Judith

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JAA: After Paul von Hindenburg, President of the Weimar Republic of Germany, died of cancer in 1934 his powers were rolled up with the existing powers of the Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, making him the absolute ruler of the country. Things began to go badly for Jews in Europe.

JAB: Jews were systematically stripped of their civil rights on the Continent. They lost their jobs and homes and were moved into work camps that eventually became great factories of human death. But nothing similar ever happened in Britain. There were even Jews in Parliament.

JAC: The Gervasi family had been royal subjects for many generations. Benjamin Gervasi was a meteorologist with a specialty in "numerical methods of mesoscale forecasting". He lived, unfortunately, just before the proper tool for his work, the computer, had been invented.

JAD: But Jews were very rare in the United Kingdom, which might have explained why, during the Great Depression, Benjamin Gervasi could only find work as a lighthouse keeper at St. Catherine's Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight, just a few miles off the southern coast of England.

JAE: Being a "wickie" did have some good points associated with it, Benjamin thought. His wife Edith and even his daughter Judith aided him in his work, so it became a family endeavor. Also the lighthouse grounds, owing to its location, doubled as a meteorological outstation.

JAF: During daylight, the Gervasi family sent hourly reports of temperature, humidity, cloud height, cloud formation, wind direction, and wind force to the Meteorological Office in London by Teletype. This allowed Benjamin the satisfaction of working within his chosen field.

JAG: When Benjamin was paid his salary a small amount of petrol was delivered to power the engine that turned the lighthouse shaft. He was never tempted to divert a portion of this petrol to his motorcar, as he had none, but he did have to keep an eye out for certain neighbors who did.

JAH: On weekday mornings Judith trudged up from Undercliff to the village of Niton for her primary school, and sometimes her mother accompanied her when she needed to attend to shopping. On Shabbat Benjamin and his family ceased from all their labors and remained indoors.

JAI: On rare occasions Benjamin Gervasi took his family by ferry and bus on such modest holidays as they could afford, once to the beautiful Lake District in the northwest of the country, camping in the high, treeless hills called fells that qualified as mountains in England.

JAJ: The Isle of Wight lay within the English Channel, and the English Channel was the chief theater of contest between the United Kingdom and Germany. That is not to say Benjamin, Edith, and Judith would have been entirely safe if they had moved closer to the Lake District.

JAK: The town of Coventry, for example, was severely damaged in an air raid. But there were no German frogmen in West Midlands, nor was Coventry more than incidentally involved in the secret "Wizard War" as the earliest developments of electronic warfare were famously dubbed.

JAL: In the lead-up to World War II British scientists were tasked to create a death ray based on radio waves to take out German bombers. They never quite managed a death ray but in their research they found that metallic objects at great distances could reflect a radio pulse.

JAM: The time delay displayed on an oscilloscope was a very accurate indication of distance. Rotating a narrow-beam antenna could pin down a target's compass direction. Thus was born RDF, or Range and Direction Finding. The British built an RDF network called Chain Home.

JAN: Chain Home made all the difference in the Battle of Britain, which occurred during the summer months of 1940. Numerically the Luftwaffe had an edge over the Royal Air Force, but the RAF, with Chain Home, knew exactly where the attackers were and could concentrate planes.

JAO: The Luftwaffe also had an edge when it came to the quality of their aircraft, but with Chain Home providing early warning of attacks, RAF pilots could rest until they were scrambled, use less fuel, and put less wear on their aircraft. Over time it made a big difference.

JAP: As the Luftwaffe began to take heavy losses in bombers and fighter cover they tried attacking some of the Chain Home stations, including one that was constructed near to St. Catherine's Lighthouse. The Gervasi family was unharmed but they had their first taste of the War.

JAQ: Towers constructed with an open lattice structure are practically immune to blasts. The few antennas the Germans did manage to topple were repaired within days while operators from nearby dummy stations broadcast signals to make the enemy believe no harm was done at all.

JAR: The Luftwaffe tried flying lower and approaching England below the sight line of Chain Home stations but the British simply used their smaller RDF systems intended to direct gunfire against ships in the Channel and German losses continued to mount at an unacceptable rate.

JAS: The Luftwaffe accepted they would be spotted by Chain Home and switched to night raids, thinking the RAF's fighters could not see them in actual combat. The British quickly produced even smaller RDF systems for planes that rapidly ended German night bombing over England.

JAT: Since the battle took place over UK home turf, if an RAF plane was shot down the British pilot could bail out and be back in the air flying another plane, perhaps on the same day if he was not injured. But if a German pilot bailed out over land he was invariably captured.

JAU: If he ditched in the Channel he was likely to die from drowning or exposure. When the Battle of Britain came to an end in October 1940 the British had lost only about 500 airmen while the Germans lost eight times that number. Nearly a thousand German pilots were captured.

JAV: The Luftwaffe lost nearly two thousand planes and Hitler was forced to shelf his invasion plans indefinitely. In hindsight Hitler's "Operation Sea Lion" was never realistic. Even if Germany had obtained a lasting command of the air, Britain still had an unmatched Navy.

JAW: Germany was ill-prepared to make a sea crossing in any event. The Battle of Britain was an important turning point. Hitler had been thwarted for the first time in the war. He turned his gaze East and made ready for an invasion of the Soviet Union, code-named Barbarossa.

JAX: The United Kingdom shifted emphasis from air defense to air offense, but during the course of 1941 it became clear to Bomber Command that nighttime navigation to the correct target was a serious issue. In 1942 an electronic guidance system called Clarinet was developed.

JAY: Clarinet used two highly directional radio beams, one transmitting Morse code dots and the other one transmitting dashes, to be received by a single bomber flying point in the wave to minimize the chance of the Germans reverse-engineering the system from a downed plane.

JAZ: The night bombers flew out from England on a straight line along the radio dots, and when the lead plane encountered the strongest part of the radio dashes from another angle it dropped a load of marker flares. Then the whole bomber wave dropped their bombs on the flares.

