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Israel Part 1

Egyptian Tales
1. Shopping with a Boy Racer
2. The Maid
3. The Soldier
4. Hunting for a Home
5. First Egyptian Christmas
6. The Lady’s Honour
7. Who’s Who
8. Street Kids
9. A Thief or Two
10. The Bank
11. The Importance of Walls
12. The White Gecko
13. Black Adam Part 1
14. Black Adam – Part 2
15. Israel Part 1
16. Israel Part 2
17. Israel Part 3

1970 was a mere twenty-two years after Israel was proclaimed a ‘state’ when Rick stopped off there. He was on his way to an intensive course in Knitting Technology in England. Now, in case you’re tempted to picture elderly ladies knitting beanies for grandsons, let us explain, with a few examples, what industrial knitting includes: fabric for teeshirts, curtains (warp knitted on wide ‘looms’), socks, stockings and pantyhose and stretchy fabrics primarily used in lingerie.

Having previously completed his University B.A. (in Philosophy and Political Science) and the requisite two years factory training in most of these sorts of knitting, Rick was off to the English Midlands in September, ready for an October start at Leicester Polytechnic. That institution had a world-leading school in this field of textile technology. I stayed behind for a couple of months to attend most of the remaining lectures to complete my degree and still be just under the limit for pregnant women to board an international flight.

Young New Zealanders have a long tradition of what is, with some affection, described as OE, that is ‘Overseas Experience’. It has been a common ‘Right of Passage’ following university or trade training or simply a way to take advantage of the gap between high school and permanent work, marriage and family ties. Hence in the UK it’s called a ‘gap year’. Rick’s younger cousin, Steve, was on the same course and was joined by his partner, Judy, so it was lovely for us to have their company so far from home. 1970 was long before digital technology made communication cheap and easy. Letters took weeks to reach New Zealand on the other side of the world and phone calls were short and expensive.

Rick was particularly looking forward to a flight in one of the new, much vaunted, VC10 aeroplanes. En route, he had stopped in Thailand to catch up with a Thai friend from University days, when top of the world news was that ‘his’ VC10, along with another plane and their many passengers were in the Amman desert in Jordan, victims of a highjacking. The planes were subsequently blown up, fortunately without the passengers on board. This air piracy was a big event and the whole world was watching, electrified.

“I assumed,” says Rick, “silly me, that in Thailand when I went to get on the plane to go to Israel, that security would be all over everything! I got the distinct impression it was security’s day off or that I got there during their lunch break because they didn’t pay attention to anything. In my carry-on bag I had electronic gear including a tape recorder. It was visible but nobody took any notice of it. I had my suit in a carrier bag over my shoulder. Also hanging in that was my squash racket. So, there was something solid in that carrier bag but nobody was taking the slightest interest. As I got up closer to check-in, I put it over my back so that the squash racket stuck out, rifle-like. Still, nobody took any notice.

“We were off-loaded for a layover of an hour at the terminal in Delhi. You know how, especially in capital cities, airports showcase the country, well this one was built by the same team that built the public urinals at our local Domain at home; a concrete block dunny…it was something, I can tell you! We’re all sitting there waiting. Because of the emergency you couldn’t get a cup of tea or anything to eat. So we’re all sitting on chairs looking at each other, deciding “Who’s the Highjacker?” I picked out the guy who, in my opinion, was the most likely. He must have been on a rostered day off because he didn’t highjack the plane…”

Thankfully, Rick arrived in Israel for his second stopover, safe and sound. As it turned out, this was to be the first of three visits he would make to Israel over the next thirty-nine years.

As he tells it:
I get to Lod Airport in Tel Aviv, (renamed in 1973 after David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister). Years later, in Egypt, I was to learn that Lod was the site of the burial of Saint George who became the Patron Saint of England. The story goes that at Genoa, King Richard bordered a boat for the Crusades and encountered an horrendous storm on the way to the Holy Land. Observing, at the height of the storm, that the Coptic Egyptian crew had abandoned attempts at seamanship in favour of prayer, Richard asked to whom they were praying. When, being told that they were interceding with Saint George, Richard announced “If he can get us out of this, I will make him the Patron Saint of England.” The rest, as they say, is history.  In view of my later association with Egypt, it was interesting to learn that St George’s burial site at Lod was identified when a dead lamb was placed on it causing the lamb to return to life. The story goes that St George’s body was exhumed and returned to his native Egypt where he is interned at a Monastery in the desert outside Borg el Arab where I was to work, years later.

