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ANDREW ELIOT’S DIARY 4 ñòðàíèöà
Jason taught Eva how to skin-dive. And they spent the mornings among the multicolored underwater coral.
At night they walked hand in hand from the cheap (but expensive) shish kebab joints to the tinsel (and even more expensive) discotheques.
But they were both happy.
“This must be what the French Riviera is like,” Eva said one night as they were walking on the shore.
“More or less,” Jason replied, not wanting to shatter his bride’s illusions. “The only difference is here, if you go for too long a swim you can end up in Saudi Arabia.”
“Yes,” she acknowledged, “the Arabs are kind of close, aren’t they?”
“They must think the same about us, But their children and ours will probably play together.”
“I hope so,” Eva said tenderly. “I mean, I hope we have a lot of children.”
It would be a good marriage and a strong one. Because it was without any illusions. They cared about the same things. About the same people. About each other. Their love was anointed with tears of abiding grief. And, at the same time, strengthened by a common loss.
During the following year, the Arab guns on the mountains of the Golan Heights incessantly shelled the kibbutzim in northern Israel. From the Jordanian and Lebanese borders, terrorist infiltrators were increasingly successful in crossing over, striking at non-military targets, and murdering civilians. Women in a crowded marketplace on Friday morning. Children in a school playground.
The outraged Israeli population was demanding action, not merely reaction. If they couldn’t keep the Fedayeen out, let them do something to stop them before they got in. Orders came down for an elite group of paratroopers to begin acts of reprisal.
Jason Gilbert was part of an operation that spent weeks rehearsing for the strike across the border.
The night before, they slept in a field a few hundred yards from the Jordanian frontier. At first light they jumped into their vehicles and sped toward the hilltop village of Samua, which Intelligence informed them was a base for El-Fatah commandos. A quarter of a mile from the village, they dismounted and continued the rest of the climb on foot, rifles in hand.
Israeli aircraft appeared overhead. They flew beyond Samua to bomb and distract the Jordanian regulars and keep them away from the operation.
When they were less than a hundred yards from the village, Jason broke into a run and signaled his men to begin shooting to create confusion. As they worked their way up the steep slope, guns appeared at the windows and began returning the fire.
The soldier at Jason’s immediate right was struck in the chest and fell backward. For a moment Jason was frozen, watching the red blood stain the shirt of the man he knew merely as Avi.
It was the first time he had ever seen someone wounded in battle. He continued to stare. It was only when the medical officer rushing toward them waved him on that Jason turned and started up the hill again, his anger inflamed.
As he charged, he pulled a grenade from his belt, withdrew the pin, and hurled it toward the center of the village. It exploded on a rooftop.
By the time the paratroops entered Samua, the terrorists had fled, leaving behind them a few aged and confused inhabitants. The Israelis quickly searched the houses and herded the frightened villagers down the slopes.
A flare was set off to signal that Samua was now empty. With lightning speed, Jason and the explosives experts began to set charges to the houses. Ten minutes later, the Israeli raiding party had regrouped 250 yards below. One of the engineers detonated the first charge. In quick succession the stone houses were blown into the air.
Seventeen minutes later, they were all back across the border. Jason was riding in a half-track with Yoram Zahavi, their chief in command.
“Well,” said Yoram, “Operation Samua is a total success.”
Jason turned to him and said bitterly, “Try telling that to Avi’s parents.”
The officer nodded, shook his head, and answered Jason softly, “Listen, saba , war isn’t like a football match. You can never win by a shutout.”
There were more operations like Samua, but the Israelis still could not stem the rising tide of terrorist infiltrations.
In fact, from early 1967 onward, the guerrilla strikes became bolder and more savage. The shelling from the Golan Heights of the kibbutzim in the Huleh Valley grew more intense than ever.
On the southern front, Cairo Radio was broadcasting the voice of Egyptian leader Nasser shrieking, “A hundred million Arabs are living for the day when the imperialist Israelis will be driven into the sea.”