JBA: Concrete was transparent to the Clarinet frequency. So an antenna was constructed inside BenJBmin's lighthouse mounted to the central shaft. That way the white structure of the lighthouse would hide the antenna and the Germans, it was thought, would never suspect a thing.

JBB: Periodically a targeting order came to BenJBmin Gervasi over the same Teletype he used to transmit his weather information to London. The message gave him a precise angle to position the antenna, a duration and start time, and whether he was to transmit dots or dashes.

JBC: The Gervasi family was kept busy throughout 1943 as the RAF focused their bombing campaign on Hamburg and the industry centered in the Ruhr valley. The next year a large number of American, Australian, En Zed, and Canadian troops were transported to the south of England.

JBD: They trained with Tommies in preparation for the invasion of France. To ensure their success a tower of operational deception was assembled that the world had never seen before nor since. False plans were planted on a corpse that was allowed to wash up on a French beach.

JBE: A world of false radio traffic was created and maintained to let the German High Command conclude that US Army General G. S. Patton was gearing up to lead the entire force over the narrowest part of the Channel where Dover could be seen from Calais. It was the smart move.

JBF: Admiral Sir Bertrand Ramsay, in overall command of the invasion, left absolutely nothing to chance. On June 4, 1944, just before D-Day, Sir Ramsay actually took time to visit St. Catherine's lighthouse. The weather was quite murky and wet so he cut his inspection short.

JBG: BenJBmin showed Ramsay the room where the Teletype and Clarinet transmitter were installed. Ramsay thanked BenJBmin personally for his service to the King, and BenJBmin, for his part, considered it prudent not to mention the assistance he received from Edith and Judith.

JBH: The Admiral seemed to be captivated by a wall chart and asked BenJBmin to identify it.

'That's my moving five-day weather forecast for Undercliff, sir. That would be this stretch where the lighthouse is located. We are in a rain-shadow, you know. And also a fog-shadow."

JBI: "The weather here is not nearly as immoderate as it is for the Overners." After the War BenJBmin coined the word microclimate. He led the Admiral into the white octagonal tower to inspect the Clarinet antenna and took him spiraling up the ninety-four steps to the top.

JBJ: BenJBmin showed Sir Ramsay where the huge crystal lens had been chipped by a 1943 air raid. They could see thirty nautical miles out to sea. The whole English Channel was roiling with whitecaps kicked up from high winds which threatened to derail the immanent invasion.

JBK: "And you do this weather forecasting as a sort of hobby?"

"Perhaps more than just a hobby, Admiral Sir Ramsay. I'm trained as a meteorologist, and I'm a damn fine one, if you don't mind me carrying my own chair. But it's wartime now, and I'm a wickie for the duration."

JBL: "Now I know we've all got to pull together to stop Jerry, sir, and I'm sure other professional men are in the same predicament as myself, but all the same, one must use the skills one has been trained to use, or one's mind gets in a bit of a rut."

"I see," said Ramsay.

JBM: "It's not the purely sterile pursuit you might imagine it to be, Admiral Sir. By a strange fluke of geography and wind and water currents, the weather here at the lighthouse has a very high correlation with the weather directly across the Channel on the coast of France."

JBN: "I've checked it for years, sir, in every season, and the match occurs more than eighty percent of the time, well outside the realm of coincidence. I intend to publish a paper about this after the war."

"Is that so? Remarkable! And what do you forecast for Undercliff?'

JBO: "A twenty-four hour break in this miserable weather, partly cloudy, winds drop to five knots. Then on the afternoon of the sixth of June we return to the same pattern. Everywhere else along the English Channel there will be fog and rain and winds gusting to thirty knots."

JBP: Admiral Sir Ramsay was elated. Eisenhower's chief meteorologist had predicted the same short break in the weather using B-17 aircraft far out over the Atlantic to gather the data. General Montgomery was willing to take the risk, but Ramsay and Ike were still cautious.

JBQ: Allied Intelligence said General Erwin Rommel, master of the Atlantic Wall, wasn't even presently in France, a sign the Germans were anticipating at least a week of bad weather. But now a doughnut hole in that weather was confirmed by a second, entirely unexpected source.

JBR: Now Sir Ramsay had moved over to General Montgomery's camp and was ready to give the nod on the invasion. It might be enough to convince Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, to launch the massive invasion of France just as the Germans were letting down their guard.

JBS: The Admiral asked, "Does the strange correlation of weather between Undercliff and the French coast hold for the Pas-De-Calais?" "Alas, no, I'm afraid that predicting the weather for Dover and Calais is a puzzle, and my reports to the Weather Office are but one piece."

JBT: The Admiral sighed, suddenly reluctant to proceed. There was one final duty BenJBmin Gervasi could perform for England, and it saddened the Admiral to deceive the man, but there was no choice. It was, in fact, the chief reason for his visit.

JBU He said, "Then it is time to reveal the real purpose of my visit here, and why I have attended to this myself rather than send a staffer. What I'm about to tell you has the highest possible classification. You cannot mention a word of it even to your family."

JBV: "I understand, sir."

"Mr. Gervasi, the following three weeks will be very lively ones for you, I'm afraid. You might be aware that much of southern England has become one large armed camp containing millions of troops from several countries, and all their supplies."

JBW: "As we get closer to the moment of the Allied invasion across the Strait of Dover, which is set for the final week of June, you will find that your Clarinet task orders will be coming in at a much greater rate than ever before."

"Nightly rather than weekly, then, sir?"

JBX: "Twice nightly, I'm afraid. We will soon be bombing the potential landing areas continuously, day and night, and you'll need to get such sleep as you can when it is light. I wanted to tell you this, Mr. Gervasi, so you did not imagine things have gone terribly amiss."

JBY: "I understand what I must do, sir," said BenJBmin Gervasi. "Perfectly." After a brisk shake of their hands they descended the spiraling steps mounted inside the structure of St. Catherine's lighthouse and were parted, but Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay felt thoroughly soiled.

JBZ: Earlier in 1944 a German U-boat captain gazed at the shore of the Isle of Wight through his periscope and noted that St. Catherine's lighthouse stopped flashing for hours. It was a small matter but he noted the start and stop time. The report wound its way through Berlin.