Back to 1970…I’m wearing a suede Stetson hat. Well of course, going to Israel and wearing a hat was exactly the right thing to do. I looked just like many of the local men so that was a fortuitous coincidence and extraordinarily good camouflage. As you can see, I was without my beard in those days since being clean-shaven was a condition of my joining the family business after university. At Leicester Tech, I re-grew the beard that has been with me ever since. Hence, I would not expect my children or many others to recognise the rather startled looking young man in the photograph above.

I got into a taxi and said to the driver, “Righto, do you speak English?”
He said, “Yes and twenty-seven other languages.”
So I said, “Righto, take me to the King David Hotel please.”
Now the King David is a pretty famous hotel in the history of Israel. In 1946, during the time of the mandate to govern Palestine, given to Britain by the League of Nations  after WWI, the Irgun Zvai Leumi blew up one wing of the hotel along with a lot of British subjects. (Ninety-one soldiers and civilians.) Incidentally, not long after this visit to Israel, when Rick was finally ensconced in his textile course in England, there were a number of Israeli students on the course. The Mother of one of them was still ‘Wanted’ outside Israel for her part in this revolt against the British mandate in the quest for an independent Jewish state. She could not go to England or she’d be arrested on sight.

The photographs of Israel in this post were all taken by Rick in 1970. I’ve done my best to digitally clean them and restore some of their original colours!

Back in Israel, the taxi driver looked in the mirror at Rick and said, “The King David is very expensive you know. Why are you going there?”
“I’ve got a booking.” Rick replied
The driver responded, “It’s very expensive.”
Rick said, “Well a friend of mine recommended it to me because he stayed there.” Actually, the Kiwi friend came to Israel for a big horticultural conference and on his return to NZ had given a fascinating talk on the use of water in Israel. Unbeknown to Rick, as a conference delegate, that acquaintance had got his accommodation at the King David for a heavily discounted rate.
So the taxi driver said to Rick, “Have you got a price?”
“I’ll wait for you. You go and check,” the driver offered.
“I thought briefly, well, he’s going to drive off with my luggage!” though I wasn’t as cynical in those days. So I went in and said, “I have a booking, can you tell me the room rate?”
When they told me, I had visions of people fanning me and giving me sips of cold drink as I’m lying on the floor! I said to them, “I can’t afford to pay that. I’m sorry, please cancel the booking.”
So I went back out to the taxi driver who could tell by my pale state and shakiness that I had discovered what he already knew.
He said, ”Don’t worry boy, my brother-in-law can help you.”
So he took me to the Savoy Hotel and I’m thinking, “The Savoy??? This is going to be twice as expensive!”

But the Savoy was a walk-up job, no lift or anything and this was Friday afternoon, getting towards ‘three stars in the sky’, which signifies the start of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. So, I go in and meet the proprietor, Ben Zvi, his name was. I remember him well, a stamp collector. The second thing he said after “Welcome to the Savoy Hotel” was “Can you send me stamps from New Zealand?” which I subsequently did.
He said, “Now, you’ve been here before?”
“No, this is the first time.”
“I will put you in the special room.”
“Oh that’s very nice!”
As I’m walking up the stairs he says, “Now breakfast, which is a cold buffet, will be in that dining room that you can see there. It’s Shabbat so there is no service, it’s help yourself.”
“Because it’s Shabbat, there’ll be no shoe cleaning service tonight.”
Well there was none where I lived anyhow.
“So,” he said, “I advise you do not leave your shoes outside the door.”
I thought, mmmm, not because they wouldn’t be cleaned but because they may be cleaned by somebody else in another location on another day?
So he takes me onto a floor where there are a few rooms. It’s a small hotel, the sort of hotel that’s in a book of the Somerset Maugham era. A small compact concrete hotel. There were rooms off the corridor and then we went out onto a balcony so that as we opened the door, it swung round to the right and there was the balcony to the left.
I said, “Oh that’s nice.”
He said, “Move along a bit Mr Lane.” Then he too came out onto the balcony and closed the door we’d just come through and behind that door was another door so that when you opened the first door, you covered this other door. You had thought that was the end of the balcony but it wasn’t. There was that second door which also opened onto the balcony. So he said, “You’re in this room.”
And that was it, that was all he said.
“Oh, that’s fine.” I responded. I get in there, into this room that’s hidden when the first door onto the balcony was opened. If somebody had the door open from the hotel proper to the balcony, I couldn’t get out.