At the end of May 1967, Captain Jason Gilbert was home with Eva celebrating the birth of their first child — a son they named Joshua in memory of her father — when the radio announced a general mobilization, All reserve troops were being called up.
During the next twenty-four hours, the Voice of Israel poured forth an endless flow of seeming nonsense, like, “Chocolate ice cream must go on the birthday cake,” “Giraffes like watermelon,” “Mickey Mouse can’t swim.” These were the code signals telling the citizen-soldiers where to report with their weapons.
Nasser had massed a hundred thousand men armed with Soviet equipment, as well as a thousand tanks, in the Sinai Peninsula on Israel’s southern border.
War was inevitable. The only question was whether Israel could survive it.
Since 1956, Egypt and Israel had been separated by small token units of the United Nations Emergency Force, scattered along the frontier. Nasser ordered the UNEF units out of his way. When they withdrew, nothing but sand stood between the two countries.
The King of Jordan put his own army under the Egyptian high command and contingents arrived from other Arab countries.
Israel was now confronted by over a quarter of a million troops, two thousand tanks, and seven hundred aircraft. The country was menaced on three borders. Its fourth frontier was the sea. And that was where the Arabs intended to drive them.
With the odds so heavily stacked against them and all the nations of the world preaching restraint but doing nothing to enforce it, they were totally on their own.
Jason Gilbert’s platoon of the 54th Paratroop Battalion had been mobilized for over a week, camping in an olive grove near Tel Shahar.
On the order of Battalion Command, they did endless stretcher training to practice the rapid evacuation of the wounded. This was hardly an encouraging exercise. Nor was the fact that so many of his men had portable radios and could keep abreast of the worsening situation. The British and American Embassies advised their staffs to leave Israel.
As darkness fell each evening, Jason would try to lift the morale of his soldiers. But as the days drew on and the tension mounted, he was less and less convincing. Especially since he himself knew so little of what was happening.
Finally, on the evening of June 4, he received a communiqué: Prepare to move men tomorrow at 0600 . It did not say where.
When he told this to his platoon, they were actually heartened. At last they would be doing something other than waiting to be bombed out of existence.
“Try and get some sleep, guys,” Jason said. “We’re going to have a job to do tomorrow.”
As the men disbanded and started toward their sleeping bags, a young reservist in a skullcap approached Jason and, withdrawing a small blue leather book from his breast pocket, asked politely, “Saba , would it be all right if I prayed instead of sleeping?”
“Okay, Baruch,” Jason said. “Maybe God is listening tonight. But what prayers can you say the night before — before an attack?”
“The Psalms are always appropriate, saba . You know, ‘Out of the depths I cried unto Thee, Thou answered me with great deliverance.’ ”
“Yeah,” Jason smiled wanly, “just be sure you ask for a three-pronged deliverance.”
The young soldier nodded and walked off to a quiet corner where he would not disturb his sleeping comrades, And began to chant the Psalms very softly. Over and over.
Jason lay down in his sleeping bag and wondered if he would ever see his wife and son again.
At dawn on Monday, June 5, the buses arrived. They were the same rickety vehicles on which some of these men rode to work in Tel Aviv. Today they were taking them down toward the Sinai. To an air base deep in the Negev where a fleet of Sikorsky helicopters was waiting.
As they left the buses, the soldiers glanced nervously toward the sky, instinctively sensing that hostilities had begun. And, being so close to the border, fearing an attack by the Egyptian Air Force.
Jason was in the midst of reassembling his men and dividing them into groups of eight for each chopper, when a senior officer called him over for a moment. He came sprinting back, his face beaming.
“I’ve got a pretty interesting announcement, guys,” he called out. “It appears that at 0745 hours this morning, our planes undertook a preemptive strike against enemy airfields. There is no longer such a thing as the Egyptian Air Force. The skies belong to Israel. Now it’s up to us to take the ground.”
Before the men could cheer, a young soldier raised his hand. It was Baruch. Pointing to his little prayer book, he shouted exultantly, “You see, saba , God was listening!”
There were no agnostics in the Israeli Army that morning.