JCA: One clever analyst realized the data matched the start and stop time of the Clarinet signal originating from what they thought was a nearby antenna. A second observation verified the light beam remained lined up on a target in Germany that was taken out by night bombing.

JCB: In the early morning hours of June 5, 1944 a U-boat surfaced off the Isle of Wight. Commandos rowed ashore to raid the lighthouse, led by an SS captain named Felix Schaub who doubled as the political officer to ensure the crew's loyalty to the gangsters running Germany.

JCC: On this occasion Felix Schaub wore his black pre-war Schutz Staffel uniform for the brutal psychological effect he knew it would have on the Gervasi family. Judith and Edith whimpered in terror when they were tied up and threatened with pistols pointed at their heads.

JCC: Benjamin demonstrated the operation of the Clarinet system to Captain Schaub, but the Germans neither destroyed the gear nor tried to remove it to their submarine. Instead, Schaub identified each member of the Gervasi family by name, and told them he knew they were Jews.

JCD: "Mr. Gervasi," Straub said, "this is a matter of life and death for your wife and daughter. I do not make empty threats. The fate of Edith and Judith will depend on how you answer two questions. First, what is the target area of the planned invasion across the Channel?"

JCE: Benjamin stiffened in dismay. He was confronted with the choice of losing his family or betraying the trust Admiral Sir Bertrand Ramsay had given him. To prod him along, there was a slight nod from Schaub. The hammer was pulled back on the pistol pointed at Judith's head.

JCF: Gervasi capitulated. It was never a question. "Dover to Calais," he said, letting escape the breath he had been holding for half a minute.

'Goot,' Captain Schaub said. 'And the timing?'

"I do not know the day. I know only that it will be during the last week of June."

JCG: The SS officer smiled. "I am a man of my word," he said. "Your family is safe. But this is what I want you to do now, Mr. Gervasi. When you get your orders to operate Clarinet, you will carry them out, but you will be just a little sloppy when you align the antenna."

JCH: "Not too much, Mr. Gervasi! Perhaps only a fraction of one degree. Just enough to throw off the resulting bombing raid by a few hundred meters. You will do this until your government returns to their original wisdom and no longer prosecutes its war against the Reich."

JCI: "But this is the most important part: you must tell no one you are sabotaging the raids, or that we were here."

"Or you'll return and kill us?"

"Mr. Gervasi, now I am disappointed in you! What does a man have in this world if he fails to do what he promises he will do?"

JCJ: "You have my word that neither you nor your lovely wife Edith nor your beautiful young daughter Judith will be killed. But I am not sure that you are a man of your word, Mr. Gervasi. So at this time we will take them to the concentration camp near Saint-Malo in France."

JCI: "No, I beg you!"

"Do not be alarmed, Mr. Gervasi. Your wife Edith and your daughter will not be unduly mistreated there, nor even on the way there. This camp I mentioned that lies in Brittany is where all the British Jews in the Channel Islands have been relocated."

JCJ: "But if we learn that a future air raid using the transmitter inside this lighthouse is successful, things will not seem so good. But even then, my word will hold! Judith and Edith will be simply be transferred to a work camp deeper in France or perhaps even in Germany."

JCK: "You know, it is astonishing, Benjamin, how much work you can get out of a Jew with a whip.'

Judith and Edith were taken to Cherbourg by raft and by sub, and by the morning of June 6 they were inducted into a French farm that had been dubbed a clinic for racial hygiene.

JCL: Schuab's report, sent by coded radio from the U-boat, filtered up to Hitler, and the final piece of deception in the Fortitude element of Operation Bodyguard was in place. Hitler reinforced the defenses in the Pas-De-Calais region and left only a skeleton force at Normandy.

JCM: Captain Felix Straub and the U-boat at his beck and call only just made it to Cherbourg in time. In the early morning hours of June 6 the Channel was filled with 7,000 vessels carrying 160,000 men to the beaches of Normandy, and not Calais, as Benjamin told his tormentors.

JCN: Mr. Gervasi's weather forecast had tipped Ramsay into Montgomery's camp for having a go, and that in turn convinced Eisenhower. Two Panzer tank divisions, which might have defeated the invasion, were kept on a tight leash by Hitler because he didn't trust his own generals.

JCO: Hitler himself slept until noon on the sixth of June, and didn't release the Panzers until four in the afternoon, by which time the beachhead was relatively secure and Allied aircraft dominated the skies to the point of forcing all German tanks to move only at night.

JCP: For two months the Allies became tied down in the Normandy region trying to break out of hedgerow country while the Germans attempted to contain them. When the Allies did escape, the breakthrough was very near to the Saint-Malo area where Judith and Edith were being held.

JCQ: To prevent their premature liberation the Germans moved everyone in the camp to another one deeper in France, far from the front lines, precisely what Felix Straub threatened would happen should Benjamin Gervasi prove faithless in his sabotage, when he in fact never was.

JCR: Benjamin continued to operate the Clarinet system when the nightly orders came in over the Teletype, but he deliberately altered the requested target angle slightly. He sincerely believed Captain Straub that it was the only way he could save the lives of Edith and Judith.

JCS: The deception came crashing to an end in September when Judith failed to register for secondary school. The constable came calling, and he found evidence of the raid by the German frogmen. He notified army intelligence, and they in turn squeezed the truth out of Benjamin.

JCT: Sir Ramsay successfully intervened to keep Benjamin out of prison, but Sir Arthur Harris of RAF Bomber Command insisted the man be sacked from his lighthouse job for the duration of the war. Benjamin gradually began to despair of seeing either one of his loved ones again.

JCU: After breaking out of Normandy at Avranches, General Patton's Third Army moved across France at an unbelievable pace, performing a right hook that nearly encircled Hitler's forces opposing the invasion. Judith and Edith were moved to different camps at least once a month.nth.

