6days

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Nineteen years after the creation of the State of Israel, Lilith Gervasi (having been advanced from seren to rav seren, or Major) was crucial for her nation’s success in the Six Day War. This was the third major conflict between Israel and the Arab nations that comprised the bad neighborhood of the Middle-East. Geopolitically this war would have greater ramifications than any other tussle in the Arab-Israeli conflict except on the Zeta Timeline, when the 1973 Yom Kippur War with its use of nuclear weapons would prove much more fateful.

The cause of the 1967 war was exactly the same as the cause of the First Suez War in 1956. President Nasser rolled the dice one more time. The Strait of Tirin was once again blocked by the heavy guns of the fortress at Sharm el-Sheikh, choking off the southern Negev town of Eilat from access to the open sea.

The biggest contribution of Lilith was the destruction of nearly two hundred Egyptian warplanes while they were still parked on their runways. This was accomplished by the B’nei Elohim at her request.

In just a quarter of an hour on the morning of June 5 many Egyptian planes which had been prepared to bomb Israel were mortally crippled, and powerful cluster bombs tore up the airfields where the planes were parked. Bomblets shattered the concrete of the runways down to the foundations and made them temporarily useless.

The B’nei Elohim attacked from high above the Egyptian air bases in flying saucers that were equipped with large macros. They could hover on station indefinitely in nearly total silence simply by making the air over the saucer into dark matter. The air above the saucer disappeared, creating a pressure differential, hence lift, not much different from a conventional helicopter, but much quieter and with virtually unlimited flight time.

The B’nei Elohim raid allowed the IDF to retain all their own fighter planes orbiting on CAP (Combat Air Patrol) in Israeli airspace to defend from any counter-attacks in case Robyn’s people failed, but some of these were dispatched to Egypt after the attack to evaluate the damage. They reported that 180 Egyptian planes had been destroyed, and all the communications facilities of the Egyptian air forces were also out of operation. The first combat operation of the B’nei Elohim was a spectacular success.

President Nasser told King Hussein of Jordan nothing of the sudden and inexplicable loss of his entire air force. He told the king it was the Israeli air force, rather, that had been completely destroyed. Proceeding on the basis of this misinformation the king ordered his troops to cross the border and his planes to begin bombing targets in Israel. Syria and Iraq attacked at precisely the same time.

Within two hours, Israeli warplanes drove back the invading forces and destroyed the bulk of Syrian and Jordanian air assets with aerial dogfights and ground attacks. A grand total of four hundred Arab aircraft were destroyed in the first day of fighting, leaving them only 280 operational planes, but there were very few runways left operational with which to launch them. That fact alone decided the outcome of the war. The rest was just icing on the cake

On June 6th, Nasser made another phone call to King Hussein to tell him American and British planes had destroyed his entire air force on the first day. Nasser half-believed it himself. He still had no idea it was the B’nei Elohim who really carried out the attack. Nasser had no idea that the B’nei Elohim even existed. To admit the Israelis had somehow decapitated his entire air force would imply that mere Jews were militarily superior to Arabs, which was, of course, utterly unthinkable. So it must have been the Anglos went his thinking.

On the morning of June 7th Major Lilith Gervasi received orders to report to General David Elazar at his Northern Command, based out of Galilee, where she was given command of a full battalion. She spent the rest of that day and most of the night evaluating the readiness of her troops and briefing her staff.

On June 8th General Elazar drove to Tel Aviv to get permission from Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin to attack the Golan Heights, lest the Syrians be left in a position to shell settlers from there after the war drew to a close. At first the proposal was rejected, but overnight it became clear the Egyptian army was in a state of disintegration. Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defense, overruled Rabin and authorized the Golan attack.

By June 9th Lilith and her battalion found themselves in bitter hand-to-hand fighting against Syrians manning fortifications in the Golan Heights, which their enemy defended with impressive tenacity. But future President-for-life Hafez al-Assad, then the Minister of Defense in Syria, began to fear for his own hide. He ordered the Golan defenders to withdraw to reinforce his forces along the route to the capital city of Damascus, which lay only forty miles away from the front line.

As the Syrians gave ground through the night, Lilith’s battalion advanced, but the fighting remained fierce and exhausting. By the evening of June 10 it was all over. After only six days of hard fighting, Israel possessed three times the territory she did before the war.

