Today we heard that Toma Ŝik is dead - overrun by a tractor during a nightly walk home through the fields to his newly-bought old farm somewhere in a forgotten part of Hungary which should have fulfilled his dream of establishing a commune of organic-humanist (and vegan) "new peasants".
He was a pioneer of the Israeli-Palestinian search for peace, a forerunner of the present day pacifist-refusniks and actively involved in many struggles. For decades his friendly bearded face was to be seen at any demonstration. Arriving on his bicycle he would take down bundles of leaflets, written in his inimitable style and which he produced on his old stencil machine. Nobody could fulfill all the criteria which he set, not even himself -- as he would gladly admit with a sense of humour rare among heavily principled people. His being anarchist, vegan, pacifist, world-citizen and the rest of it didn't prevent him from giving his all to organizations with less universal goals such as Gush Shalom, where he played a central role until he left Israel in the late 1990s and ultimately settled down again in his country of birth.
For those who remember him and for those who don't we decided to publish what he himself wrote some years ago.
by Jesa'ajahu Toma Ŝik (Schuck Tamas)
1997 It is now the fourth year that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of the State of Israel are negotiating and - extremely slowly - implementing the agreements in the so called Peace Process.
Just today, 4th March, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu has stated he is going on with the erecting of a new zionist settlement on the outskirts of Palestinian Arab East-Jerusalem. This, in spite of the agreement not to change situations before the stage of negotiations on the final arrangements takes place; in spite of the Palestinian National Authority's President Yasir Arafat being wellcome today by U.S.A. President Bill Clinton, who has condemned the Israeli act; in spite of international, including the European Union's objection.
The Palestinians have swallowed so far every frog in order to have a little bit of dry land, the water of which has been pumped away by the zionists. Still, the Palestinians are being continuously and constantly harrassed, humiliated, expelled and expropriated by those with whom they are peacefully negotiating for a resolution of the historical conflict. They are reconciling, the zionist continue to harm them and demanding that "the Palestinians should prove themselves"... and the world is afraid to say loudly and firmly anything against the (un)Jewish State, the least to apply any sanctions against it. Because of "anti-semitism", because of the Nazi afflicted Holocaust. But anti-semitism has been taking place for 100 years in Palestine, against the Palestinian Arab semites, by European Jewish colonialists. A mini-holocaust. And apparently not everything is yet known or will be known ever. How can it be stopped? Is it, that the World is afraid of the Simson Syndrome that now involves the World's sixth nuclear power?!
This year I'm going to be 58 years old. My birthdays always have been great events, at least those which I recall. And every event brought up a puzzle, anew a puzzle.
My first birthday, the very day when I was born, happened on August 17th, 1939. Exactly two weeks before the outburst of WWII. I was born in O(ld)buda, a semi-village quarter of Budapest, Hungary, into a Jewish Hungarian family where my mother Ilus(h) and her mother, my granny, two housewives, spoke Austrian German between themselves.
I didn't know my grandfather S(h)andor Wilhelm, but mother told me he was a head of a workers-group in the clay-bricks factory on the outskirts of its workers-quarter we used to live. When my mother was born, they were living in the Hungarian region of Slovakia. My father, Endre/Nathan Schuck was a printer apprentice. My grandfather Schuck Mor/Moshe, was a rabbi in Karcag, a township in North-Eastern Hungary. In addition to his rabbinical studies, he had also a doctorate from Munchen University, Germany, from where he also brought his wife, my other granny. My mother used repeatedly to tell me with pride, that grandpa was an "elected rabbi". I never had seen any of them in their and my life. Also I didn't know all these data but years later. Actually I had only the opportunity to eat this granny's bake of giant loafs of country bread that she used to send by parcel-post to me and my mother, after the War.
PUZZLE No.1: a. Was WWII a birthday present to me or did I bring it to the World as a surprise gift?
b. And why was I born as an almost surely candidate to be killed very soon? Or was it my later salvage from the horrors, my real birthday present?
My first clear memoirs of childhood are concerned with military:
The first memoir:
A German language "leader" or song: "Wann die Soldaten durich die Stadt maschiren, ofnen die Maetchen Fenstern und die Turen; warum? darum, nur weigen tchin da drassa bum bum bum" ("when the soldiers are marching along in town, the maids are opening the windows and the doors; why? because of the.... [brass and drums band sounds]").
