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News Brief

October 31, 1973
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

–In honor of Henry A. Kissinger, considered as the mastermind behind the cease-fire, soldiers on the road to Damascus placed a road sign saying: “35 kilometers to Damascus-Kissinger Line: customs control.” This many not be in gratitude for Kissinger’s role but as a hint that because of him the lines are here, and not closer to Damascus or Cairo and that the Third Army still exist on the east bank of the Suez.


(Herbert Gold, the internationally famed Jewish author, was in Israel for 10 days during the Yom Kippur War and returned to this country last Thursday. The three-part series beginning today recounts some of the events on the home front.)


Kibbutz Gan Shmuel (the Garden of Samuel), near Hedera, Israel. October 15.

There are few young men on this large modern farm at harvest time/1973 except the wounded from recent wars. Yet the harvest is taking place with the help of high school kids, volunteers from the town and a few from abroad, women, children. Of course, many of the young women have gone to war also. And last night I met “the Princess of the Kibbutz”–reputedly the most beautiful girl of Gan Shmuel, a blond and blue-eyed Jewish Cybill Shepherd, if you can grasp that concept–home for the first time since Yom Kippur on a five-hour furlough. She is working someplace else now as a radar spotter.

The kibbutz grows apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, cotton, grains. There is a factory to can juices and a packing plant for olives. Normally about 1500 people live and work here or nearby. A high school teacher–wounded in 1948–showed me a group of high school boys tinkering in the tractor yard. “Some they can fix, I don’t know how,” he said. “Some, of course, they have difficulties.” Normally, of course, the work of these boys is studying.

Ann Gold (B.A., Stanford University in Art History, 1972) has been a trial member of this kibbutz for a year. Since learning Hebrew, she was sent in September to study in Haifa, with the idea of returning to teach art in kibbutz high school. She was here for the holiday when the war broke out, and was one of the first to know. She heard the ringing of the pilot’s telephone next door in the middle of the night. Now she works in the dining hall and helps take care of children. She is in charge of the kitchen one day a week.


She is my eldest daughter and I am writing this at her table beneath a calendar photograph of men praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. She has circled the date Saturday, October 6 Yom Kippur. That day they heard bombing and artillery here on this agricultural community, but now the sounds of war have receded, although frequently we hear jets streaking across the sky, or the rumble of transport Dakotas, and there are occasional air raid warnings, when everyone tumbles into the underground bunkers. My own wounds consist of bumped shins from moving around under total blackout conditions in an unfamiliar place.

Just now all is quiet except for the twittering of birds and the cooing of the doves in a dovecote nearby. Yesterday, a group of soldiers visited Gan Shmuel to eat, on their way from the Golan to someplace else. They were covered with dust, unshaven, and one was wounded. Although there is plenty of food, a kind of voluntary rationing has begun because of such extra mouths to feed and because of interruptions of production and transport. Hedera, the town nearby, looks normal–stores open, women on the streets with babies–until you look again and see there are no young men except Israeli Arabs.

Most of the local Arabs are working normally, replacing other hands. At intersections in town and on the road network, children have set up tents, and tables to offer fruit, sandwiches and cold drinks to passing soldiers. Like children everywhere, they enjoy the break in homework routines, although they attend school as usual. A tank on a truck went by, from the direction of the Golan, perhaps being carried back for repair or, healthy, for redeployment. The truckers stopped a moment for lemonade and one gently socked the Lolita serving lemonade. She rolled with the punch and giggled, “Oh, you’re so dirty.”

Last night I watched the day’s tank battles on television in a large kibbutz meeting hall. Before the news, there was a cartoon, with the Beatles singing “Eleanor Rigby.” “All the lonely people, where do they come from…? And then Arab prisoners, a second or two for each, Mohammed, Abdul, Achmed, so that they can identify themselves to their families, one by one. This is a totally matter-of-fact service to grieving parents. In this rather restricted part of the world, the enemies can watch the same tv shows.

And then the trackless desert, now marred by tank tracks, and the wreckage in the Golan, and the oily spume of explosions, and some astonishing footage from an Israeli patrol boat suddenly, sighting an Egyptian commando boat, and rapid firing from both sides–the camera rather shaky–and the Egyptian boat sinking and the Israeli sailors applauding their gunners and singing.


The viewers don’t applauds, or sing, but they do laugh heartily later, in footage from the United Nations in New York, when Ambassador Malik of the USSR protests indignantly against something an Israeli diplomat has said: “Some of my best friends are Jews.” My daughter introduces me to Dudi, who works in a hospital for old people. He is handsome, tall, mustachioed, a former paratrooper, and looks powerful, but has a bad chest wound from 1967. One of his jobs now is to carry the infirm into the shelter during air raid warnings.

Dudi introduces me to Jacob, well over eighty, with the little beard of a Russian intellectual, who toasted the New Year a few weeks ago with these words: “By my right as the oldest member of Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, and by right also as a member of the last century, let me wish that if the new year brings not peace, it at least brings not war.” His wish was not granted. He has trouble keeping awake during the news. It is long past his bed time, but here he is, watching the war a few miles away in a room which is somewhat hot and stuffy, blackout curtains interfering with the normal ventilation.

Ann leads me back to her cottage. A marvelous full harvest moon has come up. “Look at my garden,” she says, and I can make out the patch of freshly turned earth. “Look, I did a normal garden during the year. It’s good to keep busy.” Ann, like everyone here, has near ones, who are away, and they haven’t heard recently from all of them.

(Tomorrow: On the Jordan Border)

The moratorium on crime which some underworld figures said they would observe out of patriotic feelings during the war with Egypt and Syria, broke down last night, at least in Haifa. Four youths–Jews and Arabs–attacked a taxi driver and his girl friend, beat up the man, raped the girl and robbed them both. Four suspects have been arrested by police.

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