Now behind the door was a reproduction from a book. It described how, at one stage, I don’t remember what the event was, (it may even have been the blowing up of the King David Hotel) the British forces were looking for Menachem Begin to arrest him. He was one man’s terrorist and another man’s freedom fighter. He subsequently went on to become the 6th Prime Minister of Israel and had he lived a bit longer, might very well have made peace with the Arabs. It seems to be that only people who have been soldiers, who’ve been in a war, know how to make peace. Politicians haven’t got a clue because they’re all about power. Of course in the 70’s the Palestinians were not as organised or as embittered as they subsequently became. There was, I believe, a chance for peace at about that time. After all, according to their own foundation myths, the Arabs and the Jews are both descendants of the sons of Abraham.

So the reproduction on the inside of the door described how Menachem Begin was in this room when the British troops were searching the hotel, going through room by room looking for him. They opened the door onto the balcony, looked down the balcony, said, “Oh well, he’s not here,” and didn’t see that behind the door that they’d opened was the door into his room where he was sitting, quivering, on the bed! Or under the bed or whatever. Not that such a man would ever quiver!
So I felt, “Well I’m quite special!” How many degrees of separation is that? Not many.

View over Tel Aviv from the Shalom Tower

Then I went out for a walk. It was Friday night, and I passed what I think was a Sephardic synagogue. I should have gone in. I didn’t. In those days, I felt it was inappropriate to go into somebody else’s place of worship. I don’t today, as long as you obey their rules of protocol. It was quite a big synagogue and it sounded like they were having a great party. Maybe even dancing! Lots of singing and so on. Quite a joyous occasion. So I thought it must be a wedding or something. Catholicism was a pretty serious business and these people were enjoying themselves in Church – how strange and exotic!

But even this did not prepare me for the sight of the cold buffet breakfast in the morning. I thought I’d been transported to another planet. Of all the dishes laid out, the only two I recognised were hard boiled eggs and tinned sardines. Obviously there were no kidneys or bacon, it being a Kosher hotel but no Weetbix, cornflakes, porridge, or toast either! I now knew that I was in a foreign country. Thinking back, this was probably the first time I’d seen an olive other than floating in a Martini in an American movie and now I learned that they came in two colours! With the virtue of hindsight and experience of Middle Eastern cuisine, I appreciate how boring, colloquial and unimaginative New Zealand’s eating habits were at that time!

I booked a number of tours with a company called Pel Tours in a street called Ahad Ha’im. Now this came up some months later at Leicester Tech. There was a discussion going on between all the Israelis, how to describe the name of this street in Tel Aviv, and how to pronounce it so that English people would understand it. I could hear this discussion, turned around and said “Ahad Ha’Am” There was stunned silence. They looked at me with their mouths open.
“What did you say? How the hell do you know that? You sure you’re not a Jew?”

The Dead Sea with Masada in the foreground.

The tours included a trip to Masada where I marvelled at the engineering skill that provided an abundance of water to the site and at the ramp the Romans had built to overcome the Zealots, who in the main, committed suicide rather than submit to Imperial Rome. On the way, we stopped at Be’er Sheva, a hot, dusty, smelly town in the desert, nothing like the modern city it has since become. It is ironic to think back, that at the time, I knew that this was where Abraham ‘made his covenant with God’ but I had no idea of the role that the 4th Australian Light Horse aided by the NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade had in taking Be’er Sheva in 1917 from the Ottoman Turks. On another tour I went to Haifa and saw the Bahai Temple up on the hill built in 1909. What a magnificent building! On a trip to and about Mount Carmel I saw a storage depot for the hundreds of East European made trucks that had been reclaimed from the desert after the Six Day War in 1967. I understand that subsequently, these were sold in Eastern Europe at prices their manufacturers could not compete with!