“Okay,” Jason said, “here’s our agenda. We’re all moving out. The tanks, the infantry, everybody. We’re going right across the Canal to visit the pyramids. There’s only one little job we have to do first. The Egyptians are really dug in at Um Katef — the front door of Sinai. The tanks can’t get close enough, so it’s our job to clear them the hell out. Now — there’s not enough room for everybody, so I’ll take volunteers.”
Every hand shot up. And even when he had picked his troops, extra men pushed themselves onto the helicopters.
As soon as it was fully dark, they began to land in the dunes north of the Egyptian stronghold. The choppers went back and forth ferrying troops like businessmen in a subway rush-hour. The last few landings were under heavy fire from the fortress.
By prearrangement, the men split into an attack force and a cover group. Jason led his soldiers toward the Egyptian guns, firing rifles, Uzis, and bazookas as they advanced.
Suddenly one of their own rockets hit an ammunition convoy. It exploded, causing devastation on both sides. By the light of the flaming tower, Jason counted five motionless bodies and dozens of wounded comrades. He ordered his men to stop their advance and wait for the stretchers to come up. Then they performed in earnest the exercises they had done so many times in practice.
At last he picked up his gun and went back to the inhuman job of killing. For the sake of peace.
By the end of the first day the threat of annihilation no longer existed. For the Jordanian and Syrian air forces had suffered the same fate as the Egyptian. The Southern Command was on its way toward the Suez Canal almost unimpeded.
Though Israel was fighting a war on three fronts, it did not have three armies. Its single fighting force had to fire to the north as well as to the south. Thus, as soon as the exhausted 54th Paratroop Battalion had cleared the way for the capture of the Sinai, they drove northward where the battle for the Golan Heights was raging.
And all the while they were traveling, a fierce hand-to-hand battle was under way for the ultimate prize — Jerusalem.
When they reached the Golan on Wednesday morning they were greeted by news that paratroops had recaptured the Old City. And were at the holiest of Jewish shrines — the Temple Wall.
Meanwhile, Jason’s battalion captured the Syrian position east of Dar Bashiya. The big guns that had for years been pounding the northern kibbutzim were finally silenced.
Six days after it started, the war was over. And the face of Israel had changed. In the south it had the entire Sinai Desert as a protective buffer. It controlled all the territory to the east down to the River Jordan, giving it a defensible frontier. And in the north, Israelis were now on the Golan Heights, threatening Syria instead of vice versa.
It was a success in every way but one. It did not bring peace.
On September 1, the Arab Summit Conference at Khartoum passed three resolutions: no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no peace with Israel.
Jason Gilbert, rocking his son in his arms, remarked to his wife, “They could have added no rest for Israel, either.”
Even as he spoke, the shellshocked and defeated Arabs were planning a new kind of war against their enemy. A campaign of terror and sabotage. They created the PLO, whose stated aim was the “national liberation” of the people who had never been a nation.
No measures seemed to prevent these new terrorists from entering Israeli territory. They could slip across the Jordan River, hide in caves, do their mischief, and either return or travel north and vanish across the Lebanese border. At first the Israeli Army tried the retaliatory raids that had proven moderately effective before the war. Now they were of no avail.
They sealed off the Jordan with a fence of minefields. They even raked the paths so that early-morning patrols could tell if anyone had passed through during the night. But like the hydra serpent of Greek mythology, every time one head was cut off, the invaders seemed to grow two more.
To deal with this problem the best commandos of every unit were recruited for a supreme counterterrorist force known as Sayaret Matkal , the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit.
Jason was determined to be part of this group. He drove to headquarters prepared to fight the same “you’re too old” battle he had fought five years earlier.
But when he met the interviewing officer he realized it was not necessary. For it was none other than Zvi Doron, whom he had so persuasively “convinced” in the paratroop-recruitment shack. This time the two men laughed for a few minutes until Zvi voiced his single qualm about Jason’s desire to join.
