06 June 2007

Personal account of the Six-Days War

This BBC compilation of accounts by several persons whose life was touched by Six-Days War triggered a personal memory.

For the few first days of the war, in our smallish provincial Soviet town we were fed by Soviet propaganda that was mostly translating victorious reports by Arab governments, proudly and pompously describing their unstoppable march through the helpless Zionist entity and its imminent destruction. The Voice of Israel was mostly mum, following the "fog of battle" doctrine. So, as you can imagine, the spirits in the small Jewish community were rather low.

Of course, in a few days it all changed. After the initial period of chaos and uncertainty, the Soviet media started berating the Zionist aggressor that, as it suddenly become clear, used its own death throes as a smokescreen to insinuate itself to Suez canal, Jordan river, etc... Playing unfair, as usual.

But this is not the point of that story that took part in a month or so after the war. It so happened that the small artificial lake near our town, being fed by a smallish and muddy stream, became too muddy itself for safe use by the town children, and it was decided to clean it up. To this end the lake was emptied and a bulldozer went in to deal with the accumulated mud. After a few minutes the bulldozer got stuck in the middle. A second, bigger bulldozer was sent to get the first one out and got promptly stuck nearby.

Due to the story unfolding in the middle of a hot summer, lots of local luminaries decided to leave their stuffy offices and to take part in the recovery operation. Which meant standing around the lake and issuing useless and contradictory instructions. For a while, some fairly feeble and weak (this being a hot summer day) rescue activities continued, but soon enough it became clear that there is no way for the two bulldozers to extricate themselves. After a longish period of contemplation (still preferable to sitting in that stuffy office, remember), someone came up with a brilliant idea - to ask a local military unit for a tank. A flunky was dispatched to the nearest phone, and soon the news of a positive response were made known to the crowd. Needless to say, that we, the children, took part in the gathering, this being one of the hot and boring summer vacation days, and the news of a real tank coming to the scene thrilled us immeasurably.

The exhilaration of the news was soon replaced by the boredom of the interminable wait. Some of the above mentioned VIP have started to disappear, probably in pursuit of their regular daily duties or just for a power lunch. The children, however, being more creative in the ways of wasting time, found some occupations that did not require leaving the scene.

After about two hours, one of the local bosses still remaining on the scene issued a stream of invectives addressed chiefly at these no good lazy bastards of the army, adding this interesting observation:

"We should have called the fucking Israelis to start with - they could have been here in no time".

Which astute remark I have remembered for the last 40 years, as you can see...