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On her collective farm after the War of Independence Judith Margolies immersed herself in honest toil cultivating the fields and garden crops and poultry. At least once a month she helped defend the settle- ment from gunmen who infiltrated from the nearby Gaza Strip to kill Jews simply for being Jews. Several times a year these attacks on Yad Mordechai were followed up by fierce IDF reprisal raids. In 1950 Ju- dith was mobilized as a sergeant in the IDF reserves to help guide the counterattacks.

The children of the settlement ate and slept apart from their parents, and Judith, who had attended schools in England at least until grade ten, helped to educate them, even while she herself was learning from a Polish tutor to speak and read Hebrew.

One day in 1951 someone who appeared to be a very tall boy of indeter- minate race arrived at Yad Mordechai. "I am a servant of Michael," che said. "I am called Elin, and I would speak with Judith Mar- golies."

Judith was promptly relieved of duty teaching her class and brought to one of the empty houses in the kibbutnikiyot section to meet Elin. She saw how the short-haired newcomer was at least a foot shorter than Michael, yet che was still very tall. And being this close to hem, she was entirely unsure if che was male or female. It was her first encounter with a nephil.

Elim said, "I am called Elim, and I serve the one who spoke to you on a Channel beach and asked if you would hunt real enemies of Jews throughout the world."

"And it is a sign of your sincerity, Elim, that you know exactly what Michael asked me on that early morning."

"Hy sent me first of all, Judith, to see if you were well."

"Well," she began, "apart from my trusty British-made rifle I have very little in the way of personal possessions. She own some clothing, I own a radio I share with the gals in the Women's House, and I own other such simple things. There are a few tractors and jeeps, but they belong to the whole community. All the profits of the kibbutz are pooled together for the needs of the laborers. I have good health. In fine, apart from the occasional firefight you may tell Michael I am living in utopia."

"That is good to hear," said Elim, "because it clears the way to my next question. Have you heard of one Horst Wagner?"

Judith wanted to spit, but caught herself as she realized she was in- doors. "What Jew doesn't curse the name of the German diplomat who was instrumental in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Euro- pean Jews to the death camps in Poland? I know with the fall of Ger- many he was arrested by the allies and testified at the Nuremberg trials as a witness. But what happened to him after that I know very little."

"Then Judith, allow me to pick up his trail where it runs cold for you. Late in 1947 Wagner was placed in an internment camp for Nazi war criminals called Nuremberg-Langwasser but it was weakly guarded, and he managed to escape to Austria where he made contact with what we call a rat line. It's a clandestine system set up to smuggle Nazis from Europe to South America. Specifically, he availed himself of the Kloster Line run by elements in the Roman Catholic Church. He was hidden in a network of monasteries until a German bishop named Alois Hudal made arrangements for him to obtain an International Red Cross passport just this. He made his way to Genoa, Italy, where using Vat- ican funds he sailed to Argentina to link up with the likes of Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele. We're going after those last two, eventu- ally, but for right now we're beautifully set up to get Horst Wagner, and Michael wants you to be part of the extraction."

"Who else is part of this?"

"There's Jashen, who has been working Wagner undercover for two months. He a polyglot, he speaks Spanish and German as though born to them, and he's a native North American, but he can pass as a native South American. So can I. So can you, if I squint my eyes. Wagner prefers a very neat home and Jashen has been coming in to tidy things up for him, and along the way they've struck up something of a friend- ship, much to Jashen's disgust off the record, but he's very profes- sional about it. Today he got Wagner to agree it's time for a major spring field day so that's where we come in, we're going in as extra cleaning girls."

Elam threw a bundle on the dining table and said, "You should change into these. I can step out if you want me to."

"That depends on whether you're a bloke or a bird. I still can't tell which."

"I'm both, actually, but I can turn around while you disrobe, if you think that will be sufficient."

Judith nodded. While she was changing she said, "Where do you come in?"

"I'm the one who's going to incapacitate the subject. We're going to deliver him alive and well."

"And why does Michael want me to be involved?"

"Someone has to make the actual delivery of the package to Mossad HQ. Michael thinks there are multiple advantages all the way around if it's you."

In a few more moments Judith was fully dressed as an Argentine house- keeper. "Go ahead and turn around, Elim."

Che did, and after a quick glance at Judith, the scenery around him changed from a home in the kibbutz to a back alley in Buenos Aires, so no one could see the transition. Judith followed Elim out of the alley to one of the better-looking houses on that street.

No need to knock, the door was opened just as they arrived on the por- tico. Judith assumed it was opened by Jashen, and she noted that for he seemed to be of normal height, for once, although still somewhat taller than most men she knew. They followed him inside.

Judith saw Wagner in his den, and she had picked up enough German in the camps to know he called Jashen "Diego" and was asking in these were the housekeepers he spoke of. Even as he spoke he fell to the floor in a dead faint.

"The B'nei Elohim have skills," Elam explained. "Jashen speaks in tongues. They call me the Shocker. Sit on the floor right next to him, Judith."

She did as she was instructed. Elim sat the unconscious man up in front of Judith and propped up his knees so together they both had a small profile.

Elim said, "It will probably disgust you more than Jashen's undercover work did him, Judith, but you need to hold his knees so he doesn't spread back out, at least until you get where you're going."

While they were doing that Jashen went through Wagner's desk drawers as though he knew exactly what he was looking for and where they were. He threw a small book down at Judith's side. "There's his fucking ill-gotten Red Cross passport." Then he threw down a thick ream of correspondence right next to that. "And your Mossad should find all that stuff to be interesting reading indeed. And now, Judith, it was very nice meeting you, but off you pop to Israel."

"Wait! Who is Michael?"

The next thing Lilith knew she was still crouching with Wagner on his kitchen floor, but the floor was now just a circle of wood lying in front of the Red House on Yarkon Street in Tel Aviv.

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Strangers In Paradise