ASHLEIGH BRILLIANT – ISRAEL DIARY 1953—PART 3, August 23-September 15


Sunday, August 23, 1953

Today I set out on the real road to Elat, from Beersheba.  I have had a very interesting time, but have still far to travel tomorrow before I reach my destination.


Bernard woke me at 7:30 this morning.  I had a shower, & Bernard, who had to go out to work, gave me the name of some relations of his whom he thinks are in London & is anxious to locate.  But he was in a hurry, & I could not get all the details.  The family name (of Bernard’s mother) is, it seems, Coslover, and they come from Tulcea in Rumania.  I promised Bernard I would try to look them up.  Then he went off to work & we said goodbye.  But before this, he had told me several times that, when I returned to Beersheba from Elat, he wanted me again to come & stay at his house.


(Coninuing now on Aug. 24)   After leaving Bernard’s residence, which was of course originally an Arab house, I went first to the town hall.  I still was not sure whether or not I needed a military permit to go to Elat.  But here a clerk told me definitely that I did not.  Forthwith, I went back to the little café where we had supped last night, after having a little difficulty in finding it, and there had a breakfast, which Bernard was to pay for, of 2 fried eggs, bread, and tea.


On the roads south of Beersheba, my map, printed in 1950, is not very up-to-date.  There is an important new road to Sodom, which is not shown on it.  This is the road that we took when I went with the Summer Institute to the Dead Sea, and it coincides for some distance with the road to Elat.  Of Elat and its road I knew little before I began this journey.  I was making it because it was supposed to be a great experience, because I wanted to see the real Negev, and the Red Sea.


Walking out of Beersheba, I came upon a group of several men waiting for rides.  (Hitch-hiking in Israel, incidentally, is called tramping, and a lift is a tramp.  A hitch-hiker is, I think, a trampist.)  But I was in no mood this morning for hanging around with them, so I walked on past them, out of the town, and up to the entrance to an army camp.  Very soon I began to feel the heat, although it was yet only about 9 AM.  I had brought a full water bottle with me, but of course I did not want to use this reserve, if I could help it – and so, feeling thirsty, I asked the guard at the camp gate for some water.  He spoke English, & sent someone else to get some.  On the bare land across the road from the camp, groups of soldiers were being put through some strenuous exercises.  I conversed with the guard, who came from Iran.  He said I should be able to get a lift to Elat today.  Many flies were about, which much troubled me.


The character of hitch-hiking in a desert region like the Negev is, as I discovered today, rather different from other places.  For one thing, every vehicle is likely to be going a considerable distance.  For another, it is likely that one may be put down, as I was, at a deserted junction where, however, it is unlikely that any vehicle going in the right direction would pass one by.  Then again, every vehicle must be going somewhere, and a small desert outpost would seem to be the ideal place for obtaining free hospitality.  Hitch-hiking in this, and other countries where I have language difficulties, presents many complications.  I am rarely sure exactly where I am being taken, but it is usually my policy to get on the vehicle first, and ask questions afterwards.  This usually proves the wisest thing, for many Israeli drivers seem to consider that, if they are not going right to your exact destination, they can be of no service to you.  My first lift today was from this army camp on the back of a lorry, into which I climbed without being sure where it was going.  There was another boy on the back with me, and we had a marvelous ride.  Our route most of the way was, I feel sure, the same as that which our Summer Institute tiyul took, but now I felt, & everything looked, entirely different, & it was hard to believe that I had been here before. Next to actually walking across it, one can obtain a comprehension of the vastness and open aridity of the desert by riding through it in an open vehicle, where one can look in every direction, & really feel a part of the landscape.  Indeed, such travel has other definite advantages over walking, for one does not have the torment of flies & other insects, and the heat of the sun is ameliorated by a strong breeze, while its rays may still be enjoyed.  Of course I felt very strongly & bitterly, at the time of our tiyulim, that it was very wrong for us to be packed into buses, but today’s rides just made this clearer than ever to me.


So we rode across the Negev, a waste of emptiness, brown and stony, but almost always with some kind of vegetation.  The country was by no means smooth or level.  There were eroded hillocks & distant mountains always in view.  When we climbed into the mountains, there were magnificent views of the desert plains.  Nor were people altogether absent.  Sometimes we passed Arabs walking or lying by the roadside.  Once I saw the very wonderful sight of some camels being ridden across the desert.  I remember too the sight of one old Arab couple, the woman sitting on the ground, the man lying at her side – with no tree or house or person for miles around.


It was a long & most enjoyable ride that I had in this vehicle.  Our road was new & good, though narrow.  We went some distance past the point where our road left the road to Sodom, and then, all of a sudden, we stopped, “in the middle of nowhere,” and I had to alight, for here the road to Elat turned off to the left, while the lorry was going straight on.  The driver was of course not happy to leave me out there, with no shade, shelter, or water.  He spoke a little English, & before he drove off, told me that there was a phosphorus works 10 km ahead on his road, & that I should walk there if I didn’t get a lift.  He also asked me if I had a gun.  This was a very strange question – in fact it was the first time I had been seriously asked such a thing in my life.  I told him I had not, & he thought this bad – still, there was nothing he could do, & he drove off.  I was not at all worried, as I did not think there was any real danger of my being attacked by Arabs.  But as the day went on, I came more & more to realize that I was in a part of Israel which must be much more dangerous than other parts I have visited.  Every person or group I met seemed to have weapons – rifles, revolvers, or machine guns.  Every vehicle carries arms.  And yet, although this gradual realization gave me a thrill of excitement & made me feel that I was having a real adventure, I don’t think I ever felt the slightest fear.  I say this purely as a matter of fact.


So I found myself alone, in the middle of the desert.  The “road to Elat” looked to be hardly a road at all, just a dusty track.  The sign pointing to it had fallen down, so I propped it up with some large rocks.  By sitting on one of these, I could get my head into the shade of the sign, and there I sat for a while, using my rucksack as a desk, trying to write my diary – but the heat and flies were very distracting.  It is my usual practice to record in this book at each day’s close, its events and thoughts, but, when travelling like this, it is often impossible for me to do this, and I fall behind in my writing.  This is bad, not only because it means I have more work to do, which obligation lies always heavy on my mind, but my impressions when I record them are not as fresh as is desirable.


By climbing to the top of a slight land rise, I could see on the Elat road a steam-roller & other evidence of road construction, but no men were at work, & I continued to sit at the junction, not in the best of humors, but by no means miserable.  I had every hope of getting a lift.  Several vehicles came by, but none went on my road.  Then at length some lorries carrying road-stone arrived, & I saw that men had begun working on the road up ahead.  This was heartening to me, for I knew they would probably have water & food, and, if worst came to worst, I could always return with them to sleep where they came from.  So I walked over to them, and, as is my custom, made it known to as many people in as short a time as possible that I was English, & trying to get a lift to Elat.


Many times a day, I have to explain to people about the Summer Institute, how long I have been here, when I will be going home, what I am doing in the country etc.  If the person I meet doesn’t speak English, he usually asks me if I speak German or Yiddish or Sephardi (the “Spanish Yiddish” of whose existence I was ignorant before I came here) and sometimes Polish or Russian.  Of course I have to admit that I do not, & sometimes people are surprised when I say I don’t speak Yiddish, and they ask if I am a Jew, as if they consider it impossible for a Jew not to speak Yiddish.


Only about 6 or 8 men were at work on the road.  Their little shelter was made of blankets in a framework of boards.  They had many large cans of water & tea there, & I was given a drink.  The man driving the bulldozer spoke English, & when he stopped work, he came over & spoke with me.  Hospitably, he offered me a stone to sit on, while he sat on the ground.  His name was Max, & he came from Morocco about 6 years ago.  He served in the army, & fought, like Bernard, at Faluja.  In fact, his home is in Beersheba, and he himself knows Bernard Zeidler, of whom, like myself, he had a high opinion.  Indeed, having lived there since it was taken from the Arabs (when, he said, it was in such a disgusting condition that nobody wanted to come & live there) he says he knows most of the people in Beersheba. But, although that is his home, he goes there only at weekends.  The rest of the time, he & his mates (I think he was the boss of this crew) sleep at Tel Yerucham, the dismal desert settlement where I spent one night with the Summer Institute, before we went to Sodom.  He was a very friendly man, & I spoke with him for some time.  The men had already had their lunch, but he took me to their shelter where there was much food left, & I was able to have quite a good meal of bread, tea, cucumber, green pepper, jam, and even, to my surprise, a piece of good cold meat.  Indeed, this was the first really wholesome meal I had had since the Salamons in Haifa took me to a splendid liver dinner at the Hotel Panorama (but I had had other good meat before, at their house.) 


Talking more with Max, who wore glasses & spoke with a slight American accent, because he had learned his English from Americans when he worked with them as a clerk (!) in Morocco, I learned that he had come to Israel solely to help in its war, and with the intention of returning home when it was over.  But one thing after another delayed his return, until he decided that he liked Israel enough to settle here.  He is not married, but has a girl-friend in Beersheba.  All his work outside the army has been on the roads in this country.  For 3 years he worked on the newly-opened road to Sodom.  The pay is good, but he says much of it goes on taxes etc.  The heat bothered him a great deal the first one or two years, but now he is completely acclimatized to it, though he says he drinks much water.


Not only Max, but his workmates were very hospitable towards me, & urged me to have more food etc.  I noticed that there were 2 rifles in the shelter, & a bullet-belt.  I was allowed to examine them.  It is rarely that I have held a rifle in my hands.  Max told me that only last night there had been an exchange of shots between the guard here & an Arab – but no one was hurt.


I never understood exactly what work was in progress on the road.  A better surface was being put on the dusty track, but apparently this is only the very beginning of the work, for it extended only a short way from the junction.  Max said something about an American plan to finance and build a great highway from Elat to Damascus, & said he had worked for 2 weeks with an American engineer engaged on the scheme – but I think this must as yet be only a distant plan.

Max gave me his address, & said he would like me to write to him from England.  The address is:  Max Kadoch, Beersheba Matz [with 3 Hebrew initials].


Shortly after my meal, the first vehicle came along the Elat road since the beginning of my wait – a large army lorry, carrying a load of food and soldiers – and I was taken on.  I obtained quite a comfortable seat on a soft bundle.  This was a most enjoyable ride.  Many of the soldiers had rifles and sten-guns, and again I was asked if I had any arms.  None of these men & boys spoke much English, but they were all very friendly, & offered me food like bread & cucumbers, which I had to refuse because I had only just had a good meal.


Our road from here was very poor & rough, & we sent up much dust, but the scenery was delightful, especially when we suddenly came to the end of the uplands, & looked out across the vast eerie expanse of the rift valley.  The road descending into the valley was I think the most steep and twisted that I have ever travelled on.  Indeed, I thought it almost incredible, the hairpin bends combined with the very steep slopes.  But we came down safely, and sped across the almost flat valley floor, where there were some trees & many small hillocks.  Among the food we were carrying was a tub of fish packed in ice.  The soldiers broke off pieces of this, and it was a real luxury to be able to suck this, & rub it on hands, face, & legs.


All too soon we reached our destination, a small army camp called Hatseva, from which begins the road down the valley to Elat. The time was probably not yet 4 PM, but, though I did not know it then, I was to travel no farther today.  The road to Elat is not nearly as popular a road as I expected it to be.  Indeed, it seems that the number of vehicles which go down to Elat can often be counted on the fingers of one hand.  Hatseva has another name, which I have forgotten.  A well or spring is located there, and there is a pipe from which water consistently flows.  There were several trees, including one or two quite old ones, much barbed wire, a canteen (café), and an infuriating number of flies.  Flies in my life have always been enemies.  I can hardly bear to have them crawling over my limbs & face, buzzing about my ears.  And I have rarely been to a place where there were so many flies as at Hatseva.  I just don’t know how people can get used to them.  At times I felt they were driving me mad.  There was no place I could shelter from them.


There was a sentry-box outside the camp, by the roadside, and the guard’s job was to record every vehicle going or coming – how many people it carried, etc., & also what weapons it had.  But it was hardly worthwhile my standing there, for I think it was already too late for anything to be going to Elat, and, in any case, almost every vehicle would first pay a call at the café.  So I went to the café, where several soldiers were sitting outside, & I found 2 men playing backgammon, who both came from Egypt & spoke English.  One was the camp’s doctor, whose parents came from Rumania.  The other was I think the Camp Commander.  It was a small camp, with probably well under 100 men, and no women.  It seemed that the people were changed quickly there, & not many stayed more than a few months.  I sat & talked with these men some time.  They were interested in my passport, & I realized for the first time that it is “signed” by the man. of all Britons, most hated by the Israelis – Ernest Bevin, who was Foreign Minister at the end of the Mandate period.


I knew that at Hatseva I would be able to eat & sleep, but the flies made my life a misery.  I could not even concentrate enough to write, & besides, I felt rather bored.  Things were cheap at the canteen, & I twice bought glasses of cold cocoa for 3 piastres (1 ½ pence) each.  I made a big mistake by not taking a lorry which was going, I was told, an hour’s ride south.  At the moment when I heard about it, I was not as disgusted with Hatseva as afterwards I became.  Eventually I resigned myself to staying here the night, and decided that the only way to escape the flies, at least temporarily, was to take a shower.  Showers were available, but the water was so hot from the sun that it was uncomfortable to stand under it for any length of time.


I was still not sure how I was going to sleep.  The English-speaking man had indicated to me a large sort of shelter built of reeds, where they said I could stay, but there was not even a bed or any blankets there, & they did not seem very concerned about me, though I had said I did not think I could sleep just on the ground.  Eventually I decided that only audacity would see me through, and so, when no one was about, I walked into the camp & found a folding bed outside one of the buildings.  I folded it up, & started walking with it boldly back to the shelter.  But unfortunately I was apprehended.  A man called after me, & I used my “no understand” technique with the usual success.  I carried the bed to the shelter (it is hard to describe this place – it was like a large empty building, but made of reeds, on a wooden framework, with gaps in between, so that it provided shade, but little else).  Here I set up my bed – but luck was not with me, for, when I later returned, I found it was gone – someone had taken it away.


To obtain any supper, I decided I must be equally bold.  I went right up to the dining-hall (past a little parade ground, where I saw a saluting group of soldiers taking down the flag) & on the way met a soldier who spoke English, & told him I wanted a meal.  He obtained permission for me from someone else, & I ate at the same table as the doctor & commander – again, a good meal.


Before this, when the sun was setting, I had climbed up a hillock just outside the camp to get a good view of the surrounding country.  Everything looked so strange that I could imagine myself on another planet – the flat valley floor, with its flat-topped trees & rounded little hills, the mountains going down on each side of the valley, into infinity.  Sunset turned the hills to pink.  The moon was almost full, & so bright that I could easily find my way about.  And at sunset, a miracle occurred – the flies, or most of them, went away, & a pleasant breeze arose.


But in the dining-hall, the commander said I had been seen on top of the hill, & I shouldn’t have gone there, because the area was mined.  But why had nobody tried to call me down?  Anyway, I hardly considered the danger I might have escaped.


I now learned that the commander (I believe his rank was really Captain, but he seemed to be in charge of the camp) was going to give a lecture this evening on the Bedouin Arabs.  I regretted that it was in Hebrew, so I could not come, but I discussed the Arabs with him, in whom I am interested.  He said the Arabs believe you should kiss the hand that rules you, but pray to God to break it.


Afterwards at the café there arrived a party of young people, boys & girls whom I learned were going tomorrow in their own vehicle to Elat.  Somehow it was arranged that I should go with them.  I am not sure what their organization was, but I think they came from a kibbutz.  Many of them, & of the other people in the camp, carried guns, even the girls.  This is the sort of thing that seems so strange to me that I discover I am asking myself  “What sort of a crazy country am I in?”  But it was even stranger when we all went into the dining-hall, sat on a circle of benches (the soldiers left their guns in a rack at the door) & watched a show of singing, dancing, & funny sketches performed by these people.  I didn’t understand it because it was all in Hebrew, but they seemed to be very good, & the soldiers enjoyed it.


By the time it was over, I was very tired, & wanted only to sleep.  It was arranged that I would sleep with them in the shelter.  But we had no beds, & lay down only on blankets on the hard ground.  I took off no clothes, not even my shoes, but in fact put my pajamas on as well, for I had fear of the cold desert night.  A French-speaking Israeli boy of the party seemed to have been put in charge of me, & I slept beside him.  For a pillow, I used my folded-up sheet.  I knew we would have to get up very early tomorrow morning, & wondered if I would get any sleep at all tonight.


Monday, August 24 1953. (Written Aug 25)

As far as travelling was concerned, this was almost a wasted day, for I went only 20 more kilometers on the road to Elat.  But things have been not wholly unpleasant for me.


Last night’s was my most uncomfortable “bed” for a long time, but fortunately this did not prevent me from sleeping, in the few hours at my disposal, although I woke up several times.  We got up at dawn, & I was still feeling very sleepy.  But a surprise was awaiting me. I had all the time taken it for granted that I would be travelling with this group with whom I was sleeping, in their vehicle, to Elat.  But now, after I had washed & packed, & was ready to board the vehicle, which I saw was very crowded, one of the young men told me bluntly that there was no room for me.  I was surprised, but at the same time not very sorry, for this was a large covered crowded lorry, & I wanted an open one, where there would be room for me to stand or sit in comfort on the long journey.  So, apart from asking weakly if he did not have even a little place, to which the answer was no, I did not argue with him.  But I did tell my French-speaking friend, whom I thought had arranged everything for me.  He seemed to think he could change the decision, but the next I saw of him, he was sitting in the lorry, shrugging his shoulders at me, as if  he had done all he could.  So I resigned myself to losing this lift, & was only sorry that it had caused me to miss so much sleep.

I went for a while & stood by the roadside sentry.  He was hospitable, & invited me to sit beside him in his box – but the flies were intolerable, & I had to keep walking about, when the sun tormented me.  At length I decided to go to the camp, & see if I could get any breakfast, for there was very little likelihood of any vehicle at all coming along the road.  But on the way to the dining-hall, I saw an empty canvas bed by the side of a building, & felt so tired that I lay right down and tried to sleep.  I did not get to sleep, & had only a short rest before a soldier got me up because he wanted to make the bed.  So I went on to the dining-hall, & there had a filling meal of bread, semolina pudding, coffee, etc., and afterwards returned to the sentry-box.  The measure of my misery can be judged by my exultation when, after I had been waiting some time, a small lorry came by & took me on.  It was going only 20 km, & I didn’t know where I would be put down, but I felt then that any place would be better than where I was.


So, off we rode down the flat desert valley, with distant mountains on either side, along the rough bumpy road.  I was put down at a place which I felt was paradise compared with what I had left behind.  For there were very few flies, and a pipe with water flowing freely just across the road.  I was at a place called Ein Yahov (which I later learned means the well, or spring, of hope.)  From the main road, a road led upwards on the right to a small settlement, where I knew that, if necessary, I would probably be able to obtain food and accommodation.  Thither was my vehicle going, but I stayed on the main road, at a bus-stop, where there was a small shade-shelter and an oil-can to sit on.  Across the road, there was some enclosed greener land, where some agriculture seemed to be going on.  (On the ride to this place, I saw several lonely groups of men working on the road).


Continuing now on Aug. 24)  I forgot to mention an interesting thing, that at Hatseva last night, whose other name is Ein Hatsur, I met a man who claimed that Malenkov, the present ruler of Russia was his cousin – a son, I think, of his father’s brother.  He spoke no English, so I could not verify this story –but he produced photographs of himself in Russian army uniform – and all the other soldiers there seemed to believe him.


So there I waited, at this strange bus-stop, reading a little of Homer’s Iliad, but soon I felt very sleepy, so I lay down on some thick cardboard that I had found there, & used my sheet as a pillow.  I almost fell asleep, but not quite.  No vehicle came along.  Eventually a man crossed the road from the apparent farm-fields, going towards the settlement.  He came past me, & I found he spoke English.  He told me that this settlement was a sort of agricultural research station, & invited me to come & see it.  So I walked up with  him, leaving my rucksack at the bus-stop (for, at a place like this, who would there be to disturb it?)  I learned that at this small settlement live only about 22 men, mostly soldiers, but there are 3 research agriculturalists, of whom this man, Mr. Ben-Zion, was the head.  I never understood exactly who does all the farm-work, but Mr. Ben-Zion showed me around the camp, which consisted of several tents & a few buildings, & told me many interesting things about it.  It is only 5 years old, but already they are growing some of their own food – tomatoes, potatoes, etc.  They grow a special type of grass which is used in the making of fine paper – and already some has been exported to England.  But for some reason, the research-station idea has not been very successful, & there are plans for converting the place into a kibbutz.  Mr. Ben-Zion acts also as a meteorologist, & this evening I went with him when he took readings from his instruments in their little outdoor box.  To my surprise, I saw that a swimming-pool was being built here.  The only animal present is one donkey, but there are wild deer, foxes, & hyenas about.  On the ride to Hatseva yesterday I saw some distant deer.


This Ein Yahov is a real desert outpost, but, although everyone goes about with guns, there is little Arab trouble.  Mr. Ben-Zion said that sometimes they can see in the night the lights of  smugglers on the border.  The place has some young date-palms, a lookout post, a flag-post, & some refrigerators.


After being shown round what was to become my night’s home, I returned to the main road, to see if I could get a lift.  Mr. Ben-Zion had already told me that, if I did not, I could eat & sleep at the settlement.  The soldiers at this place, like all the others I have seen in Israel, have little formal discipline.  Officers mix quite freely with the men, and I have never seen a salute given yet. 


At the bus-stop, I again lay down, and this time went very nearly to sleep, for only when a man came by & told me, did I realize that a vehicle was approaching.  It was a large lorry, & stopped for me, but it was not going right to Elat,  & the driver would not take me on.


At about 1:45 I went back up to the camp for lunch, & was given a good meal, which included green peas (the first time I have had them in Israel) and a piece of meat similar to yesterday’s, in the camp kitchen.  There I met a cheerful-looking soldier who has been in Israel many years, from Austria.  He spoke English, & in civilian life he is a reporter for a weekly sports magazine, so he was interested in English football, about which I could tell him very little.  His name was Zvee, a common name in Israel, though the most common are Biblical names like Avrahom (Abraham) and Yitzchak (Isaac.)  Everyone at this place was very friendly to me.  It must be rarely that they have a visitor.  I soon felt that I was among friends.  After lunch, I felt very full, & was taken to a room in one of the 2 large buildings, where 2 men were resting on beds, & invited to join them on a 3rd bed.  This I did, but the flies, although less than at Hatseva, were still troublesome.  All the time, I knew that, if I went back out to the road, I might get a lift – but I felt just too lazy to try.  So, after resting for a while, I went to the shower-house, & there had a warm-water shower.  Only after this did I go back to the road, but now it was too late.  On my way down, I spoke to the 2 men at the lookout tower, who told me that, while I had been away, 3 lorries had passed by on their way to Elat.  So I had missed my chance.  I went down anyway, read & rested some more, but not a thing came by.  After lunch, I should have returned directly to the road.


After some time more of lazy waiting, I returned to the settlement, and there my time passed pleasantly enough, talking with the young soldiers until supper-time.  Despite the isolation and depressing surroundings, all these men seemed remarkably cheerful.  They even sang at their meal, which was again quite a good one.  At sunset, I went out & sat by the new swimming-pool.  I was thrilled with the beauty of the landscape at this time of day, the sunset sky changing from yellow to red to brown, the bright moon rising above the hills, with a warm breeze blowing, and everything silent and still.  I felt that such a time of delight was worth days of suffering.


Incidentally, the thought has occurred to me many times that my rides in the desert, though their value to me is very great, would lose all their attraction if I had had to pay even a little for them.

I was surprised that no lights went on in the camp after it grew dark, and learned that the settlement’s generator had broken down a week ago. But there was an oil-lamp in Mr. Ben-Zion’s room, & he allowed me to share the light to write my diary.  I had already been allotted a bed in one of the tents.  I think this was the first time I had slept in a tent since last summer when I was with Brian at Huy in Belgium.


Afterwards I spoke with Mr. Ben-Zion and the camp commander, a young man from Iraq, about Israel and the future.  Mr. Ben-Zion surprised me when he said he thought the British had been right in their policy of restricted Jewish immigration, for mass immigration had been a catastrophe.  Now there were thousands of unemployed, and many people were leaving the country.  But he himself was happy here.


I went to bed at about 11 PM.  My bed had a mosquito net.


Tuesday, August 25, 1953  (written Aug. 26)

Today saw me at last to Elat, and ended with some unexpected good fortune. 

I slept well in my tent bed. It was a large tent, which I shared with 3 other men.  There was no bugle or anything to wake us up.  I got up about 7:30 AM & washed, but as I was still preparing for the day, I saw that a lorry had arrived at the settlement.  It occurred to me that it might be going in the direction of Elat, so I hastened my preparations and ran out to the lorry, just as it was about to depart.  It stopped for me, & I talked with one of the people inside, who said they were not going to Elat, but that 2 lorries which were, would soon be coming along the main road. They offered me a lift to the road, & I took it, standing on the running-board.  So I found myself back again at the all-too-familiar little bus-stop, but waiting this time with more hope.  But my biggest concern now was food.  I had unfortunately had no time to eat breakfast at Ein Yahov, & could not go back there for fear of missing my lorries.  But all the food I had with me was a loaf of bread, already 2 days old, which Bernard had bought for me, and a few small figs which a man had given me on the road to Beersheba.  Even water gave me concern, for my water-bottle was once more leaking.  I cannot understand this bottle, for sometimes it seems to leak considerably, & at other times not at all.  But it never leaks enough to cause me grave concern.  I now ate some of my bread with water. 


My position was very unfortunate, for I waited hours for today’s lift, & would have had all that time to go back & get some food – but there was always a chance that the lorries would arrive at any minute.  So I sat reading my “Iliad,” & sometimes lying on the ground.  At last my monotony was relieved by a group of cheerful soldiers, whom I already considered my friends, who came & sat by me, having apparently nothing better to do.  There was one from Bengazi in Libya, who was very impressed with my wide travels when I showed him my passport, which he had asked to see.  They were pleased to show me their rifles & sten guns, which I was interested in, but they never fired any bullets from them.  They played around with the bullets just like children, & gave me 2, from which they first removed the powder.  One soldier arranged a bullet in such a way that he could ignite it with a match.  The bullet just popped up into the air.  These soldiers were such a happy friendly crowd that I was almost sorry to leave them. 