The second memoir:
It could be my 4th birthday. For a period of time preceding it, the central issue of my life was "the officer's suit". My aunt Irma took measures of me and I was promised I was going to have it: "the officer's suit"! Time passed and I was thinking much of the "officer's suit", but it failed to arrive. Finally it was made and I had the opportunity to wear it, on my birthday. Look at the picture. My memory of concern and interest, as I recall it, doesn't correspond with the expression that I can see on my face of that photoed child. I wonder what had happened to "the officer's suit" when we were compelled to move into Budapest ghetto. Never I have seen it or heard about it anymore, only my memory recalls it from time to time, or the photo.
PUZZLE No.2: Were the song and the "officer's suit", a pacifist education of a Jewish Hungarian kid?
The third memoir:
It could be late 1943 or early 1944. My most valuable uncle, Jeno, was seen in a picture mailed by him to us earlier, photoed somewhere "on the front" in a Hungarian soldier's uniform: trouser, shirt and a simplest soldier's hat that looked like an upside down boat, without an emblem... He was neither a sailor nor a battle soldier. He was a compulsory field worker, digger of tranches at most dangerous sites in the war, for the Hungarian army on the side of the Germans against the Soviets. Because he was a Jew, he was untrustable to hold weapons and was fit only for hard work and for grave dangers. Although he was a talented lawyer. (He was highly trusted by all concerned, when he made the arrangements for my parents' divorce a year earlier, when I was three years old. My mother, with whom, it was decided, I was to remain, always spoke with admiration of him.) Now he was dead. The first of my family who died in WWII. He died both because he was in uniform and because he was a Jew. Was he? I never had had the chance to ask him...
The fourth memoir:
1944!!! I was standing in the middle of the two-way high street, Vorosvary Ut, on which we were living. I just had bought some new-old stamps: small size, bearing the faces of historical leaders of the Hungarian nation, from the times of the conquest and Hungarian settlement of Pannonia (Latin) or the Karpat Medence or Basine, some less than thousands of years earlier. This was the old part of the stamps. The new part was, that they were overprinted: "Temesvar hazater!" or "Kolozsvar hazater!", meaning: "Timisuara Returns Home!" or "Cluj Returns Home!" or "liberated" - from Roumania. (The first are Hungarian, the latter Roumanian names of the same.) I didn't know then anything about history, politics, even not about the war that was taking place, I even didn't understand the situation in which all this was taking place, that the Germans "granted" these towns to the Hungarians "for their good services", not for justice, at the expense of the Roumanians...; or that historically these were places of Hungarians or not, or that people were living together, side by side or mixed, in different cultures... *)
The fifth memoir:
Same year, one day, the street became noisy. I went out to the pedestrians walk, finding there crowds lining up along the road, on both sides of it. The Nazi-German troops were marching into Budapest on this highway from Vienna. In front of me, a small and thin woman with long hair was moving jumpingly; she also wanted to see the marchers. As she was moving jumpingly, she didn't stop shouting: "Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!" But she couldn't see anything, because she was small. "Wann die Soldaten durich die Stadt maschieren"...
Later, I was already a "big boy" then, 5 years old, I don't recall whether my birthday took place before, after or in the course of all these events, that went on speedily: Jews were compelled to wear yellow stars on their clothes (aunt Hermine and I would sit at the window and count the yellow-starred people passing by on the street... like after the War with uncle Armin, who was also in the War a compulsory worker but survived like his wife and daughter who were hidden by some good Christians - we counted buses driven through in front of his flat); being forbidden to go to cinema or theatre (but my mother took the yellow stars off her and my clothes and we had a journey into the city - I remember only the fearful journey, not the show that we saw...); to live in "Jewish houses" signalled with yellow stars; and lastly to be concentrated in Budapest ghetto that was setup in the VIII. Quarter which was the urban center of Jews with the main synagogue of the city in it.