I went to Acre and that was pretty special to me. Acre was established as a Phoenician port and trading centre. This is where Napoleon was to build a hundred foot high hill to improve the angle of attack of his artillery on the fortifications of the old Crusader castle and city. It’s where Richard the Lion Heart fought a rearguard action prior to withdrawing from a crusade. Many years later, in Egypt, I was told the story that when his horse was killed during the battle, Salah El Din (Saladin) sent him another horse so he could carry on fighting! Chivalry isn’t just a European concept. In fact the Crusaders were barbarous, not only indiscriminately slaughtering the local Muslim and Jewish populations but also sacking Christian Constantinople on their way to the Holy Land to fight the ‘dreaded infidel’. Today you can still see a fraction of the plunder they took from Constantinople, proudly hoisted aloft in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice.

After Acre, I went on up to the Lebanese Border. In those days it was a simple, pipe and wire netting fence, not much higher than a New Zealand deer fence, stretching across the two-lane highway. It was between Acre and the border that I looked over the cliff, down towards the blue Mediterranean where I saw the railway line. This was the Haifa-Beiruit-Tripoli (HBT) line. I climbed down to the line and was amazed to see on one of the abutments, a commemoration plaque acknowledging the work of the New Zealand Engineers. Regretfully, I did not take a photograph of this but my recollection is that the New Zealanders had worked on this line during the first World War. However, I suspect that the work was done by the NZ Railways Engineers who were engaged in the Middle East primarily in Egypt but from Tobruk to Syria. Their story is told in the Penguin Book by Brendon Judd, ‘Desert Railway’. This book illustrates the memorial at Azzib (a.k.a. Achziv, Azeeb) commemorating the work of New Zealand Railway Engineers on the HBT line. This memorial is quite separate from the one I saw on the line itself. In 1948 in ‘the night of the bridges’ the Haganagh destroyed many rail bridges to disrupt the British and Arabs’ ability to move materials. Maybe the plaque I saw was commending the repairs done by New Zealanders following that destruction.

A view of Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is on the right and Al Aqsa Mosque on the left.

There was a good deal of walking. I went to Temple Mount, (Haram al-Sharif) the site of Solomon’s Temple; to the Dome of the Rock, where Abraham offered Isaac to God and to El Aqsa Mosque where I saw the footprint in the rock where Mohammed’s winged equine creature named ‘Buraq’, pushed off to take Mohammed up to Heaven for a chat with the boss. The whole of Temple Mount is off limits today thanks to a pyromaniac Australian and the belligerent Ariel Sharon. And of course, I went to the Mount of Olives, to Gethsemane, the room of the last supper, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as well as older biblical sites.

In Jerusalem, I walked and walked and walked and would thoroughly commend this mode of exploration for this city.

The Mount of Olives, Jerusalem 1970.

I was on tours primarily with Jewish tourists and remember one guy in particular. His name was Hector and he came from Mexico City. There was a lovely young woman who I ended up sitting next to. I took a photograph of her on a camel where the big ancient cemetery is in Jerusalem.

We also went to places that were important in Jewish religion and history, where, when the trumpets sound at the end of the world, the dead will first rise. There was shock-horror that the Jordanians had used some of the headstones for a urinal. As a consequence the Israeli opinion was “therefore we should own all the land.” Such were all the emotive issues going on. It was fascinating. That’s where the photograph of the beautiful young woman on the camel was taken and everybody wanted me to get on the camel so they could take a photo of me too. I refused, unwilling to pay to sit on a camel for which they all thought I was mad. In subsequent years my encounter with one Abdul the camel on Mount Sinai, convinced me that I’d made the right decision! (We’ll cover Abdul in a forthcoming episode.)

The cemetary

My accommodation was cheap, which meant I shared the room with a French guy whose name I have forgotten. He was an old man, a widower. When I think about it, he was probably fifty-five or sixty, and since I was only twenty-five he seemed old to me. He was hunched and sad and under a cloud. A great depression settled over Jerusalem when he arrived. He spoke French and nothing else and was a little peeved that the rest of us were so ignorant that we couldn’t speak French.

One of the tour events was a visit to a night club. The venue was a bit like the water cistern we saw decades later in Istanbul. It was the under structure of an old building with arches of big stone blocks. We were served the Portuguese wine that was so popular in those days and, as was also fashionable then, candles were placed in the empty bottles.

So we’re in this nightclub with the Frenchman and others of the group I’d booked with. There was Hector, the tall, swarthy, good-looking Mexican and the charming young woman who spoke halting English. They’re the only ones I can clearly remember. We’re all sitting at a table at this subterranean nightclub; there’s music playing and there’s candle light and we’re there probably three hours before the place started jumping so it was like a morgue. There were some Americans on this tour as well. You can imagine how they’re all enthusing about how fantastic it was to be at a genuine Israeli nightclub and I thought, f**k, this is sitting in the dark drinking mediocre wine!