The 2 lorries did not arrive until almost noon.  I was taken on the first one, a very large vehicle carrying a load of white material which I think was chalk, but I don’t know what use this could have.  Over the chalk, tarpaulins were spread, & there were already 13 passengers on board, who had probably got on at Beersheba.  They had tied up blankets to provide them with shade, but this I did not want.  I found my ideal spot at the right-hand front corner, where I could stand in the open & watch the desert go past.  Thus did I pass my final long ride to Elat.  At first I took off my shirt, & for much of the way I rode bare to the waist in the desert sun.  I stood up at the front practically all the time.  Our ride was well over 100 kilometers.  The road runs very close to the border of Jordan, & sometimes, according to my map, almost coincides with it – but between settlements we saw no living creatures, friend or foe.  And settlements were very few and far between, located where there were springs – small collections of wooden or metal buildings – sometime with apparent mining or quarrying going on nearby.  Since the Dead Sea is well below sea level, the journey to the Red Sea was uphill, but, apart from a few mountainous climbs, our road was very level all the way.  In fact the flat valley and distant rugged mountains and strong sun reminded me of some of my own surrealist drawings. We were hardly ever out of sight of some vegetation, & there were always trees in the valley, usually along the dry courses of streams, which probably flow only a few days in the year.  I would like to be there then to see them. 


This is not an original thought but a true one. (I read something like it in H.V. Morton’s “In the Steps of the Master” – that in such an awful place as this, one can feel what the Psalmist meant when he said “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  The mountains, with their jagged outlines, form a long corridor leading down to the Red Sea.


Among my fellow-travelers were a group of about 7 or  8 young people from France & Italy.  Some of them spoke good English, & they even talked to each other in English sometimes, but mostly in French.  I did not speak to them much during the ride, for they were at the back of the lorry, & I stood at the front.  But when we made a stop in the desert for lunch & everyone went down to sit in the shade of a tree, I hoped very much that they or somebody else would offer me some food., for I had already eaten all my fruit with bread, & was still hungry.  Fortunately they did, & I was pleased to share with them their bread, corned beef, salami, & some canned grapefruit.  This was quite a long halt that we made.


Once we stopped to get water at a tiny settlement.  They had a special water-cooling device there, in which water runs slowly down a zig-zag strip of canvas into a barrel.  This makes the water cool, but not, of course, cold.  I have seen a larger version of the same device at Elat.  But oh, for an arrangement of ice-water drinking-taps such as they have at Deganya Aleph!


The Red Sea does not suddenly come into full view as does the Sea of Galilee as one approaches Tiberias.  It is seen as a gradually widening strip which appears at first to be even above the level of the road.  Some of the men in the lorry got very excited when they saw it, & began shouting & singing, pointing out the Jordan town of Aqaba on the eastern shore, and the place where Elat would soon appear to the west.  But the valley does not change at all.  It runs right on into the sea.  We passed our last sentry post, and it was about 5:10 PM when we reached Elat, the southernmost settlement of Israel, (apart from some small fishing village that I have heard of), situated at the head of the arm of the Red Sea commonly known, I think, as the Gulf of Aqaba, but which Israel is trying to call the Gulf of Elat. 


Until 1949, when it was conquered by Israeli forces, Elat contained only one or two buildings, but now, by Negev standards, it is a large settlement, with many buildings, an army camp, a workers’ settlement, etc. Our lorry drove into the army camp, & there we alighted, beside the water-cooler.  I have heard that the water here contains magnesium.


Of course I was interested, as soon as we arrived, in where & how I was going to eat & sleep here.  But at the moment I was neither sleepy nor hungry, and was attracted at once by the beautiful blue Red Sea.  So I walked with my rucksack down to the empty shore, and found a perfect beach of small stones, with the water very calm.  Soon I was enjoying a refreshing swim.  When I came out, I talked with a soldier who had also been bathing, as afterwards I talked with many other people about where I could sleep and eat.  I felt sure that I must be able to get a free bed, and perhaps free meals, somewhere, if only I could contact the right people.  But this soldier had little to suggest.  There is no hotel open in Elat now.  There was one hotel, well-situated, near the shore, but it is under repair.  But of course I didn’t want a hotel anyway.  I now went up to the army camp, & was escorted by a man I met to a soldier in a tent who spoke English.  The soldier said it was impossible for me to stay in a military camp, nor could I eat there, nor could they lend me any blankets so that I could sleep on the beach, which many people suggested I do. 


I left this unhelpful soldier, & went to a nearby sort of workers’ restaurant, where food was being doled out to workmen.  I thought that if I spoke with enough people making it known that I wanted something to eat & had no money, somebody would help me.  My plan was successful, for, after several people had told me that I could not be allowed to eat there, an English-speaking man with whom I had before had a few words when I saw him reading a copy of George Orwell’s “1984,” offered to let me have his food, then he would go back & get a second portion.  This we did, & I sat at a table in the open by the water-cooler, on a box with some other men, one of whom was I think a near deaf-mute, who made peculiar noises & motions.  It was a filling meal. 


After I had finished, Yehuda got his meal, & I talked with him while he ate.  I learned that he has been many years in this country, & 2 or 3 at Elat, is unmarried, & works as a laborer here. Of course I asked him many questions about Elat & his life here.  Afterwards, when I had told him my entire tale of woe, he took me to his house, which was in the maabarat (temporary buildings) section of Elat, where he shared a room with 3 other men.  He had said he would lend me some blankets.  We talked some more, & watched the full moon rise over the mountains.  Elat at sunset & nightfall is even more beautiful than other places I have seen in Israel, with the water changing from blue to grey, then the moonlight shimmering on the sea, with the lights of Aqaba twinkling on the far shore.  This is how it appears from the little café by the beach, where I went from Yehudah’s house.  For he did not want me to take his blankets away, but to sleep there on them.  But I felt that, if I had to sleep out, the only place I wanted to do this was on the beach.  So I left him & went to the café, where I sat outside writing my diary, & expecting eventually to have to seek a spot on the beach, and make what bed I could out of my ground-sheet & sheet.  I bought a bottle of orange juice, & tried to make it last.  Things are in general naturally more expensive here than in the more populous parts of Israel.  Everything has to be brought by road or air.  Ice-cream is flown in.


Here at the café began an interesting adventure for me.  I heard some people speaking English, and went over to talk to them.  The man I spoke to was one with long brown hair, a rather hooked nose & blue eyes, whom later I learned was Dr. Bentore, a professor of archaeology or ancient Jewish history (?) at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  It took me a long time to understand what this group was, and before I did so, they had already invited me to come & have supper with them, and, since I had told them that I would have to sleep on the beach tonight, they said they might be able to arrange for some accommodation for me.  I could not at first understand why they were all speaking English, but with foreign accents.  But gradually I pieced together an incomplete picture of the group.  It consisted of about 10-15 people of whom 2 were women, 2 men were Americans, & all but the Americans were, I think, Israelis.  Talking mainly to one of the women, I learned that the 2 Americans were geologists, & were now on an official tour of the Negev, with Dr. Bentore as their leader.  But I never understood what everyone else was doing on this tour, apart from the drivers of their 2 vehicles, small army lorries.  They

carried all their own equipment, including food.  I would have eaten supper with them, but had

had a meal only a short while before, so I just had one of their bottles of orange juice.  Their tour was apparently lasting only a few days.  One of the geologists was I think named Jacob Freedman.  I talked a little with him and gathered, though this may be incorrect, that this brief tour was only a sort of introduction to the Negev, in preparation for a detailed survey of possible mineral deposits which the geologists were later to make.


At first it seemed that the party had plans to stay at the place here called Government House, a light, single-storied building (as is every other in Elat) which is evidently the administrative center, & we drove there in the 2 lorries.  I felt that I may have come into a tremendous piece of luck, & determined to stick with this party as long as possible.  Among their equipment, they carried a plentiful supply of rifles.  They spoke English in courtesy to the 2 Americans.  Perhaps most of the party had just “gone along for the ride.”


But at Government House, it seems there was room for only 4 people.  All the others would have to camp out.  But they had brought folding beds, and so we drove down to the beach.  Before setting up the beds, we all went for a moonlight swim in the sea.  This was one of the most impressive spots I had ever slept in, with the bright moon & all the stars overhead.  We set up the beds in a row in front of the lorries.  I slept in my clothes, with one blanket on me.


Wednesday, August 26, 1953  (written Aug. 27)

I think last night was the first I had slept completely in the open since my night on Capri last summer.  I slept quite well.  We got up at dawn, being awakened by one of the men blowing a long blast on the horn of one of the lorries.  Before dawn, I had felt a little cold, and had to pull my blanket tight around me.  (Continuing now on Aug. 28)  Land and water were beautiful in the early morning light.  (Henceforth, the fact that I have fallen tragically behind in my writing requires that I continue in note form.)  Packed up camp – drove back to Govt. House & there had wash & shower etc.  Back to café for breakfast of sardines, bread, jam, orange juice etc. 


The group were travelling into mtns today.  Dr. Bentore said I could go with, but they not returning to Elat, would drop me 40 km north.  I would have liked to go with them, but decided to stay in Elat.  Question always in my mind of how to return north.  Hoped, of course, for lift, preferably tomorrow.  I said goodbye to group, went to beach, swam, sunbathed, wrote.  Aqaba – British army camps there.  Story heard of Br. soldier who crossed border to Israel because tired of life there.  Was sent back there, & imprisoned.


Question of lunch – Went back to yesterday’s canteen, but told definitely by someone in authority that I could not eat there.  But given some bread. Went to police station – sent to Solel Boneh – kind of canteen like kibbutz chadar ohel.  Managed to get lunch for half price – half a pound (300 piastres, 2 shillings).  Good meal included meat & grapes.  At my table, met English-speaking man from Rangoon, Burmah – named Charlie Solomon.  Very friendly & helpful man, intends to go & live in England.  Later heard from him how he had got out of Israeli army after few months by pretending to be a drug addict.  Also met 18 yr. old boy Raffie Roth, son of former professor of Philosophy at Hebrew University, nephew of Cecil Roth, famous Jewish historian.  He now lives in England – goes to boarding-school (Whittingham Schl) in Brighton. Parents English.  Raffie back here on visit after 3 yrs. away.  Tramped to Elat.  Planning to leave today or tomorrow.


After lunch with Raffie – he treated me to gazoz – we saw lorry outside café.  He spoke to driver who said he was going to Beersheba at 5 AM tomorrow.  We decided to go with.  With Raffie, paid call at soldiers’ club, where he had been staying. He has “protectzia” (pull, influence) & gets free meals at Solel Boneh.  There saw Nahal group, whose performance I saw at Hatseva.


Raffie & I went for walk south along desolate coast-road.  Across the Gulf, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  I tried swim, but too rocky.  We returned.  Elat spread out over wide area.  Irritating walks, back & forth, up & down, between café, Post office, Maabara, etc. Supper at same place as lunch – another half Pound, which was this time full price.  Before this, when Raffie & I returned, we saw 2 lorries departing northwards.  Too late.  One of them, our promised one.  Driver had misled us.  I most disappointed & annoyed.


After supper, talked with Charlie Solomon & another man, a native Israeli, here for a few days as mechanic repairing engine.  They offered me place to sleep tonight, in one of maabara buildings.  There were 2 spare beds, so Raffie got the other.  Charlie a very likeable person, English his mother tongue – his job, to guard the settlement at night.  Walks about with rifle.


Thursday, August 27, 1953

My main problem today, to return north.  No vehicles going at all.  Should I take airplane at 2 PM – very expensive for me:  £2”10 sterling.  I would of course much like to go – great experience, but to Tel Aviv flight lasts only 1 hour.  Debated with myself all morning, finally decided to take plane – but arrived at air office too late – plane could take no more weight (though there were empty seats).  So must remain in Elat, at least till tomorrow.  Passed morning on beach, swimming, writing.  Since arriving at Elat, I have had shilshul (diarrhea) probably caused by water with magnesium in it (?)  Lunch at regular place.  Charlie had suggested I speak to manager about shortage of money.  I did.  Manager kind man – let me have lunch again for half price, & supper for nothing.  Again, meat for lunch, but no fruit this time.  Also ice water.


Lazed around during afternoon.  Talked with Raffie at our maabara residence.  Killed flies.  Raffie’s interesting impressions of England.  Says people there have nothing to strive for.  Raffie gave me his name & address in Haifa, invited me to visit him there, when he is on leave next month.  Lives in maabara.  I may go for interest. He treated me to ice-cream.  This evening, went to free open air film show – old American film, “The Way of All Flesh,” – the most sentimental film I have ever seen.  Emotion really laid on with a trowel.  Father of happy family goes to New York on mission of trust for bank, is deceived & robbed by a “confidence man,” but somehow believed to have been killed in defense of money.  Years pass.  Son becomes famous musician.  Father a near-tramp street laborer in New York, sees son at concert, goes back to old home town, sees own grave, & family happy in his memory, decides not to reveal himself, & trudges back into the snow of Xmas Eve.  The saddest ending I have ever seen to a film.


Still wondering how to return tomorrow.  Evidently no lorry leaving, so decide to take bus with Raffie & our mechanic friend at 6 AM tomorrow, though it too expensive.  Friend treated us to drinks.  Charlie believes in ghosts.


Friday, August 28, 1953

Today was my parents’ 21st wedding [anniversary].  2 days ago, I forgot to mention that I sent them a telegram from Elat. This was the 4th occasion on which I have sent such a message.  My previous anniversary telegrams came from France, U.S., and Spain.  This one from Elat, in which my message was simply “Mazeltov Junior,” cost me 87 piastres (about 3/6).


Also there were 2 things which in my haste I omitted in yesterday’s entry. One was that Dr. Bentore had a strange idiosyncrasy of hating fish at breakfast.  When he lent his pocket knife to be used on the table, he stipulated that it must not be put in the sardines.  One of the 2 women, however, made just this mistake, and Bentore, seeing it, seemed to become most angry.  He snatched away the knife, and ran right down to the sea to wash it.  Also I forgot to mention that I did not leave the party right after breakfast, but went back with them to the Government House, where a meeting had been arranged for them, & particularly for the 2 geologists, with some Elat official.  They asked him questions, & I picked up some interesting information about Elat.  There seem to be great opportunities for Elat as a port, mining town, & Negev center  -- but plans for its development are very long-term, & at present the Government is making only a small allowance to it.  At present, of course, the chief importance of Elat is strategic.  Its harbor has not seen a ship for 5 months.  Ships travelling to Elat are still not allowed to use the Suez Canal.  This official was asked what was the reason for the existence of Elat, & he made an interesting reply.  He said simply that, if Elat did not exist, the State of Israel would end at Beersheba, which is, to all intents & purposes quite true.  But one of the geologists seemed to know much more about Elat & Aqaba than the man who was answering the questions.  After this, we went to the little Elat museum, which occupies one room in Govt. House.  Here there was an interesting collection of coral, sea-animals, & shells etc.


I much regret that my 2 previous entries had to be so short.  Elat is a place I would like to re-visit in some years’ time, to see its development. 


By the time I went to bed last night, I had decided definitely that I would this morning take the bus to Beersheba.  Besides being very expensive for me (it cost 8 Israeli pounds – 32 shillings) and moreover inconvenient, since I had to be up at 5:15 AM to catch the bus at 6, it was a most ignominious way for me to return north, after having hitch-hiked all the way down. I regretted now more than I had done at the time that I had not been able to fly in the airplane yesterday.

But I was never really sure in my mind what I wanted to do.  The only really urgent reason I had had for returning north was that I wanted to speak to Sam Sherwin, the leader of the British Summer Institute group, before he & the group left Jerusalem for Haifa this morning to sail today on the “Jerusalem.” All I really wanted was to learn what reply Mr. Sobel had made to my letter to him about the postponement of my rail fare from Marseilles to London, which I wanted to cancel altogether, if possible.  But I had already written to Sam telling him that I might not return from Elat in time to see him, & asking him to leave all instructions etc. for me at the Jewish Agency Youth Department office.


Since I had not got a lift or taken the plane yesterday, it was now too late for me to see Sam, and as far as my business with him was concerned, I must just hope for the best.  So I could take my time about going to Jerusalem.  But still I did not want to spend the weekend in Elat, & when I left there today, I had no definite intentions. 


Getting up at 5:15 AM was hard for me today, but this is the time when usually the workers rise. Raffie Roth was also going on the bus, & so was the pig-faced but very likeable mechanic whom I had met in Elat 2 days ago.  We had free tea & bread at the canteen before leaving.  We caught the bus at 6 AM.  There was plenty of room on it.  How I hated to part with my 8 Pounds!  It was a long ride, & we didn’t reach Beersheba until about 12:15.  Our route was of course the same down which I had come to Elat.  But a ride in a bus is absolutely different from one in an open lorry, & the country looks not nearly so interesting.  The ride was very noisy, so that we could hardly speak to each other – and very bumpy.  For much of the time, I read my “Iliad.”  Before leaving Elat, we had said goodbye to Charlie Solomon, a most interesting man, who always went out of his way to help me.


On this journey, I never once felt hot or thirsty.  But much dirt came in through the open windows, & gave us all grey-looking hair.  We had a 65 minute stop at Hatseva, the place where I had stayed on Aug 23-24.


Today I have disliked myself more than usual for behaving like a “schnorrer,” always accepting things from people, but giving nothing in return.  As usual, though I still have plenty of money in my purse, I have convinced myself that I am really very poor, & that the money I spend is not mine, but is owed to my father.  Our mechanic friend treated Raffy & me to a meal at Hatseva, and it was a remarkably good meal, of mince-meat, beans & rice.  Meat, which I hardly saw in the north, I had every day in the Negev.  Raffie then treated us to lemonades.


Our bus & driver seemed to take easily the very difficult part of the road, where we climbed steeply up into the mountains.  Raffy pointed out to me Mount Hor, where Aaron is supposed to have died.  It was too noisy on the bus for us to speak much to each other.  (Continuing now on Aug 29th).  I looked up the reference in my Bible.  The bus picked up passengers at various settlements on the way, & by the time we reached Beersheba, we were almost full, though there was still room for me to lie stretched out on the back seat for the last few minutes.  It was good to come out on a black paved road, after hours of very bumpy riding’


(Yesterday Raffy told me about an Arab feast he had attended, at which he met a young Arab who had been working on a kibbutz in order to make enough money to buy a wife.)

At our arrival in Beersheba, and for a long time before & after, I was in a torment of indecision, & sometimes felt so unhappy about not being able to make up my mind that I wished I had gone back on the ship today with the English group.  For what, indeed, was the good of staying on, if I did not know what I wanted to do with myself in Israel?  Of course, I had many vague ideas, but no definite plans.  For today, there were many alternatives.  I could go with Raffy to the kibbutz called Hatserim 7 km from Beersheba where he was going, where I had almost gone on Aug. 22.  But he said there were many flies there – and, apart from the opportunity of free meals and accommodation, there was no particular reason why I wanted to go there.  I could stay in Beersheba at the home of my Romanian friend Bernard Zeidler, where I stayed on Aug. 22, but the day was still young, & I did not want to impose myself again upon Bernard.  Besides, I didn’t know how long he would be willing to pay for my meals. 


Then again, I could try to get to Tel Aviv, but there I had no certainties about where to stay.  Mr. Salomon has not yet moved into his flat; the Havatseletts have no room for me, & in any case I did not want to try their hospitality again so soon.  A boy I met at Deganya had given me his address in Givatazim, just outside Tel Aviv, but I did not even know if he would be home. My best chance was Mr. Bar-Levov, the soldier from South Africa who gave me a lift to Tel Aviv on August 18. When I last telephoned him on Aug. 20, he had invited me to come & see him when I returned from Elat, & I had said that that might be this weekend.  I still did not know if I could stay at his house, though. Then again, I could make for Jerusalem and get my affairs settled.  But where would I stay there?  My problems were increased by the fact that today was Friday, & in the evening the Sabbath would begin, when to seek lodgings or pay a surprise call on someone would be difficult & distasteful.


I said goodbye to Raffy & our mechanic friend, but still I did not know what to do.  My mind was changing from minute to minute.  I found, after buying a drink & bun, that a group of 6 or 8 people were waiting on the main road for northward lifts.  Bernard’s house was very nearby.  I did not expect to find him home, but called in, just to use his lavatory and sink, then left. The room where I had slept seemed to be being decorated, & the key was not in its usual place, under the paper on the window-sill, so, if I had intended to stay with Bernard, I might have been very disappointed.  I went back to where the people were waiting, & sat on a wall with them, writing my diary.  But there seemed to be little chance of a lift, & I grew despondent.  If I did not soon get a ride, it would be too late to make for Tel Aviv, & I might as well go after all to Hatserim, or else I could continue along the road north, and stay overnight at some kibbutz on the way.


I walked along the road to the point where the dusty road to Hatserim turned off.  Here I waited a while, feeling very much that my fate was a matter of pure chance.  I would take whatever  vehicle stopped for me, whether it was going to Hatserim or along the main road.  But soon I grew tired of waiting, and started to walk towards Hatserim.  But I did so not very willingly, and when, looking at my watch, I saw that it was only 2:20, I thought I might still have time to get to Tel Aviv before about 6:30, & so went back to the main road, determined to give myself 10 minutes there.  Thus was my fate determined.


One of the joys of hitch-hiking that I could never understand is how it is possible to walk past many people on a road waiting for lifts, all of whom will be able to signal first to drivers coming along, and yet get a lift yourself, before any of them.  Standing where I was, I thought my chances infinitesimal of getting a lift, but get one I did, on a lorry going to a road junction about 6 kilometers south of a kibbutz called Mishmar Hanegev.  Since I still did not expect to attain Tel Aviv, I thought I would spend the night at this kibbutz.  But, while walking towards it, I received another lift which took me past the Bedouin camp to beside a kibbutz called Safish, about 8 or 10 km north of Mishmar Hanegev. It now seemed that I had a fighting chance of making Tel Aviv, but a man & young woman had been waiting there already an hour.  The dark-complexioned woman told me a jeep had brought her here, but the driver at this point had remembered something he forgot in Beersheba, so he drove back, but she was expecting him to return.


(Incidentally, I should say something about the many different types of people one sees here in Israel.  There are complexions ranging from European white to very dark African brown.  I see very few people whom I think look really “Jewish.”  Many look positively Nordic.)


She came from Iraq, had just left the army, was working as a teacher in Beersheba, spoke English, & had a sister in London.  Soon after I came there, her jeep arrived.  It was apparently full, but I felt very sorry, because it was going right to Tel Aviv.  But then it seemed there was one free seat.  By all rights, the young man who was also waiting should have had it, for he had been waiting even longer than the woman.  But I had explained to the woman my anxiety to be in Tel Aviv before Shabbat began.  She now told this to the young man, & he very gallantly let me have the seat.  I hated to take it.  Such situations have rarely arisen in my hitch-hiking experience.  But I did take it, & shook his hand to show gratitude.  Of course I was now very glad as we drove on to Tel Aviv in the open jeep, for I knew I would now be in plenty of time.  It was good, after days in the desert, to see green fields again


But I still had many worries.  What if I could not stay at Mr. Ben Levov’s house?  What if he wasn’t even at home?  I was put down at the central bus station in Tel Aviv, and wanted first to find a telephone and call him up.  On our drive, the young woman treated me to a gazoz, because she thought I couldn’t afford one.  I didn’t like to accept, but she insisted, & it didn’t really matter because it was so cheap. But I gave a piaster (half penny) to a beggar who came up to me – which was unusual for me.


I have had so much irritation at the Tel Aviv bus station on different occasions that I am coming to hate the place.  My attempt to make a phone call was now just one long misery.  First I had to find a phone, then, when I saw it was an automatic type, I had to get a 5-piastre coin to put in.  All this took much time & trouble & then I had to dial the number & get the exchange, & having done this, I waited & waited for some answer.  In exasperation, I at length gave up & hung up, intending to go right to Mr. Bar-Levov’s house, but perhaps to try again from a telephone on the way. So I asked at the Information Office how to get to Louis Marshall Street, where Mr. Bar Levov’s house is. I was told to take a no. 4 to King George Avenue, then a no. 13.  I took the no. 4, which went down Allenby, then looked about for a telephone.  Most places were already closed fo Shabbat, but I found a café open in Tschernikovsky St., and there again telephoned.  This time I got through, but Mr. Bar-Levov was not at home, & I had to speak again to his wife, who told me that I could not come tonight because they were going out, but invited me to come tomorrow night.  This made it obvious that they did not intend me to stay there.  I therefore could not be sure that I would be able just to visit them tomorrow for supper, so said I would let them know.  After hanging up, I felt very unhappy.  I had come all the way to Tel Aviv from Elat, only to find that I had no place to eat or sleep.  But of course I am used to such situations, & was far from desperate.  I asked some of the café men if they could tell me where I could stay cheapest in Tel Aviv. One of them indicated a group of young people sitting at a table, & said they were all students & may be able to help me.  So I went over to them.  They were mostly boys, & some spoke good English.  They seemed to be holding a meeting of some kind – later I learned it had to do with some athletics organization.  They came from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem & the Haifa Technion.  I explained my position & said that I had very little money.  First they asked me to wait a while until they had finished their meeting.  Then they discussed my problem, and, to my surprise,  & almost horror, they decided that they were going to pay for me to stay at a hotel.  This suggestion was most repulsive to me, & I flatly refused.  I hate to receive money from anyone – but from students it seemed shameful.  But they were determined that I should accept.  They kept on & on at me, saying such things as that I could repay it by acting as their sort of “agent” in England.  I said I would be glad to do that anyway.  But gradually they weakened my resistance.  I wanted to just walk away, but they made me stay, & at last, most reluctantly, I gave in.  So one of them, named Shlomo Chon, whose address incidentally is 140 Nachlat, Benjamin Street, Tel Aviv, took me across the street to a hotel of the cheapest kind called the Victory Hotel, & here he booked me for 2 nights.  I was given a bed in a room with 2 other men, one an old bearded orthodox man.  Then Shlomo waited for me while I washed & changed my clothes, & he took me to his home for dinner.  He lives, of course, in a flat, in what I would call a poorer section of the city.  His family is not orthodox, but they had Sabbath candles on the table.


Shlomo was most hospitable to me. His mother was, of course, not expecting me, but produced a fine meat meal as if she had been.  She and her husband spoke no English.  Mr. Chon owns a small textile factory.  Shlomo is 25 years old.  He has just finished a 4-year Engineering course at the Haifa Technion.  He was a soldier, a young sergeant in the army all during Israel’s war, & he showed me many of his photographs of that time & his school days.  I learned much through talking to him.  Often he would show me a school group photograph, & point out his friends in it who were killed in the war.  He was himself once wounded by a mine.  He had been in Israel’s underground army long before the end of the Mandate. Although I don’t think I was very dirty, he seemed concerned about my cleanliness, or perhaps just my comfort.  Unasked, he gave me some polish to clean up my very dusty shoes.  After supper, he invited me to have a warm shower there, which I did.  His sister, who lives elsewhere, is expecting a baby any time now, & his parents went out to see her.  Shlomo walked me back part of the way to the hotel, & introduced me to a law student named Chaim whom he said would call for me at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.  Shlomo also gave me some fruit to take with me, mostly more of the delicious grapes which I had had at his flat.