Footnote: *) Recently, in 1996, the Hungarians and the Roumanians, now free from both National-Socialist, Fascist-German occupation and State-Capitalist, Soviet-Communist occupation, came to a peaceful and peace-promising agreement about Transylvania where these towns are with a majority of Hungarians that will not demand annexation to Hungary but will be granted cultural rights. Actually, Hungary has many national minorities all over its territory, and Hungarians are living as national minorities in all the surrounding countries.*
The first Jewish House where we lived shortly was that of my uncle Viktor Kornfeld and aunt Irma. Many interesting things happened in this house with many friendly neighbours and many children, boys and girls. There was also a boy there who in order to join us, always had to run away from his home that neighboured our courtyard. His mother used to shout after him: "Don't go to play with those stinking Jews!" But he did and enjoyed our company, although we harrassed him a bit because he was fat. However, what left a strong impression on me was the event that followed a playing on the street.
Kiscelli utca (street) is one that climbs onto the hill to a former aristocratic castle by the same name. Towards the end of it is a school that later was that where I had my first three elementary grades. Almost opposite to it was a Jesuite monastery just before the hill started to be steep. As I was playing outside, I noticed a crowding mob about the monastery and something made me afraid, so I went into our courtyard. Some minutes later, a goodlooking, serious man with a loving and caring face looked in to us through the gate and told: "Brothers, danger is approaching, lock the gate firmly!" So it was done with bars and locks and cabinets staged to back the gate, and that saved us from the attacking mob. People in the house said that the warning man who was formerly a Jew, was a humanist. I still love this man very much although I don't know what and who he was and whatever happened to him.
Some time before the ghettoization, we were already in the third Jewish House: my mother, granny, my aunt Hermine (her husband, Basch Mor, my beloved agricultural uncle who worked with horses and lived in a Christian family's farm in the middle of our quarter, and I loved riding with him in the cart - was then already deported to Auschwitz from where he didn't return, like later aunt Irma) and my seven years older brother Frici/Frigyes/Shlomoh. One early morning, maybe at 3-4 o'clock, rude knocking on the door woke us up. Three Hungarian fascists in leather coats came to take away my mother. She was 40 years old. I cried and screemed very much. The chief fascist showed a nice face and told me: "Don't cry child, your mummy will come back in the afternoon!" It became apparently a very long and dark day, that lasted until the end of the War, maybe half a year or more. Then came back my mother, in such a shape, that I was afraid to sleep in the same room with her, for two months...
PUZZLE No.3: Maybe, this last anecdote is the reason for my utmost love for truth and utmost hatred of lie and deceit? The reason for which I'm terribly deeply hurt whenever facing untruthfulness?
Then had come the time to enter to the ghetto. Many Jews were pushed into it brutally. My cousin Annus(h) Feher's husband, Mihaly, had a non-Jewish acquaintence with whom he had friendly commercial relationship. That man was a fascist-party member, apparently not an enthusiastic but a compelled one. That man carried us gently into the ghetto, even pulling the hand-cart loaded with our few remaining belongings. He also had hidden my cousin's family until the war ended, then they had a partnership in a conditory where I used to eat a lot of mixed sweet fallouts of the portioned cakes.
Ghetto, war, air-raids, hunger. Amazingly, I know there was hunger but I don't recall anything concerning that. On the contrary: once my aunt Hermine took me out from the shelter, we went along to the street corner in danger. Outside there was a steaming great pot. We were given a bit of a red-like deluted liquid in a small dish, I tasted it on the spot, spit it out because its dull and odd taste, we spilled the liquid and went back to the shelter. I even don't recall disappointment!...
My brother was, at the age of 12, a messanger for the Juden Raat, the Jewish Council, that administered the ghetto for the fascists. Whether it was collaboration or self-help in very hard times - no one may or can judge now accurately, and the debate is still going on. What relates to me is, that the Juden Raat had made some arrangement for children in the ghetto to have better living conditions. They concentrated them in the school-building. My aunt Hermine didn't let me out from her hands: "His mother deposited him to me, I'm responsible for him" - she said. So I stayed with her. When the Soviets attacked the town, their pilots were looking for big, factory-like buildings. So the children were bombarded there. Not I, thanks to my beloved aunt Hermine.