“Listen, saba , I know you can do this job physically. But you’re a father and a husband now. And this is not really the kind of job that makes for happy marriages. To begin with, you’ll be away a lot. For another thing, you won’t be able to talk to your wife about any of our operations. Believe me, I saw enough divorces in para reconnaissance.”
“Look,” Jason answered, “I’m not in Israel to pick oranges. I stayed here to do a job. And as long as I can still be useful, I’ll run any risk that’s necessary. Now will you take me?”
“Only if you promise to talk it over with your wife.”
“That’s a deal.”
Eva understood him too well even to argue. She knew she had married a man with fire in his soul. And in a sense, it was that fire which warmed their marriage. She would not stand in his way. She merely extracted from him the futile promise that he wouldn’t take any unnecessary chances.
After all, he was a family man with a wife and son. And a second child due in four months.
George Keller could, almost have been working in the Museum of Modern Art. Every morning for the past four years, since Labor Day 1963 to be precise, he had been going to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in New York City, passing various security procedures and ultimately taking an elevator to the fifty-sixth floor. There he would enter portals marked simply “Room 5600.”
On the way to his luxurious office, he would walk down corridors lined with Renoirs, Picassos, Cézannes, and van Goghs. Not to mention equally priceless statuary. For he was in the midst of one of the finest private art collections in the world.
It was at this rarefied height that Governor Nelson Rockefeller and his brothers had their base of operations, each maintaining a wing devoted to his various interests, patronage, philanthropy, politics, and combinations thereof.
On Henry Kissinger’s recommendation, George had been hired to join the staff writing memoranda on international affairs for the governor. As Henry put it, “You would be laying the groundwork for the foreign policy of the Rockefeller presidency.”
If he had any doubts about leaving Harvard, they were dispelled by the knowledge that scarcely a year out of graduate school he was already earning the equivalent of a full professor’s salary.
He had not lacked for attractive offers. With each summer he spent helping to organize the Harvard International Seminar, his responsibilities had grown in proportion to his rise in Kissinger’s esteem. By the time he received his Ph.D. in government, he was the co-editor of Confluence , the seminar’s flagship publication.
Henry was fiercely loyal to his protégés and never hesitated to include George in the strategy for his own advancement. This was not out of uncritical affection. George was clearly an asset, for both his academic brilliance and his innate feeling for diplomacy. It was, if not an alliance of equals, at least a genuine partnership.
Naturally Harvard had wanted George to stay on. The department chairman even called in Kissinger to discuss how they could persuade the young scholar to remain in the academic ranks. His adviser countered that George was a strong-willed man.
“I sense his aspirations lie in Washington and not in Cambridge,” Henry offered. “But I will do my best.”
Kissinger did not exert undue pressure on George to remain at Harvard. For he himself had more use for soldiers to man the advance guard of his own career. Hence, by placing George with his long-time patrons, the Rockefellers, he had an ally he could count on in the “real world.”
In June 1963, George Keller not only received his doctorate but — and perhaps of greater importance — took the oath of fealty to the U.S. Constitution. Thus officially becoming a proud and patriotic American.
The granting of his citizenship was to him a kind of late-arriving birth certificate. By this time he had not only secured his future, he had all but suppressed his past.
It was almost as if he had never been Hungarian. Or had never had a father or a mother. Or a sister. Or a fiancée named Aniko. Only once in a great while did he have a nightmare about being lost in a blinding snow storm, not being able to find his way home. He had even conscientiously avoided reading the Hungarian press, except when it was absolutely necessary for his course work. He was like Athena in Greek mythology, sprung full-grown from the forehead of Zeus. Only in George’s case his creator was Henry Kissinger.
And so George Keller set out for New York — in some eyes the greatest city in the world. But, in his view, merely a suburb of Washington.
His philosophy in acquiring a new wardrobe was based on the personal theory that if a garment was tailor-made it had to be better. He found out who had been the late President Kennedy’s tailor and ordered several new suits in every “distinguished” color.