Back at the hotel, I spoke for some time with Harry, the man in charge there, and an Englishman named Stanley Gaventa, who, as it happened, comes from Colindale, which is just near Edgware. He has been here 4 years, & works as a lorry driver, but still can’t speak Hebrew.  Harry spoke good English, & was an interesting man.  He comes from Germany, & during the war fought in the Russian army, but he says now he would like to go back to Germany, because people & conditions are good there.  He complained about his job, but still likes Israel, & I think he will stay here.  He is married, & has 2 children, but has to sleep at the hotel.  He was a very friendly man, & I liked him because I think he spoke honestly.  Stanley I also liked.  He heard me say I didn’t know where I was going to stay on Rosh Hashonah (the New Year festival).  He said by then he would be living in a flat here, & invited me to come & stay with him and an English friend of his.  I was very glad to accept.  That will be in about 10 days’ time.  I stayed up until about 1:30 writing my diary.


Saturday, August 29th, 1953 (written Aug. 30th)

This was Shabbat, & I spent it with a group of Israeli students.  They were all older than me, for everyone here has to serve in the army before going to university.


I slept well, & was up about 8:30.  Chaim (see yesterday) met me at 10 AM & took me to the flat of a friend of his named Yitzchak, at the second floor of no. 4, Shulamed St., near Dizengoff Square.  It was a pleasant flat, & people kept arriving during the morning.  It seemed they were holding a sort of party, spending the day together, & preparing their own meals.  I re-met Shlomo there, but most of the people I had not seen before.  I had breakfast in the kitchen with Yitzchak, & spent most of the time till lunch writing my diary & looking at books there, particularly a set of  the “Pictorial Encyclopedia of Israel,” which had many interesting photographs, especially of the war & terror here. It made me realize how little I have yet seen of this country.


Lunch was a gay affair, but unfortunately there was hardly anything I liked.  We had Arab bread & some sort of minced beans, salad & potatoes.  I do not at all like the taste of the water here in Tel Aviv.  After lunch, I played 2 games of chess with a boy who beat me very easily both times.  Backgammon seems to be a popular game here.


I have just discovered, on a map of the world, that Elat was the farthest south I have been in my life.  I had thought Los Angeles might be more southerly.


Many of these people I was with spoke English.  I talked with a boy named Joseph who went last year on a student exchange to work for 2 months in Yugoslavia, & said he had liked it very much.  But most people born in Israel have never been abroad, and I am getting used to hearing people say how much they would like to travel to Europe & America, but how difficult it is.


We went swimming in the afternoon, driving in a little car to a beach near the port of Tel Aviv. After bathing in the water, I lay down on my towel, & think I actually went to sleep for a while.  We came back to the flat, & all had showers.


Although it was really to see Mr. Bar-Levov that I had come to Tel Aviv (see yesterday) I now rather wished I could forget about him, for these students wanted me to come with them to the movies this evening, & I would have preferred to go.  But I had told Mrs. Bar-Levov that I would call back today, & so felt obliged to do so.  I called from a café, spoke to her husband, & asked him what time I should come.  He said 8:30, & I wondered if this meant before or after supper.  The students were going to have their supper after returning from the cinema, but first we had some canned fruit.  They invited me to come back there if I could, after my visit.  I did not expect to be able to do this, but, as it happened I was, & was glad of it, for my visit did not include supper.  Before leaving home, I had never drunk a cup of coffee, but since then I have had several, & today I actually had 2.  But I still do not like it, and it is only courteous necessity which makes me drink it


Mr. Shaul Bar-Levov, whose name, I have learned, was originally Saul Levinson, who comes from South Africa, & is an officer in the Israeli Regular Army, lives with his Israeli wife & 2 children in a flat at a place in the north of Tel Aviv Shicun Drom Afrika (“The South African Estate.)  This comprises about 6 blocks of flats inhabited by South Africans.  There were other guests there when I came, another young couple from South Africa who have been here only 4 ½ months. The man is a doctor, & they live at Sarafond, a large army camp.


This visit, though interesting, was not as enjoyable as I expected it to be.  I told these people a little about my journey to Elat & impressions of Israel, & listened to them discuss common friends & life in this country.  Mr B-L, after 6 years, feels very much at home here.  I was very glad that the Dr. & his wife left early, for it meant I could leave too, & perhaps be back at my friends’ house in time for supper, for  I was hungry, although there I had lemonade, coffee, & cake.  (The cake & biscuits in this country seem always of poor quality.)  So I left with them & took the bus back, arriving about 10 PM, at just the right time.  We had a mixed supper of salad, eggs, bread, tea etc, & it was now that I talked with Joseph & Shlomo. When I left, it was late.  Harry had told me the hotel closed at 12, & I had to wake him up to let me in.


Sunday, August 30, 1953

Today I have travelled from Tel Aviv to the kibbutz of Megiddo.  Since first I saw the Plain of Esdraelon, I wanted to visit the site of the ancient fortress at Megiddo.  On our Summer Institute tiyul, we saw it only from a distance.  Then, on my way to & from Deganya Aleph, I saw it again from the road.  I conceived the idea of returning & staying at the kibbutz Megiddo, close by.  So today I woke with the intention of journeying to this kibbutz.  But I did not get up until about 9:30, and many factors delayed my departure from Tel Aviv until this afternoon, so that often I gave up hope of reaching Megiddo.  But hitch-hiking is a great sport and game of chance, and once again success was mine, against many obstacles.


At my hotel this morning I spent a long time washing, packing, & writing.  I wrote a letter to Moshe Brilliant, the reporter on the Jerusalem Post, whom I still want to meet.  I did not see Stanley again, since the night of Aug. 28th but I still intend to stay with him for Rosh Hashonah.

Harry, the hotel maid-of-all-work , treated me very well, & asked me to contact some relations of his in East Ham London, & ask why they had not replied to his letters.  This does not sound a pleasant assignment, but I promised I would do it.


I sent my letter off from a Post Office, then went to a Misada Poalim (workers’ restaurant)  which Harry recommended me for cheapness.  I found it a very pleasant place, large & clean, & all the customers looked respectable.  In fact, it did not appear to be a workers’ restaurant at all.  There I had a large thick bowl of soup, & some bread which so filled me that I felt I needed nothing else, so I had a very cheap lunch.


When I was in America & Canada 2 years ago, a song called “Truly Truly Fair” was very popular there.  Last year I often heard the same song sung in English in Holland.  Now it seems to be a big hit in Israel, with entirely different Hebrew words, whose title means “That’s My Secret.”


Harry told me, to my surprise, that the kibbutzim of Israel are far more socialistic than the collective farms of Russia.  After my lunch, I took, after much queuing,  a bus no. 20 which Harry had recommended to me to go out of the town on the road to Petah Tikvah, where I must go in order to get onto the main road north.  I knew my route quite well, -- that I had to go up to Hadera, then turn off along the road across the mountains to Megiddo.


The bus took me along a road I knew, & I arrived at the place where I had done my first hitch-hiking in Israel.  Getting a lift now proved very difficult, & my hopes sank, although the road was full of traffic.  But eventually, after walking on to the top of a hill, I got a glad ride in the cab of a lorry to Petah Tikvah.  There I waited with a soldier who spoke a little French, until we were picked up in a car by a man who turned out to be the Mayor of Kefar Sava.  I told him I was interested in visiting the Berl Katznelson Institute there, because Leon Hornicker, my American friend, had presented some books to it -- & he said I should call at his office sometime, & he would show me some children’s institution.  But we did not get as far as Kefar Sava, because the car had a puncture.  But eventually I got a lift with more soldiers in a station wagon up the familiar road to Hadera.  I walked through Hadera, & waited with more soldiers until we got taken a few kilometers in an army lorry.  As usual, during the day I several times bought lemonade or ice-cream.


I now had quite a long wait, and, though I was standing with a soldier, there was so little traffic on the road that I did not expect in the 2 remaining hours of daylight to get a lift the 25 kms to Megidda.  So I decided to walk on & find some kibbutz to spend the night.  I could go to Ein Shemer, but I had already stayed there once, on my journey to Deganya, &, though I liked the place, I did not feel like going back, though I was now very close to it.  Instead, I decided to walk a few kms further, to the kibbutz of Ein Iron.  But on the way I was picked up by a small lorry of the type which I think are called tenders here, which take me to Megiddo.  There were six other passengers inside, including 2 women & the soldier  with whom I had waited before.


But, while riding through the mountains, which are inhabited only by Arabs, we came upon a place where there had been an accident.  2 lorries had collided, & part of the side of one had been carried away. In this latter lorry, which was covered, had been sitting some 6 servicemen, members, I think, of a band of air force entertainers.  There was wreckage in the roadway, & a group of Arabs & policemen were standing about.  I saw only one injured person – a man was lying by the side of the road, with a crowd around him.  There was blood around his mouth, but I could see no other signs of injury.  He was apparently unconscious, but made groaning noises from time to time.  We had to get out of our tender, which was used as an ambulance, to take him to Afula.  I examined the damaged vehicles.  In the Air Force lorry, there was some blood on the floor.  The Arabs were helpful, & provided water & aid.  It was all very unpleasant – but it did not delay me long, for I & the other people were soon picked up by another tender, which at last landed me at the crossroads of Megiddo  at 6:30 PM.


Since I had still an hour before sunset, I decided to pay a first visit to the great mound, before proceeding to the kibbutz.  So I walked along the road leading to it, & when I got to it, I tried to climb up a steep slope with my rucksack.  As usual, it prove a much more difficult climb than I had expected – but when I reached the top, I felt it well worth while, for there was a beautiful view over the plain.  So at Sunset I stood upon the ruins of Megiddo, looking out over the Plain of Esdraelon.  All about me lay stones and trenches, walls and holes, but I did not know what it all meant, & hoped that at the kibbutz I would find someone to come & explain everything to me.


Soon it was time for me to make my way to the kibbutz – but instead of going down by the way I came, I decided to go down the other side of the mound towards a road which led to the kibbutz.  But my descent was impeded by prickly plants, which were thick, & in some places quite tall.  Eventually however I reached the road and walked to the kibbutz.  There I was very lucky, for the first person I spoke to turned out to be an American – the only person from an English-speaking country on the kibbutz.  He was a boy of 23 named David Rothcup, who soon became my friend.  I went to have a shower with him, then he took me to his cabin, where I left my rucksack.  We then went & had supper at the dining-hall.  I learned that David came from San Francisco, California, & besides being here for about 2 years, he had spent 6 months touring around Europe.  After supper he obtained a bed for me in a pleasant cabin, & also for some reason moved into the same cabin himself.  Here, it seems, it is not unusual for boys & girls to sleep in the same cabin, & there was a girl in ours.  This is a Mapam kibbutz, of the organization called Hashomer Hazair.  Mapam is the left-wing political party, & I was surprised to find that David is an ardent socialist, a great supporter of Russia & the “Peoples’ Democracies,” though he does not claim to be a Communist.  It is rarely that I have had a chance to converse with people of his point of view, & I found, to my own surprise, that I was rather biased against it from the start.  But he certainly seems to have been well-fed with the “party line,” but is not a very clear thinker, & utters many of the traditional “catch phrases,” “peace” being one of the most frequent.  Still, he is a very friendly boy, & helped me much.  But unfortunately he, like everyone else here, knows very little about the Mound & the history of this region.


This is a young kibbutz, about 4 ½ years old, & has people from many countries, including Mexico, Lebanon, & Poland.  I decided to stay at least for the whole of tomorrow.


Hebrew is the common language of everyone in Israel – but I have heard that few people speak it well.  I still speak & understand hardly anything.  It is remarkable to think that, although everyone speaks Hebrew here, it is the native language of very few.


Monday, August 31, 1953  (Written Sept. 1)

I spent today at the kibbutz and mound of Megiddo.  This place has a beautiful position, overlooking the plain.  On the other side lie Hav Tavor and Givat Hamore, two separate mountains.  At night, one can see the lights of many settlements.


I slept this morning till about 9:15, then rushed to the dining hall for breakfast, where I again met David Rothcup, who invited me to come to the kibbutz nurseries with him.  This I did.  The kibbutz was founded right beside a ruined Arab village, and has made use of 1 or 2 of its buildings.  There are several such places near here.  There is a Lejun East & a Lejun West, named, as David tells me, after the camps of Roman legions which used to be there. We went through the orchards of this ruined village.  The kibbutz does not cultivate them, but there is still abundant fruit.  Then we crossed the small wadi which is now only a trickle because it has been dammed, & is used by the kibbutz to generate electricity.


The kibbutz itself is in the process of moving its location to a higher position, nearer the ancient site.  Some of the buildings have already been moved, so that the place is now in 2 parts, with a few hundred yards in between.  It was just today, in fact, that the Beit Yeladim (children’s house) in the new part was opened, & David & I paid a visit there, & saw the excited children having their first meal there at a little low table.  It was a pleasant building, with good facilities, divided into 2 sections for 2 different age-groups.  It will contain only about 8 or 10 children.  Children live very well on kibbutzim, & seem to be exceptionally well taken care of.


At the plant nurseries, I stood by while David, with bare feet in the mud, moved a long line of inter-locking aluminum pipes for shower-watering the plants, from one row of plants to the next.  He had of course to do it pipe by pipe.  These pipes are very good because of their lightness, and they fit together very simply.  After he had finished, the water was turned on, and the beautiful revolving sprays began.  But, as we walked away, the connection at the main pipe somehow blew off, & a great rush of water, like a geyser, began shooting up into the air.  David had, I think, forgotten to put the locking-pin in.  It was an interesting sight, but he soon turned off the water & re-made the connection.


Then we went down to the small dam, where David talked with 2 girl visitors who were sitting there.  From what he says, David seems to have girl-friends all over Europe.  It seems that many people on this kibbutz bring their relatives here for a few weeks in the summer for a holiday.


David then took me to a machine-shop, & introduced me to a man who has found many old coins there.  He said that after rain is the best time to go looking for them.  But I think few of his coins are more than about 1500 years old.


Later we saw a one-armed boy, and David told me that he had lost his arm only a month ago, when his hand was caught in some farm machine he was working.  He might have been killed, had he not had the presence of mind to pick up a rock from the ground with his free hand, and throw it into the machine to stop it.  Then he had to make his way to the road, where a man refused to give him a lift, because he did not want the inside of his car made dirty with blood.  So he walked on to the police station, where he first had to wait until permission had been obtained for a police lorry to take him to hospital.  Then the lorry broke down, and, with blood running freely from his mangled hand, he gave the driver advice on how to fix the engine.  At last it was fixed,& he was driven to hospital, where 3 amputations were required, and his arm was removed above the elbow. David says he was mad about driving & engines, & used to talk about them even in his sleep.  When he came back from hospital, his first day he drove a lorry about the kibbutz.  Now he will probably sent to the Technion in Haifa.


I am still not free of the shishul which attacked me in Elat.  But it is a mild form, and, so long as I visit the Beit Kisay 2 or 3 times a day, which is not usually inconvenient, I am not much troubled by it.


After lunch today, I spoke with a 25 year old boy named Tzvi Gortler, who comes from Poland, but lived during the war in Russia.  His English was poor, but he agreed to come up the mound with me.  So we climbed up together, but he knew very little about it.  He showed me however a large pit, at the bottom of which was a dark staircase leading far down into the earth.  We did not go down, but I learned later that, since there was no water in Megiddo, this staircase led to a secret tunnel whereby, in time of siege, the people could reach a spring beyond the town.


I knew that there was here a part called the Stables of Solomon, where King Solomon’s cavalry was stationed.  I think we saw this, but am not sure.  The ruins cover a large area, but only a part of the mound has been excavated.  David had lent me an English book of his called “The Archaeology of Palestine,” by Albright, but it did not contain much of interest about Megiddo.


Before going to the mound, I had climbed with Tzvi up a new water-tower whence we had an excellent view, and could see the characteristic “Tel” shape of the mound – a steep-sided hill with a large flat top.  I felt very tired, hungry, & thirsty when Tzvi & I returned to the dining-hall for tea.  I am always surprised at the number of cups of tea I can drink at a single meal. 


Then I watched David distributing Rosh Hashonah (Jewish New Year) cards to various members of the kibbutz, for them to send to their friends.  The cards had a very socialist message, wishing a year of building, immigration, & peace in the world.  David gave me 3, & I sent one to my family, & the others to my grandparents in England & Canada.


Afterwards we had a shower, then David took me to see a man named Joseph who knows much about ancient Megiddo, but who unfortunately spoke no English.  So David had to translate for him what he said.  It seems that the first settlement was made at Megiddo in about 4,000 B.C. by people who came up from Central Africa.  Unfortunately I didn’t learn much from Joseph, & I was impatient to leave, for I wanted to be on top of the water-tower at sunset.  Eventually I went up there with David.  The western sky becomes most beautiful after the sun has gone behind the hills, and it glows with a yellow light, merging into pink and blue. David is much more interested in talking about the modern kibbutz than about the ancient mound.  He pointed out to me the vineyards and orchards, & told me of the plans for their development and expansion.  Then he got talking about politics again.  He is surprisingly anti-American in his feelings, & says he would much rather live in Russia than America.  One cannot argue with him, because he is obviously not a very clear thinker.  He makes very free use of catch-phrases like “enslavement,” “imperialists,” etc.  We went back for supper, & after supper I sat in his room writing letters.  I wrote one to Brian, to whom I felt I owed one, having before sent him only a postcard –and one to my family.


Tuesday, September 1st, 1953

This has been rather a lazy day for me, in which I have accomplished little more than moving from one kibbutz to another.  I spent my morning at Megiddo, writing my diary, & stayed on for lunch there, of which one of the courses was surprisingly good:  matzo balls (“snowballs”) like Mummy makes, in a sort of meat soup.


Then after lunch I walked down to the main road, which goes in a straight line to Afula.  I had seen David Rothcup again several times before I left.  Near the Megiddo crossroads stands one of the characteristic square-built police fortresses constructed by the British.


One of the most pleasant things about my travelling is that I am completely independent.  I can change my plans in a second.  Right now I had decided to make for the kibbutz Beit Alpha, S.E. of Afula.  There were several reasons for my decision.  Shlomo in Tel Aviv, and David at Megiddo had recommended Beit Alpha because of a fine swimming place nearby.  Then too I had heard than an ancient synagogue had been discovered there, and I knew the kibbutz lay at the foot of Mount Gilboa which, because of its Biblical associations, I wanted to see & perhaps climb.  So I started along the road to Afula, and, instead of waiting at the crossroads for a lift, began to walk along it, across the Plain of Esdraelon.  The road is now lined with young eucalyptus trees which as yet provide hardly any shade.  But when I saw an older tree just off the road, I went & sat to read there for a while in its shade.  Then I returned to the road  & soon got a lorry-lift to Afula.  I was anxious to buy myself another diary, for this will soon be full, so, after buying an ice-cream & gazoz in Afula, I went to the “Pales” book-cum stationery shop.  None of the books they showed me were really satisfactory, but I felt compelled to buy one, & had to pay 6 shillings for it.  The quality is poor


Then I left Afula, & got a lift to the point where the road to Beit Alpha turns off the main Beit Shean road.  I had not been this way before, & was interested to see how many settlements there were, some looking quite attractive, with many trees. And now I could see Mount Gilboa, a great barren mountain mass, which was cursed by David, after Saul had died on it.  Eventually a lorry-lift took me to Beit Alpha, & here I had no difficulty in getting settled in.  For a young married woman named Yona, who has 2 young children & was on the lorry “took charge of me,” & arranged for me to have a bedroom, which is where I am writing now.  It is the best accommodation I had had on a kibbutz, for I have a whole comfortable room to myself.  All the good furniture, including the radios, in these cabins, was made on the kibbutz.  Yona showed me around the kibbutz.  Her English is not good.  With her husband & children, we went to the mossad, or high school, which is part of the kibbutz, but to which several surrounding kibbutzim send their children, where they work 1-3 hours in the day.  The dining-hall here is particularly fine.  Yona’s job has to do with the care of children, & she is interested in education.


There is a fine “cultural center here, & l spent some time in the reading room this evening.  This is a Mapam kibbutz, the oldest of the organization called Hashomer Hazair, to which Megiddo also belongs.  I was very hungry, but had a remarkably poor supper here this evening.  I do not like coffee in general, but the ersatz coffee here was positively foul.


People in general seem to live happy lives on kibbutzim.  I have not yet met a really discontented person on a kibbutz, but many in the army & the towns.  I have met many Moroccan soldiers who have told me they are waiting only for their army terms to finish, & then they will go home.


Wednesday, September 2, 1953

At Beit Alpha I had a good opportunity of observing young kibbutz children.  They seem remarkably self-assured, and I think they are in general very happy.  I have rarely heard a child crying on a kibbutz.  On all the kibbutzim I have visited, the children do not live with their parents, but eat & sleep & spend most of the day in special children’s houses.  But at the end of the day’s work, and all day on Shabbat, the parents can spend as much time as they like with their children.  There is much to be said for this system, since the parents, when with their children, are free from all other distractions, & can devote all their time & attention to them.


Yona yesterday where the ancient synagogue had been discovered at the kibbutz in 1928, when a pipe-trench was being dug.  Archaeologists had excavated, and found very interesting mosaics.  But the place was in a building now locked, & we could only look in through a window. Moreover, many of the best mosaics were now on loan to an exhibition in New York.


My rucksack, which has done me great service in many countries since I bought it second-hand at school in June 1950, is on this trip becoming considerably the worse for wear.  Important joints are coming apart, & I am worried that it will not hold together much longer.  My water-bottle, of which I was so proud when I first bought it last June, has proved a great disappointment.  Its slow leaking continues to trouble me, though the danger of wetting things is more vexatious than the small loss of water.  And now, rusty flakes are beginning to come out of it with the water.


This morning, Yona woke me at 7:30.  I had slept well in my pleasant room, & now, after washing at the tap outside, went to breakfast.  I had to say goodbye to Yona, since I would be leaving before she came off work.  Breakfast in the fairly large dining-hall was as poor a meal as supper yesterday had been, & I had to fill up on bread & butter.  To my regret, once again we had that atrocious coffee, which I could hardly stomach, but which I had to drink as the only liquid available to wash down my bread.  This, like Megiddo, was a Mapam kibbutz, & in the reading room of the fine cultural center yesterday I noticed many Russian propaganda magazines etc., though there were also some American magazines, including “Life,” and the “National Geographic.”


My primary object this morning was to go up Mount Gilboa.  The kibbutz lies just at the foot of this great gloomy mountain mass.  Of course I wanted to go to the top, but Yona warned me it would be dangerous to go high up because the Arab frontier lies just over the top of the mountain.  But I have become over-accustomed in Israel to being warned of dangers everywhere, and I was less worried about the Arabs than by the fact that, if I attempted the top, I might not get down again in time for lunch at the kibbutz.  Yona had told me that some months ago a man from the kibbutz had started up the mountain & been caught by Arabs.  But they had simply taken his wrist-watch & some other things, & let him go.  She said the Arabs had a fighting respect for Beit Alpha.  Bearing this story in mind, I left my wallet behind in my rucksack.  But I did in fact take my wrist-watch with me, because it was important for me to know the time.  Some weeks ago, my watch-strap broke, & I have ever since then been carrying the watch in my purse.


I also thought I ought to take with me my British Passport, since, if I should be taken by Arabs (which I could hardly conceive likely) it might prove advantageous to show them that I was a subject of a nation friendly to them – if they did not shoot me first.  But I did not take the passport, as I had no safe place to keep it. All I took was my water-bottle & pith helmet, which latter is also suffering damage, through being blown off my head so many times by the wind.  I filled my water-bottle  with the delightfully cold water obtainable at the usual taps adjoining the refrigeration building.


I started up the mountain by a vague prickly path which soon led onto a wider path, & this onto a road, though a very poor & steep road, which I could hardly imagine a car attempting.  As I climbed, I obtained a good view of the valley, with its many settlements.  Once I saw a snake slither  across the road in front of me, & of course there were always the lizards, big & small.


But this was not somehow a pleasant climb for me, I did not have the vigor & enthusiasm which usually accompany my great ascents.  I walked bare to the waist, but still felt hot. The leaking of my water-bottle annoyed and distressed me.  I felt often tired. But I went on until at length I decided that I did not want to go any further, & turned to descend.  This was a momentous decision for me, for it is very rarely that I thus abandon such an attempt.  As I came down, I told myself that it was perhaps a greater victory for me to have conquered the blind force driving me upward, than to have attained the summit – but can I thus really dispel the disgrace and ignominy of failing through weakness to reach a worthy goal?  So I came down from Mount Gilboa, where King Saul died – and this afternoon I headed for the place where his body & those of his sons were displayed on the ramparts – Beisan, now known as Beit Shean.


But first at Beit Alpha I rested & had lunch, which was a much better meal, & included some good thick pea soup.  At a kibbutz dining-table, it is not, I think, considered impolite to reach some distance for one’s food.  After lunch, & unfortunately only just when I was about to leave the kibbutz, I met an American boy who, like David at Megiddo, comes from California, this time from Los Angeles.  He seemed glad to see me, & urged me to stay, but I was determined to leave.


Several people had told me about a pleasant swimming place near Beit Alpha called the Sachneh, & it was to that I wanted first to go this afternoon.  (Continuing now Sept. 3)  Getting there proved more difficult than I had expected, for the place was some distance from the kibbutz, and the path which I took ended abruptly. I did quite a lot of walking today.  I had to go & ask my way of a tractor driver in a field.  He directed me to a road along which I walked with 2 little girls from the kibbutz, who were also going to the Sachneh, until we were picked up by a jeep which brought us right there.  I was surprised to find that one of the little girls was fluent both in Hebrew and French, since she came from Morocco.  Israel must surely be the most multi-lingual country in the world.  I saw stubble being burned in a field, with much fire & smoke.