Many years later, in 1984, there was published information about a 1944 Swedish attempt to save children from Nazi occupied countries, mainly from Hungary. The zionist were requested to cooperate. David Ben Gurion, the political forefather and architect of the "state-on-the-way" and later of the State of Israel - refused to cooperate, because the Swedish wanted the children to be taken to Sweden and he wanted them in Palestine... Somehow, in my psychology, there is an opposite correlation between aunt Hermine and Ben-Gurion.
Was it on my birthday or not, one morning a group of soldiers in gray long coats entered our crowded shelter, in the middle of which a woman was laying with a wounded abdomen. The soldiers ordered everyone to get up from their seats and themselves set down instead. Maybe a quarter of an hour they sat than left. That was liberation, because those were Soviet-Russian soldiers. A kind of a birthday.
Somehow we returned to our original flat after my mother returned too. It was occupied by a Christian Hungarian family with some young women in it. We got one room and they kept one. Every night the Russian army visited the flat; the other room...
One day, again the crowds were on the pavements. Again an army was marching, this time the Russian/Soviet Communist Red Army. As I came out of our courtyard, I recall it sharply - I saw the same little woman moving jumpingly, wishing to see, but she couldn't because she was too small... "Kogda soldati vdolyy gorod marshas..."
Liberation from the ghetto and from the Nazi occupation was also celebrated by my birthday some time later and then by entering to elementary First Grade and becoming a pupil. Three consecutive years I spent in the same school with different boys and girls of my age. I was happy and advancing. There were extra Jewish religious classes and I was singing in the synagogue's choir, not with much enthusiasm. All of a sudden, the small Jewish community that remained and obviously became an even smaller minority than it was before the War, decided they wanted to renew the Jewish school. So they did, when I entered 4th Grade. The "whole school", we were in one classroom, some 4-5 grades, each bench a different grade. The teacher was symoultaneously "teaching" each bench, moving between them. I hated this. Luckily enough, 5th Grade was a Secondary School and I moved back with all the children of the neighbourhood. And I quit the synagogue quite quickly, deciding about it by myself, with my mother consenting without any trouble.
I hardly remember any birthday present that I ever received. I do remember that I was lusting for an electric train set. It was very costly and it remained a dream until I was paid my first honorarium as a youth-journalist. For that minimal sum I bought a set of electric model train. But that was in the 1950s in Israel/Palestine. What happened in Obuda some 10 years earlier was, that I had a schoolmate, a neighbour boy, who did have an electric train. But his mother was not very willing to let us play with it. So, what we did was like this: we walked over to the nearby bricks factory, where my grandfather used to work, much earlier, and we had stolen from the shelves some drying clay bricks before they were burned in the kilns. We re-wetted them, kneeded them and made of them long narrow plates. Into these, we carved "tracks" in which we rolled a wooden reel of tread that had run out. That was our "tram". I enjoyed this game very much in all its stages, the creative and productive and the operational. Nevertheless, the lust remained and trains became an important factor in my life. @)
With this background, in 1950, at the age of 11, I spent my birthday on a ship floating from Venezia, Italy, to Haifa, Israel/Palestine. Before that, I still had two reminders of my uncle Jeno: on the train from Budapest to Vienna I was wearing my hat from the communist children's movement, a blue turned-over-boat hat... We were sitted in the cabin with a Jewish couple. The man permitted himself to grab my hat and threw it out through the window with a gesticulation: "You won't need it there anymore!" - he shouted with a self-appointed authority and pride. I was terribly hurt by this act of him. I wished I could stop the train and go looking for my hat, that was of course impossible. Later, I met that man at the port of Haifa, when we went to pick up our belongings. He was involved in some smuggling affair... the big enthusiast!...
The other reminder happened at the borderpost before stepping out, or rather rolling out to Austria. Hungarian border police checked our luggage. My mother kept with her that same picture of her late beloved brother Jeno, in Hungarian military uniform of WWII, without an emblem... the picture was confiscated! It could be used as a sample to sew fake Hungarian - now Communist - soldier's uniform and "harm the people's republic". Could it? My uncle Jeno's, who was not let even be a soldier but only a tranch digger?...
Footnote: @) When the first time I made a journey from Israel to Europe, in 1973, as an adult, I made it by boat and train. The train took from Greece to England through Yugoslavia, Austria, then... Germany. At the moment the train passed the border to Germany, the monotonic knocks of the wheels on the tracks started to "play" to me: "..where are the tracks leading... where are the tracks leading..." Then I had written a little poem: "In Germany I'm Jewish, In Palestine a Palestinian Arab, In America an Indian, In Vietnam a Vietnamese..."