JCV: The constant relocation was encouraging in a way, but things grew progressively worse the nearer Edith and Judith were taken to Germany itself. Internment camps were abandoned for work camps, which were evacuated in turn for what could only be called punishment camps.

JCW: Early in 1945 after one more relocation, Edith and Judith reached their final destination, an extermination camp called Ohrdruf-Nord deep in the heart of Germany proper. In that place Jews were worked to death constructing a railroad center that would never be finished.

JCX: Along the way currency, gold, and jewelry (of which Judith and Edith had none) were sent to the SS headquarters of the Economic Adminstration. Watches, clocks, and pens were sent to the troops on the Western, Eastern, and Italian fronts. Their civilian clothing was given to needy German families.

JCY: Judith saw things that pushed far beyond any boundaries of human evil she thought were possible to exist. Ohrdruf wasn't eventhe worst camp in the hellish constellation. Those were to be found further to the east.

Many men have a taste for sixteen year old female flesh.

JCZ: Judith learned to trade her body for scraps of extra food. Some of this she ate herself, but it was purely business. The longer she could delay taking on the figure of a skeleton, the more opportunities he might have to trade her body for food, for both herself and Edith.

JDA: This became a huge problem during the terrifying and humiliating appells, or inspections, that followed roll call and lasted most of the day. The guards realized Judith and Edith were wasting away at a slightly slower rate than their companion prisoners.

JDB: They were successful in feigning weakness, but it was almost impossible to hide their extra weight, and suspicion was raised. When the guns of Patton's tanks could be heard only forty miles away, the twelve thousand inmates of the camp were being loaded onto cattle cars.

JDC: The prisoners were being rushed to transfer to Buchenwald. Edith Gervasi slipped and revealed that she had a little extra food. What happened after that Judith told no one but her father, years after the war, on his final day of life. The horror of it was too much to tell.

JDD: Learning the manner of the passing of his wife might have even been the thing that killed him.

Troops of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army captured Ohrdruf-Nord on April 4, 1945. Judith was one of the very few prisoners left standing.

JDE: After the war in Europe when Judith had been sufficiently deloused and scrubbed, and had demonstrated her status as a British subject to the satisfaction of the Occupation, she was placed on a ship and sent home to her father. She met him on a dock at Portsmouth.

JDF: Judith gazed upon him as though across a great gulf which was the memory of the unspeakable ordeal she had somehow survived. They were utter strangers to each other now. When he took her home Benjamin tearfully begged his daughter to tell him what happened to Edith.

JDF: The girl said nothing, and every time he pressed, she would only shake her head. A few days later, in his Portsmouth home, Benjamin caught a quick glimpse of the mass of whip scars on his daughter's back


Lilith Gervasi was an English Jew and an eighteen-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. She did not sleep nights anymore, not even a year after the War. Instead she stayed wide awake, watching the coast with her war surplus Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle for Nazis who would never come. She suffered terribly from something 21st Century doctors would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

One instant Lilith was scanning the beach in front of St. Catherine's lighthouse on the Isle of Wight. The next instant a woman appeared.

The manner of the woman's appearance was entirely out of the ordinary, Lilith thought. Then again, so was standing watch all night every night. Lilith realized it was possible she wasn't entirely sane.

The female was not a Nazi, but Lilith wasn't taking chances, not after what she had suffered. She fired a round into the air from fifty yards to get the lady's attention and advanced closer. The strange woman had white hair, but despite that she looked to be rather young, perhaps only thirty years of age.

The woman watched Lilith draw near with the rifle but she could not put her hands over her head because she was nursing a baby. When they were close enough together that they could comfortably speak the woman said, 'Please don't shoot again. As you can see I have a baby.'

'Who are you?' Lilith demanded. 'You don't sound remotely English.'

'My name is Talishi,' she said. 'And you are correct, I am not from your country at all. I am from somewhere very far away.'

Lilith's rifle dropped a bit from its sight-line on Talishi's's head. It was now aimed at her heart. Lilith said, 'So what are you doing here? And how did you get here?'

'I am here to meet someone,' Talishi said. 'As for how I arrived, I could explain it to you, but you would think me entirely balmy, rather than just yourself.'

Lilith lowered the rifle to point at the ground between them, and there was the faintest glimmer of a smile. 'Why did you bring a baby?'

'This is my beloved newborn daughter Del,' Talishi said. 'I'm so madly in love with her I never let her out of my sight.'

That was enough. Lilith unchambered the round and slung her rifle over her back.

It was pre-dawn, and in the gloomy light that was beginning to gather, Talishi could take a better look at Lilith. The girl had just reached adulthood, but there was an aged look in her hollow eyes, as though she had already lived four lifetimes, and it haunted Talishi. A kind of Darwinian process in the camps had produced a girl who was able to outwit, bribe, or intimidate anyone to get what she needed to survive. Talishi saw the results right on Lilith's surface. 'Do you live here, at the lighthouse?'

Lilith nodded. The work camps had emaciated her body, and when she returned home to the Isle of Wight and was fed by her father, the weight came back in the form of strong, wiry muscles. She was eighteen but looked twice that. 'My father is here, she said. 'He operates the lighthouse and runs a weather outstation.'

'I should like to meet him,' Talishi said.

Lilith spat at the ground. 'He has sold his life to the Goy and betrayed the promise of God that our people should rule Palestine.'

'When you say your nation,' Talishi said, 'I know you are not speaking of England, Lilith Gervasi. You are a member of a people whose very right to exist is always being questioned.'

Lilith's eyes narrowed at Talishi. 'How do you know my name?'

'I know many things about you, Lilith. I know that your father rendered a service to the Crown that went far beyond the sacrifices that any other Britons were asked to make. I know he was used by the government to help deceive Hitler as to exactly where the invasion was going to take place. They planted false information on him. I know you and your mother were taken to camps on the Continent by German frogmen. I know they tattooed numbers on your arm and I know that you have come through such suffering and human degradation and evil that few could ever begin to understand the mere periphery of it, let alone sympathize with the core of your ordeal and your memories of it.'