Now the French man wanted the waiter, so he calls, “Garçon, garçon.” Nothing happened. So the waiter’s going past nearby to another table and the Frenchman whistles then goes “ssss ssss” at him. The waiter turned around and came to our table. He was about six foot fourteen tall, probably about eighteen stone and I think he was a colonel in the Israeli SAS, a shaven-headed hard looking bastard.
He says, “Monsieur, I am not a dog!” turns around and walks away. I don’t know how the Frenchman felt but I was terrified!

Above: Stone Masons at work.

Above: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Those tours took me to the Hadassah Hospital to see Chagall’s magnificent stained glass windows, and to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and to the room where the Last Supper was held. I wouldn’t say the room had been carefully constructed for the tour, because I’m sure a film company would have done a much better job and neither was it too reminiscent of Leonard’s famous painting!

Summing up on that first visit to Israel, over half a century ago, Rick says:

In a relatively short time, I had a pretty good look at Israel. Mind you, it’s not big! (About the size of Hawkes Bay in NZ.) I was very impressed with the energy and shared sense of purpose. It was really electrifying. At that time, the political Labour movement was strong. Israel was a socialist country with a small ’s’ in the sense that New Zealand also was at that time but it was more vigorous than we were. The Kibbutz movement was very strong then too and pretty impressive. Of course, there was a heightened sense of tension in the country because of the planes in the desert being highjacked by the PLO to draw attention to the Palestinian plight.

It was the first time I’d been anywhere that so many people were in uniform and every third, fourth or fifth young man walking down the street had a machine gun tucked under his arm, discretely, I might say; a little Uzi fitted under his arm so that it was against his body and you weren’t really aware of it. However, for me this was quite a thing to see people going about their business who were armed. It was Wild West stuff as far as I was concerned. Quite discrete but a lot of tension and lots of comments about the last bloody thing they wanted was the Americans to help. I remember that. “We’ll sort this crisis, we don’t want the Yanks involved, they’ll only stuff it up.”

The Al Asqua Mosque

At that time lots of people from all over the world, including New Zealanders, went to work in Israel, mostly for short stints, primarily on Kibbutzim. In the main, Israel appeared European. There had been a steady stream of Zionists migrating to Palestine since before WWII. There  was a major surge in migration from Europe during and immediately after the war as a direct result of the Holocaust. These people, in the main were Ashkenazi. As a result of the Israeli War of Independence (1948) and Partition, many Sephardic Jews who had lived for centuries in North Africa were forcibly expelled from their home countries or their lives became untenable with many migrating to the new state of Israel.  At about this time there were quite deliberate operations to bring Sephardic Jews to Israel. For example, ‘Operation Magic Carpet’, from the Yemen and later, in 1991, Operation Solomon from Ethiopia. In 1970, I formed the impression that a peace and a ‘two state’ solution was possible. The shared familiarity with Arabia and its culture that the Sephardic and ‘Sabra’ (Israeli-born Jews) had, I believe, more chance of making peace and living along side Arabs than did somebody who grew up in Berlin, Warsaw, Tallinn or Odessa. Since that time, there has been a massive migration of Russian Jews to Israel and they have had a major impact on the society but that is a subject for another day.

In those days of the 1970s, the religious parties were not as strong as today but the Labour party was strong. The Likud party was a conservative contender but the extreme religious parties basically kept to themselves or appeared to be ineffective politically. As we will see in the next episode, by 1999 that had changed.

So in 1970 there was a shared sense of purpose, energy and a clear goal, “We’re going somewhere, we’re doing things, building a nation” and it was pretty impressive. They were poor. In the 1960s Svi, who you have met in earlier Egyptian Tales, (Episodes 7 & 12) who in 1998 offered me the job in Egypt, was an Israeli youngster living in the new state. He delivered milk from his parent’s small farm to the dairy company, using a donkey cart. This was no different from what we saw in Egypt thirty years later when small holders were going around on their donkey carts with milk to sell to people in their neighbourhoods. There was not much in the way of pasteurisation. Please boil on receipt!

The Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem where I left a note for a Jewish friend from University in New Zealand. I don’t recall a women’s prayer section in those days.