The Sachneh was a delightful-looking little place, a natural oblong pool of blue fresh water, surrounded by rocks & greenery.  Some girls were swimming there, & I changed behind a bush.  I had been warned that the water was deep, & could be dangerous, but I never take chances where swimming is concerned.  It was pleasant to swim in the water, but 2 things annoyed me.  One was the many insects – flies, bees etc., around the pool.  The second was a very surprising disturbance.  There were many small fish in the water, & when I stood  still, they would gather about my feet & legs & become troublesomely ticklish.  I don’t know what they wanted of me, & the situation would have been amusing were it not so genuinely annoying.  In fact, these 2 unpleasantnesses shortened my stay, & I cannot understand why other people are not apparently as troubled by them as I am.

Leaving the Sachneh, my immediate destination was Beit Shean, but I had no definite plans, apart from a vague intention to go up north to Dan, and I did not know where I would be spending tonight – but it is a happy fact that in Israel, outside the towns, I need worry less about where I am going to sleep than in any other country I have visited.  Indeed, the kibbutzim here are ideal for me.  I try to arrive at a kibbutz about sunset, in time for the evening meal.  There are very few formalities, & I am rarely asked even for my passport.  If I can have breakfast next morning at the kibbutz, & take with me enough food to serve as lunch, it is possible for me to live without having to spend any money at all.  This really is almost too good to be true, & I am only lucky that not many people go about as I do.  Of course, it is infinitely better than staying in youth hostels, but I have heard that there are plans to begin youth hostels in this country.


So I started for Beit Shean, but I was on a secondary road, and had little chance of getting a lift.  It was about 7 kms to Beit Shean, & I expected to have to walk all the way.  But it was a pleasant road, lined with greenery, & I had something to read, a small guide-book to the north of Israel which I had acquired at Beit Alpha.  In this I read, as I walked, about Beit Shean, about which I knew nothing before, and was surprised to learn of the great historical importance of the place.  Its Biblical name was Beisan.


I grew tired of walking, &, after passing the kibbutz of Mir David & coming to one called Mensilot, I took a crowded bus which happened to come by just then, & the cost was very small.  So I arrived in Beit Shean, but for some reason it was a place I did not like, and I must confess that when I got there I was more interested in buying an ice-cream and lemonade, which I did, than in visiting the ancient monuments.  It is a former Arab town, still lying much in ruins, and its Jewish population seems now largely Eastern.  At a post office, I bought 2 air-mail letters.  I had a look at a miserable little public garden where there was a fountain and some old Hellenistic columns & capitals.  But the only thing I really wanted to see in Beit Shean, at least from a distance, was the great Tel, or hill, of the ancient town.  I was surprised at first that I could not immediately see it, but it turned out that the top of the Tel is at about the same level as the present town, with a deep valley running in between. I had only to go a short way off the main street to arrive at a place beside a small maabara, where I had a fine view of the Tel, a very large mound, with the usual steep sides & flat top, the top partly cut away by archaeologists.  It was a strange & magnificent sight – but I had no time to go up the mound, & anyway the guide-book said that the climb was hardly worthwhile.


So I walked out of Beit Sean, on the road which goes north to the Sea of Galilee.  It was a downhill road, and now new scenery appeared before me – the Jordan Valley, with mountains on either side, & an irregular wide valley floor.  I saw palm trees & ruined buildings. (How distressing it is to see all these ruins everywhere!)  The border between Israel & the Kingdom of Jordan follows the River Jordan.  I could not see the river.  I walked on to a road junction, & there sat alone, waiting for a lift & reading my “Iliad.”  It began to grow late, & there seemed little chance of my getting a lift.  I was in sight of a kibbutz called on my map Hermonim., but whose more common name is Hamadya.  Here I decided I would if necessary spend the night.  Eventually a lorry stopped for me, but it was going only to this kibbutz.  I got in, intending to go right to the kibbutz, & there seek my night’s admission.  But a woman in the lorry thought I still had a chance of getting another lift. So she advised me to stand on the main road & try for a lift until it grew dark.  So they deposited me on the road outside the kibbutz, & there I sat & waited & read.  I did not expect to get a lift, & as time went on, I did not want to get one, for I was content to remain where I was for the night.  But I signaled every vehicle, though without success.  So, when day was fading, & there came into the western sky that lovely yellow glow which is the sun’s farewell to the world, I walked up the dusty little road to Kibbutz Hamadya.  It is needless for me to go into the details of how I get settled in on each new kibbutz.  The general pattern is the same, & I am only surprised how easy it is every time.  I simply have to speak to someone to tell them that I am a student from England & would like to spend the night there, & I am immediately taken care of, either by that person or by someone else.  I am given a bed in a cabin, shown where to have a shower, taken to eat supper, etc.  This time I had a room with several beds, but I was the only person there. I was shown to the room by an American girl named Michie from New York, who has been here 5 years.  The shower-house was a brand-new building in the same style as the one I so much admired at Ein Shemer, when I stayed there on my journey to Deganya Aleph.  But when I went to have a shower, I found that there was no water, except a small flow from a low pipe, which considerably detracted from my pleasure.


I learned that Hamadya is 10 or 11 years old, & had a hard early history, & once changed its site.  It is connected with an organization known in England as Habonim, & 2 of the members are at present at a Habonim summer camp in England.  It seems to be a progressive place.  A new dining-hall is about finished.  Sheep are raised, mainly for the milk. (We had milk for supper, but I think it was cow’s milk.)  After supper, an American boy & a pretty sabra girl came & talked to me in my room.  The boy was 21, had been in Israel about 2 ½ years, & was at present serving his army term in the branch known as Nachal, which includes agricultural service, which he is doing here.  I had a discussion with him about Israel & its connection with world Jewry, but, though he talked much about them, he seemed to have a very vague conception of the ideas of nationality, statehood, & religion.


Thursday, September 3rd, 1953

Today my destination was Dan.  There were many periods in the day when I felt sure that I would not get there by this evening, but luck was with me, and, by persevering, I attained my goal.


I slept until 9 AM at Hamadya, & as usual, I had to hurry in order to get breakfast.  Only after breakfast could I have my shower etc.  So my day had a late start, & it was not until about 11 AM that I left the kibbutz & descended to the main road.  It was very hot today, especially in this region below sea-level, but, as usual, insects bothered me much more than the heat.  Often when I am sitting by the side of a road, my main occupation is swatting flies on my arms & legs, usually with my folded map.  I did not walk on, because there was little traffic, & if I did not get a lift, I wanted to return to the kibbutz for lunch.  At noon, something happened to augment this plan.  For a lorry-driver going to the kibbutz told me that at 12:30 , he would be able to take me north as far as Gesher.  So I rode up with him to the kibbutz, & there had lunch.  Afterwards, we drove along the wide Jordan Valley to Gesher, which is a kibbutz.  One sees many disused railways in Israel.  The line which went by the side of our road was, so the driver told me, built by the Turks.  It seemed to be of a very narrow gauge.  I regretted that I was riding in the cab instead of on the back, but this was not a very long ride.  The possibility of my reaching Dan today seemed so remote that I hardly thought about it.  Indeed, with the little traffic on the road, I wondered if I might not have to stay the night at Gesher.  But soon I was picked up by a jeep, which took me on an interesting ride to a point on the road between the large settlements of Ashdod Ya’acov and Afiqim.  On this ride, we took a new road through the hills, not shown on my map.  This was a detour which avoided the disputed section near the Naharayim hydro-electic station on the border.  This station is now, I believe, going to waste, being unused by either side.  The hills ride gave us good views of the Jordan valley, and of the rich green settled country at the southern end of Lake Kinneret – the Sea of Galilee, which I now saw for the first time since I left Deganya Aleph some weeks ago.  At the point where we crossed the Jordan, the river had been diverted from its old course, and now flowed along a sloping stone-sided man-made channel.


The road from Ashdod Ya’acov to the lake runs very straight.  I began to walk along it, but soon received a very good lift.  (Continuing now on Sept. 4).  It was in a comfortable American-made army car, driven by a rather podgy army officer.  At first I thought he was going only to Tiberias, but then he said he could take me as far as Rosh Pina.  This was a large lump of my journey (about a third) and was a very fine ride, but again I regretted that I was not in the open.  We went at a good speed, and made just one short stop in Tiberias.  It was the first time I had ridden along this lake-shore road since I was there with the Summer Institute.  It was most beautiful, & I saw things this time which I had failed to observe before, especially the little settlement & hot baths resort south of Tiberias.  The green-ness of the lake-shore vegetation is really beautiful.  Tiberias itself looked very fine, glittering white upon the hillside. When I had first been there, I had thought of it only as a place where the Summer Institute was staying.  But now I saw it from a completely different point of view, & thought that I would like to come & spend a whole holiday there.


We drove right on around the eastern side of the lake, & memories of the recent past came back to me when I saw the place where I use to climb down & up from our Hotel Genessareth to the sea, the place where I began my walk with Elana Fink to Capernaum, & the mountain I climbed to reach Arbel.  Then our road wound up into the bleak mountains.  From Afiqim onwards, none of my route today was completely new to me, since we had covered it all on our S.I. Galilee tiyul.  But my situation was now so different that often I felt I was seeing things for the first time.


I got out, with a soldier who was also being given a lift, at the point where a road to Safed turned off to the left.  Here there was a Police station, a bus station, & a maabara.  Also there were many soldiers and their vehicles about, apparently on maneuvers.  After having my daily ice-cream & gazoz, I walked out along a road lined with large shady eucalyptus trees, to where a road turned off leading to the kibbutz of Mahamayim.  Here I sat on a stone & waited, wondering now if this kibbutz would be my night’s home.


But luck was still with me, & I was picked up by a lorry.  The driver spoke English.  He told me the name of the place he was going to, & asked if I knew it.  To save time, I said yes, though I did not.  So I got on the back, & only hoped it would be a kibbutz, or near one.  But it turned out to be a place I had visited before, though I had not realized then that it was on the main road.  On our tiyul, we had paid a visit to a place near Lake Huleh, where work on the drainage of the Lake is in progress and a pumping station is being built in the mountain-side.  Here it was that my lorry stopped.  It was rather a disappointing spot, for there were only workmen and a few huts about, & I saw little chance of eating & sleeping comfortably here, if I failed to get any further.

But, after some wait, I was taken on, on the back of a small lorry.  I made a mistake here, & told the driver, who spoke a little English, that I just wanted to go to a kibbutz, any kibbutz.  So, although he was going further, he put me down on the main road, where a road branched off on the left into the mountains, and told me that thither, about 4 kms away, lay the kibbutz of Yiftah, to which I could walk or try to get a lift.  This I knew, & had indeed more than once contemplated visiting Yiftah, for it was one of the kibbutzim to which a group went from the Summer Institute, and its position would probably provide a splendid view of the valley.


But now, within a few minutes, I received what was perhaps the decisive lift of the day, an army lorry, carrying food, drinks, & soldiers to Tel Hai, which put me down at the beginning of the secondary road on the right, at whose end lay Dan. We were travelling now through the northernmost region of Israel, up to where the Jordan Valley begins, past the swamps of Hula & through Quiryat Shemona, where there is a large maabara of silver-colored corrugated metal huts in regular rows.  I had become quite hungry, & the trays of cakes which the lorry was carrying looked very tempting.



Dan tonight assumed a definite form.  But still I was not confident.  The distance was about 9 or 10 kms, much too far for me to walk before darkness.

I must hope to get a lift, but I set off walking bravely.  There were plenty of other settlements for me to stay at, if I did not get as far as Dan.  I walked through a ruined Arab village, and then did get a lift on a lorry.  Happily I rode, & was glad to see lush greenery & many little streams, sources of the River Jordan.  I was put down by one of these streams, a short distance before the kibbutz of Dafna, & before proceeding I went & had a drink from its cool fresh water.  Then on I walked, to Dafna, & there a jeep picked me up & took me the last kilometer or so.  So I had arrived at Dan, the Biblical northern limit of the country.  Before I leave Israel, I hope to go to Beersheba on my way to the Dead Sea, so that I may then say that I have travelled “From Dan even unto Beershebal.”


At the kibbutz, I was welcomed very warmly by several boys who spoke English, & was first taken into supper, whose most attractive feature for me was an abundance of apples, very good & sweet ones.  I have hardly ever had apples in Israel.  This kibbutz is 15 years old, and, like Megiddo, is a Mapam kibbutz of the organization called Hashomer Hatzair, which means  The Young Watchman.  It seems to be prosperous, & of course has an abundance of water.  The Jordan River water is very good to drink.


After supper, a very tall blond boy name Reuven took me to his room.  His English is fairly good.  He explained that he is with a group of about 30 17 yr olds who have been here just a few weeks, & will remain until early next year, when they go in the army.  They all come from Haifa, & are mostly Sabras.  It is hard to believe Reuven is only 17, for he is much taller than I.  He says his rapid growth gave rise to some defect in his spine which forbids heavy work involving lifting & back-bending etc. So he here has the job of shepherd.  I told him I had heard much in poetry etc. about the romantic life of the shepherd with his flock, but he was quick to assure me that this romance was purely fictitious.   I talked with several members of Reuven’s group, including a girl who is soon coming to visit relatives in England, who live in Barnet, which is not far from Edgware.  In fact, she says she will be leaving in 2 or 3 weeks time, and, though she does not know, it is possible that she will be on my ship, the Artza, which sails on Sept. 22.


Reuven had some difficulty in getting me accommodated, & I had to follow him about from place to place.  But eventually I was fixed up in what seems to be a guest-room, for there are 4 beds, but I am the only one here.


Friday, September 4th, 1953.

I spent today at the kibbutz of Dan, but have been wondering much today about what I should do tomorrow.  Tomorrow is Shabbat, when travelling will probably be difficult, but, if I am going to spend Rosh Hashonah with Stanley Gaventa in Tel Aviv (and I am not sure now whether I really want to) I am supposed to be there on September 8.  But the more I read of my guide-book, the more I want to see & do in Israel.  I feel now that I particularly want to climb Mount Tavore and spend a night with the monks on top, and also to visit the Crusader castle of Montfort.  Many people have recommended to me the mountain country of northern Galilee as the most beautiful in Israel, but as yet I have seen very little of it.  But now I have less that 3 weeks remaining to me in Israel, & I have yet to swim in the Dead Sea, & also, most important, I must go to Jerusalem & settle my affairs there.  Also, Charlie Solomon, whom I met in Elat, invited me to visit him at his maabara home in Haifa now that he is on leave, which I would like to do – but I don’t see how I can accomplish all these things.


I had asked the boys in the cabin adjoining mine to wake me up if I was asleep this morning, & they got me up at 7:50.  Before doing anything else, I sewed up a bad tear in the back of my khaki shirt, which had prevented me from wearing it for some time.  Then I washed it at a tap outside, & went to breakfast, but there was little that I liked.  Lunch was a not much better meal, but supper was quite good, with fried fish & potatoes, strudel & some very good grapes.  The tea here has a strong distinctive flavor which I don’t much like.


I had arranged yesterday to meet Reuven at 10:30 AM at the dining-hall, so that he could take me to the Tel, & this I did.  Reuven has to get up at 5 AM to take the sheep out, so he was just coming off work now.  The country around Dan is delightfully green and beautiful.  To the west lie the huge foothills of Mount Hermon, whose summit cannot be seen from here.  Dan is very close to the Syrian border on the north and west.  Tel el Kadi is the site of the ancient city of Dan, a typical mound with steep sides & large flat top – but not nearly so imposing as those of Megiddo and Beit Shean.  Nor has it yet at all been excavated.  Reuven & I walked there through a gap in a barbed wire fence, past the orchards & vineyards of the kibbutz.  Here there flows down from the tel a pleasant little stream, swift and cool, which is a source of the River Jordan.  At one point there is a spot which many tourists visit, where large trees provide shade, & a board-bridge crosses the stream.  It was hither that I came with the Summer Institute tiyul when one day we came & ate our sandwich lunches by the side of the stream.  But I had not then gone up the tel, nor had it even been explained to us that this was the mound of Dan.


Now Reuven showed me some old Arab tombs, & we came to a place where the Syrian border went right across the river, & there was much barbed wire about, & signs warning of mines.  But still it was a pleasant spot, with 2 rocky streams flowing.  The sound of rushing water is one I have rarely heard in Israel, & it is a delight to the ears.  Here too we saw a man-made dam & waterfall of small size, connected with some hydro-electric project. All this area was quite well-kept, with good paths.  Reuven then took me up on top of the Tel, whence we could see extensively down the broad valley.  But there was nothing of interest on the Tel itself, where Reuven says he brings his sheep to graze, except piles of stones around some of the trees.  I drank much from the stream, & on our way back to the kibbutz for lunch we picked some figs.


After lunch, I went to my room , &, feeling tired, lay down on my bed.  I felt very content, for there were no flies or insects in the room, & a pleasant breeze was blowing through.  I fell asleep, &, with short half-awake intervals, slept until 4:15.  Late in the afternoon I went by myself back to the stream where I had been with Reuven, & sat there reading my guide book.  I still have not decided what I will do tomorrow, whether I will stay or go.


I have become a sort of worshipper of sunsets.  In England, I always disliked the end of day, & felt sad at the close.  But here I look forward to sunset & after, when the sky is most beautiful, more beautiful, I often feel, than any painter could depict – and the air is most pleasant.  I wish then only to be in some pleasant outdoor spot, where fully I can contemplate its beauty. It is over 2 months now since I left home, but I know that to return to my old life of home & college will only plunge me into old miseries.  Yet there is no escape.  Freedom is something which, living such a life as now I am, I take for granted, and do not continually rejoice in it.  But when I lose it, as lose it I shall in a few short weeks, I know how much I will regret its loss.


Really, in my life at present there are remarkably few problems.  My health is good, & I am spending next to no money.  One of my little difficulties is that of clean clothes.  Since it is very difficult & expensive for me to get things laundered, I must make them “last” as long as possible.  So I have to wear my shorts & socks & underwear until I myself hate the sight of them.  But I try always to keep something clean in reserve.  I find myself envying the people on kibbutzim who, after work & a shower, always have something fresh & clean to change into.  Indeed, as regards the condition of their clothing, kibbutz people, including the children, are always very well-dressed.


This is a kibbutz of Mapam, the political party much more leftist than the Socialist Party in England.  But I do not much notice this.  Mapam stands for peace in the world, and friendship with Russia.  Reuven, who is 17, is not much interested in politics.  He says he thinks the only difference between Mapam & communism is that communism is anti-Zionist.  But I feel sure that this is very incorrect.


I had a shower & had supper with Reuven this evening.  His legs are very long, & he looks rather funny in shorts.  I think he has outgrown his strength, for he is thin.  He is blond, & looks much more German (his parents came from Germany) than Jewish.  After supper, I went with him to a meeting of young people who were discussing a production of a play about the South African color problem, quite well-known as a book, play, & film  called “Cry, the Beloved Country.”  They had of course seen it in Hebrew, &, since their discussion was in Hebrew, I understood nothing, & spent most of my time reading my “Iliad.”  But I have been impressed by the self-confidence of Sabra youth, & they all seem to be able to express themselves in speech without any hesitation.


Saturday, September 5, 1953

A month from today, my college term begins – but I look forward to this with less gladness than ever I returned to school.  --  I forgot to mention that on my first night in Dan, I visited the kibbutz library, a small room full of books, mostly in Hebrew, with an adjacent reading- room of newspapers & magazines, including the usual Russian propaganda literature.  (Reuven, incidentally, told me he was reading his first Russian novel, in a Hebew translation, called “The Harvest.”  Russian books are ridiculously cheap in this country.  A large proportion are propaganda, but there are also obtainable scientific text-books, etc.)  One of these propaganda [publications]  contained an illustration which much amused & interested me.  To depict the misery of life in capitalist America, it showed 2 little boys crawling about a garbage can, in search of food.  But the boys’ clothes did not look so poor & ragged as their condition would suggest.


I was woken up about 8:15 this morning, after another good night’s sleep.  I now rarely have any difficulty in getting to sleep at night.  When I awoke, the decision was clear in my mind that had troubled me yesterday.  I would definitely leave Dan today, & probably try to get to the kibbutz of Sosa in the mountains of Galilee, on what is said to be the most beautiful road in Israel.  But today was Shabbat, & Sosa lay on a side-road, so I doubted whether I would reach it, & wondered  moreover whether I should not instead head directly for Haifa  or Jerusalem.  But Sosa was an American kibbutz, & I felt I wanted to visit it.


I have had much trouble today with my rucksack & its contents.  It seems that somehow rodents or some gnawing insects got inside, I do not know how.  Yesterday I found that part of the side of a box of unused film, that I had in one of the side pockets had been eaten away, plus the silver paper around the film.  Today I saw that some of the newspaper wrapped around my new diary was eaten, & some of the fragments, along with little black pellets of mouse (?) waste lay inside the rucksack.  Also an apple, right at the bottom, underneath all my clothes, had been gnawed.  When looking through the rucksack, I was afraid that I might come upon the animal(s) (?) themselves, which had done the damage.  But fortunately I did not, and they had done no worse harm.  But this was not the end of my troubles.  Some time ago I found a tube of green toothpaste, which I thought I might use when my own was exhausted.  I put it in a side pocket of my rucksack.  But now I found that the tube had burst & spread its contents over my camera, bullets (which the Negev soldiers had given me) and cutlery set.  All this required much unpleasant cleaning-up. 


But there was more hardship yet.  For today, one of the principal joints of my rucksack, where the top of the case is held to the metal frame by a leather socket, which had been weakening for some time, finally came apart.  I could still carry the rucksack on my back, but it was considerably more awkward.  At length, however, I discovered means of repairing the situation, at least temporarily.


All these setbacks delayed me considerably, & it was not until near 11 AM that I set out from Dan.  Reuven was away, so I asked someone to say goodbye to him for me.  Dan has some really beautiful lawns and gardens which, with their fountains playing and a background of mountains are a wonderful sight.


There was one other trouble with my rucksack:  for a long time now, my water-bottle has been subject to a slight but continuous leak.  This makes the bottom of the pocket in my rucksack where I keep it, always wet.  When I set the rucksack down on some earth, the wetness reacts with the dirt to form a patch of sticky mud at one corner of the rucksack.  This mud has several times dirtied me & the vehicles in which I have ridden.


Today I had many lifts, & did succeed in reaching my destination, though there was often much walking & waiting in between.  2 lifts & some walking brought me back across the lovely well-watered landscape, where there were many trees.  The second of these lifts was a good one, & took me down the main road to a point where a road branches off up into the hills to the right.  This was the secondary road which led eventually to Sosa, & I alighted at the same point where I had waited going in the opposite direction 2 days ago, where I had contemplated going to Yiftah. (Continuing now on Sept. 6).  From here I was given a lift in a water-van just up the mountain to beside a square concrete  police station overlooking the valley – a fine view.  Then an open police-truck picked me up.  This was a most enjoyable ride, & I sang to myself all the way, sitting on a bench in the back. The road was poorly paved.  It ran very close to, & sometimes right along, the Lebanese border.  The country was hilly & open.  Often I saw small round pill-boxes, built by the British when they feared a German invasion in the last world war.  But there was little else to be seen.


When we came to the first settlement, a kibbutz called on my map Malikiya but which I think has another name, the police man put me down.  He was going farther along the road, but for some reason he did not want to take me, & said something about Arabs.  I have heard, however, that the Lebanese are the least dangerous & hostile of Israel’s neighbors.


Now that I was at this kibbutz, &feeling hungry (it was about 1:20 PM) I decided to try something I had not done before – go there & ask just for a meal.  I was completely successful.  Was taken at once by a man to the dining-hall, & there had a good lunch.  Nobody there spoke much English, but a man at my table named Ben-Zion said that, if I did not get a lift on the road, I should come back to him, and he would arrange accommodation for me at the kibbutz.  And indeed, although it was yet early in the afternoon, I wondered if I might not have to take advantage of this offer – for the road was deserted.  I sat by it for a long time reading my guide-book & my Iliad, & swatted flies.  2 or 3 vehicles came, but stopped at the kibbutz.  But at last 2 lorries came along, & I was taken on the back of the second, where there were 2 other men.  It was a lovely ride, through country becoming more & more mountainous.  Sometimes we could see right over to the Jordan valley.


I don’t know if it was a happy accident, or somehow deliberately arranged for my benefit, but when my lorry stopped at the kibbutz to which it was going, the lorry which was going further also stopped, & I had time to get down off one, & up onto the other, which was crowded, & took me a few more kilometers, to about the point where the road turns south from the border of Lebanon.  From an English-speaking man on this lorry, I learned that Sosa is the highest settlement in the country.


After this, I had a long lonely walk.  Sosa lay some distance on a hill which the man had pointed out to me.  But I was tired, & hoped all the time for a lift, so that I often imagined that I heard the sound of a motor.  I passed through the Arab village of Biram.  From a distance, it appeared to be inhabited, but when I came to it, I saw that all its buildings were empty, and many of them in ruins.  Some of the buildings & tombs I saw had crosses incorporated into their design, so I assumed that Christian Arabs had lived there.  Many olive & fig orchards lined the roadway.  I picked & ate some of the ripe figs.  At last, after leaving Biram behind, I was picked up by a jeep which took me to Sosa.


Sosa was not like other kibbutzim I have seen.  It was formerly a hill-top Arab village, & it has take over many of the Arab buildings.  I climbed first to a large round water-holder on the top of the hill.  Thence there was a marvelous view.  To the south-east one could see Safad.  Nearby to the west was an imposing hump-backed mountain called Har Adather.  And all about lay mountains & valleys, not bare as in the Judean hills, but dotted with green vegetation.  Also there were many Jewish settlements to be seen.


I now set about the usual process of getting myself settled in.  I went & had a shower in a former Arab vaulted building, then, after speaking to several people, was taken in to supper by a girl named Shoshanna (“Rose,” a common name in Israel).  I had thought that this was a purely American kibbutz, but I now found that it was only about 60% American, & among the others were 6 people from England.  Shoshanna, in fact, came from Liverpool, though she sounded American to me at first.  After supper, which included the first green beans I can remember having in Israel, Shoshanna took me first to my bedroom, & then down to a place in the kibbutz where there was a sort of large oven, recently built, & used for drying fruit & vegetables.  She introduced me to a boy & girl who were engaged in slicing up onions, laying them out on wire-screen trays, piling the trays onto trolley-wagons, and periodically pushing the wagons into the oven.  The boy, who to my surprise I later found was 30 years old,, was named Jack, & came from Manchester.  The girl’s name was Rivikah, & she came from Mexico City.  She was 27, but also looked to me much younger.  She is married to an American.  Jack used to be a reporter for the Manchester “Daily Dispatch.”


