"Blessed be the Lord who has taken away the reproach from Israel", Asher thought joyfully. Then he looked about him and his spirits sagged again.
All about the Holy City was debris. Broken glass, broken buildings, sometimes broken people. A new conqueror had entered the City. A new conqueror and an old one. For the blue and white flag now wafted in the breeze and Jacob's children had returned from their wanderings. Asher looked about him at the city. Whimsically he wondered what King David was thinking,looking down from heaven. Probably that he could have done it better then all the mere bizzbuzzes down on earth. Old soldiers are never satisfied at young one's.
And all about there were soldiers. Young soldiers, middle aged soldiers, men who had been farmers and mechanics a few weeks ago but had now defeated one of the toughest armies in the area. Jordanians had their faults but no one denied their courage. And so none could deny what it took to defeat them.
Asher looked about and winced. He was dressed to neatly for the occasion. It was the limitation of his profession that he could not mention that he had been in almost as much danger as they had. It was his part to work quietly and leave the glory to others. That was fine with him. But not quite now. He could imagine all of them looking at him and sneering. And no one quite knows how to sneer the way soldiers do.
Asher walked up to a building where a number of men were waiting. One of them asked "What's in the package". Asher replied, "That's for when duty is over. However I think we won't be long, from what I hear you've earned a day off." Then Asher asked, "Did you follow the instructions I sent, David?" An officer replied, "We swept up as many of the enemy assets on the list that we could find. Six of them got away. I suppose you can't tell how you knew which ones?" Asher said, "I do know how we knew which ones-and no I can't tell you." Then he said, "Listen up everyone, here's what we'll do. We'll keep them for a few weeks until they can do no harm and then release them, a few at a time, so it won't look suspicious." David said, "Ash, we went to a lot of work and not a little peril doing this." Asher said, "And it helped the campaign tremendously. But today is a day of rejoicing and Israel can afford to be magnanimous. I don't intend to throw everything away. We will keep them apart from each other, give them each a little gold and put the word out that they are taking pay from us. They can't go back to the enemy. Either they will have to work for us. Or else they will have to disappear into the woodwork and start earning an honest living."
Another agent said, "One of them is a Jew".Asher said, "Send him to Colonel Epstein."The agent said, "I have heard stories about Colonel Epstein. I hope they're not true."Asher replied, "I too have heard stories about Colonel Epstein-and a few of them are true. Make sure our traitor hears ALL the stories. I do not wish today to be a day of rejoicing for him."
Then Asher said, "Come people, you have all worked hard enough; let us go to The Wall and join the festivities."Asher looked about him, and said to David, "What a mess..."
David replied, "'Nothing is so gloomy as a battle won except a battle lost'. Well Wellington was almost right about that, but even he wasn't cynical enough to realize what people are really capable of."
Asher mused, "It's funny. We spent all those years building a civilization in the wilderness-and this is what we become best known for. The world really respects only one thing and I'm not sure that kind of respect is good for us."
Then Asher quoted, "If drunk with sight of power we loose, such boastings as the gentiles use, or lesser breeds without the Law.
David quoted back, "Lord God of Hosts be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget." Then David said, "But I don't think you need worry, Ash; I can't imagine Jews becoming like that especially when there people like you to prevent it.
Then David grinned ironically, "Poor Israel, after two-thousand years you finnally have your share of glory and it tastes bitter. I guess thats why I like you folk-you have a tyrannical conscience.
They walked on. Asher then looked about him and said,"it's times like these I am glad I had only daughters."
David replied, "Twenty years ago your daughters would be here too. But then twenty years ago you made bullets from lipstick tubes. Times change. But cheer up, even if it is a day of mourning it is also a day of rejoicing and if one must take the bitter one should at least take the sweet."
"Asher replied, "Why do you have to say YOU instead of WE."David smiled, "Comes of being a Baptist in a Jewish country. You know that. It feels funny being the Mossad's house goy".
The group walked through the stricken city. Then Asher opened the package. He made a short speech:"This is the only thing appropriate to the occasion. Wine from vineyards worked with three generations of labor and love by Jews making gardens out of the wilderness." Then he served out the wine. "David you make the first toast, you have earned the privilege" David responded, "To victory" and they drank. Then the second toast came, "To Jerusalem". A little wine spilled. Asher winced as he saw a trickle of the red wine flow along to mix imperceptibly with a small puddle of uncleaned blood along the sidewalk. The irony was uncanny he thought. Rejoicing and death. Then Asher said, "I think I'll give a toast. It may be a strange toast for a battlefield. But in another way it is the best of all." Then he said "To Life..."The answer came, "L'Chaim".
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This has no particular political point. I am simply trying to bring out character. Asher is saying that he fears his profession is corrupting his sense of decency and that power may corrupt his own people. A fear always to be kept in mind in a general sense. But it is not a statement about my own opinions of any particular policy.
Jason I would avoid commenting on your own articles, as they should be able to speak for themselves without explanation or comment. If you need to clarify something do it within the article or as an introduction. Perhaps you are being over-cautious at this early stage?
This is the introductory episode to the myspace series, songofhope(the name is a reference to the song Hatikvah).
The heros are Asher and David, two American immigrants who work as secret agents for the Haganah in the 1940's. Asher immigrated for conventional nationalistic reasons. David is not a Jew but came out of friendship with Asher.
One note is that Asher is a religious Jew and David is a Christian. The first would be something of an exception and the second an obvious exception.
Some will ask whether their odd vocation is compatable with their respective religions. To which one might reply that they probably asked themselves the same question. Neither are saints and I have no intent on saying they are without failing. Both are however brave, and loyal people who usually try to carry out their duties in as decent a manner as possible.
By the way,"bizzbuzz" is IDF slang for recruit, with the hyperbolic claim that their uniforms are so starched they make a buzzing sound. It amused me to give a minor, tidbit of Israeli culture as an "atmosphere tool".
For those that don't know, the lines quoted were from Kipling's Recessional which was a poem warning of the vanity of those who see power as a toy rather then a duty. The phrase "Lesser breeds without the Law" has been described as racist. To say that Kipling was not racist is as simplistic as to say he was. He was on the whole mildly racist but he also treated people primarily as individuals and thought their culture was as much a part of them as they were a part of their culture. A peculiar exception was England's European rivals whom Kipling gave a hatred he never gave even to the most ferocious non-Europeans. The "lesser breeds" were not the Asians, they were the Germans.