In fact, he became something of a sartorial proselytizer. He would even chide Andrew, whom he occasionally met at the New York Harvard Club either for lunch or squash, “Eliot, I can’t for the life of me fathom why you still buy off the rack. After all, you’re an up-and-coming banker.”
“I’m only just a trainee,” his classmate would counter affably. “Besides, we New England Yankees are indoctrinated to be thrifty.”
He did not mention, nor did George with his impeccable sense of tact, that two years before, upon turning twenty-five, Andrew had come into a trust fund of several million dollars.
There were other advantages to working for the Rockefeller organization. For example, access to unobtainable concert and theater tickets. Not to mention bright, pulchritudinous young women who also worked in Room 5600.
George enthusiastically took advantage of all these opportunities. He reveled in the glittering first nights at the opera and important theatrical events. He had house seats when Fonteyn and Nureyev first danced the young Russian’s version of Swan Lake in America. Indeed, when Danny Rossi played the Bartok Second Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, George was sitting in the Rockefeller family box with Sally Bates, the governor’s charming and beautiful assistant for urban affairs.
As Danny strode on stage, George could not keep himself from whispering to Sally, “This is like old home week for me. Bartok is Hungarian. And Rossi is a Harvardman. He and I were classmates.”
“Do you know him personally?” she inquired, most impressed.
“We were both in Eliot House,” George replied evasively.
“Oh, that’s exciting. Can we go backstage and meet him afterward?”
“Uh — I don’t think we should,” he backtracked as suavely as possible. “I mean, Danny’s always exhausted after he performs. Some other time.”
The normally staid atmosphere of Room 5600 seemed electrified during those days in 1964 when Nelson Rockefeller was making his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Kissinger was there so often that George wondered how he managed to teach his classes.
Nominally, Henry was on the Rockefeller staff as foreign policy adviser. But he delegated to George the drafting of the position papers, while he himself huddled in the inner sanctuary with Rocky to discuss the strategy of the campaign.
George went along with the entourage to the Republican Convention in San Francisco. And even after their patron lost the nomination to Barry Goldwater, he stayed on to assist Kissinger in writing the foreign-policy planks of the party platform.
On Election Night, George and Henry stood in a corner of the subdued hotel ballroom watching each return increase the magnitude of their candidate’s crushing defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson.
“Well, Henry, I guess that’s the end of the ball game.”
“Not at all, George, not at all.”
“What do you mean? They’re swamping us nearly two to one.”
“Not us ,” Kissinger replied. “Only Senator Goldwater. Just remember the Democrats will also need expert advice.”
Inwardly George thought his old teacher was merely putting up a brave front. Kissinger would be relegated to the classroom just as he would be to Room 5600.
And yet, three years later, while Lyndon Johnson stood helplessly mired in the pernicious swamps of the Vietnam war, a chubby, bespectacled Harvard government professor presented himself in the office of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The academic offered to relay secret messages via certain French contacts to Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese leader.
The Pentagon was impressed. And, to the surprise of many, but certainly not to the professor, they agreed to make Henry Kissinger their secret envoy.
Of course, George ultimately guessed what games the master strategist was playing by interpreting the “slips” that Kissinger would make in their conversations.
Once when they were chatting about food, Henry said, “I had the most superb coquilles at Prunier the other night.”
“Where’s that?” inquired George.
“Oh, Paris,” he answered quite offhandedly. “I was over for a few hours to… give a paper.”
George sifted for the nuggets of truth. Clearly, Kissinger was now involved in some kind of covert negotiations on behalf of the U.S. government.
But he still could not grasp why a Democratic administration should choose a relatively unknown professor who had actually worked against them in the previous campaign. Didn’t they have contacts of their own? Why Henry?
When Kissinger’s role finally became public knowledge, George dared to ask what made him think his audacious offer would even be taken seriously.
“Well,” Henry replied, “I could fob you off with a quote from Clausewitz On War . But if you want the unvarnished truth, I just thought I’d give it a shot. There were only two possible answers, so I had a fifty-fifty chance.”
“Oh,” said George Keller in monosyllabic awe. And thought, This man is a genius.
