think, that he had a friend at whose house I might be able to stay.  I explained, of course, that I could not pay for accommodation.  So we walked together into Beersheba, which is a strange place, an oasis in the desert, the Biblical southern limit of the country (the phrase “from Dan unto Beersheba” has impressed itself  upon my mind) a former Arab town, where the Turks, I think, built an attractive mosque and government buildings, and tried to make the place the Arab center of southern Palestine.  Abraham had something to do with this place, and there is a very unimpressive dry well called Abraham’s Well, where I went with the Summer Institute when briefly we visited this town.  Now, of course, all the Arabs are gone, their homes are occupied by Jewish immigrants, and new suburbs have been built.


As we walked into the town, we passed a pleasant little park crowded with people.  This was Saturday night, the end of Shabbat, when everybody comes out in their best clothes, and the streets are crowded.  I noticed that many women were wheeling perambulators.  I may be mistaken, but there did not seem to have been so many of these in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

We went down a side-street, after passing the mosque and town hall which I had seen when here before, and came to a gate in a wall which my friend, a middle-aged man, opened by sliding his fingers,& pushing back the bolt on the other side.  We entered into a little courtyard, then went through a door, where we found a young good-looking man, perhaps in his 30’s lying scantily clad on a bed.  This was the friend I had heard of, & he too was Rumanian.  As usual, my mind passed through a series of misconceptions, mainly due to language difficulties, before I arrived at a correct understanding of my situation.  At first I thought that both these men lived here, but then I learned that only the younger one did, by himself, though there were 2 beds.  The place was very sparsely furnished.  My host, whose name I eventually learned to be Bernard Zeidler, spoke English, but he preferred to speak with me in French.  Both he and his friend, I learned, were house-painters.  Bernard behaved most hospitably towards me.  He made it clear that I was to make myself at home.  I was to sleep on the bed where he now was.  I could come in & go out whenever I wanted to.  He showed me how to lock the door, and where to leave the key, underneath a piece of paper on the window-ledge, where it could be reached from outside.  He supplied me with an oil lamp – for there was no electricity in my room, and I went to an out-house in the courtyard to have a shower.  The lavatory was located in another part of the courtyard, in a very small compartment, but with a convenience [toilet] of civilized design, though it had no flushing system, and the paper, as usual in Israel, had to be put, not into the toilet bowl, but  into an open receptacle, after use. 


Also in the courtyard were a little pig-like dog tied up, and a chicken- coop.  I am not sure if any other people shared this courtyard.  I thanked Bernard for his kindness, but all the time I could not help feeling slightly suspicious.  Ever since my adventure of Bram de Haan last summer [a Dutchman I met while hitch-hiking in France] (and although it is only a year since then, how long ago it seems!) I have had to bear in mind, perhaps to an exaggerated extent, that it is possible for every harmless-seeming stranger I meet to be a criminal lunatic, and so I am always on my guard , lest I again be “caught.” But, even from a common-sense point of view, it is not wise to place one’s absolute trust in a pleasant-sounding stranger. In this case, however, as time went on, it became more and more obvious that my suspicions were groundless.  Bernard freely gave me his name & address when I asked for them, and seemed really to be interested in my welfare.


Once when I thanked him, he told me, I think, that just after the war, he had himself been a homeless wanderer in Germany, but there had been no one to help him, and he had had to sleep in the woods.  Of course it occurred to me that he had as much, if not more, reason to distrust me than had I to be suspicious of him.


After I had washed, his friend, who had brought me here & then gone away, came back looking much more respectable in clean clothes.  No one here ever wears more than trousers and a short-sleeved shirt.  Then the three of us went out.  First we went to a little side-street buffet whose proprietors were I think also Rumanian.  Bernard by this time had told me something of himself.  He had been in Israel 7 years, I think, had seen fighting in the army, especially in the “Faluja Pocket,” and received many wounds, though none of them were apparently disfiguring or disabling.  But when we went out, he carried a rubber cushion with him, & from what he said, I gathered that because of a wound, he could not sit down comfortably without this—but he deposited it at a drinks stand, & seemed to sit quite comfortably without it on the little café-stool.  There we sat & had a meal, & he insisted on paying for me.  I had mainly bread & a very large glass of milk, with a little cheese.  Bernard insisted on paying for me.  But he went further than this.  I had told him previously that, before starting out on the road to Elat, I must buy some provisions to take with me.  He now bought them for me at this place – a loaf of bread, some cheese & tomatoes.  Unfortunately, I do not like the last 2, but of course I did not tell him this, & thanked heartily his generosity.  After this, my 2 new friends wanted to take me to a cinema, & I would have liked to go, but I had much diary-writing to do, & so returned to my residence while they went to the cinema.  When I asked Bernard why he was not married, he told me he had already been married twice to the same woman in Rumania, & twice divorced.


Since he knew I wanted to go home & write, & since there was not much oil in the lamp he had given me, he told me to take the lamp, & ask for some more oil from the man at the drinking stand across the street.  This I did, but was told he had none, so I had to look for some –place light to write, & found it just down the street, outside the entrance to a hospital.  Here I sat on a large stone for some time writing.  Then I thought I heard people talking in English inside the gate.  I went over to the gatekeeper, & found that he too spoke English.  I asked him about obtaining a permit to go to Elat.  Bernard’s friend had told me he thought the necessity for permits had been abolished 2 days ago.  But Bernard & this gatekeeper said they thought I must apply for one at the town hall tomorrow, which I decided to do.  I forgot to mention that Bernard had also arranged that I should go to the same café to have breakfast tomorrow.  I went back to the house at just about the same time Bernard came back.  My bed had a slight slope, but I was too tired for this to disturb me.