 I talked with these people for some time, & with Marcus, another English boy, from Euston, London, who came later.  I offered to help, & sat with them cutting the ends off onions.  This was another Kibbutz of Hashomer Hazair, the left-wing Mapam organization.  I was interested in how these English people happened to come out here, & spoke a lot with them about it, expecially with Marcus, who later took me to Jack’s room, where we sat alone together.  He told me how people in England who wish to come & live on an Israeli kibbutz join an organization which gives them training of a year or more, first in England, under conditions as similar to those of a kibbutz as possible. Then their fare out is paid by the Zionist organization, but there is no compulsion for them to stay on the kibbutz on which they are placed.  In fact, most of the English people at Sosa seem to have come from other kibbutzim.  Marcus in his politics was very left-wing, & told me the only thing which separated him from the Communists was their opposition to Zionism, which to him had an emotional appeal.  I spoke with him about why Russia refused to admit private visitors, & why she had made a pact with Germany in 1939, and he had some good replies to my questions.  He says he is almost 100% in agreement with Soviet policy.  He was a good talker, & I had to say very little.  He knew much more about the things he spoke about than I did.


Most rooms I have visited on kibbutzim have a collection of books, & usually there are some on art & music etc.  While looking at some of Jack’s books which were on a table, I accidentally knocked over the book-rest which was holding them up.  It fell onto the stone-tiled floor, & the fine smooth length of glass which had fitted into slots in the 2 end-pieces of wood, was broken. I was plunged into confusion.  Fortunately (?) Jack was not there.  Marcus helped me sweep up the pieces.  About ¾ of the length of glass was still left whole, but I felt very bad, for it was no ordinary piece of glass, but one specially made for this use.  Marcus told me it had come from England, but the accident was hardly my fault, for, as Marcus showed me, Jack had been using the book-rest the wrong way.  Originally it had had 2 lengths of glass.  [accompanied by hand-drawn diagram] – but Jack had lost or broken or not received one of them, so he was using it precariously, & it could all too easily have been knocked off.


I did not want to, but felt I should go & tell Jack right away.  I went with Marcus back to the onion place, but he was not there.  It was now late, & I had to postpone seeing him until tomorrow.  But I hated to think of him returning to his room, & finding the ghastly evidence of my clumsiness.


Being so high up here, it is naturally cooler than other parts of Israel I have visited, and this evening I felt positively cold for the first time in this country.  Fortunately I had a thick quilted blanket. 


Sunday, September 6, 1953  (written Sept. 7)

Today took me on a real hike, to the Crusader Castle of Montfort, and bedded me down at the kibbutz of Eilon.  High in the mountains of northern Galilee, the scenery and climate are quite different from those of other parts of this tiny country, where I think very little of travelling from Tel Aviv to Haifa, or from Dan to Jerusalem.  The air is cooler, the mountains are greener.  There is much beauty, and sometimes wide views out to the distant sea.


The longer I stay in Israel, the more my impressions change & deepen.  Some of the things I wrote in previous entries I would now wish to modify or correct.  For instance, I was wrong to describe the Judean hills as completely bare & desolate.  On the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem there are beautiful green stretches of new woods and forests.


One thing I would like to elaborate on is the influence of various cultures and languages on Israel.  Hebrew, of course, is the main spoken tongue & the Lingua Franca, and I miss a great deal through not being able to understand it, though, as I have found in other countries, ignorance of the language can sometimes be an advantage, for people tend to be more sympathetic towards one.  English is really still the second language of the country, & a large proportion of the people know it, & many read it, though I rarely hear it spoken.  Many people also read Russian books.  The kibbutz blouses, which many people wear, seem to derive from a Russian fashion.  The Arabs have left their mark on modern Jewish life.  Arab foods & head-scarves are popular.  Many Israelis know Arabic, especially, of course, those who came from Arab countries.


At kibbutz Sosa, I did not wake up until about 9:15, so had the usual rush to breakfast.  In the dining-hall, I was glad to find Jack (see yesterday).  He knew, of course, what I wanted to speak to him about, and before I could say anything, he had begun to assure me that it didn’t matter.  But I know that it was a loss to him, especially when he went so far as to say that he was positively relieved that I had broken the glass, because it saved him from worrying any more about breaking it himself!  I told him I was not content simply to apologize, & wished to pay him or replace the glass.  He protested meekly, but a length said if I really did want to do something, I could see his mother in London, she could buy another glass, &, if I liked, I could pay for it.  So I took down his mother’s address – but it was so much of an accident & I will be so poor , & busy, when I return home that I am not so sure now that I really want to contact her.


Jack & Marcus both seemed to think of me as a possible convert to the Socialist Zionist movement, of which there is a branch in Finchley, whose address they gave me, urging me to contact them.  I did not destroy their hopes, but there is very little chance of me following this up.


Having eaten, washed, packed etc., & said goodbye, I set out from Sosa.  Montfort was my immediate destination, but I had hopes that, with much good luck, I might today be able, after leaving Montfort, to reach Nahariya on lthe coast & swim there this afternoon, and get to Haifa by nightfall, and stay with Charlie Solomon, the Burmese whom I had met in Elat, & who had extended a strong invitation to me to visit his maabara home now that he is on leave.


To reach Monfort, I had to travel west from Sosa on the road to Nahariya, up to the Arab village of Mir-ilya.  There, as I saw on my map, a secondary road which eventually became a track, led to the castle.  At very first, I felt optimistic, but, before leaving Sosa, I spoke to an American (unfortunately I had no real conversation with any of the American members of Sosa who form the majority there) about my chances of getting a lift, he seemed to think they were very small – in fact almost nil.  “Do you mean to say,” I asked “That there might not be anything  along here all day?”  “Oh, there might be,” was his reply, & with this he departed.  I was plunged into pessimism, but still began walking along the road in brave manner.  But, after going just a short way, I reconsidered my position.  The next Jewish settlement in my direction was a long way off. Just before Sosa there was a crossroads.  My Nahariya road went south of the crossroads.  But from the crossroads went another road about the same distance north of it.  By waiting at the crossroads, I would thus have a choice of 2 roads, & twice as much chance of a lift.  So, rather despondently I turned back – but before I had got back even to the kibbutz, I saw a jeep coming out of the kibbutz.  It as going in my direction, &, to my joy, it stopped, & the woman driving said they were going to Nahariya.  I felt elated at my good fortune.  Montfort wa mine!


I had in fact heard last night that a vehicle was going today from the kibbutz, but I felt sure that they would have no room for me, or that they would have left earlier than the present time (about 11 AM).  Rivkah, the Mexican girl, was, I knew, going with, & inside I found her.  The other passenger was also a woman.  So off we drove, along a beautiful winding mountain road, held up occasionally by herds of cows, goats, or sheep tended by Arabs.  I saw now indeed the first Arabs & villages still inhabited by them that I had seen in the region.  Mi-ilya was one of the villages where I alighted.  Some of the inhabitants apparently still lived in black tents.


I had heard about Montfort before in Israel (never, I think, outside of it) but it was my guide-book to the North of Israel, volume 1 of “Israel in Your Pocket,” by Theodor F. Meysels, that made me want to visit it.


From Mi-ilya, I walked along a very stony road, which I doubt if cars ever use, to an extremely rocky track.  Apart from the danger of tripping, the walk was quite enjoyable, though it would have been more so, had I not had to carry my rucksack with me.  Once, I came to a fork in the track, & went wrong for some distance, but retraced my steps & got back onto the right path.  From the time I left Mil-ilya  to the time, many hours later, when I reached Eilon, I saw only one human being, a man riding a horse, who did not see me.  As the book informed me, the Castle does not come into view until the last minute, when one has descended a steep mountain path, and sees the ruins rising from a ridge high above.  In this first view, the Castle ruins do not look very spectacular.  The best view of them is obtained from the top of the opposite hill-side, on the path leading to Eilon.  Then one can clearly see its magnificent position at the head of a wooded ridge, surrounded on 3 sides by deep valleys.  Leaving my rucksack at the bottom, I ascended a path leading up to the ruins.  This castle of Montfort was the chapter-fortress of the Order of Teutonic Knights.  Unfortunately I know very little about Palestine under the Crusaders, and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.  These ruins were not as extensive or well-preserved as I expected them to be.  Of the castle itself there was not much to see – crumbling walls, fragments of Gothic vaulted roofs.  But still, I enjoyed being there alone. 


I had however one unpleasant experience there.  The highest part of the ruins was an arch of large stones, the remainder, I suppose, of a tower.  It soon became my desire to climb up there to the top.  But the climb proved very difficult – there were few foot-holds & hand-holds, & it was besides very dangerous.  However, I managed to get to the top, and sat there nervously for a few minutes.  But then, I found that I was afraid to go down.  I had felt slightly fearful when climbing up, but the descent would be even more difficult, & I was genuinely frightened.  Of course, I had to come down, and eventually I managed to do so – but, when I got to the bottom, my heart was thumping so hard, & my legs felt so weak that I had to lie down to rest awhile.  All this goes to prove what I have always known about myself – that I am not really courageous, and am capable of great fear when I consider that real danger exists.


I climbed about the castle, & marveled at the remaining fragment of one wall built of massive stones.  Then eventually I returned to my rucksack, & followed a path to the bottom of the valley on the northern side of the castle.  I had already decided, as the guide-book suggested, not to return the way by which I came but to proceed across country to the kibbutz of Eilon, which lies on another road leading to the coast.  At the bottom of the valley, I found a pleasant stream flowing, & a large shady tree, where I sat on a rock & ate my lunch, some bread & margarine from Sosa, & some figs from Dan. I had hoped to reach Eilon in time for lunch, but now I was too late. After my meal, & a wash & drink in the river, I sat to read some more of my “Iliad.”  Then, when I was about to go, I remembered that I had not yet written yesterday’s entry.  So I had to waste the best part of the day sitting there writing, & it was not until about 4:15 that I was finished & ready to go.  This delay probably prevented me from going further than Eilon today.  I now crossed the river on rocks, & my path lay steeply up the opposite valley side.  It was as I ascended this path that I obtained the finest views of Montfort.


At the top, I found myself among many bushes, with paths, apparently made by animals going all between.  I followed them as best I could – it did not seem to matter which path I took.  I knew I was going in the right direction, & sometimes Eilon was in view.  The paths led me down into another shallower valley, then finally up to the fields of the kibbutz.  The road which I wanted to take lay between the fields and the buildings of the kibbutz.  I wanted if possible to proceed further this evening, but first, having had a small lunch, I wanted to get a meal at the kibbutz. 


The time was now between 5 & 6 PM, when usually there is available for those who want it, the same sort of food as that which was served at lunch.  This was what I now hoped to be in time for at Eilon – but it seems that either they have no such institution, or I was too late. When wearily I arrived there, I had to see several people before I even got into the Chader Ochel (dining-room) .  A man named Zvi eventually took me to the office of the kibbutz secretary, & here I was asked to produce my passport.  It is rarely that I have to endure such formalities.  At length, a little boy took me to the dining-hall, but here I was given only bread & a cup of milk.  Zvi spoke quite good English, & invited me to stay the night at the kibbutz.  He did not think it likely that I would get a lift today, & I told him that I could not afford to take the bus, but I said I would sit by the road & try for a lift until sunset, & then, if unsuccessful, return to him.  He said I should just ask for Zvi, who speaks English.


So I returned to the road, & sat on a large long block of concrete, which served well as a bench.  From this spot I could see the sea, and the sun glowing orange in the clouds.  I read my Iliad, & finished reading the guide-book – intelligently written, but really inadequate for a full appreciation & understanding of anything.  As I expected, I did not get a lift, and returned to try to find Zvi, which was a difficult business.  I was directed to his house, but he was not there.  I waited outside, & was eventually found by his wife, who spoke no English, but invited me inside until he came home.  The ordinary kibbutz home is very small, usually of only one room, perhaps with a sink.  The rooms vary in size & design, but, on a well-established kibbutz, they are almost always well-furnished, with good pictures on the walls, a book-case, table & wardrobe etc., & perhaps a radio.


When Tzvi (how should I spell his name?) came back, he took me to the shower-house, & waited till I had finished.  Then I went with him & his wife to supper.  Unfortunately there was little for supper that I liked.  I did not want the sour cream, the tomatoes etc. I ate mainly small potatoes in the jackets, bread, cheese, & tea. The tea was served in an unusual way.  Instead of having just the metal jug of ready-made tea on the table, there was a jug of water, & a small pot of concentrated tea, so that one could prepare one’s own tea to the desired strength.  The woman sitting opposite me seemed distressed that I was not having enough.  She kept pressing more food upon me, & eventually obtained an egg for me from the waiter, at which I protested, but I much appreciated it.  Afterwards I talked for some time with Zvi.  This kibbutz is yet another Mapam one belonging to Hashomer Hazair.  Until today I thought it just remarkable coincidence that almost every kibbutz I stayed at belonged to this organization.  But Zvi told me that, of all the kibbutzim in the country, about ¾ are Mapam, and of these, half are Hashomer Hazair.  Eilon has quite a large factory, manufacturing agricultural machinery, in which Zvi works.  He seemed to have burned his hand in some accident.  I am surprised at the number of people I see, especially on kibbutzim, with bandaged injuries.


My discussion with Zvi took somewhat the same as that with Marcus last night.  He told me how the government is opposing the kibbutzim & trying to destroy their solidarity, e.g. in education, by enforcing a general education for every child, instead of allowing the “trend” schools, in which, Orthodox, Mapam, & other schools of thought were allowed to educate their children in their own way.  Zvi said the kibbutzim were losing ground because they did not have an opportunity to educate the new immigrants into wanting to come & live on kibbutzim & build up the country, etc.


Many people I meet are glad I speak English, because then they can try out on me the few English words they know.


I was once again given a bedroom to myself.  Zvi said there would probably be lorries leaving the kibbutz between 6:30 & 7 going in my direction.  He would be in the dining-hall at 6, & so I arranged to meet him then.  I had an alarm clock in my room, & set it for 5:30.  In order to get enough sleep, I went to bed early, before 10:30.


Eilon kibbutz is 15 years old, & Zvi has been there from the beginning.  He said that the older members are the first to obtain such advantages as a better room or a radio set, not through any system of inequality, but simply because that is one fair way of giving out the advantages which as yet not everybody can enjoy.


Monday, September 7, 1953.

Today a great tragedy came upon me, so unhappy that I prefer not to think about it.  I have lost all my English and American money, and I can only think that it has been stolen.  I had $23 in American bills, and I don’t know how many English pound notes.  And yet, though I have suffered a stunning blow, comparable only to the theft of my camera a year ago in Spain, it affects my present circumstances even less than did that loss, for I still have more than enough money in Israeli & French notes & travelers checks, to see me safely home.  How I discovered my loss must be related in the day’s adventures.


For some reason, my alarm did not go off at Eilon, & I slept until 6:15 – but fortunately I lost nothing by this.  I washed, dressed, & packed hurriedly, & rushed to the dining hall.  Outside, a tender was parked, & I learned that the driver was dining inside.  I went & spoke to him, & he said he was going to near Haifa, which was very good for me, & I could come with.  He was leaving in half an hour, so I had plenty of time to eat, & had a light meal of bread & margarine, cheese & coffee.  When we set off, there were 4 or 5 other people with me in the back.  I said goodbye to Zvi.  When we started, I felt cool, but as we came down to sea level, the air grew warmer.  It was a pleasant ride down from the mountains & along the open coast.  Acre looked beautiful and romantic in the morning sun.  I only wished I had time to visit it. Perhaps I will before I leave.


But as usual, I was not sure what I wanted to do now.  Should I go & visit Charlie Solomon (see yesterday) or should I go right into Haifa, to the office of the Shoham shipping line to check up about my reservation, or should I go right on to Jerusalem, to settle my affairs there, or perhaps first pay, for Leon Hornicker, a visit to the Berl Katznelson Institute library in Kefar Sava?  I have found by now that the best thing for me to do when I cannot make up my mind is to forget all about the problem until the last possible moment – then everything seems to sort itself out, & I have no difficulty in deciding.  So I waited until the tender had put me down at a place called Kiryot Chaim, one of Haifa’s many suburbs, and then at once decided that I would make straight for the Shoham office, & forget about Charlie. I went with a man onto a bus which took me right into the main city of Haifa on a long ride, & the driver then directed me to the Shoham place, which I found easily down by the harbor.  My business there was important, but I had no worries about it.  The position was this:  I was originally supposed to sail with the British Summer Institute group from Haifa to Marseilles on the “Jerusalem” on Aug.28.  I decided, however, to postpone my passage, & informed my group leader, Sam Sherwin of my desire.  When he came to Haifa he therefore arranged, as I requested, for my passage to be postponed to Sept. 22, on the “Artza,” and told me when he saw me that he had done so, and that I should call in at the Shoham office in Haifa about 10 days before the sailing date to confirm my reservation.  I was rather worried about the fact that he had no ticket or other papers to give me.  Anyway, I thought it better to go to the Haifa than the Jerusalem office of Shoham, since it was in Haifa that Sam had made the arrangement.  From Haifa today, I planned to hitch-hike to Jerusalem, stay there overnight, and travel back to Tel Aviv tomorrow afternoon, for I had told Harry at the Victory Hotel that I would come there about 6 PM on Sept. 8th, & he said he would then phone Stanley Gaventa, the Englishman who has invited me to come & stay in his flat for Rosh Hashona.


At the Shoham office, it took me some annoying time to get attended to.  I met there 2 people from the Summer Institute whom I had not known were still in Israel.  One was an American girl, the other a man from Ireland named Aran.  Both were having trouble with their bookings -- & now I was there for my share of trouble. When I was finally seen to, the man, after consulting his list of bookings, said he could not find my name there, & that he could do nothing for me.  At this, my heart sank, for I had been relying upon Sam’s word,  I could not understand what could have gone wrong.  The only thing that man attending to me could suggest was that I go to their Jerusalem office & try to arrange something with them – a dismal outlook!  For, if  I had to stay in Israel longer, I would have to spend more money, and I would probably not be back in time for the College term on Oct. 5th.  The man said he would give me a note to take to the Jerusalem office.  But then, as he was looking through his papers, he came upon my name somewhere. Gleefully, I answered to it.  This solved everything.  I don’t know what mistake he had made before (and he did not apologize for the momentary heart-ache he had caused me) but everything was now alright.  All I had to do was show him my passport, and he wrote out for me a makeshift ticket, which he stamped with the company’s stamp, & said was all I needed.  I must be in the Port between 9 & 10 AM on Sept. 22nd. Although I am not anxious to leave Israel,  It is a great thrill for me to contemplate the happy prospect of sailing away on a fine ship across the blue Mediterranean, for what I hope will be 6 days of rest and comfort.


But now, after this moment of elation, I was plunged into profound grief.  Now came the woeful discovery.  I took out my wallet to put the ticket in it.  During my waking hours, I always carry my wallet on my person.  When wearing shorts, as I was today, it is in my right-hand pocket, from which it could never fall or be pulled out.  It contains my passport, travelers checks, all my paper money plus many other papers.  It is held shut by a black elastic garter twined twice around it.  The wallet contains a sort of “secret” pocket, to gain access to which one has to put one’s hand in up to the wrist.  This I considered the safest part of the wallet, & it was here that I put my English, American, & French money, & here now that I thought to put my new ticket.  But, in putting away the ticket, I discovered that the British & American money were gone, though the French remained.  Once again, my heart sank to my boots.  I had been robbed – that could be the only solution.  But who would take British & American money, & yet leave untouched French & Israeli money and my passport?  As for how & when the money was taken, I will never know.  Indeed, I don’t think I ever once looked at it after putting it in my wallet before leaving England.  So the money could have been taken even on the ship coming over.  Usually I leave my wallet in my trousers beside my bed.  The loss is very great – somewhere between.£10 & £20 sterling, and I mourn it sadly – but there is nothing I can do, and I will not suffer materially through it, for I still have £10 in travelers checks, besides enough French & Israeli money.  But somehow the loss is so mysterious that it cannot be helped by hoping wildly, foolishly, that perhaps I myself put the money somewhere else for some reason, & have forgotten about it. But to expect the money to turn up in the bundle of my possessions which I left in Jerusalem is only to delude myself with the vainest of hopes.  I must give the money up for lost, and face the prospect of returning home heavily in debt to my father.


(Continuing now on Sept. 8)  It was thus in the most abject misery that I set out from Haifa to hitch-hike to Jerusalem.  I notice that, whenever my mind is filled with worried thought, I tend to nibble at my upper lip.  My day had had an early start, & so, despite considerable time spent at the shipping office, I was confident that I would easily reach Jerusalem today.  As the day wore on, I tried, & largely succeeded, in putting my sorrow out of my mind.  The fact that it was a sort of distant loss, of something I had not even thought about for a long time, & had no immediate need for, helped me in this.  I had brought some bread & butter & cheese with me from the kibbutz, & I still had 2 very small apples from Dan, but for a long time, although very hungry, I abstained from food.  This was partly because I had no good opportunity to sit down & eat it, but partly also because I thought, correctly as it turned out, that hunger would tend to keep my mind off my sorrow, and that, when I did finally eat, the food would bring a happy relief of its own.  Probably it was not later than 2 PM that I did finally eat my sandwiches, while waiting for a lift, but by then I was very hungry.


I thought at first to take a bus onto the main road south, but finding the right bus proved so vexatious to my depressed spirits that I decided to try walking out.  I soon came, however, upon a place where soldiers were waiting for lifts.  Although this was still right in the town, experience has taught me to wait where the soldiers waited.  And after some time, I did get a short lift with them to the outskirts of the town.  Haifa looked very beautiful, stretching up Mount Carmel in the morning sunlight.  The journey to Jerusalem proved very easy for me, but uneventful, & there is little to record.  It was almost all in military vehicles, & often several short lifts.  I got on an army tender at the Natanya crossroads, which brought me, sitting on a hard narrow bench, all the way into Jerusalem. I think this was my second longest lift in Israel – the longest must have been my last long lorry-ride to Elat.


The ride into Jerusalem, especially in an open vehicle, is always a great pleasure for me – yet I cannot explain exactly why.  It is not only the beauty and fascination of the scenery, but a sense of climbing into the hills, to a city of immortal fame.  I know the road well now – where the different crossings come.  I know when we pass the Eshtaol tree nursery , when we come to Shaar Haggai, where the old main road ends in barbed wire & tank traps. I know the Road of Courage, still lined by the rusty skeletons of lorries destroyed during the Israel war.  I know Abu Ghosh, the friendly Arab village, where a large statue of the Virgin rises up from a hilltop church, and where close by is the kibbutz of Maale Hachamisha, and, as we approach Jerusalem, I begin to sing the song of Blake’s “Jerusalem,” which, inappropriate as it really is, apart from the name, gives me a thrill to sing just then.  And so we drive into the city, down Jaffa Road, and as usual I got off at the crossing with King George V Avenue.  The time was about 4:45, & I decided to go first to the Jewish Agency buildings, on the off-chance that they would still be open, & I would be able at once to conclude my business.  But, as I expected, I found them closed since 2 PM.


It was now my problem to find somewhere to stay for the night.  I was not at all anxious about this, as I felt sure I could find somewhere.  First I asked the gate-man at the Jewish Agency.  He suggested that I should go round the corner in Ibn Gavril St. to a place called Beit Chalutzat (Pioneers House). But first I paid a call, probably my last, at the Rhavia Gymnasium nearby, where our Summer Institute had been located.  I had a faint hope that I would be able to stay here – perhaps there would be some other group now in residence.  But, walking in, I found the classrooms, which had been our dormitories, now bare, & empty of beds, and the janitor, who saw me, & knew me of old as a troublesome person, was now very quick to make it plain (though he didn’t speak English) that I could not stay there. So I went round to the Beit Chalutzat, a fine large building next to the building in which lives the President Ben-Tzvi.  It was built by an American Zionist woman.  I went in & explained my position to a woman there, but she told me that this was a Beit Chalutzat, i.e. for women pioneers, & what I wanted was the Beit Chalutzim, for which she said I should take a no. 2 bus from the Egged station and go to someplace called Mosrara.


Since the hour was yet early, I first sat for some time on George V Avenue, writing my diary, then I intended to go & have supper at the Mensa, the students’ restaurant where in the Summer Institute we used to have our meals.  But when I arrived there, I found it closed, & a man at the stand in front selling lottery tickets told me it was closed for the vacation.  So I decided to make straight for the Beit Chalutzim, which I expected to be a place similar to the fine Beit Chalutzat I had seen.  To get there proved difficult, but, with the aid of a Romanian man after I got off the bus, I finally found the place, in one of the oldest parts of the city – a large old building which must have served some other purpose before it became what it is at present, a hostel for immigrants.  It took some time before I was given a bed in an upper-story room, for I could fine no one who spoke English.  The standard of the place was slightly better than that of a doss-house.  I met there several interesting people, immigrants from Romania, North Africa etc., who were friendly.  One Romanian worked, in the old country, in a textile factory.  Now he is a night doorman in a hotel.  It is surprising how many of the North Africans I meet are dissatisfied with Israel, and want to go home.  I spoke in French with an 18 year old girl from Casablanca who works now at a printing place.  Her pay is small, & she intends to go back home to her family.  She does not want to go onto a kibbutz or get married.


I was anxious to get something to eat somewhere.  A man who had helped me outside the hostel had offered to return to take me to a cheap restaurant.  He did come back (He lived in a room near the hostel)  wearing what was probably his best shirt, though it was much worn & torn, a dirty tie, & old felt hat.  His English was so bad that I did not understand much of what he said, but he was talkative.  He came from Algeria, & had served for a time in the British army.  He had been in Israel 5 years, but was now out of work, & apparently in very poor circumstances. He kept telling me how bad things were, but said he believed that God would “fix everything.”  He blamed all his & the world’s troubles on what he called the “diplomatique,” which he could not understand.  I felt sorry for him, but my sympathy was naturally not unmixed with suspicion.  He did however lead me to a very satisfactory cheap restaurant, which I had heard about before, at the corner of King George V & Jaffa Rd.  Here for a very reasonable price I had a filling meal of soup, bread, fish, potatoes, & the semi-liquid fruit mixture which in Israel is called “pudding.” I felt guilty sitting & eating, while my guide sat opposite having nothing – but he refused my salad, which I don’t like & offered to him, indicating that he had already eaten.  Then he led me back to the hotel.  I can only assume that he was a poor but honest man.


Jerusalem strikes me as being a crazy city, crazier than any other I have seen.  The mixture of population is fantastic – old Orthodox Jews, eastern immigrants, oriental beggars, Christian nuns & monks, soldiers & businessmen. Somehow, when I walk along the streets, forming myself a part of the strange scene, with my rucksack & pith helmet, I get the feeling that what I am seeing is just too ridiculous to be true.