Before our departure from Budapest, my mother had known for months that I was objecting to leaving Hungary, that I was a "Hungarian Communist patriot". She also knew that she was not a zionist who wanted to settle Palestine with Jews. It was her longing for my elder brother that made her decide to emmigrate to Israel.
My brother, on the other hand, was an innocent survivor of Budapest ghetto, 13 years old in 1945, when a zionist youth movement grabbed him and took him to Palestine. It took him 3 years to arrive there, following a "journey" in Europe, reaching out to Belgium, spending some time also in Cyprus in a British camp. He arrived in Palestine at the age of 16, just to join the establishing of a new zionist boarding school at a kibbutz, and after a few months of "schooling" - he went to fight for the zionist statehood, against the miserable Palestinian Arabs who were living anyway under foreign occupation for some 500 years...
He and many other survivors from the horrors of Nazism, Holocaust and war, at different ages, involved themselves in afflicting similar fates on themselves again and mainly on people whose only fault was that they happened to live as indigenous people of the Biblical "Holy Land", that the zionists designated as the site for a Jewish state, while apparently a part of the Palestinians are genuine discendents of ancient Israelites and Judeaites and other Cana'anites. A persecuted minority in Europe became a persecuting minority of a foreign country's innocent and anyway suffering majority, turning it to a minority in its homeland and itself to a majority but remaining a minority in the wider, regional sense - too much complicated? Look at the map of Israel/Palestine, and the Middle East, at the historical and up-to-date statistical data - you'll understand it better.
I didn't know all this at that time. Although I was a "Communist", so-called, of course I was only an 11 years old child. Though emotionally quite sensitive, apparently loaded with an accumulated experience of horrors and observations, I was totally unaware of the political and social situation in Israel/Palestine called by us simply Palestina. When still in Budapest in the late 1940s, I recall, I happened to look at a weekly picturious magazine - A Figyelo - The Observer - in which there was a report about some Jewish underground's military operation. What I recall is, that it was some clash between Jewish groups. The term Arabs was not in my consciousness, nor conscience.
We arrived in Israel/Palestine on 21st August 1950. Nobody knew of were my brother's kibbutz Mavqi'im was. We had only a post-office-box address in Tel-Aviv for it. After sleeping overnight in a bus at the Central Bus Station, next morning we found the bus to Mavqi'im. Two hours of slow and hot journey with endless stops. The bus drove through a number of empty clay-hut villages; others could be seen at some distance from the road on the plain and on hillsides. Empty, no one in them. I wasn't bothered. My concern was to find finally a reasonable place to stay at, until I'll be able some how to get back to "my homeland". Finally we arrived. I had plenty of days to look around. The kibbutz was on a hill overlooking around a beautiful fruit-jungle. There were grapes of several different sorts, almonds, olives, apricots, plums, sicamores, cactis. The grapes were creaping on the sand and up the sicamore trees or the cactis. Most of this jungle was unirrigated. Actually, I know that part of it was irrigated only because I saw the water-pump near the highway and heard its characteristical monotonic but melodical sound when the gasolene pump-engine was operating. I'm still able to hear it in my imagination as a kind of liric music of childhood.
My brother with his wife Tamar - an Austrian Jewish girl who fled from the Nazis to England and was educated there - were living in a tent. Once, when I was deeply furious about my imposed staying faraway from "my homeland", I set fire to their tent. Fortunately, it was saved before it was burnt down. I was angry and tensed, although I liked very much the fruit and the sight around.