Lilith showed Talishi the six numbers tattooed to her arm by the SS to affirm her assessment was correct. She said, 'The Crown owes a very large marker to my father, but he will not cash it in to obtain a thing, a concession of such little import it could not possibly disconcert the government in the smallest way. The Foreign Secretary refuses to allow Jews to immigrate to the British Mandate in Palestine. Not even Jews who are already British subjects.'

'Oil,' said Talishi.

Lilith nodded. One word, but it explained everything. The Middle-East was awash in petroleum, but if the Arabs could not be assured that the Jews would never have an independent state there, they would attack the wells owned and operated by the British. So the Balfour Declaration and the Churchill White Paper were torn up for the worthless pieces of paper they always were, and all bets were off in the Holy Land. She said, 'The admiral who deceived my father is dead. My father is willing to let the whole matter go.'

Little Del started to cry. It was cold, dawn was just breaking, and she wanted her mother to take her back to a place that was warm so she could go back to sleep. Talishi said, 'You saw the manner of my coming, and your eyes were not deceiving you. What would you do if I said I could take you to Palestine in the blink of an eye?'

'What would I do?'

Lilith did not hesitate at all. She went into the grounds of the lighthouse complex, and returned ten minutes later carrying a small tote bag with clothing and her personal effects. She also carried her rifle, but now she also had several boxes of .303 caliber cartridges, carried on little straps. But she had not taken the time to wake her father and notify him that she was leaving, and Talishi knew that as matters stood the girl could probably never be persuaded to speak to him.

Talishi also noted, with some satisfaction, that Lilith carried in one hand a quantity of unleavened bread. That was the essence of the feast of Passover, to re-affirm the willingness of the children of Israel to respond without delay to the command of their God to depart a place. Deep down Lilith might have had a tiny spark of recognition.

Talishi asked Lilith to hold Del for a short time, which forced the girl to leave her rifle and other belongings on the ground. Holding the infant distracted Lilith from the instantaneous transition. The crack of dawn in England changed to mid-morning in Israel, for they had moved east toward the rising sun. Lilith saw the light had shifted, and the terrain as well. The beach was gone, replaced by desert. Astonished, Lilith almost dropped Del, but managed to hang on to the child. Her eyes lifted to meet those of Talishi. 'Who are you really?'

'If I told you the truth, like I said before, you would think me a nutter, and blasphemous to boot. But hopefully, Lilith, at the very least I will be your lifetime friend.'

Holding Del in her arms and listening to Talishi's words had an effect that Lilith could never put into words. After a few wordless moments, as body shook with dry weeping, Lilith returned the child to Talishi.

After that she was whisked away by a number of Jewish farmers who lived a few miles inland from the Mediterranean, at a kibbutz founded by Polish immigrants in 1943 named Yad Mordechai. The settlement lay on the coast highway only eight miles north of the city of Gaza and today lies only two and a half miles outside of the border of the Gaza Strip.

Lilith spoke no Polish, nor at that point had she learned Hebrew (which had been revived from extinction to become the official tongue of Eretz Yisrael). But all she had to do was brandish the tattoo on her forearm, and it was enough for the pioneers. They were already acquainted with Talishi and on good terms with her, but they refused to reveal anything about her to Lililth when she began to ask many questions. And in the weeks and months that followed, Lilith began to suspect she had been taken to her new home by an angel of God. That first morning began to seem like a dream. But much fighting lay ahead, and that was much more like a nightmare.


60 - KIBBUTZ

As a consequence of the victory over the Ottoman Turks in the First World War, Great Britain became the master of the whole Middle-East. In the closing days of the War the British Foreign Secretary. A.J. Balfour, declared that 'His Majesty's Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievment of this object.'

In 1922 the Churchill White Paper put forth the premise that Jewish immigration to Palestine could continue until such a time as there was a Jewish majority there. But by 1939 Britain bowed to threats to British oil extraction infrastructure from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen and reversed this position. This reversal hit at precisely the same time that Jews were being exterminated throughout the growing Third Reich.

After the War, Polish Jews refused to be repatriated to their homes in Europe. Physical attacks on them continued, and several hundred were murdered in the first three months after hostilities ended. Hundreds of thousands of Jews ended up in Displaced Persons camps throughout Europe, where conditions were only marginally better than they had been in the Reich's death camps.

For the balance of 1945, only eight small ships carrying a thousand Displaced Persons reached Palestine from ports in Italy and Greece. For the first half of 1946, another 10,500 immigrants arrived on eleven ships. Talishi took Lilith to the kibbutz at Yad Mordechai during this span of time.

From August 1946 to December 1947, 51,700 Displaced Persons tried to make their way to Palestine on thirty-five ships, but were captured by the British and taken to new camps on the island of Cyprus, where they languished behind barbed wire.

Many of the armed guards of these camps in Cyprus had liberated some of the same prisoners from the extermination camp at Belsen-Belson only eighteen months prior to this, and they were fully aware of this. During this period, clandestine immigration to Palestine fell to a trickle. The British proposed a plan to divide Palestine, but it was rejected by both Arabs and Jews, and the question was referred to the United Nations.

On August 31, 1947, the UN proposed the creation of two independent states in Palestine, one Arab and one Jewish, with the city of Jerusalem under separate international control to administer the holy places of the world's three major monotheistic religions. The Jewish side of the partition was to have 500,000 Jews and 400,000 Arabs. The Arab side was to have 700,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews, and Jerusalem was to have about 100,000 of each ethnicity. The Jews would get the blasted wasteland of the Negev desert, and the Arabs would get the fertile upper Galilee region.

The UN thought all these arrangements were fair. So fair, in fact, that after Israel declared Statehood and the UN realized the Displaced Persons were being handed rifles as soon as they got off the boat at Haifa, another SC resolution was passed to prevent immigration of males from age 17 to 45.

David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency whose authority had been established by the League of Nations, knew the Jews would have to fight even for the lousy territory they had been assigned. He ordered every Jew in Palestine mobilized for war, men and women alike.