Now I conclude this diary, which has lasted me less than one month, and trust that my next one will see me safely home.


[End of Volume 20.  Beginning of Volume 21:]


Tuesday, September 8, 1953 (written Sept. 9)

I begin this third volume of my Israel diary in Tel Aviv, whither I have journeyed from Jerusalem.  The agony of yesterday’s discovered loss of my English and American money still hangs like a cloud over my mind.  And yet somehow I feel that perhaps I am not as miserable about it as I ought to be.  But since there is just nothing I can do about it, it is best forgotten.


I got up at the immigrant hostel in Mosrara (I am not sure whether that is the name of the street or not) about 7 AM.  Although the people there were generally friendly, it was a place, it was a place which I was glad to get away from.  Since losing my money (and the loss still seems incredible) I have become worried about all my property.  Last night I put everything I had into my rucksack, and tied the strings between my mattress and the bed-spring, so that anyone wanting to open it would have to disturb me.


Leaving the Beit Chalutzim, which was in a very dingy quarter, I went back to the restaurant where my Algerian friend had led me yesterday, and there, for the price of about a shilling, I was able to have a breakfast of bread, fish (to put on the bread) margarine, jams, & tea.  Then I went to the familiar Jewish National Institutions building, at the corner of King George Ave. and Keren Kayemet St. (the street on which the Rehavia Gymnasium is located) which were now open.  In the letter which I wrote to Sam Sherwin from the kibbutz of Hatsafim Dalet when I was already on my way from Tel Aviv to Elat, I had asked him, should I not arrive back in Jerusalem before he and the British group sailed for home, to leave any messages he had for me, and my bundle of things which I had left in Jerusalem, at the Youth & Hechalutz office in the Keren Kayemet department of the Jewish Agency buildings.  But I had made a mistake – for the office  in the J.A. building which I had had in mind, & at which I had previously been able to obtain free maps, was not, as I had supposed, that of the Youth & Hechalutz, as I now found when I went there & spoke to an English woman named Mrs. Silman, whom I knew.  She told me that Youth & Hechalutz was an office of the Zionisr Organization, & directed me to it, round the corner & in Ibn Gavril St.


 I had never been in this place before – but here I found several people whom I knew, including  Dr. Hermon, the pale-faced South African who had bee Director of the Summer Institute.  I had not had a great deal to do with him, & at one time I was on very bad terms with him, because I tried to avoid paying £10 sterling which I owed the Jewish Agency. But now he was almost over-friendly and helpful to me, interested in what I had been doing, concerned about my future, but, as ever, infinitely full of warnings.  For the millionth time, I was told to be careful about wandering over frontiers.  And when I said I intended to go & swim in the Dead Sea, he and a woman secretary tried strongly to dissuade me.  I felt very annoyed at this  continued attempt to interfere with my plans, but of course, its only effect on me is to strengthen my determination, & I tried to hide my annoyance.  These people must be so used to herding organized groups around the country that the very idea of someone wandering on his own is obnoxious to them.


Sam Sherwin had left a note for me at this office, but when I read it I was very puzzled & disappointed.  There was no date on it, & he had obviously written it in haste.  All it said was “Dear John [I was apparently still using the name of John Brilliant] .  Please write to Mr. Sobel to arrange your return rail ticket Marseilles – London.  You will have to pay a little (I imagine £3 - £5) in London.  Also confirm time & date of sailing as specified on your ticket at any Shohan office 10 days before you are due to sail.  All the best, Sam Sherwin.”


I cannot understand this at all. When I was last in Jerusalem, I had written an urgent letter to Mr. Sobel asking him to tell Sam Sherwin how I could postpone or cancel my Marseilles – London journey, since Sam said he did not know what to do about it.  I had expected that Sobel would write write to Sam, & that Sam, in his note to me would tell me the details.  But from Sam’s not I cannot tell whether he ever heard from Sobel at all.  It seemed foolish to write again to Mr. Sobel, since I had already explained the whole position in my previous letter to him.  But there was nothing else I could do, so later this morning, I sat on a bench, wrote a letter bringing the situation up to date, & asking Sobel either to postpone or cancel my rail journey & write to me to the Shoham office in Haifa, where Dr. Hermon has said he will send on any mail that may yet come for me.


At the Youth & Hechalutz office, I was also given a makeshift ticket similar to the one I obtained yesterday in Haifa at the Shoham office when I told the man I had never received any such ticket.  Also I now asked for the large bundle of my things that I had left tied up in a sheet.  This I was given, and I now spent much of the morning in re-packing my rucksack & trying to squeeze everything in.  It was a big job, & I had my things all spread out over 2 tables & a chair in the office lobby.  I had many papers to sort out, & had to leave much propaganda literature which I had received behind, though this did not much grieve me.  At length, all was packed, & my rucksack was very full & very heavy.  I said Shalom to Dr. Hermon, who asked me many times to send him a card from Haifa, to let him know definitely when I left.  I told him what was not true, that I had enjoyed the Summer Institute very much, & said I hoped it would be as big a success next year.  I certainly do think it was a success, as far as most of the people taking part were concerned.  But for me individually it was most unsuitable.


It was after leaving here that I wrote my second air-mail letter to Mr. Sobel, and I took considerable care over it, emphasizing, & perhaps exaggerating, my anxiety.  While I was writing this letter, I actually felt a few tiny drops of rain.  It was cool & cloudy today, both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


Once again, I thought what a very strange place Jerusalem is, with Arab frontiers enclosing it on 3 sides, a city divided, with its Israel portion containing an incredible mixture of people.  Indeed, I reflected that, if ever I did come to live in Israel, perhaps Jerusalem would be the best place for me to live, for, with so much that is crazy there, no one would notice my own craziness. How strange it is to see bearded long-coated Orthodox Jews mixing in the streets with Catholic nuns and Yemenite beggars.  I thought too how utterly different is the life & atmosphere here from that of a kibbutz.  This came forcibly to mind when later I saw a lorry-load of kibbutzniks driving into Jerusalem.  They just did not seem to fit the scene.


After writing my letter, I went back to the cheap restaurant for lunch.  This time the meal was not so good.  I had soup, fish & chips, gazoz, & “pudding.”  But the fish & chips were very poor.  I sat at a table with a man & wife & their little boy, who did some surprising things.  First, without even asking me, the woman reached over & took my knife to cut the string of her boy’s balloon.  Then the man took a piece of bread that I had been eating, & finished it for me.  I don’t know whether they were speaking Hebrew or Yiddish, but I heard the boy ask for “a bissel gazoz”


After lunch, I started right away for Tel Aviv, taking the no. 1 bus, as I have done several times before, out of town. My rucksack was very heavy, but my heart was light, and I sang very loudly as I trudged along the road.  In general, as I have remarked before, I have found it best for hitch-hiking to wait where the soldiers wait for a lift.  But experience has taught me that on the road from Jerusalem, this does not apply.  On previous occasions, I have obtained good lifts while walking along the road, and besides, I enjoyed walking here, for the mountain scenery is always interesting, and the road goes downhill.  Still, with my heavy burden, I could not walk as much as I would have liked to do.


So I left Jerusalem, probably for the last time on this trip, if not forever.  And it was not long before I got my lift, which took me right to Tel Aviv, though by a roundabout route, with several long stops.  I was picked up by a jeep, whose driver was 30 years old, and who came here from France in September 1944.  He is a water engineer, & explained to me that Jerusalem’s water is erratic because of a shortage, not of water, but of electricity for pumping.  It is an English company which still has a monopoly of Jerusalem’s water, but its machinery is old & out-of-date.  Right now, this man was working on a new pipeline to Jerusalem, & he took me not on the main Tel Aviv road, but on the much more spectacular southern route which goes past Tsora, & along which I think the pipeline is to run.  I had been this way 2 or 3 times before, & enjoyed it now.  Several times my driver stopped to talk with workers on the way.  Coming off the secondary road at the crossing near Mishmar David, we still did not go straight to Tel Aviv, but went via Rehovot, because he wanted to do some shopping there.


Tomorrow is the eve of Rosh Hashona, the festival of the New Year, so I have been hearing people wish each other “Shona Tova” (a good year) and seen many places selling new year’s cards, which they send to all their friends.  The cards are interesting in their varying style.  Some are purely decorative, some have religious motifs, & some are purely nationalistic, with pictures of soldiers marching, Israeli flags etc.


I was going to Tel Aviv because a 30 year old English man who actually comes from Hendon, whom I had met at the Victory Hotel in Tel Aviv, (where I had stayed on my last visit to that city for  2 nights at the expense of a group of students ) , whom I met by good fortune there, named Stanley Gaventa, had, hearing me say that I did not know where I was going to stay for Rosh Hashona, invited me to come & stay at his flat.


My driver told me how he had fought in the resistance movement during the war, and his parents had managed to escape the Germans by moving about from town to town with false papers.  He drove me into Tel Aviv.  Harry Minn, the man who works in the Victory Hotel, who had recommended me to accept Stanley’s invitation, had suggested I come to the Hotel about 6 PM on the day before Erev Rosh Hashona (which is today) and I understood that he would then contact Stanley, who would take me to his flat.  But the time now was only about 6:30 [?] so I decided to pay a brief call at the Rothschild Boulevard flat of my good friends, the Havatseletts, where I had slept 2 nights on my first stay in tel Aviv.  I walked there from the point where I was put down.  I met Mr. H coming down the stairs, & had a few words with him.  He said I looked tired.  Then I went up & saw & talked with Mrs. H at the door.  They had received my letter from Elat.  When Mrs. H heard recently that 5 people had been killed near Elat, she said she felt sure I was one of them.  I told her my accommodation arrangements, which she seemed to be glad of., & she invited me to come to dinner tomorrow evening, & lunch too, if I wished.  Since they had no telephone, she said I should just come when I wanted to.  Unfortunately, I could not promise, since I did not know what arrangements there would be at Stanley’s place.


After sitting on a bench in the Boulevard & writing for a while, I walked to the Victory Hotel on Allenby Road, & there walked in & found little Harry, who had, as I had hoped, a letter for me.  It was from Moshe Brilliant, the reporter on the Jerusalem Post, who lives in Tel Aviv, & to whom I wrote saying I would like to meet him, & find out if he is any relation to my family, & giving my address c/o the Hotel.  It was a short but welcome typewritten letter, saying simply that he was looking forward to seeing me, & inviting me to telephone him when I was in Tel Aviv, & arrange a time.  I tried to phone him this evening, but there was no reply.


Stanley soon came to the hotel, but it seems that I had not understood the arrangement, & that he didn’t really want me to come until tomorrow, for he had just moved into a new flat, & had not enough beds. But Harry said I could stay at the Hotel tonight, & would not have to pay.  He gave me a bedroom adjoining the broad balcony which overlooks Allenby Road.  The hotel, although, I think, one of the cheapest places in town, is in a remarkably good position, being very centrally located.  My “bedroom” had once been a sort of roofed veranda, but now it was enclosed by blankets.  Harry told me that he would wake me tomorrow at 7:30, for he wanted me to be up & dressed by the time the “boss” came at 8 AM, & he said the boss would never believe that he had let me stay there for nothing, but would think he was withholding some money.


For supper I went to the cheap but attractive large workers’ restaurant where I had been once before, & had a fish meal with soup & bread for less than 2 shillings.  At the hotel, I spoke with several people.  Harry himself is a very friendly & talkative person, & his English is extremely fluent.  He told me much about Stanley who, from his description, seemed to be of rather low intelligence, & generous to the point of stupidity.  His father is wealthy, & sends him much money & food parcels.  I met a young man at the hotel, a Pole, 20 yrs old, whose English was fairly good, & who told me about the risings in Warsaw against the Germans during the Second World War.  The first rising had been one of the remaining 40,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, after the others had already been sent to places of extermination.  I had heard little about this before.  The Ghetto was systematically destroyed by the Germans, & burned for a month.  The man had on this occasion been safe outside, with false papers.  But he told me of some of the horrors he had seen – lorry-loads of dead Jews being driven through the streets.  A Jew being murdered by the Germans by having petrol poured over him, which was then set alight.


This rising took place in 1944.  The second rising, of the Warsaw Poles themselves, occurred in 1945, when the Russians were close by the city.  But the Russians simply stood by & watched the destruction without giving any aid to the Poles – so this rising too was put down.  On this occasion, this man had taken part in the fighting, but had somehow afterwards got out of the city.


Harry told me that he himself had been in Russian concentration camps, & forced to work at gun-point.  Harry’s wife is not Jewish, & he told me that, though his grandparents were Orthodox, his parents were communistically-inclined, & he had had no Jewish background, so that, apart from circumcision, he was in every respect a “goy.”  Yet he considered that he had a good Jewish heart.


I met a young man from France who had lived 5 years in South Africa, & spoke English with a South African accent.


Wednesday, September 9, 1953.

I felt rather unhappy last night when, after coming to Tel Aviv specially to stay with Stanley Gaventa, I found he had no room for me until today.  I was greatly dissatisfied, even though Harry Minz very kindly let me stay for nothing at the Hotel.  But today my situation improved much, & I have had quite a pleasant time, though I had no breakfast this morning.  Harry woke me, as he had said, at 7:30 A.M, & urged me to hurry dressing & go down & wait outside in the garden – for “the boss” was due at 8 AM  So I went down, without having yet washed, & wrote my diary on a bench, & it was some time before I could go back up, after the Boss had gone.  Harry said that the boss wouldn’t believe, if he found out about me, that Harry had not charged me anything, & let me have the bed out of pure kindness.  So it was better not to let him find out.  As Harry put it, “What the eyes didn’t see, the heart didn’t pay.”


Stanley came to the hotel about 11 AM, with his flat-mate Siggy, a friendly man who speaks good English, & came 10 years ago from Vienna.  He was an “illegal immigrant” into Palestine, & was interned in a camp by the British for over a year.  (Incidentally, the Polish man told me last night that he too had been on an “illegal” immigrant ship, & was sent by the British to Nicosia on the island of Cyprus, & when he had tried to escape, he was put in a prison & had to break stones for 3 months.

This morning I again telephoned Moshe Brilliant (see yesterday) and was this time able to speak to him.  Our conversation was brief, & we simply arranged that I should go & see him at his home tomorrow at 5 PM.  I hope this will be an interesting visit.


Stanley & Siggy spent much time coming in & out of the hotel, buying different foods to last them over the holiday period – for I think the shops will be closed for 2 days.  Since they had no extra bedding for me, Harry very kindly lent a pillow & blanket, for I said I could supply my own sheet, (Indeed, of the 4 sheets I brought with me according to the Summer Institute instructions, I only ever used 2.)  When at last we were ready, Siggy & Stanley took me, with many parcels & my rucksack, in a taxi to their apartment, which is in a new block of flats in an eastern suburb of Tel Aviv, at the corner of Rehov Hagesher and Gibore Israel.  The block now stands almost alone, but soon no doubt it will have many neighbors.  The flat is on the top floor, & belongs, not to Stanley or Siggy, but to another young man, a South Afican named Abie.  I have been talking with Abie this evening.  He is 21, & has been here 3 years, 2 of them in the army. He works as a building laborer, but is so dissatisfied with his life here that in a few weeks he is going back to South Africa for good.  Money is his main trouble.  He just cannot earn enough, & sees no future for himself here, though there is still much about the country that he likes.


At first, as usual, I was just a little suspicious of Stanley & Siggy, the more I come to know them, the better I like them.  They have been most hospitable to me, & really seem concerned about my welfare.  Stanley, as Harry indicated to me yesterday, does not seem to have a very sharp mind.  After 4 years here, he still knows hardly any Hebrew.  But he is a friendly & likeable person, and so is Siggy.  I had lunch here with them, & since I had not eaten since yesterday evening, this meal tasted very good to me.  There was bread, salami, cheese, margarine, salad, tea, etc.  Later on they discovered that they had a tin of South African peanut butter.  I was delighted , for a peanut-butter sandwich is one of the few things whose loss I regret when I leave home.  So this afternoon, when we had tea, I introduced my 2 friends to the ecstasy of bread spread with peanut-butter & marmalade, which we had with milkless tea (though condensed milk was available if I wished it.)  They pressed food upon me, & were really good hosts. In return, I indicated my willingness to help them, & despite their protests, I insisted on washing the dishes & sweeping some floors.  They have, I think, only just moved into the apartment, & it is still sparsely furnished.  My “bed” tonight is on 2 large couch-cushions, but I do not think that it will be uncomfortable. The apartment is quite pleasant, with open balconies at the front & back.  I had a warm bath after lunch, & spent some time reading & writing.


Mrs. Havatselett had yesterday invited me to come today for supper.  I could have stayed to eat here with my friends, but decided to accept the invitation.  So, not long after having tea here, I left at about 6:15, & walked to the Havatseletts, reaching there about 6:40.  Stanley & Siggy had taken elaborate pains to provide me with detailed instructions on how to find my way back. In fact it proved quite easy for me, for, by happy chance, it was along part of the road leading from here into town that I walked yesterday from the point where my jeep dropped me.


At the Havatseletts, I was welcomed by Mrs. H.  I wore my grey flannel trousers & a blue sweater.  The trousers have some ink spots & other marks, and my left shoe is coming apart at the toe, but Mrs. H said I looked “elegant.”  I don’t know why she should, but I think Mrs. H has always liked me, ever since she first met me at the Salamons’ in Haifa.  She always has compliments to pay me.  I had expected of course that we would be having our meal there, but she now told me that we were all going round to eat at her sister’s flat, where I had been on a short visit once before.  The 2 daughters were both home for the holiday – Ronnie, who, in a few days will be finishing her 2-year term of army service, & 17 year old Ariella, whom I met at the kibbutz of Hatsofien Dalet.  So, with Mr. H., we all went round to the sister’s flat, whose name I think is Leah, & I met her husband & 2 daughters, Dvora (?) who is the older, & Ruth.  I felt privileged to be in at this family gathering, but was made to feel by no means a stranger, though Mrs. H fussed about me, & made me at times feel rather embarrassed, because there were so many foods there that I didn’t like.  There was much wishing  of “Shona Tovah,” & the sister’s husband said a Kiddush (blessing) for which we men covered our heads with napkins.  Then there was the custom of eating apples dipped in honey, signifying hope for a sweet year.  Our meal had many courses – there was fish & salad, a sort of shallow mincemeat pie, & chocolate pudding.  They all spoke mostly in Hebrew, though Mrs. H  several times apologized to me about this. I made use of several phrases I have learned, e.g., “ B’toi avon” (good appetite) and “gam lecha” (same to you.)  I learned that Mrs. H knows the wife of Jacob Friedman, one of the 2 American geologists who were in Dr.Bentore’s party that I met in Elat. Later, I met here a man who left Palestine & went to live in Perth, Australia in 1939, & has only just come back here on a visit for the first time since then.


I left this place with the Havatseletts, but decided to return to my residence, so said goodbye to them.  Mrs. H wants me to come & have more meals with them, but I don’t want to make a habit of it, especially when I can now eat somewhere else.  There is going to be some sort of big party here tomorrow evening. But I hope to see the H’s once more before I leave, though I am still not sure where I will be going from Tel Aviv.


Back at my flat, I found there were many other young guests here, & I spoke with some of them, & later had cake & tea.  There was a 29 year old boy named Eliezar, a sabra who had spent 5 years at the University of Chicago.  Stanley exchanged some jokes with me, & I talked with Abie about Israel & South Africa.  Tomorrow we may go to the beach.


Monday, September 10, 1953 (written Sept. 11)

I was up till about 2;30 last night writing my diary.  Abie, who was in the same room, said he did not mind if I kept the lights on, as he could sleep anyway. I awoke this morning about 9:30.


This was Rosh Hshonah, the first day of the Jewish New Year, and also, by co-incidence, of the Moslem New Year as well.  About Jewish festivals I know little, but I think this period is called “The High Holidays,” and the synagogues are full of worshippers.  It is a public holiday, & all shops are closed, though I saw some cafes open.  Everyone has on their best clothes, and there is little traffic in the streets.  But the 3 men in whose flat I am staying are not at all religious, & actually had bacon & eggs for breakfast this morning – the first time I have had pig-meat in Israel.  We ate out on the front balcony.


I was much mistaken when I said yesterday that this particular block of flats stands alone.  It is actually the first in a row of 6 residential blocks.  But this row does stand amid an area of waste land, though across this, there are flats etc. to be seen on every side.

Siggy & Stanley were going to stay at home this morning, but Abie was going with a friend to the beach, & I went with them.  Siggie, whose real name is Siegfried, is 41 years od, dark and lean.  Stanley is 30, and has a very good-natured, open face, which reveals his whole simple character.  As Harry Minz told me at the Hotel, Stanley is just too good-natured & generous.  He lets people take advantage of him all the time – including his flat-mates.  He is simple but sweet, & one could hardly help liking him.  Abie, who is soon going back to South Africa, is 21, & has a sharp-featured face. 


We had to walk the long way to the beach, because no busses were running today.  We passed many synagogues, overflowing with festival congregations -- & saw places like cafes which had been converted into temporary synagogues, with the women separated from the men by tablecloths hung across the room.  In the streets too were many black-coated religious Jews, & sometimes with large round fur hats. These people to me look incredibly incongruous in the streets of this modern functional city.  But not everyone was observing the holiday in a religious manner.  We found the beach, & cafes along the front, crowded with people, as well as  the amusement arcades.  There we met people I had met at the flat last night, including Eliezar.  The sea was rough, & we did not bathe for very long.  I sat most of the time on a deck-chair, reading parts from an English school-book of classical history that I had found in the flat.  On the way down to the sea (we went to the Tel Aviv beach, near the port) we had called at the Victory Hotel, & there woken up Charlie, the boy from France who has lived in South Africa.  He then came with us.  On the way back, we went again to the Hotel, & I met a young woman from Czechoslovakia there, whose name I later learned was Edita Strak.  This woman, Charlie told me, was a bit of a whore, but I did not know then that he had invited her to the big party that was to be held here at the flat in the evening.


Charlie and Abie and I returned to the flat about 3 PM, where Siggie & Stanley were waiting for us with a fine lunch they had prepared, which included soup, meat fried in flour, potatoes & tea.  Afterwards I helped wash up, but I had to leave at 4:30, for I had an appointment with Moshe Brillliant at 5 PM.  To recapitulate the history of this appointment, Mr. Sobel, the P.A.T.W.A. organizer in London with whom I made my arrangements to join the Summer Institute, when he learned my surname, told me that there was a Moshe Brilliant on the staff of the Jerusalem Post, and I think suggested that I look him up.  I had kept this at the back of my mind, & remembered it when I saw Moshe Brilliant’s name heading important articles on the front page of the “Post,” which is the only English-language daily in Israel.  I thought it would be interesting to meet him, not only to find out if he might be related to me, but also to learn something about the “Post” and journalism in this country.  In Jerusalem I went to the “Post” office, but was told that he was in Tel Aviv. When I first stayed in Tel Aviv, they told me he was in Jerusalem.  So finally, before departing for my recent trip to Galilee, I wrote him a brief letter saying I would like to meet him, & giving the Victory Hotel as my address.  His reply awaited me on my return, & yesterday the appointment was made by telephone.


The address was 13 Haneviim Street, as usual, a block of flats.  Thither I walked hurriedly, arriving just in time. I felt rather self-conscious about my clothes, & regretted that I had not better things to wear.  My left shoe’s sole had now come so far away that it was hindering my walking.  My grey trousers were in poor condition.  My shirt was not too bad.  But I was pleasantly received by the Brilliants – Moshe & his wife, & their two young children.  I sat in their living-room , had tea with them, & had a happy conversation for an hour & a half.  I was rather surprised to find that Moshe was not English, but American, from New York, & has been here I think 21 years.  He came with his family when they “wanted a change.”  First we talked about our name & possible relationship.  Mr. B told me all he knew.  His grandfather, Yaacov Yehuda, came from Poland to America.  He was a cork merchant, driven out of business, I think, when the government took over the wine trade.  The trouble with my investigation  was that I really don’t know enough about my family myself.  But I have heard of an actress named Freda Brilliant, & Moshe told me that he was distantly related to her, their grandfathers being cousins.  Moshe told me of the Brilliant families he had heard of in Boston, U.S.A., & Australia, but I could not establish any relationship,


Then we talked about other things.  Moshe told me he has just begun a leave of absence from the “Post,” & is writing now for the New York Times, which he believes to be the finest paper in the world.  He is planning to begin an English-language weekly here, to be called “Link.”  I had the happy feeling that I was not imposing upon this family, but that they were glad to have me as a guest & talk to me.  I learned that the “Post” has a circulation of only 15,000, & was surprised at this.  Moshe said the position of the paper has come down very much since the days of the Mandate, when it was the most important paper in the country.  Moshe told me the surprising story of how he had got his start in journalism, through the chance aid of a fascist judge. When he first came to Palestine, he worked as an office boy for the “Post.”  He was sent to pick up a report of a case at the Law Courts, but was told when he got there that there was only one copy of the report, & he could not take it away.  So he began to take notes on it, but just then the judge came in, who, as it happened, had been a fascist in England.  And the judge dictated his own report to him.  When the Editor saw this report, he was so impressed, thinking it was Moshe’s work, that I think he gave him a reporter’s job on the paper. Moshe has paid only 2 short visits to London, but says he likes the English people, & might come to live for a while in England.  I felt privileged to be talking with so important a journalist.


I left at 6:30 & walked back to the flat.  The party was to begin at 8, & for it I borrowed a pair of Stanley’s long trousers & a pair of Siggy’s shoes.  Many people came – there were more girls than boys – but I proved a great disappointment  to myself.  I thought that the time had passed when I was very shy at such affairs & felt miserable the whole time.  But once again I found myself at a complete loss.  I just could not go up & talk to a girl whom I did not know.  Moreover, the one attempt I made involved one of the most remorseful blunders I have ever made.  When a pretty girl limped in, I gave her my seat & began talking to her.  I thought her leg was broken, & asked if it was.  She did not seem to understand, so I went on & on, trying to make my question clear.  Then Stanley whispered to me that she did not like being asked about her leg, & I realized, to my intensely mortified embarrassment what was later obvious – that she was a cripple.  This incident so disturbed & depressed me that I was afterwards afraid to speak to anyone.  How could I do such a thing?  But later I exchange jokes with Stanley & some other boys, & later I got talking to a girl from South Africa about her country & Israel, & she needed little prompting to go on & on talking.  After a while, I lost interest, but listening to her at least gave me something to do.