No Egyptian forces of any strength remained to prevent the IDF from reaching Cairo if they chose to do so, which they did not. Egypt’s infantry had been reduced to thousands of thirsty, barefooted stragglers walking west to cross over the Sinai Canal. As long as they kept moving west, the IDF let them go. Israel was already burdened with 7,000 Egyptian prisoners as things already stood.

The whole Sinai peninsula was annexed by Israel, which completely isolated the Gaza Strip. Sharm was abandoned by the Egyptians in the face of a strong amphibious assault. A chain of IDF fortresses designed to block any future Egyptian attack was built along the east bank of the canal. This was called the Bar-Lev Line, but it would never be staffed by appropriate numbers of Israeli troops, and this foolish policy would allow Egypt to attack once again in 1973.

The ancient capital of Jerusalem fell completely into Israeli hands after nearly two thousand years. Jordanian forces were driven east across the Jordan River, leaving the entire West Bank, also called Judea and Samaria, under IDF occupation. The State of Israel now controlled the lives of a million Palestinian Arabs, and this was to come with its own host of problems well into the Twenty-first Century on every timeline El Shaddai and Yeshua created.

Syria lost their territory in the strategic Golan Heights. A helicopter took IDF soldiers to the summit of snowy Mt. Hermon to take possession of the radar facilities there. This broad and tall mountain, whose snows were the source of the Jordan River, would become the eyes and ears of Israel.

Total Israeli losses were about 700 dead. This butcher’s bill was far smaller than had been feared on the eve of the war, but it was still a heavy burden for their families and communities to bear. Arab losses were much higher. In the Sinai alone there were 15,000 Egyptian corpses left unburied on the desert sands.

Israel, despite her relatively small population, had stabilized as the regional superpower of the Middle-East. A roughly equal number of Jews dwelt in the United States, where they lived in conditions that were much safer than in Eretz Yisrael, but they were still of the Diaspora. They weren’t home, in the land that had been promised to Abraham, and if the Jews learned anything over the previous three thousand years, they had learned that seemingly favorable conditions abroad were liable to change precisely because they, as a tribe, as a people, never changed. Something buried deep inside the rest of humanity could never accept that.

After the war, when the reserves were being demobilized Talishi came calling to visit before Lilith had exchanged her Major’s uniform for the clothing appropriate for a collective farm. And Lilith marveled that Talishi appeared to be precisely the same age as when they first met on the beach at Underhill on the Isle of Wight.

Talishi embraced Lilith, then stood back a bit to regard the woman with a friendly but appraising gaze. She said, “Your father Benjamin will not live forever.”

And then Lilith lost her smile, for she knew what Talishi had come to ask her to do. It was something Lilith had dreaded for years. “I’m not ready to tell him everything,” she said soberly.

“No, but you are, I think, ready to tell him something, and that is a vast improvement.” She held out her hand. “Come. Please.”

Then Talishi whisked Lilith back to St. Catherine’s lighthouse on the Isle of Wight in the same manner she had whisked the girl to Yad Mordechai twenty-one years prior. So it had not been a dream or a hallucination after all.

“Will you tell me what you really are, Talishi?” Lilith asked as they walked toward the lighthouse that was so familiar to her.

“I will tell you everything,” Talishi assured her. “Everything! But only after you have also told your father everything.”

Lilith stopped in her tracks. “Why Talishi? Why must it be so?”

“Have you not discerned by now that I am healing your soul?”

After a long pause, Lilith nodded her head, then resumed her walk.

“Good! That too is a sign that what I have been doing is working.”

Somewhere between the place where Lilith had paused and the front door of the lighthouse Talishi had slipped away. Lilith was quite alone when she knocked on the door of what had been her girlhood home. A strange, severe-looking woman with her hair tied back in a bun opened the door. “Yes, what is it?”

“Is my…is Benjamin home?”

“Who are you?”

Lilith’s father hobbled up behind the woman to see who had come calling. At first, when he saw the IDF uniform, he didn’t recognize who it was, and thought he was in some sort of trouble again. But his mind merged the two decades of changes on Lilith’s face with his memories of his daughter. Tentatively, he asked, “Lilith? Are you Lilith?”

His daughter’s face crinkled up in a way that Benjamin could not mistake, and this time there were tears, perhaps the first tears she had shed over all that time. Lilith sobbed, “Father, I’m so sorry!”

They embraced for a long time, and Lilith wept as she had never done so in her life, for she realized that her father had done nothing, nothing, to deserve the silence she had inflicted on him all those years. Lilith had rationalized to herself that she was punishing her father for refusing to emigrate to Palestine, but that was nothing more than a huge lie she had made herself believe all that time, and Lilith marveled at her own capacity for self-deception.