From the standpoint of time, my first view of Israel in 1970 was undoubtedly influenced by the one-sided propaganda from the Jewish side. For example, our media portrayed the Mossad as omniscient and the Israeli army (IDF) as invincible. There was an uncritical acceptance of Israeli righteousness and entitlement. No New Zealand newspaper would have dreamed (at that time) of comparing the pre-emptive strike by Israel that destroyed the Egyptian Air Force ‘on the ground’ with that of Japan on Pearl Harbour on that ‘day of infamy’ in 1941. A lot of my impressions were based on heart rather than head. That’s not to say there wasn’t head stuff, there was but it was based on heart. I’d read the book ‘Exodus’ by Leon Uris and was charmed by the whole thing and was on the side of the underdog.

Of course what I didn’t think of then, was that there was another dog under the underdog whose people were basically having their land appropriated from them. Any individual, personal, civil or political rights that the Israelis aspired to, did not apply to the indigenous people of the area but I didn’t see any of that. What I saw was summed up in a photograph I took where the bus stopped on the way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Shown below) There’s a gorge that you go through there and on the side of the gorge were all the burnt out vehicles of the 1948 Israeli forces and they were there as a stark reminder of the price paid.

Nearby, I walked over the road from a tea shop and there, where the lettuces were growing under the sprinklers, within a space of six inches, the desert started and there was thorny scrub. I can still see it and to me that is a really telling image. It’s like the Arab proverb, “You spit in the desert and a flower grows”. All it needs is water. This was miraculous and of course it’s a typical colonial argument, “Look at what we’re doing, we’re using the land, we’re making the land bloom and you were doing nothing with it.”

Now that’s the same argument that was applied in Canada, the United States, in New Zealand, in Australia, as a justification for colonisation. “We’re actually doing something and developing it and you’re doing nothing, you’re sitting on your bum in the sun!” Mmmmm.

Billy Rose Sculptor Garden in Jerusalem

We cannot leave Rick’s first visit to Israel without including Yad Vashim, the Jewish Holocaust Museum. When we lived in Egypt in the early years of the 21st century, I was shocked at the insistence of a young male cleaner that the Holocaust ‘never happened’. I was very angry and assured him I had met people who were survivors of that hell. In Australia, one of Rick’s employers was a survivor of Auschwitz. Before his death only recently, his family recorded his story in a most moving video. Rick was born just before the war ended in 1945 and I, four years later. We were taught some of its history and I lament that in New Zealand it is not still being taught, though our own history of colonial oppressions are at last being taught, and rightly so. We need these lessons! With my fellow students at high school, including a small group of Jewish girls, we were shown films of the liberation of some of the concentration camps in 1945. It was horrific. As teenagers, my brother and I also read the classic, ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ by William L. Shirer, which should be compulsory reading for every generation or we will have learned nothing, which sadly, is pretty obvious when we look at the number of human horrors that have been perpetrated since that time.

The doors of Yad Vashim are made of timbers from the Nazi concentration camps where at least six million Jews plus gays, Romani and others were murdered during World War II.

The Nazis forced known Jews to wear the Yellow Star of David to mark them out from the rest of the population, isolating them from help and easily identifying them for deportation to the death camps.

Rick says, “I still vividly recall the numbness that my first visit to Yad Vashim caused me. Walking up the avenue to the Heroes and Martyrs, I was painfully aware of how few trees and plaques there were considering the tens of millions of Europeans who stood by while the holocaust happened in their midst. The holocaust museum of Yad Vashim had a huge emotional impact on me, with its ‘brutal’ architecture and its stunning doors, which are on a par with the Baptistery doors of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence for sheer impact. When you come out of Yad Vashim, you know where the timber of its doors came from and this adds a whole new dimension. Inside, is the impact of the black marble floor depicting continental Europe with the commemorative oil lamps noting the position of the death camps. Of these, there were so many more in both number and geographic spread than I had ever imagined. They make a lasting impact. Down below, the museum is a categorical record of man’s inhumanity to man. It is terrifying to think how thin the veneer of civilization is and a reminder that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do or say nothing.

In Part Two of ‘Israel’ we fast forward almost thirty years to January 1999, when Rick paid his second visit to Israel. This time I was with him. How had his perceptions changed and what were mine? Find out in Israel Episode Two, coming up in due course…

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