Meanwhile other people were dancing in the other room.  Edita Strak, whom I mentioned before, was at this party, & both Siggie and Abie seemed to have designs on her.  When at last, well after midnight, the party was over & everyone had gone home, Edita stayed on, & I realized that she was going to spend the night here.  It was the first time I had encountered such a situation as this, but I was surprised to find that I was hardly interested in what was going on.  I felt primarily that it was no concern of mine.  The eventual arrangement was that Stanley, Siggie & I slept in one room, & Abie spent the night with Edita in the other.  Well, I am learning about more things than Israel on this holiday!


Friday, September 11, 1953

This was for me not a day of much achievement, & it ended rather unhappily.  But I have had nothing materially to complain of.  I have lately been eating & sleeping very well, & am among friends.  I do not really want to spend another day in Tel Aviv, but tomorrow is Shabbat, & I do not yet know if I will leave then or not.


When I am in a good mood, & walking alone along a road, I love to sing loudly to myself, especially songs which I feel inspire me to adventures & daring deeds.  Of these, my great & lasting favorite is “The Road to the Isles, “ which I think is really the most rousing tune I know. Also, I much like “Marching Through Georgia.”  I do not know the words of either of these, but that does not matter.  Then there are “Over the Hills and Far Away” and “Men of Harlech.”  But my singing voice is a great disappointment to me.  I always seem to go too high or too low.  It would take me a long time to enumerate all the songs I like to sing.  There are a multitude of Gilbert & Sullivans, songs by Stephen Foster like “Old Kentucky Home,” national anthems & patriotic songs like “Rule Britannia,” songs with particularly beautiful tunes, like “Greensleeves,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” “The Bachelor’s Song.” [?]


This morning, having been up late last night, I did not get up until 9:45.  And Abie and his “room-mate” Edita did not make their appearance until considerably later.  Edita even stayed for lunch.  Abie told me this evening that he had not slept at all last night.  I wonder how much Edita was paid.  I had no real breakfast this morning, only glasses of tea & slices of cake.  Before lunch, I helped the boys cleaning the floors.  This is a very easy process in a place like this, where all the floors are of stone tiles, which need only have water poured over them & swept away.  Then I had a bath.  For lunch we had chicken & rice.


I spent some time after lunch writing my diary & a letter home.  In my letter I first told my parents of the loss of my English & American money & begged for their sympathy rather than their anger.


Today I thought would be a good day for me to make some visits.  I remembered Moshe Stillman, the sabra boy I had met at Deganya Aleph, who had given me his address in Givotayim, which is near here.  I thought of going to see him.  But then there was someone else I wanted to see, Mr. Salamon, a man who had lived in England for a number of years, whom I had met on a bus going to Hadera on August 10th, & who had given me a strong invitation to come & visit him at his home at no.50 Arlozoroff St., Tel Aviv.On August 18 I had gone to this address, only to find that it was a flat into which the Salomon family had not even moved yet.  But Mrs. S., whom I met then told me that they would be moving in in about 2 weeks’ time, & invited me to come again then.

Since Givatayim and Arlozoroff St. were far apart, & since today was still a holiday, & no busses were running, I could make only one visit this afternoon, & therefore decided to go & see Mr. Salomon.  It proved to be an unfortunate choice though I cannot of course tell how much better I might have fared at Moshe’s house.


So this afternoon I walked the long distance up to Arlozoroff St.  I hoped Mr. S might invite me to stay for supper, but if he did not, I still had the choice of coming back to my flat to eat, or going to the Havatseletts.  Finally I reached no. 50 (continuing now on Sept 12) and found the apartment, marked this time with the name of Salomon.  It is fortunate that I can at least recognize a name I know when it is written in Hebrew letters, for I would otherwise have much trouble in finding flats etc;, which usually have the name outside only in Hebrew.  I rang the bell, &, after some time the door was opened by a fat middle-aged woman.  I asked if she spoke English & she shrugged.  I asked where Mr. Salomon was, & she shrugged again.  There was a young man inside who said that Mr. Salomon was not there.  Then the woman quickly closed the door, & I was left standing there, feeling very disappointed & annoyed. I walked outside & wondered what to do next.  I walked down some streets, &, to console myself, bought some ice cream at a café, which was almost a shilling.  The sole of my left shoe has come completely away, & was hanging only from in front of the heel, greatly impeding my walking.  Several times I tried to keep the shoe together with rubber bands or lengths of wire, but it never held for long.


I decided finally to go to the Havatseletts for supper, & walked there, arriving about 6:45. Mr. H let me in, & Ronnie was there.  I was very sorry to learn that they had expected me to come for lunch today.  This & other things combined to make my present visit somehow less happy than previous ones.  But in any case, I learned that the Havatseletts are now going to Haifa, so this was probably my last visit or meeting with them.  Mr. H spent some time talking with me.  He is very keen on mountaineering, & showed me many photographs & postcards & maps while telling me of the many climbs he has made.  I discovered that he is an artist, & saw some of his pen & ink drawings of mountains.  I talked with him also about London, & about the Hebrew language.  We had tea before having supper, & for supper there was little that I liked, & another woman guest Ariella was also there. This was the beginning of Shabbat (& the ending of Rosh Hashonah).  Mr. H said a Kiddush over the wine, in the same words as Daddy does at home – but the 2 pronunciations are very different. I told my hosts sincerely that I thought my parents would be very pleased to know I was having Shabbat dinner like this with an Israeli family.  After dinner, Mrs. H went out with her friend, & I said goodbye to her, probably for the last time.  She met me at the Haifa Salamons’ in July, but since then I came to regard her as almost more than a friend.  She took almost a mother’s interest in me & my welfare.


I stayed on for a while to help with the dishes, & then Ronnie invited me to come with her to a gathering of some of her friends.  I was glad to accept, but afterwards regretted it.  We walked to the flat where the party was being held, & there found a happy gathering of young people, eating, talking, & dancing – the kind of affair I have now become used to.  But, as usual on these occasions, as soon as I entered the place, I felt myself “freezing up.”  It is no use;  no matter how often I go to things like this, I just cannot fit in, & feel miserable from start to finish.  There have been times since I left home when I was very satisfied with myself, thought I was improving & becoming more mature – but it seems that this was all an illusion, and now I have lapsed into all my old faults and shortcomings.  I am shy & hesitant.  I cannot speak naturally to girls.  Since I refuse to drink or smoke, & cannot dance, it is impossible for me to fit in.  I even refused when Ronnie invited me to try to dance.  I did however get into conversation with a very intelligent & widely read boy named David, who came from Hungary & spoke good English.  He studies chemistry, & would like to come & live in England.  He knows much about England, & even English History.


But for much of my later time there, I just sat in dull misery, alone, speaking to no one, while Ronnie danced.  I longed to leave, but didn’t want to go without Ronnie.  However, as the hour approached midnight, I felt I must go, as I didn’t want to arrive home after everyone else had gone to bed.  This proved an unfounded fear, but eventually I said goodbye to Ronnie, promised I would write from England, left, & was glad to be out in the fresh air.  Ronnie is almost exactly the same age as myself.  In fact, she is 13 days older – but I always felt that she was much more mature than I, having been already 2 years in the army.  She is due to come out in 10 days’ time, & recently received a promotion to the rank of lieutenant.)  She has dark eyes & a very pretty smile – but is plump, like my sister.


So I walked back to the flat, & found only Stanley here.  Abie & Siggie had gone to a party, but they arrived back soon after me.  I had some peanut butter & jam sandwiches, & tea.  Our sleeping arrangements were like those on my first night here, since there were no women coming tonight.


Saturday, September 12, 1953  (Written Sept. 13)

One of the many faults of this diary is that it is hardly ever written in the present tense.  I am always behind to some extent.  Another fault is that I am often vague and unsure.  I over-use such words as “seems,” “rather,” “somehow,” etc. 


Today I finally decided to leave Tel Aviv.  It was a reluctant decision, for my life in the flat with Stanley, Siggie, & Abie had been really happy, & I had nothing to complain of.  I went to bed at what time I liked, slept as long as I liked (this morning til almost 10), & ate as much of their good food as I wanted.  I had books & magazines to read, a fine radio to play with, a pleasant balcony to sit on – and my hosts never asked me to do a thing in return, & when I did offer to help them in anything, they usually protested.


Abie’s language was pretty bad, & he used to speak much about his sexual experiences – but despite this, I liked him for his cheerfulness & hospitality – for it was, after all, his flat, though it was Stanley who invited me to stay there.  Stanley had a face like some sad but kindly dog or moose.  He was generous to a fault, as Harry Minz had told me.  I did not see him give away or “lend” large sums of money, as Harry told me he often did when his father sent some to him.  But I did see how his friends took advantage of his good nature, such as sending him out to buy the ice when it wasn’t really his turn.  Siggie did most of the cooking, & seemed to direct the housekeeping, & was quite competent at both.  He was interested in my diary, which I spent much time in writing, & whenever I heard something interesting & he was there, he would say “There’s some more pages for you, Johnny.”  The incident of Edita (see Sept. 10-11) somehow did not disturb me in the slightest.  My mind had long been prepared for such things, so that it came as no shock.

On the radio in the flat, we sometimes heard the BBC Overseas Service, sometimes the Hashemite Broadcasting Company, in English, from the Old City of Jerusalem, sometimes English propaganda broadcasts from Moscow.


But, despite all this comfort, & despite the fact that today was Shabbat, & my friends would gladly have had me for another night, if not longer, I felt it imperative that I should leave today.  Last night’s misery, plus the fact that, after today, only 9 days were left to me in Israel, made me want once more to get out upon the main road, to redeem my broken spirit in fresh adventure.  So I decided that I would depart after lunch.  But we had a very late lunch today, & it was not until about 4:45 p.m. that I set out from the flat.


For breakfast, once again I indulged in the delights of peanut butter & jam sandwiches.  Our lunch included an assortment of meats, with potato soup & canned peaches.  Breakfast also included again bacon & eggs.  Abie’s friend Charlie, the 22 year old French boy who has lived in South Africa, is now a mechanic, & lives at the Victoria Hotel, was there for lunch, & this time he did most of the talking.  He has a rather hard face, with narrow eyes.  He told us some very interesting stories of how, when he was a conscript in the Israeli navy, he several times deserted & tried to get out of the country, because he was fed up with it here.  Once he & another man stowed away on a ship, but were discovered before it left port.  Once he & a friend tried at night to get across the Lebanese border at Rosh Hanikra, but were driven back by machine-gun fire.  Once he was arrested and imprisoned a month for vagabondage.  Now he is out of the navy, but still trying to get out of the country.  He tried unsuccessfully to be sent by the Americans to fight in Korea, and by the French in Indochina.  He & Abie said they would both willingly do this for the excitement and adventure of it. 


This is the sort of thing I hate to hear – young men who can find the excitement they seek only in war, & probably wouldn’t even care which side they were fighting on.  Charlie later told me that he has no fear of death, feeling that, if he has to die sometime, it doesn’t really matter when.  He certainly is an adventurous person, & told me he had once planned with a friend to sail on a raft across the Atlantic; and now he would like to make his way around the world.  But at present he is engaged in some official negotiations to get back to France.


At length, after our late lunch, & some fine glasses of hot tea, I bade a reluctant farewell to everybody, & assured Stanley that I will soon be seeing his family in Colindale.  I wrote a note to Harry Minz, which I asked Stanley to give to him, in which I asked Harry to forward any mail that might arrive for me at the Victory Hotel to the Shoham office in Haifa.  The only mail that might come is something from Dr. Hermon in Jerusalem concerning my rail fare from Marseilles to London – and I hope he sends it instead to Haifa, as there will now be little time for Harry to forward it.


But before I left the flat, I was yet to receive 2 more kindnesses from the occupants.  As I have mentioned in previous entries, my left shoe had come far apart at the sole, & was causing me much distress.  I had tried many remedies, including this morning tying a spare pair of shoe-laces around the shoe – but nothing seemed to work for long.  When Abie saw my difficulty, however, he said he knew a remedy.  He took a hammer, & with a nail made 3 holes through the leather edge of the shoe and the rubber sole.  Then through these holes he threaded small lengths of wire, whose ends he twisted together underneath, to form 3 small wire rings.  This was a most effective repair, & it looked moreover quite neat.  It was much better than tying things right around the whole shoe.  Then Stanley before I left made me a present of a small book, an Israel Almanac, which I said I would like to read.


At last I departed, walking with Charlie the 2 long blocks to the Petah Tikvah road.  Now, although I knew all the time that I wanted to leave Tel Aviv, I still was not sure where I wanted to go.  It had for a long time, in fact ever since I first went with the Summer Institute to Sodom, been my intention to return and swim there in the Dead Sea.  But as time went on, the more I thought about it, the less attractive the prospect seemed, of plunging again into the rigors of the Negev – and beautiful Galilee was always luring me north.  Moreover, I knew from many sources that it would be most inadvisable  to attempt to bathe in the Dead Sea, unless I could immediately afterwards have a fresh-water shower.  I had always thought that such a shower must be available at Sodom, especially since I knew Richard Halliburton, my favorite travel-author, had bathed in the Sea.  But last night Mr. Havatselett pointed out to me that in all probability Richard Halliburton had gone in at the northern end of the Sea, which was then available to Palestine.  The point had great influence with me, since several people previously they did not know of any such showers at Sodom.


And so today, when late this afternoon I started out, I had already decided to go not south but north. I woull Had I kbmake first for Kefar Sava and the Berl Katznelson Institute, which my Washington friend Leon Hornicker had asked me to visit, & convey his greetings to the librarian Dr. Zeev Goldberg, since he had given some books to the library.  After that I would visit Caesarea, then go on to Haifa, & leave most of my things there in the Shoham office, before departing for my last five days on tour in Galilee, during which I hoped to climb Har Tavor, and spend a night in the monastery on top.


But I was not to get very far today.  My rucksack, full of all my belongings, was very heavy. Had I been going south, I would have left most of the contents in Tel Aviv, and picked them up on my way north to Haifa, but now I must carry them all with me. The weight is not intolerable, but more vexatious than actually carrying the rucksack is putting it on & taking it off.  I have begun to get after-pains in my back & body from the strain.  Nevertheless, I now had much walking to do.  With several long resting-stops, I gradually made my way along the now-familiar Petah-Tikvah road which leads out of Tel Aviv, & through Ramat-Gan, trying unsuccessfully all the time to get a lift.  It was while I was going up a hill where I have twice before obtained a lift that something stopped for me.  To my surprise, I saw that the driver of the car was someone I knew, Mr. Saul Bar-Levov, the South African who is an officer in the Israeli regular army, who first gave me a lift from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv, & then later invited me to his home, where I went.  He had passed me in his car & recognized me, so drove back to me around the block.  But unfortunately he could now take me only a very short way – a few blocks – but the ride temporarily boosted my spirits.  But time was flying, & the sun would soon be setting.  I continued to walk & hitch through the section called Bensi Berag, but the day grew dark & I grew weary.  Eventually I found myself standing at a bus-stop just outside Bensi Berag, with some soldiers.  Although I got talking to one of the soldiers, & learned that he too was making for Kefar Sava, I did not expect, or really desire, to reach there tonight, & so inspected my map to see if there were a kibbutz close at hand.  Just before Petah Tikvah, I saw that there was a place called Givat Hashelosha, which the soldier said was a kibbutz.  This was only a few kilometers ahead, & when a bus came by, going in that direction, I decided to take it.  The cost was very small (3 ½ pence) and the driver showed me where to get off.


The kibbutz was some distance off the road, & I walked along a sandy path past some other settlements.  When I arrived it was already dark, but I went straight about my familiar routine, with the usual good success, talking to several people, until eventually someone took me into the dining room & sat me down to supper, which included a raw egg, which I don’t think I have ever had before in my life.  I ate it mixed with fish & potatoes.  Then there was brought to me an American woman from Boston, who introduced herself as Hannah.  She had been here 4 months, was working in the kitchen, & invited me to speak with her later.  It was arranged that I should sleep in a room with a group of young immigrant boys, who came mostly from North Africa, & to whom I spoke in French.  They were very friendly to me, especially 2 named Joseph and Binyamin, & went out of their way to help me, e.g., leading me in the dark to the shower-house.


After my supper & shower, I went & had quite a long conversation with Hannah.  We sat outside on a bench.  She lives in a room by herself, but told me she has 2 children at the kibbutz (though I would not have put her over 30, but she said I think that her elder child is 10).  She said she did not have a husband – but, though curious, I never discovered whether this meant that she was a widow or an unmarried mother, or divorced.  The most interesting thing about this kibbutz of Givat Hashelosha was that it has suffered a split among its members, between those supporting the parties of Mapai and Mapam.  I have heard about these splits and squabbles before, but what I heard here I found most strange and amusing.  It seems that about a year ago the Mapai and Mapam people decided that they just could no longer live with one another.  Thus, the 28-year-old kibbutz was split, but instead of the minority group (Mapam) moving out & the other remaining, it was for some reason decided that they would all move out and build 2 new kibbutzim, the old place being sold to some organization for use as an old folks’ home (?)  Until the 2 new kibbutzim could be built and occupied, however – which are both between Petah Tikvah and the Arab border, and not far apart, everyone has to continue living in the old place. 


So what happened, as far as I could understand, was that the present kibbutz was divided up between the 2 parties, & now forms practically 2 separate communities.  The children go to different schools, the people live in different houses, and, most laughable and amazing of all, the dining-hall is actually divided down the center by a tall solid wall.  On one side eats Mapam, on the other Mapai, out of sight of each other.  I am not sure exactly what happened about the work of the kibbutz & its fields & facilities, but I think that, as far as possible, they too were divided up. To such an extent did the political ideologies clash – although I think there is considerably less difference between Mapai and Mapam than there is between the Socialists and the Conservatives in England.  I heard of cases of families being split by it, & even lovers being forced to part.  But, on the personal level, I think the opponents are still on good terms with each other.  The whole thing seemed really crazy to me, although Hannah by now had come to take it almost for granted.  I talked a long time with Hannah about Sabra children, their education & self-confidence, about kibbutz life etc.  Then at length I returned & went early to bed with my young friends.  Tonight the clocks are put back one hour – so in future sunset will come an hour earlier, which is bad for me.


Sunday, September 13, 1953  (Written Sept. 14)

Today I repeated my feat of some days past, & had breakfast, lunch, & dinner at 3 different kibbutzim.


The clock-time when I was woken up with the boys this morning was 5:30, but it was really 6:30, since the clocks had been put back one hour last night.  My young friends took me to a tap to wash, & refused to let me make my own bed.  Then we went to breakfast, and I met an American woman in the dining-hall whom I think had been on the kibbutz for 19 years.  I blundered badly when I said I thought the Mapai-Mapam split was more amusing than sad – but she took it in good part.  At length I departed from the kibbutz – soon no longer to exist – of Givat Hashelosha (named, I understand, in honor of 3 men who were killed there by Arabs (Hashelosha means “of the 3”, cf. Maale Hachamisha – “the Hill of the Five.”) where my time had been very pleasant.  Although I had come only a short way from Tel Aviv, I felt very glad that I had not stayed last night in Tel Aviv.  I walked by side-roads into Petah Tikvah with a boy from Egypt, & he directed me onto the main road.  I had come this way before, & knew that I had to walk out of Petah Tikvah up to a crossroads where I stood the best chance of a lift.  P.T. does not look a very interesting place.  It is, I think, the oldest Jewish settlement in Palestine.  I saw a large synagogue there while walking out.  I saw still visible painted on a wall a red slogan put up during the World War by the Palestine Communist Party:  “Demand a second front in Europe now.”


Sweaters of a bright blue turquoise color are very popular in Israel.  They seem to be worn mainly by young eastern immigrants.


Once at the crossroads, I followed my usual policy of introducing myself to a soldier going in my direction, &, as usual, I was thus soon successful in getting a lift on an army tender going right to Kefar Sava.  Some days ago, when I was heading south from Tel Aviv, I had been given a lift by a man named Susskin, who told me he was the Mayor of Kefar Sava, & invited me to call on him one day at his office, saying he would like to show me around. Bearing this invitation in mind, I decided, before going to the Berl Katznelson Institute, to call on the Mayor.  So I had to find out where his office was, & inquired at a filling-station of a man who spoke English.  But, as it happened, just as I was making my enquiries, the Mayor drove by in his car.  Someone stopped him, & I spoke to him.  He remembered me, but was just now on his way to Tel Aviv, & had no time for me. 


So he drove off, & I asked my way to the Institute, which I learned was also called Beit Berl.  Although Leon Hornicker in his letter had given me the impression that the place was actually in Kefar Sava, I now found that it was some kilometers outside, & to get there I had to take a bus along a road which I had not before travelled.  Leaving my rucksack at a booth where I bought an ice-cream, I walked along a side road lined with orange & fig trees to the Institute.  I still did not know exactly what this place was, but found it to be a pleasant collection of modern buildings, with many lawns & gardens etc.  It reminded me of Ohalo at the Sea of Galilee, a place also inspired by the Socialist Berl Katznelson.  I looked about some of the buildings, which were all very fine, but could not find anyone to speak to.  I wanted to find Dr. Zeev Goldberg, the Librarian, & give him greetings from Leon Hornicker.  It seemed a flimsy reason really for going to see him, for, if Leon wanted to send greetings, he could as well write them direct to Dr. Goldberg, instead of writing to me to carry the message – but still I thought it might be interesting to meet this man & find out something about this place.  At last I found some people, in the kitchen – but there a man who spoke English told me that Dr. Goldberg was away, with everyone else, on holiday.  But he told me that I could find him at the kibbutz of Mishmar Hasharon, of which he was a member.  I learned that this institution was used for training socialist youth leaders.


At first I had no intention of pursuing my quest further to Mishmar Hasharon, but when, after returning to my rucksack, I looked at my map and saw that it lay directly on my way to Haifa, some distance south of Hadera, I thought that I could kill 2 birds with one stone, & try to arrive there in time for lunch.  So I took the bus back to the main road, there befriended a little Iranian soldier who was anxious to go back to Bagdad, & soon got a lift with him & some other soldiers up to the Natanya crossroad.  There, after some difficulty, I got a lift right to Mishmar Hasharon.  There I enquired for Zeev Goldberg, & was approached by a little boy of 14 who came from France, & told me he was just here for the summer.  He had been here only a month, but could already speak Hebrew.  He spoke to me (in French) & managed me with a supreme self-assurance, which evoked my admiration.  First he escorted me to the dining-hall, & saw to it that I had lunch – quite a good one, which included fried fish & potatoes, and a cold drink which I am sure consisted of lemonade plus grated carrots!  This boy’s name was Hubert.  After lunch, he took me to his room, where I left my rucksack, then escorted me to the residence he had located of Zeev Goldberg.  But Zeev was not at home, & so I decided to have a shower.  Hubert took me to the miclochat (shower-house), & while I was laving, he took my water-bottle & got it filled for me with lemonade. This was all entirely his own idea.  After my shower, I returned to my rucksack, but could not find Hubert, so I went againt to Zeev’s house by myself, but again he was not there.  I looked about for someone to ask where he could be, but could find only one middle-aged woman, who I thought said he had gone to Tel Aviv.  This seemed to finish matters, but I was not much concerned.  I could at least write & tell Leon that I had done my best.  Leon had also asked me to see the librarian of the Hebrew University, to which he had presented some books.  I had gone once to his office, but he was too busy to see me.  So I had failed Leon twice, though I doubt if he himself would much care.


Before leaving the pleasant kibbutz of Mishmar Hasharon, I decided to sit for a while & write my diary.  I sat for some time outside on a bench, but flies were a grievous nuisance, and eventually I went & sat in the little screened-in verandah which Hubert’s room shares with another.  The occupant of this other room heard me make some noise, & opened the door to see who it was.  He was a young man of 25, & invited me to come & write more comfortably in his room.  This offer I accepted, & found that my host came from The Hague, Holland, had been in Israel about 4 years, & was studying History & something else at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  He has also obtained a job at the kibbutz as a teacher of History & Bible, & so will study some days in the week, & teach on other days.  He was now reading on his bed.  In his room, there were many good books, including collections of classical authors.  When he had finished reading, & was putting away his book, I suddenly thought of asking him if he knew Zeev Goldberg.  He did, & said to my surprise that as far as he knew he was at the kibbutz now.  Of course I said I wanted to see him, & this boy, named Dov, took me out.  We met him near the dining-hall, & I made a rare mistake.  Usually when I meet a person here, my first question is “Do you speak English?” -- but this time I felt that would be unnecessary, & so, after shaking hands with this man – short, with graying hair, perhaps in his 40’s, wearing glasses, I began at once in English to explain why I had come.  Then I found, to my embarrassment, that he had not understood me. He speaks only a little Engish, & Dov had to be our interpreter.  Unfortunately Zeev (whose title Dov said was not really Doctor)  was in fact just about to leave for Tel Aviv, & so could spare me little time.  But he came into the dining hall for a few minutes, & told me, through Dov, that Leon Hornicker, whom he had never met, would be very welcome if he ever visited Israel.  I am glad that at least he recognized the name Hornicker right away.  He said I could tell him that the collection of government papers he had given to Beit Berl were very useful, but that it would be even better if he sent new ones, to keep them up to date. Zeev also expressed regret that he had no time for me now, but invited me to come back some other time.  This would be most unlikely, but now at least I felt that my mission had been accomplished, & also that I had had a good lunch & shower, & was having a good tea.


After tea, I left, & walked back to the main road.  My destination was now Caesarea, about which I knew very little, except that it was an ancient town & port founded by the Romans, & that there was a kibbutz somewhere nearby, where I now expected to be staying the night.

After writing some time, & talking with a boy from Belgium who seemed, like myself, a traveler in Israel for the summer, I got a lift to Hadera, & then almost immediately, another lift up to the side road leading on the left to Caesarea, which is on the coast, a few kilometers from the main road.  I began to walk along this road, past a maabara, but soon was lucky & got a lift in a tender right to the Kibbutz, which is called, not Caesarea, but some name (-- Yam) which means “Fields of the Sea.”  This kibbutz is right on the coast, & one of its activities is fishing.  It has one trawler.  Here I met a boy (28) named Harry (Tzvi) who comes from Leeds, England, & works here as a fisherman.  He was very friendly, & I had tea, which he made in his electric kettle outside his cabin, with him & his neighbor, an American girl named Sylvia, who is a nurse.  Harry came to Israel just to help in its war, but afterwards decided to stay on. He told me of the crowded “Hell-ship,” full of “illegal immigrants, on which he came over, & how even the water was strictly rationed.  He told me of young Jews he knew who came over & were taken right from the ship to the front, where many of them were killed.  Harry had an Alsatian female dog named Smoky, & several black pups, about whom he was fond of talking.