When Benjamin and Lilith separated from their long embrace, the strange woman held out her hand to Lilith. “I am Laura,” she introduced herself. “I am your father’s wife.”

“Life goes on,” Benjamin offered, as though in explanation.

Lilith was mildly shocked by the news. “Father. We have so much catching up to do, it seems.”

“Then let us do so, beloved daughter, over a cuppa.”

The three shared afternoon tea in the large common room of the lighthouse. It was the place that once held a Teletype that gave the family their orders to direct the Clarinet antenna for a strategic bombing run. Benjamin told Lilith he was old enough to retire, but operating the lighthouse was not so physically demanding, and he still enjoyed making his meterological observations and publishing articles in his field to various professional journals. At certain hours during the day he and Laura would guide tourists about the lighthouse grounds and even take them up to the top, something Benjamin forced himself to do despite a bit of arthritis in his knees.

Lilith, for her part, was necessarily vague on answering her father’s questions about how she managed to travel to Israel, since she herself didn’t know the mechanics of that. But everything else she related, in reverse order, starting from the recent Six Day War and going backwards to the birth of her adopted nation.

“And all this time, daughter, were there no gentlemen in your life? Have you never considered being married?”

Lilith came to a dead stop. All the heroic accounts of an IDF Major the Arab-Israeli wars were over. Her father’s innocent question had dumped her directly into the pit of agonizing memories that smoldered yet in the core of her soul. “How shall I proceed father? I am no stranger to the touch of man, but…let’s call it conditioning, shall we? The thought of physical love inevitably takes me back to the camps. You may draw your own conclusions, but that, I think is a mental scar far more long lasting than any of the physical ones I bear.”

“I am so sorry, Lilith!”

“Rather it is I who must apologize to you, father. At no time did you do or say anything that merited shunning from your own daughter.”

“Once,” he tentatively said, thinking of Lilith’s mention of scars, “just once, I saw the damage on your back. Will you say anything about what happened to you?”

Lilith lowered her head for a rather long time, gathering the painful memories into a narrative for the first time since it happened. This is it, she thought. And I dread it so, but Talishi wants me to do this.

“One time,” she began, “near the very end, before we were liberated by the American army, the survivors — and this was a death camp so there were not very many of us – the survivors were mustered together for a roll call, or what the Germans called an appel. We all wore very thin clothing, and it was very cold, as mornings often are in late March. The commander of the camp gave an order to flog the entire first row of prisoners simply because the exhausted and freezing women had poor posture! And I was in the first row.

“Listening to the screams of the prisoners being whipped before my turn was almost worse than the actual punishment. Almost. I vowed that I would not scream when it happened to me, and I begged God for the strength to make that vow hold true.

“I was stripped naked and held by two female guards over a table while a third laid on the lash. The agony of this punishment is…indescribable. I will not even attempt to describe it. But from the first stroke I completely forgot my vow, and I did scream.”

Both Benjamin and Laura gaped at her with horror.

“I lost count of how many strokes I received because I lost consciousness before it was over. But a flogging is a gift that keeps on giving, as the American trademark goes. I woke up in the camp hospital in only slightly less agony than during the whipping, with my entire back on fire, it felt like. It would take four days before I could get more than a few minutes of uninterrupted sleep at a time. I had lost a lot of blood and the slightest movement opened the scars and caused me to bleed again. So I could not be moved from the hospital or walk under my own power. When the American forces drew very near, the entire camp descended into chaos. I was left behind.

“A day later I did manage to stumble out of bed for one final task. Troops of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army captured Ohrdruf-Nord on April 4, 1945. Among the many thousands of dead Jews whose burnt or decomposing bodies where strewn about the camp, one female German guard also lay on the ground with her head nearly twisted off the spine. That guard was the one who had laid the lash on my back. She was my second one, father, but she was not my last one, not by a wide margin.”

Benjamin closed his eyes and howled in despair, as Laura tried to comfort him.

“And so you see, father, as I stand here in my IDF uniform, that the little girl you raised in this lighthouse is no more, replaced by a cold-blooded killer, and we do not really know each other at all, do we?”

“Please,” Benjamin begged, recovering just a bit. “I must know. Please. What happened to your mother?”

Lilith shook her head firmly. “You’re not ready for that, father. It would kill you. I’m not ready for it yet, and I was there.”

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