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly accepted the partition proposals, by a vote of thirty-three votes to thirteen, with ten abstentions. The Jewish people, homeless since the days of the Roman Empire, were to have their own state again. There was rejoicing in the streets, but they danced while knowing war lay just ahead.

On the day after Partition, a bus carrying Jewish civilians to Jerusalem was attacked by Arabs with rifles and grenades, killing five people, including a young bride named Shoshona Mizrachi Farhi on the way to her wedding The bus attack came to symbolize the beginning of the war for independence, which would claim the lives of 6,000 Jews, or one percent of the total population.

In this period, after Partition but before the official declaration of the state of Israel, the armed forces were called the Haganah (Defense). Great Britain still occupied Palestine, and considered the Haganah an illegal organization. By the fall of 1947 Haganah had two thousand regulars and a thousand reserves.

Armed Bedoin nomads surrounded a number of isolated settlements in the south, including Lilith's collective farm. The Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion swore that not one single settlement would be evacuated. Armored cars produced in Tel Aviv were used to secure the water pipelines that these settlements depended on, and to send weapons and reinforcements through the Bedoin lines.

After a Jewish convoy was attacked en route to reinforcing the kibbutz at Yad Mordechai, and all forty-six soldiers killed, the Haganah developed a plan to occupy those Arab communities that lay close to or directly between Jewish cities and the far-flung settlements.

In most cases, the Arabs fled their communities when they were besieged and occupied. In the case of the town of Dair Yassin where they did not, the Jewish terrorist groups Irgun and the Stern Gang massacred all the Arabs, men, women, and children, to the shock and horror of most Jews, including the leadership of the Haganah. But the Haganah was not yet willing to cut off all ties to Irgun, because they had needed manpower and rifles, and they had the same enemies. In April they even conducted joint operations along the coast while the British accelerated their complete withdrawal from Palestine.

In reprisal for the Deir Yassin massacre in March, a convoy of armored buses was attacked on April 15, and seventy-seven Jewish doctors, nurses, and patients were killed. Only twenty-eight survived, and only eight of these were not wounded.

King Abdullah of Transjordan, who was the only real ally of the Jews in the region, offered Jewish autonomy, but only if it remained under his sovereignty. A Jewish Agency negotiator named Golda Meir was pained to disappoint her good friend the king, but she had to reject his offer. After all the Jews had suffered, especially in the Shoah (or Holocaust), it was simply not enough to be represented in a foreign parliament.

This led directly to the declaration of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948. Eleven minutes later, President Truman officially recognized the state by cable, before he even knew what the name of the country would be.

At that time the country's army boasted nearly 37 thousand troops, but 1,200 had already been killed in combat. Britain opened the detention camps on Cyprus and thousands streamed into Israel by ship, many having already been trained in the camps by the Haganah.

On the first full day after Independence was declared, Iraqi troops crossed over the Jordan River. Simultaneously, Israeli troops raided Lebanon to delay their entrance into the war. Syria came down from the Golan heights with thirty tanks and advanced to the sea of Galilee. Two 65 mm artillery pieces checked the Syrians at the kibbutz known as Deganya, then the guns were rushed south to attack the Iraqis besieging the old British police fort overlooking Gesher on the Jordan River, causing them to flee.

On the second day, Transjordanian and Egyptian troops joined the assault. Saudi Arabia sent a company of troops who fought with Egypt. And Egypt even landed troops on the beach at Majdal between Gaza and Tel Aviv.

The first Egyptian attack was against the kibbutz of Kfar Darom, seven miles south of Gaza, where thirty settlers held off elements of the Muslim Brotherhood with grenades. When their grenades ran out, they put explosives in bags and hurled them at the attackers. When Egypt rolled in tanks, the settlers fired anti-tank weapons at the lead tanks, destroying them, and causing the other tanks to withdraw.

Then Egypt bypassed Kfar Darom and moved to kibbutz Nirim, five miles away. Twenty defenders were killed but they held on. Not even an air attack the next day broke their will.

In January 1948, the first state-sponsored forces from Syria began to make raids, and in this instance, the Jews were aided by counter-attacks from the Royal Air Force, for the British remained the rulers of Palestine, at least on paper.

When the Haganah completely abandoned the coastal highway running south from Tel Aviv, Lilith's kibbutz at Yad Mordechai was completely cut off. Only two private aircraft maintained contact between north and south, carrying basic supplies and newspapers.

Two other aircraft were flying saucers flown by B'nei Elohim , with Jill piloting one and Hunky and Dory in the other one. They made their first appearance at Yad Mordechai when the settlers were pinned down under Arab fire. Just the appearance of the two silvery disks hovering over the kibbutz was sufficient to drive the attackers off.

Lilith had flown in one of the disks before, so she was not afraid. When Jill, Hunky and Dory emerged carrying boxes of medical supplies Lilith was in the front of the crowd of settlers to greet them.

Hunky and Dory and Jill were called Mahal, or foreign volunteers, and they were held in awe by the settlers of Yad Mordechai, because their saucers could hover with no fuel and delivered supplies from a seemingly inexhaustible source.

Lilith herself was part of the Gahal, or immigrant soldiers. Most of the children in the kibbutz were Sabra. That is, they had been born in Palestine and knew no other home. Lilith was their guardian when their parents worked the fields, both before and during the war.

Lilith Gervasi's kibbutz lay just west of the road that linked Gaza to the Egyptian beachhead at Majdal. Egypt hurled two infantry battalions, one armored battalion, and an artillery battalion against them one dawn for an attack that lasted five days.

It was Lilith's baptism by fire, the battle that forged her into a fierce warrior. She would fight in every one of her country's conflicts until orthodox Jews prevailed to remove her from the front lines, and after that she would personally train Del, the daughter of Talishi, to become the even more legendary commander of Bravo Battalion. It was Lilith's unwavering belief that the Yishuv, the People, always came first.

Much enemy armor was taken out with the PIAT (Projectile, Infantry, Anti- Tank). Those tanks which managed to breach the Yad Mordechai perimeter were set alight at close range with Molotov cocktails or attacked with hand grenades whose fragments would enter the tank through the view slit, wounding the crew and forcing them to retire. Other tanks were taken out with mines, and still others broke down and were dragged out of range by armored cars.