On weekends, there were football games taking place on a plain ground... surrounded with empty clay-huts.**) Apparently, it was the central square of the Palestinian clay-hut village, now empty: Barbara. I wondered, where the inhabitants were, but I didn't ask anything. Also, near the highway, opposite to the pump-house, there was a long block building. It served as an electric carpentry shop using electricity from a local generator nearby. I wondered: how was that, that my brother was living in a tent like other kibbutz members, the first - Swedish - wooden houses were just in the process of being erected, and the carpentry shop was in a block building?! And I asked. The answer I got was, that the block building was a former school!.... I was tought in "indoctrinative" Communist Hungary, that the work of children, pupils, is to learn. Where were the pupils? - I asked myself. Nobody answered my question. I must have had become quite emotional about this then, because this school-building and the village of Barbara became my conscious "second birth-place". In the course of years, the clay-huts diminished slowly, then bulldozed, only the mosque was still standing and a cowshed was erected near to it. Later the mosque disappeared too. Now only a eucaliptus wood indicates to the educated, were Barbara was standing. But the school-building still exists. It's now neither a school nor a carpentry-shop anymore; it's a halfway-house, mini-market and restaurant. The pump-house and the generator-hut also disappeared, due to the new system has set a new infra-structure. Even the old dirt road on the northern side of it was replaced with an asphalt road on the south.
Once or twice a week, the kibbutz members decided to have a ride to Al-Majdal (the name of the Palestinian town world-famous for it's canvas also called "Gaza"; now the town is called Ashqelon and Al-Majdal is "its" "old city"...), to eat Polish ice-cream and to see a film. The narrow main street of Al-Majdal was full of Jewish visitors from the surrounding new kibbutzim and moshavim established just a year or so earlier. We used to walk to the end of the street where the ice-cream shop was, and there the way was blocked. Also it was impossible to go out to side streets. I wondered why, but there was no answer.
Then we went to the cinema. Already at the first time I noticed: it was a former school, the walls between the classrooms being knocked down.
Footnote: **) Clayhuts are not built by bricks but are made of clay-mud mixed with small stones and hay built up like a sculpture. Also in Hungary there were such earlier. Now ecologistic architectures say that't the healthiest building material. In Yemen there are beautiful palaces built of clay.
Years later, when living in a boarding school some hundred and fifty kilometers norther from there, a brother in law of a schoolmate of mine visited him. We spent some time together. The man was living in Al-Majdal in a one room flat of former Arab residents, where I later visited him. It was in the former Arab ghetto, some tens of meters from the ice-cream shop... He told us, how in 1950 he was running on the roofs of the houses in Al-Majdal with his Uzzi sub-machine gun in his hand, guarding the ghettoized Palestinians. These were simple peasants from the surrounding villages. According to the UN Resolution 181 on the Partition of Palestine, the whole area was supposed to be a part of the Arab State in Palestine. In the war of 1947-49, Israel, the Jewish State in Palestine, occupied this area and made its Palestinian residents into "equal rights citizens". However, later I got informed by a pacifist friend who visited Al-Majdal on 8th October 1950 - less than 2 months after my arrival there... - and through an old newspaper clipping from the Jerusalem Post, dated 25th October 1950 --- that every two weeks Palestinians were evacuated to the Gaza Strip refugee camps eversince the Armistice Agreements were signed in 1949. The last evacuation took place on 24th October 1950, ten days after I was confronted with another imposition: life in a boarding school without my beloved and caring mother, where I was supposed to be indoctrinated to become a "good citizen of Israel Jewish State".
I had my birthplace in O(ld)Buda in Hungary, I was attached emotionally to empty Barbara in Palestine and I was to be "re-born" at Aloney-Yitzhaq Youth Village. I refused but had no powers, only 11 years old. Nevertheless, in December I ran away together with another friend, who was from Hungarian Transylvania in Roumania. He had another set of reasons for his act. The whole Israel Police in the region was on the alert looking for us. They were in panic, although we took the most reasonable and simple way: an official bus ride. No one looked for us on the once-in-a-day bus line to Mavqi'im! They were concerned with "murderous infiltrators" in the area, those expelled miserable Palestinian peasants who came back to fetch something from their forcibly abandoned property in the empty clay-hut villages. Only later, when the historical facts were disclosed to me, I understood why they paniced about us and why they didn't think logically and straightly when looking for us: "The hat on a thief's head is burning!...
PUZZLE No.4: What is clay for?
PUZZLE No.5: What is Minority and what is Majority?