I wanted to go to visit the ruins of the old Caesarea tonight, but several things delayed me, especially Harry inviting me to tea – which was incidentally very enjoyable.  I did however see the sun setting over the sea, a magnificent sight.  Harry used to be a professional actor in the Swindon repertory theater, & is very interested in plays & the theater.  He had many books of plays, & he produces Hebrew plays at the kibbutz.


While taking a shower, I met a man named Benny Baum, who, it seems, is quite a character.  He told me many things which Harry later with great delight told me were not true, e.g. that he had been in the Australian army & fought at El Alemein, that since the age of 16 he had in war & underground activities killed 48 men.  But it was hard to believe that everything he told me was not true, & some things, such as that he was in the Palmach, the crack underground army of Haganah, were certainly true.  After supper, I went to his room, & there saw a very interesting little collection of small objects from Caesarea that he had found here – coins, glass & bone objects, etc. ; he could tell me something about every one of them.  Then we had refreshments of tea, grapes, & cake (which he said he bakes himself, but Harry, much amused when I told him, said his mother, on another kibbutz, bakes for him every week.


Then Bennie began to tell me more stories.  Harry had warned me that he was an expert in telling tall stories, but the stories he told me, if they were not true, were at least very interesting.  One was how he had become a hero by saving a machine-gun and a wounded comrade when fighting the Iraqi Arabs.  Another was about how, on a photograph which he had happened to take, he was able to identify the man who had driven the car involved in blowing up the Jewish Agency building in 1944, & through him this man was later murdered by Jewish intelligence in Cairo.  Benny was certainly a good talker, & assured me so often that what he said was true that I still do not know how much of it to believe.


Harry obtained for me a bed in a room with another boy.]


Monday September 14, 1953  (written Sept. 15)

I have lived in Israel now longer than I have lived in any country except England, Canada, & the U.S.A. 


Now that the clocks have been put back an hour, my day, which, as far as travelling is concerned, always ends at darkness, must end an hour earlier.  By 6:30 PM now, the sun has set.  This is very inconvenient for me, and proved especially so today.  My general plan today was to spend some time in the morning at Caesarea & perhaps stay for lunch, then travel to Haifa, & try to leave most of my possessions at the Shoham office, then attempt to reach, for the night, the kibbutz of Mishmar Ha’emeq.  I chose this kibbutz because it lay on my projected route to Har Tavor, & because I had heard much about it, & been recommended by the people at Kibbutz Megiddo to see it.


After breakfast this morning, Harry took me to see some of the remains of ancient Caesarea.  But I much regretted that I did not know something about the place already, since Harry knew next to nothing, & I had no guide-book covering the place.  The most interesting thing to me about this region was the fact that, all over the fields & wasteland, & along the roadside, one could see the scattered remains of a great city – especially columns & beautifully carved capitals.  A few of these lay about the kibbutz grounds, as sort of ornaments, but for the most part they lay just neglected on face of the land, food for thought on the “sic transit gloria” and “how are the mighty fallen” themes.


Harry was much amused by the stories I told him that Benny Baum had told me yesterday, and kept assuring me that they were just “yarns.”  Benny had told me that he had once caught a Jewish marauder in the banana plantation, and beat him up so badly that he later died.  But Harry told me that the truth about this was that the “marauder” was a boy of 11, & Benny, to the later disgust of everyone in the kibbutz, had tied him behind the horse he was riding – but I didn’t understand if the boy was dragged or just led away.  Anyway, the boy was not harmed.


Harry took me now to a place where some excavations had been carried on, & there were revealed some walls & a fine large statue of a seated man wearing a toga – but the statue had neither head nor hands.  A guide or caretaker had a little shelter nearby, but he didn’t speak English, & had no literature on the place, so he was of very little use to me.  A now-abandoned Arab village stands on what I think used to be the main part of Caesarea.  One can still see a few vestiges of the ancient port.  The Government is I think intending to re-develop the harbor, & make it Israel’s main fishing port.  Harry often goes out in the kibbutz’s one fishing-boat.  They go to Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, etc.


Old Roman  columns seem to have been incorporated in the crumbling sea-wall.  From the village, Harry & I went back to the kibbutz along the beach, passing a place called “Cleopatra’s Pools, “ a long rectangular pool, cut in the rocks of the sea.  I felt dissatisfied with my visit to Caesarea.  Without previous knowledge or a good guide, appreciation of such a place is impossible.


The kibbutz is right on the sea, and has a very fine sandy beach.  After we returned from our walk, I went for a swim in the warm sea.  Then once again I had tea with Harry in the shade outside his house.  By then it was lunch time – but, as we were going to the dining-hall, we met a white-haired man who is in charge of the kibbutz museum, which I wanted to visit.  So I went with him, and with another visitor, a man from America who I think was a writer, who talked much about himself, & to whom I took a dislike.  The old man first took us to his own home, a pleasant little house of several rooms which he said he had built himself at his own expense.  He had been at the kibbutz only about a year, but seemed very versatile & skilled in art.  He showed us fretwork, paintings, & puppets he had made, & said he writes plays for puppets.  There are all sorts of interesting people in this kibbutz.  Harry pointed out to me a uniformed man who is a general in the Israeli army, & another man who is a successful playwright in his spare time.


From his house, the old man took us to a building which contains on one side the museum, & on the other a memorial room to a woman named Hannah Sanesh, who was a member of the kibbutz, & who during the world war was sent by the British as a spy to some German-occupied country of Europe.  There she was caught & executed.  We went to this room first, which contained scrap-books & photographs etc. – then to the museum, where the old man, who spoke English, began pointing out to me the coins, pottery, glassware etc. which had been found at Caesarea.  At the back of the museum, outside, there was an impressive collection of columns, capitals, & pieces of statues lying on the ground.  But before I had been more than a few minutes in the museum, Harry rushed in & told me that there was a lorry leaving for Haifa in 20 minutes.  This was both good & bad for me – good because it meant I could now get easily to Haifa without any difficulty of returning to the main road, and would probably now stand a good chance of getting to Mishmar Ha’emeq – and bad because I now had unwillingly to rush from the museum after the man showed me very quickly around. 


I hurried to pack my rucksack & have my lunch in the dining-hall, but I need not have rushed so much, for, after my meal, it was still some time before the lorry pulled out, with me standing on the back in the sunshine.  This was a very happy ride for me, &, as soon as we set off, I started singing.  So up I went along the coast, probably for the last time, with the mountains of the Carmel range on the right & the sea on the left.  All too soon we reached Haifa, & I was put down at a bus-stop, where my driver told me to take a 41 bus in order to get to the Shoham office.  This I did, & was somehow amused on the bus to see an Arab sitting behind an Orthodox Jew.

At the Shoham office, I first made an urgent visit to the Beit Kisay. (I still have a very mild form of diarrhea, but it hardly troubles me at all.  In general, my health is excellent.  I have not had any boils for weeks, though they can return at any time) then just checked up on my reservation for the “Artza” on Sept. 22nd, though this was really unnecessary.  Then I asked the man there if I could leave some of my things there, explaining that I wanted to travel light, & had no friends or relatives with whom to leave them.  He suggested instead that I leave them at the Egged bus station.  So I now took a bus to the station, found the check-room, & there had a little difficulty because the man couldn’t speak English.  Eventually however I made him understand what I wanted to do, & he allowed me to come inside, & there unpack & repack my rucksack, making a large bundle, as I had done when I used to go away from Jerusalem, of all the things I did not want to take with me, & tying them up with a sheet.  In packing my rucksack, I was so anxious to have as light a load to carry as possible after days of agony under a heavy burden, that I threw caution to the winds, & left behind my groundsheet, which was my insurance against having to sleep outside.  However, it was a most sweet sensation to don my rucksack again & feel that it was almost a feather-weight.  In a very literal sense, a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders.


Now I was free to proceed, & my problem was to get onto the road which went S.E. from Haifa towards Megiddo, on which road, a few kilometers before Megiddo, lies Mishmar Ha’emeq.  I spoke to a man in an office, who gave me a list of buses I could take to get onto it.  My journey from Haifa was a very interesting one, because of the incidents which took place on it, & because of its rather adventurous nature.  I was going along a road I did not know.  The hour was late, & shadows were already lengthening when I finally got onto the road.  But before this, there was one piece of business I wanted to attend to.  My left shoe, which Abie had repaired for me on Sept. 12, was once again causing me anxiety. Of the 3 wire loops with which Abie had fastened the sole to the leather, & which I thought would last a long time, 2 had already broken, & I could not expect the 3rd to last long.  So I felt it imperative to get a proper repair job as soon as possible, before leaving Haifa.  I looked about in some of the busy streets near the bus station for a cobbler’s shop.  I asked several people, & was finally directed to a little hut in a side street, where I found a cobbler at work.  He spoke no English, but when I showed him my shoe, he gave a dismal glance at it & shook his head, indicating, I suppose, that there was no hope for the shoe.  With a despondent expression, I tried to persuade him to change his mind, but it was no use, & I had to continue on my way with faulty footwear.


Soon I was on a bus which took me out of Haifa to the crossing of the Acre road.  When I alighted, the sun had already gone behind Mount Carmel, & I thought I would be lucky to reach Mishmar Ha’emeq tonight.  Looking on my map, I saw that the nearest convenient kibbutz was Yagur, about 10 km further along the road – but, with a light pack & a light heart, I did not much mind walking.  So, after eating some large & delicious grapes that Benny had given me yesterday, I started off.  Soon I came to a village called Tel Hanon. This might have been a former Arab village inhabited by Jews, but I am not sure.  As I was walking through this place, I came upon another little cobbler’s hut – and there met with good success.  The man was a Pole, & I spoke with him & some of his Romanian friends, though none of them spoke English.  I sat on a stool in his shop, while this man inspected my shoe.  He too seemed to think it a bad case, & was surprised that I had no other pair with me. But evidently he thought there was hope, for he set to work, gluing the sole back into place, then nailing it down.  I thought he did quite a good job.  I had given him the impression that I was very poor, & when he had finished the job, he did not want to take any money from me for it.  However, I insisted, &  eventually, at the advice of a friend, he took just 5 piasters (2 ½ pence) from the handful of coins which I offered him.  I would have been willing to pay much more than that, but did not press any more upon him, considering myself fortunate that I had met so kind a man, though his own obviously poor circumstances hurt my conscience somewhat.


So, in great satisfaction, I continued on my way, & soon obtained a lift in an army lorry which took me past Yagun to a place where roads fork, on the left to Nazareth, on the right to Megiddo.  But the sun had already set by the time I reached there, & soon it would be really dark.  While waiting there for a lift, I met a police officer who spoke some English, & was waiting for a tender to come & take him to his home at Kiryat Haroshet, a short way further along the road.  When the tender came, I impulsively decided to take it, though it was now dark. So I soon found myself on the main road outside the settlement of Kiryat Haroshet, waiting for a lift.  Today I had gone up one side of the Carmel ridge, & was now coming down the other.


I had never done any night hitch-hiking in Israel, and did not want to do any.  I had heard countless warnings about the dangers of being out alone in this country after dark  And certainly it is true that every day one sees in the papers reports of Jew killed or wounded by Arab marauders or infiltrators.  But Kiryat Haroshet is not a kibbutz, & I foresaw much trouble ifI tried to obtain food or accommodation for the night. So I made a bold decision.  The next kibbutz was about  2 or 8 kilometers along the road  I decided to walk there even in the dark.  But as I walked, of course I hitched at every vehicle which went past, & they were not so few.  The trouble was that, now that it was dark, I could not see the vehicle when they were approaching me, except their blinding headlights. 


Eventually something did stop for me, but, to my confused disappointment, I found that it was a bus.  I never intended to take a bus, & had it come along in the daylight, when I could see what it was, I certainly would not have signaled it to stop.  But now that it had stopped specially for me, there was nothing I could do but get on -- & I was not afterwards sorry.  It happened that the bus was going just to Mishmar Ha’emeq, & the fare was only 7 pence. The driver spoke Englishm ^& I talked to him on the ride re.lating the usual facts about myself.  He did not live in Mishmar Ha’emeq, but when we reached there, he got out to have supper, & invited me to come with him.  I had told him that I wanted to eat & spend the night there, & he kindly began arranging things for me.  First we went in to supper, where I met a young man who came from India.  Then the driver spoke to someone about me, who introduced me to a thin balding man who wore glasses & spoke English.  His reception of me was not quite as warm as I have come to expect on a kibbutz.  He wanted to know details about me, & I showed him my passport, though he didn’t ask for it.  He said that usually when people visit a kibbutz, they come in a group, & they send advance notice. But after these initial semi-hostile rebukes, he treated me very well.  First, he put me in the reading-room, to wait while he obtained accommodation for me. The dining hall of this kibbutz is very fine.  Once again, this is a Mapam kibbutz of the movement known as Hashomer Hatzair.  While waiting, I met a 28 year old man from Toronto, Canada, who had come directly from there to this kibbutz, & had been here now a month, & was hoping to go soon to an Ulpan.  His impressions of Israel, which he had gained mainly from life on this one kibbutz, where he had been nearly all the time, were very different from mine.  He talked of the “proud” people, who disliked criticism of their country, hard-working farmers who worked for much less than people get in Canada.  But he (his surname was Florence) was a rather queer character, & seemed to have come to Israel with the vague idea of making peace between Arabs & Jews.  He said he had much liking for the Quakers. I felt much superior to him in knowledge & understanding, & realized how much better it has been for me to travel about  & mix with many different kinds of people, rather than stay just in one place here.


After some time, the man came back to me, & escorted me to a very pleasant room, where I had a very comfortable well-sprung bed, plus a radio, alarm clock, & bedside lamp.  He took unnecessarily elaborate pains in showing me where the lavatories & washroom were in relation to my room.  While looking through a book in this room about the kibbutz, I came upon a photograph which I felt sure was of this man, kneeling in a trench, holding a rifle, & talking into a telephone.


Tuesday, September 15, 1953  (written Sept.16)

Things today went in general according to plan, & I had an interesting time. I spent the morning at the kibbutz of Mishmar Ha’emeq, & in the afternoon I journeyed to Mount Tabor.


I slept well at the kibbutz, & was woken up by the alarm clock, which I had set for 7:15.  Before breakfast, I partook of the luxury of a warm shower.  It seems they have hot water there all the time, which is unusual.  I think it is true to say that I have been cleaner in Israel than ever anywhere before.  At home, I never have more than one bath a week, but here not a day passes that I do not have a bath or shower at least once, & often more.


The same man who had taken care of me at the kibbutz yesterday,  & whose photograph I had seen in the book (see end of previous entry) was again this morning almost over-helpful.  He came to my room, saw me to breakfast, & invited me to come & see him at the Beit Haroshet (factory) where he was working.  This I did, & found him working at a machine which molded Bakelite electrical parts.  He had to feed the powder into the molds, then remove the finished parts.  Speaking with him, I learned much about the kibbutz, where he had been for many years.  I was interested in the fighting which had been particularly heavy here, when this place stood between an Iraqi army and Haifa.  But he did not tell me much about it, except that the Arabs had been over-confident and badly organized.  Much of the kibbutz had been destroyed in the fighting, but was now rebuilt.  Mishmar Ha’emeq has, like Beit Alpha, a mossad, or high school, which is supposed to be very good, and to which, although it is a Mapam kibbutz, even some leaders of the Mapai party send their children.  I sat & talked with this man for some time, & discussed how Jewish festivals are observed here.  He said that the kibbutz is not at all religious, & seemed proud of this fact, but told me that most festivals are observed as national holidays.  Of these Pesach (Passover) is the chief, because it commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery, & the beginning of nationhood.  At Pesach-time, the kibbutzniks eat matzos (unleavened bread) though I don’t know if they do so for the regulation number of days – and they hold a Seder (traditional  meal and service) of some sort.


This man told me that there was someone named Richard here who knew much about the history of the region, spoke English, & had a small museum, & he suggested I go & talk with him.  This I did, but first I took a walk around the kibbutz.  It is built upon a hillside, & has some fine buildings & beautiful grounds.  As usual, water-sprinklers were playing everywhere.  I saw a memorial which appeared to be to war victims, and there were good views across the broad plain of Esdraelon to Har Tavor and Givavat Hamore. One of the things which has given me great pleasure and satisfaction in travelling about this small country is the fact that, by visiting the same regions several times, I have acquired a sense of familiarity with them which I have not known in any other country, even in England.  Perhaps this is a false sense, but it is very comforting to feel that I know my way around.  Thus, in this region, it is good to realize that I know in which direction Haifa and Afula and Megiddo lie, that I can tell the names of some of the mountains, and know how the roads go through Wadi Ara to Hadera, past Har Gilboa to Beit Shean, etc. But of course, my knowledge is really very superficial, and the longer I stay, the more I want to see. I would like to go to Karnei Hittin, the site of a great Crusaders’ battle, which I have seen only from a distance.  I would like to visit the famous hot baths of Tiberias, & climb Israel’s highest mountain.  But in the few days that remain to me, I fear I will do well simply to go to re-visit Nazareth and Acre, where I have already been once with the Summer Institute.


When I did go to see Richard, I found him in bed in his room.  He was not well, but was glad to talk to me, & spoke good English.  When I told him I was a History student, it started him off, talking about the ancient history & archaeology, here & at Megiddo etc., & I had to say very little.  He is himself, it seems, an amateur archaeologist, & I learned now that he was the man whom the people at Megiddo told me had once taken them round their mound, & explained it to them.  He was middle-aged, thin, with gray hair.  He said that in the area where this kibbutz stands there has been found evidence of human habitation many thousands of years ago.  He frequently used terms like “Bronze Age” & “Neolithic,”  with which, though I have read books explaining them, I am unfortunately not very familiar.  It was a pity that he was not well, for he would otherwise have come out & showed me the museum, & perhaps some of the interesting places in the neighborhood.  But I did learn from him some interesting things, e.g., about Megiddo, that its name might derive from a word meaning “battle,” & that the “Armageddon” of the New Testament Book of Revelation is simply a corruption of Har Megiddo, the mountain of Megiddo.  This region, said Richard, was good for battles, because the flat plain, a rarity in Palestine, provided excellent ground for chariots.  He said that the first recorded battle of history of which we have any detailed account, took place at Megiddo between King Thutmoses of Egypt & I forget who, over 1000 years B.C.  I would have liked to talk longer with Richard, & have a look at his large collection of books, but I had now to hurry to the dining-room in order to get my lunch. Richard had told me of another man to whom I could go to see the museum, but I decided to leave after lunch at about 2 PM, after I had spent some time in my room writing my diary, for I did not know how long it would take me to reach and climb Har Tavor.


As it happened, my journey from Mishmar Ha’emeq to Har Tavor (which I could see all the time from the kibbutz) proved very easy.  Scarcely had I reached the road when I was picked up by a car which brought me past Megiddo & across the plain to Afula.  There I met an airman who spoke French, & walked with him out of the town, getting soon a lift in a station-wagon a few kms. to a large hospital at the foot of Givat Hamore.  Here I waited with an Israeli soldier , who turned out to be American from New York.  He was going to a kibbutz called Ein Dor, and it happened that the point where he had to get off, after we were picked up by a tender, was just that most convenient for me.


There is a road which leads up Har Tavor, but I had no intention of taking that.  Apart from the fact that it took a long & roundabout route, I thought it would be much more interesting & satisfactory to climb right from the main road up the face of the mountain, which has a very peculiar dome-shape.  Har Tavor had attracted me ever since I first saw it on the Summer Institute Tiyul.  When I stayed one night on my way to kibbutz Deganya Aleph, at the kibbutz of Dovrat, the boy Ezra whom I met there, had recommended me to go up it, but I had no time then.  But it was really my guide-book “Israel In Your Pocket, which had made me definitely decide to make the expedition, especially the passage which said, “In the ruins of the old Benedictine Abbey, the Franciscans have built a hospice.  Guests are always welcome, & there is room enough.”  I thought it would be a fine idea to come & spend a night in the monastery on Mount Tavor.


When I alighted from the tender, the mountain rose, at first gradually, then steeply on the left.  In parting from me, the American I had met warned me that there had been many “incidents” around here, & I should take care to reach somewhere before dark.  But I have heard so many similar warnings that this did not worry me.  In any case, it was then not yet 6 PM, & I was confident of reaching the monastery before sunset.


So I started up the mountain.  It was an easy climb, but I grew tired quickly, & took many rests on the way.  The mountainside was rocky, & towards the top there were many trees.  One thing that annoyed me was that, although I was anxious to see the sunset, I was all the time on the shade-side of the mountain.  Also, because of the peculiar hump-shape of the mountain, I could never tell how far I was from the top.  At last, however, the buildings of the monastery came in sight, and I went up an old over-grown flight of stone steps.  The sun was just going down, & what I wanted more than anything else was to find a good place to view it.  But I could not find such a place, & the many trees obscured my view, even when I climbed up an old wall outside the monastery. 


And while I was standing there, 2 dogs came out & started barking loudly at me, reminding me of my visit from Kibbutz Tsora to the monastery of Beit Jimal, where also we had been greeted by fiercely barking dogs.  I thought someone would come out to see what had disturbed the dogs, but no one came.  I had before seen a bearded head quickly withdrawing from a window when I looked up at the building.  Fortunately the dogs were now distracted by a cow which had strayed in through an open gate, & raced off with renewed barks to chase it out.  I took advantage of the opportunity  to go through another gate, around to the other side of the building, which was the front side.  There in a pleasant courtyard, I saw a bearded monk, attired in the brown tied with a white rope, of the Franciscans, sitting on a bench under a tree, smoking a cigarette.  The dogs were after me again by now, but I walked directly over to him, & asked if he spoke English.  He did not, but spoke French – so, for the sake of saying something, I asked him how old the buildings were, & sat down beside him.  He told me, &, as I knew from my guide book,  They are all modern buildings.  The fine church was completed in the 1920’s.  Then I explained that I was a student from England.  He asked if I were a Protestant, & I said I was a Jew.  Before I had said anything about it, he asked if I wanted to stay, & I said yes, if it was possible.  There were some young men standing nearby, who apparently live & work here, & the monk, whom I later learned is the Father Superior, called to one of them, who speaks some English, & he took me to a room nearby where there were 2 beds, & there I left my rucksack.  Then he took me to the church, opened the door, & brought me inside.  The church is a very fine building, which I think is a combination of Syrian and Byzantine style. It has a sort of austere dignity, which I like.  In the church I met a monk named Brother Gabriel, who speaks English, & who is, it seems, the person in charge of showing visitors around, though he speaks no Hebrew or Arabic.  I have talked much with him, & it is from him that I have learned most of what I know about this place.  First, he showed me around the church – the altar, the mosaics etc. But there was no light inside the church, & I could not see it well.


Har Tabor is a holy mountain, because, according to an old Christian tradition, it is the place where Jesus was transfigured, i.e., where some of his disciples saw his face shine, & his garment become white as snow, with Moses and Elias (I think =Elijah) appearing beside him.  One of the things I cannot understand about the New Testament is why the gospels are in many places so much alike.  Surely if 4 men are writing 4 individual accounts of something, their results would be much more different from each other than are the gospels.


Pilgrims have thus been coming here been coming here for many centuries, and there are still visible some of the ruins of former churches & fortifications etc.  Besides the Franciscan church, monastery & hospice, there is a Greek Orthodox church in its own separate grounds, & I think each church claims to be on the true site of the Transfiguration.  Gabriel lifted a trap-door near the altar, & showed me a rock supposed to be where Jesus stood.


I had expected a monastery such as this to have a large number of monks, but Gabriel told me that there are only about 5 or 7 of them altogether – and in the Greek Orthodox place there is only one old man!  Gabriel showed me some of the ruins outside, & took me down to an old entrance-way called the Gate of the Winds, whence there is a fine view towards Megiddo.  I have never spoken with a man like Gabriel before, & was glad that he did not mind telling me about himself.  He too is bearded, & wears the monk’s habit.  He is bald on top (not, I think, tonsured) & his breath smelt of wine.  He is 38 years old, & has apparently been with the Franciscans since his childhood.  He was born in Brescia, Italy (most of the monks here come from Italy, & I think they speak Italian to each other, though there is one from Yugoslavia & one from Germany) & has seven brothers, of whom several are in the Church – but no sisters.  His mother is still alive.  Every 6 years, he gets a month’s holiday, & he now has 3 years to go till the next one.  Most of his monastic life has been spent in Italy, but he spent 3 years at Cyprus, & has also been at Alexandria & in Old Jerusalem.  Every few months, it seems, the monks get changed around, & although Gabriel has himself been here only 2 months, he thinks he may soon be sent back to Jerusalem.  He likes drawing & painting, & used to teach art at a school in Cyprus, where he learned to speak English, but he has no time for that here.  One of his own brothers is I think a monk in Nazareth.  Here his main work seems to be in connection with the religious services, & the upkeep of the monastery.  The place is financed by contributions from all over the world.  Supplies are bought in Nazareth (where most of the Arabs are Christians).  The Arab gardener here is a Moslem.  The only water-supply here is from rain-water, which is stored in cisterns.  It seems however to be plentiful, and tastes quite good.  The main purpose of the monastery is I think to receive Christian pilgrims, who often come in parties during the summer.  But a large proportion of the visitors here are Israeli Jews.  In the guest-book this evening, where I wrote my own nam, I saw the entry by a French missionary who had been expelled from China.


There is an electrical system here, but the motor is old, & it is used only when there are many guests.  So this evening there were just flashlights & a mantle-lamp, & I was given a candle in my room.  There is, I understand, a plan to run an electricity line up here from Kibbutz Dovrat. Gabriel has a radio, but he can use it only when the generator is running.  He has Italian newspapers sent to him.


For supper, I thought & hoped I would be eating with the monks, but the hall where I ate was only for pilgrims, & since I was the only “pilgrim,” I ate alone, & was served by one of the young men whose origin I do not know, but who do not wear monks’ clothing.  They look to me like Arabs, but I later learned that one of them, named Manuel, comes from Armenia. For my meal, I was given soup, water, bread, a plateful of cooked vegetables which I did not like & left most of it, & 2 fried eggs.  After supper, I sat & talked some more with Gabriel & with Manuel.  Gabriel said he liked it here because it was quiet, compared with Rome & Nicosia (Cyprus).  Manuel, who knows Arabic, wrote out for me, at my request, the Arabic alphabet, & I was interested to see that some of the letters have the same names as in Hebrew, e.g. Aleph.


Everyone retired early, & I went to my room with my candle & a box of matches.  The buildings here have very monastic echoes. I wrote my diary for a while by candle-light, but felt unusually sleepy, & went to bed about 10:15.