But there were just too many Egyptians, and the shelling never ceased. After five days the settler's ammunition was spent. Dory and Jill took the worst casualties out by saucer while Hunky stayed behind to help Lilith carry the rest of the wounded through the Egyptian lines under the cover of darkness, along with the remaining settlers.

Yad Mordechai was abandoned, and in the morning the Egyptians burned it to the ground. But during those five days of resistance Tel Aviv was saved from being overrun. The stubborn defense at Yad Mordechai gave Tel Aviv time to bring in reinforcements and firm up the defensive line on the road between the city and Gaza.

On June 11, a truce called by the United Nations went into effect and lasted until July 9. In nearly one month of war Israel had lost 900 soldiers and 300 civilians.

Between the first truce and a second one was ten days of fighting. The IDF captured Nazareth, the home town of Yeshua, which had grown much bigger than the original five hundred souls.

The second truce lasted until October 15, and was followed with one solid week of fighting against Egypt. On the first day of that week Israeli warplanes bombed the Egyptian air base at El Arish on the Mediterranean coastline of Sinai, and cut the railway from El Arish to Rafa.

After the third cease-fire took effect on October 22, Lilith and the Polish settlers who had taken her in moved back into the ruins of Yad Mordechai and began to rebuild. There would be renewed fighting in the winter, and a fourth and final cease fire, but Lilith judged the continued existence of her new nation was no longer in doubt.


66 - SUEZ WAR I

On her collective farm after the War of Independence Lilith Gervasi immersed herself in honest toil cultivating the fields and garden crops and occasionally defending the settlement from gunmen who infiltrated from the nearby Gaza Strip to kill Jews simply for being Jews. Sometimes these attacks on Yad Mordechai were followed up by fierce IDF reprisal raids. Lilith was mobilized as a sergeant in the IDF reserves to help guide the counterattacks.

Apart from her trusty British-made rifle Lilith owned very little in the way of personal possessions. She had only her clothing, a radio she shared with the others in the Women's House, and other such modest things. There were tractors and jeeps, but they belonged to the whole community. All the profits of the kibbutz were pooled together for the needs of the laborers. The children ate and slept apart from their parents, and Lilith, who was attending university part of the time, helped to educate them.

On July 23, 1952 there was a coup in Egypt deposing King Farouk, who had ruled his country since 1936. One of the coup plotters named Colonel Gamal Nasser steadily rose in influence to become the usual President-for-life.

Lilith graduated from Hebrew University in 1953 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the IDF. During her physical examination the IDF doctors noted the mass of keloid whip scars on her back, which limited her range of motion somewhat. They also noted the six numbers tattooed on her arm and knew exactly how she had been disfigured.

In the fall, Lilith returned to Hebrew University to begin her undergraduate academic work. She was interested in the newly-revived Hebrew language, which had been essentially a dead tongue (like Latin) for more than two thousand five hundred years. After the Babylonian Vacation it had fallen out of everyday use by the Jewish people, and this had been true even in the time of Yeshua, who had spoken the Syrian tongue called Aramaic.

Over those twenty-five centuries Hebrew became a rather specialized language spoken only by the scribes and elders in synagogues, and in the Diaspora, when many Jewish communities lost contact with each other, the pronunciation of Hebrew naturally drifted somewhat.

There were marked differences between the way the Shephardi Jews and Ashkenazi Jews spoke Hebrew, and there had been some infiltration of influences from both Russian and Yiddish. When the Zion project was conceived, and European immigrants began to settle in the Levant with the aim of creating a Jewish homeland, the 'official' pronunciation of Hebrew was decided by a committee.

But it was wrong at many points, and Lilith knew this because she had spoken to Talishi, who remembered how 'biblical' Hebrew had really been spoken. It only remained for Lilith to prove it. This was the challenge that formed the heart of her Masters' Thesis.

Soon after obtaining her advanced degree she received an elevation in rank to seren, which corresponds to captain.

On July 26, 1956 Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, seizing control from the British. He closed the Straits of Tirin in the Red Sea, which effectively put the southernmost Israeli port of Eilat under a blockade. At the same time he refused to allow any ships bound for Tel Aviv or Haifa to transit the canal.

The United Kingdom and France laid plans to take the canal back by force, and they were interested in getting Israel involved in this operation. Israel was already leaning toward a tussle with Egypt, the question was not if but when. Cross-border fedayeen raids from the Gaza strip had never ceased in the eight years Egypt had occupied it.

The French began to arm the IDF, especially the air force. And in the third week of October Nasser moved part of his army into Gaza, including a number of artillery pieces, which were used to shell the Israeli settlements near the border, of which Lilith's kibbutz of Yad Mordechai was the closest. Nasser also moved troops into the Sinai Peninsula, supplied with the latest Soviet military equipment.

On October 29, four Israeli World War II vintage P-51 Mustang fighter planes flew into the Sinai and cut, with their propellers, all the telephone lines connecting the Egyptian forces in Sinai to their home office in Cairo.

On the same afternoon, 395 IDF paratroopers were dropped at Mitla Pass, only fifty miles from the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, a force commanded by Colonel Ariel Sharon crossed the border and seized (through very hard fighting) three Egyptian positions along the 150 miles from Israel to the pass. Sharon then disobeyed orders to halt and proceeded to take Mitla Pass, at a cost of 38 Israeli lives.

On October 31 an Egyptian frigate fired two hundred shells into Haifa from the sea, but a French destroyer drove it off. Two Israeli destroyers then chased it down and opened fire, and later two Israeli warplanes damaged it with rockets. The Egyptian ship surrendered, and it was boarded and towed into Haifa.

Israel fought a fierce series of tank battles for Abu Ageila, and after two days the Egyptians withdrew. From this position, Israel could supply its troops in the central Sinai without an attack from the rear.

