On the Border by Michel Warchawski

By Michel Warchawski

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In the following days I met up again with those students whose courage and passion I admired. What they told me – particularly comparisons to the war in Algeria and South Africa – seemed pertinent. One of them in particular, a young professor of mathematics named Moshe Machover, was determined to take on my political education. I was ready for his indoctrination. My religious education was not offended by their Marxist and anti-Zionist ideology, but I was shocked by their appearance: long hair, jeans and miniskirts, which provoked within me a disgust that lasted for several months.

A few days later, the leftist writer Amos Keinan wrote: “Blood flows in the Valley of the Jordan and Matzpen cries tears of ink,” adding that it was only cowardice that kept that organization from planting bombs in the markets (20 March 1969). The blood mentioned in that quote was clearly not that of refugees trying to go back to their homes, but that of soldiers who fell in ambushes set for Palestinian guerrillas who were trying to infiltrate the West Bank and were decimated by Israel’s infinitely larger and better-equipped army.

Nicola’s profound knowledge of the Arab reality linked up with the rigor and Marxist culture of Yankel Taut, who had fled the Nazis in 1934 and, like thousands of other German Jewish communists, found temporary refuge in Palestine. Temporary became permanent. In 1947, Taut was seriously wounded in an Arab attack1 on the Haifa oil refineries where he worked. After months of convalescence he gave up the idea of going back to Germany, which 1. The riot, which, on 30 December 1947, had caused the death of 39 Jewish workers in the Haifa oil refineries, was in reprisal for an attack that same day, carried out by the Irgun, at the same refineries, claiming 50 Arab victims, dead or seriously wounded.

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