In direct contrast to the sophisticated Realpolitik of George’s mentor was the naive sentimentality of his first Harvard roommate. Often, at lunch, Andrew would seek George’s diagnosis of the malady that was infecting the nation. In early June 1968, he was absolutely distraught.
“George, what’s happening to this country? I mean, has the war drained off all our sanity? Why are we killing each other? It’s barely two months since they shot Martin Luther King — and now Bobby Kennedy. Can you explain any of this madness?”
George replied with cool academic detachment, “I think these are all signs that the Republicans will win iii November.”
But whatever Kissinger was doing on those secret Paris journeys, it was clearly not enough. The Vietnam conflict grew worse. Among its casualties was Lyndon Johnson himself, who, worn-down by the onslaught of protests, chose not to seek reelection. Thus leaving the bombing to an unscarred and less-heartsick leader.
In a sense, LBJ was handing the presidency to Richard Nixon. For this canny politician did not need the advice of brilliant strategists like Kissinger and his young assistant Keller. Common sense told him that a simple promise to end the war would sweep him into office.
And it did.
It also swept George out of Rockefeller Center. His disappointment at the thought of not being able to see those Renoirs and van Goghs every morning was somewhat mitigated by the fact that, although his new working quarters would be cramped and airless, they were at least well located.
In the White House basement, fifty yards from the National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger.
Broadway musicals are never better than on the first day of rehearsal. This is the moment when the authors themselves read through the play, singing the lyrics in their fresh, unadulterated form.
When Stu and Danny finished their two-man show, the cast clapped enthusiastically. Sir John Chalcott, the director, rose to make some inaugural remarks.
“I think all of us here recognize what a superbly written piece of theater we’ve just heard. It is our duty as professionals to live up to the authors’ intentions. All our efforts in the next six weeks will be bent in that direction.”
Zero Mostel now stood up. “This is not your ordinary Broadway dreck. I honestly think James Joyce would have respected what Stu and Danny have done. And, guys — we’re going to knock our kishkes out for you.”
Sir John turned to the leading lady and inquired, “Miss Hamilton, would you care to say a word or two?”
Honoring her director by affecting what she thought was an English accent, she remarked, “Can either Mr. Kingsley or the celebrated Mr. Rossi explain to me why Mr. Mostel gets to sing the final number?”
This was hardly what Sir John had expected. But his cast did not seem at all surprised. They merely turned to hear the authors’ explanation.
Danny got up from the piano and took a few steps toward the table around which the cast was gathered.
“Look, Miss Hamilton, this is our concept. Stu and I want to emphasize Joyce’s theme of Stephen looking for his lost father and Bloom for his dead son. We feel the real emotional pull is between the two of them.”
“But surely, Mr. Rossi, the novel itself ends with Molly’s soliloquy. Why are you mutilating a classic for what I assume is the sake of Mr. Mostel’s ego?”
Before Danny could reply, the male lead offered a laconic comment.
In an accent now more aristocratic than ever, Theora Hamilton turned to her costar and said sternly, “Mr. Mostel, such vulgarity is unworthy of the professional you aspire to be.”
To which Zero simply replied, “Bullshit.”
Sir John Chalcott rose again.
“Miss Hamilton, ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure none of us here is unfamiliar with Joyce’s masterpiece. And for that very reason we can appreciate how ingeniously our authors have captured its spirit. You do, after all, have a musical version of the soliloquy when you sing ‘Roses and Fire and Sunset’ in the penultimate scene. I think the slight modification of putting Zero’s duet last works better for the stage. Call it justifiable artistic license.”
“I still think I should sing a reprise just before the curtain,” she replied. “After all, who are the public flocking to see if not Theora Hamilton?”
To which Zero Mostel answered, “Zero Mostel.”
The First Lady of the American musical theater turned again to her costar and said, in an accent by no means English, “Bullshit.”
Äàòà äîáàâëåíèÿ: 2015-08-05; ïðîñìîòðîâ: 14; Íàðóøåíèå àâòîðñêèõ ïðàâ