On November 2 the IDF seized El Arish on the Sinai Mediterranean coast, which completely isolated the Gaza Strip. By that same evening, the Egyptian governor in Gaza surrendered. The Israelis penetrated to within ten miles of the Suez Canal and took possession of forty Soviet-made T-34 tanks and sixty armored vehicles which were left behind there.

Seren Gervasi's part in the war began at Eilat and ran down the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. The objective was to seize the guns at Sharm el-Sheikh and lift the closure of the Straits of Tiran. Her commander was Colonel Avraham Yoffe, and she was part of a motorized infantry brigade of 1,800 soldiers and 200 vehicles.

Their route was along a camel track that was never designed to be used by wheeled vehicles. At one point at Wadi Zaala they all had to break out their spades, dig their vehicles out of deep sand, and push them uphill.

At Dahab Oasis they had their first firefight against the camel-mounted troops of the Egyptian Frontier Force. They also were supplied with fuel from boats sent down the Gulf of Aqaba from Eilat. Meanwhile, a detachment of Ariel Sharon's paratroopers advanced in a pincer movement down the Gulf of Suez, nearly doubling the size of the Israeli assault force.

At Sharm el-Sheikh a huge battery of naval guns were positioned to block all shipping to Eilat. There, 1,500 Egyptian troops with their mortars and artillery held off the Israelis for four hours of intense fighting, and it was over the course of those four hours that Lilith put forth her supreme fighting effort. The big guns of the fort were disarmed by 9 AM that morning. The water route to Eilat was opened once more. Israel had achieved all of her war objectives in just one week. IDF losses were 172 killed and 817 wounded.

Having lost the war, Egypt was compelled by the terms of the cease-fire to allow Israeli shipping to pass through the Suez Canal once more. Immediately, an Israeli destroyer squadron passed from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea to support Yoffe, his battalion commanders, Lilith Gervasi, and all their infantry at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula.

Not by word, correspondence, telegram, or phone call did Lilith Gervasi appraise her father in England of any of the things that she had achieved since she parted from him, nor any of the historic events that transpired daily around her.


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.'


71 – YOM KIPPUR

Egypt crossed the Suez Canal on October 6, 1973 while Israel was basically shut down for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Egypt’s attack consisted of 240 warplanes and two thousand pieces of artillery, followed by eight thousand troops crossing over the Suez Canal. At the same time, six hundred Syrian tanks advanced across the uplands known as the Golan Heights.

Mobilization orders went out to the reservists and regulars of the Israel Defense Force while the soldiers were at home, or attending synagogue, or even living overseas. Lilith Gervasi, now an adjunct professor stateside, was notified by telegram and arrived in Israel Oct. 8, in uniform as a sgan aluf or Lieutenant Colonel.

Lilith reported for duty once more at General David Elazar’s Northern Command. At forty-five years of age she was a little long in the tooth as combatants went, but Lilith, who spent much of her time between Arab-Israeli wars conditioning herself for the next Arab-Israeli war, was actually in excellent physical shape.

By Oct. 10 the Israeli counterattack in the Golan reached the line from which Syria launched their attack on the first day of the war. Moshe Dayan wanted to halt right there, thirty miles from Damascus, to avoid drawing the Soviet Union into the war. General Elazar, by contrast, wanted to advance another twenty miles into Syria to set up a strong defensive line and stabilize the northern front. Prime Minister Golda Meir, who had been assured by the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Nixon had her back, sided with Elazar.

The Israeli thrust east from the Golan Heights into Syria began on the 11th and pushed the Syrians back after fierce fighting. Early that evening, Lilith’s brigade was already six miles over the border into Syria. A few days later, the Christian commander of Syria’s forces in the Golan was executed before a firing squad in Damascus for ordering the withdrawal.

Moshe Dayan went on television at 2200 hours and reminded the Syrians that the road from Damascus to Israel was also the road from Israel to Damascus. But the next day Iraq entered the war, with fifteen thousand Iraqi troops shoring up the Syrian front. King Hussein of Jordan resisted Arab pressure, however, and refused to move against Israel in yet another war.

In Syria, all eighty tanks of one Iraqi brigade were destroyed by Israeli tanks and planes with absolutely no losses to the Israelis. Another Iraqi tank brigade was blocked by Lilith and a demolition crew who arrived at two bridges the tanks needed to cross and sliced partway through their support structures with blow torches, letting the weight of the tanks do most of the work. There were no tell-tale explosions. When the bridges collapsed, fifty of the eighty tanks were stranded on a dirt “island” with fewer than ten tanks able to advance, which the IDF Air Force quickly took off the board.

On October 16, sixty Iraqi tanks were hit on the Golan Heights and they withdrew. The Israelis held their position just eight miles outside of Damascus and Lilith’s brigade of infantry was an important part of this strong offensive line. The IDF also halted five miles west of the road from Damascus to Amman, Jordan, ready to block any late-minute entry of Jordan into the war with a flank attack. The Soviet Union finally grew alarmed at the setbacks experienced by their Arab client states.

At that point the Israelis began to breathe a sigh of relief, particularly when equally spectacular results were starting to come in from the southern theater of war. But the religious extreme right in Israel, with none of their own boots on the ground (as usual) prevailed upon Prime Minister Golda Meir to withdraw all female combatants from the front lines of the conflict. In the event she refused they threatened to take Likud out of the temporary power-sharing arrangement of her Alignment party, which would in turn drive her from office. Meir quickly caved in, and Lilith Gervasi was relieved of duty.

When she made formal protest, General Elazar, demonstrating an extraordinarily short memory of Lilith’s legendary accomplishments for Israel over the years, barked at her, “Give me one reason why I should not carry out these orders rotating you back home?”

She bared her arm with the six tattooed numerals. But it was not enough.

As the 1973 Yom Kippur war raged on, President Nixon ordered an airlift of military supplies to allow Israel to keep fighting. The Soviets supplied their Arab client states continuously throughout the war. To keep Lilith away from the temptation to wage war against the Arabs by “unofficial” means, she was placed on an empty C-130 Hercules cargo plane on it’s way back the United States.

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Strangers In Paradise