I was returned to the boarding school. In spite of my actively rejectionist behaviour, quite quickly I learnt the Hebrew language, but I didn't become again a good pupil as I was before in Budapest. I contacted the Legation Office of Hungary in Tel-Aviv and for my 13th birthday I got a permit to return to Hungary. My mother didn't sign up for her affirmation to this. But later, in 1988, I was informed by my cousin Annus(h) that my mother wanted us to return "because of me", maybe also because of her own misery and loneliness. However, my cousin could take to hers only me. To this my mother could consent neither. So, I was compelled to continue my stay in the boarding school which for me was like a - partly pleasant - refugee camp.
I was constantly conscious of my situation: being a Hungarian but being unable to implement this; not being a Jew - actually, I refused to the ritual of Bar Mitzwah, the Confirmation; not willing to become an Israeli. What was I then? - rised the question of identification. Definitely I was identifying with my current, local environment: I developed quite an enjoyable way of life, being active in the youth's social/organizational life. We played school-democracy and I was a central figure in that: a good and responsible worker, minimal but clever pupil, editor, council-member, prosecutor, protector, what not, even a rebel. I was still lusting strongly for Budapest, I was in tremendous emotional and physical tension that were expressed in great sensitivity and headaches. And I wondered constantly: What was I!?
Another basic question rised out of this complex situation: Am I fair? I'm not a Jew neither an Israeli, and never I'll be; but the Jewish Agency is feeding, maintaining and educating me at the boarding school. It was imposed on me, but still was a fact. However, I never will be paying this back to them in the way they expect it. I found it unfair. So I decided I should develop a way of life in which I'll not live at the expense of others.
Thus, towards my 16th birthday, in 1955, I decided I was to become an intentional, conscientious and practical vegetarian, pacifist, world citizen: I didn't want to kill other animals anymore and live at their expense (I didn't know then, that by that I will not be harmed but will benefit from it to my health...); if I was not prepared to take the lives of other animals how could I kill humans as a soldier? But how could I avoid being a soldier if being a part of a nation, a state? So I became a world citizen. I was neither Hungarian or an Israeli anymore, just a human being, that now has another definition too: a secular humanist rationalist with a strong flavour of anarchist. But the three "birth-places" - basically all being impositions... - remained a part of me, like everything that is told in this story, and much more.
I refused military service and councelled conscientious objectors for 30 years in militaristic Israel; I have been an active secular humanist struggler for human and civil rights for both Arabs and Hebrews of any religious denomination; an active anarchist world-citizen denying the right of any and all states to impose themselves on all humans who are all world citizens; a Reichian oriented egalitarian seeking to live in a sustainable agricultural commune - all with a great inherent active sympathy and identification with those who are suffering; because those who cause don't need it: they are self-righteous.
PUZZLE No.6: THE GREATEST PUZZLE OF MY LIFE: How has it happened, that so many Jewish kids, including my brother, and adults, who went through the same horrors, suffering, deaths and what not in the Holocaust, had become immediately after it - nationalist, chovinist, militarist, racist, murderous combatant zionist; while I, with the same background and experience - became an internationalist mondian universalist anarchist, antimilitarist and pacifist, anti-racist anti-zionist and even vegan vegetarian.
My conclusion from my 5 years old child's experience in ghetto Budapest has been, that I didn't wish to aflict such a fate on any 5 years old, younger or older person. Other people concluded: never more to our children; and they have raised children and have sent them to the armies to kill and to be killed...
PUZZLE No.7: How is that, that every human usually has one birth-place, but mostly they call it "homeland","fatherland" or "motherland" (although mostly they never even have visited at all, all that land); and I have three "birth-places" - Obuda, Barbara and Aloney-Yitzhaq - but no "homeland", as for me home is any place where I meet with friendly people who share their thoughts and feelings with me; and land is any spot where I may and can put a foothold, without pushing away anyone else.
Now I am out of Israel/Palestine for more than a year, with no intention to go back there. Also the Palestinian National Authority has disappointed me with their state-entity identical with their oppressors'. It was just clear and expectable what would have take place, nevertheless it's a disappointment for me personally. Still, the issue of the Palestinian people's plight is bothering me. I wish I could do something real for it. The same for the Israelis, who are in a greater trap: they feel like the riders on the horses, but they overlook the danger of falling down and that is well there.
NOW I HAVE ANOTHER PUZZLE, MAYBE THE FINAL ONE: WHAT WILL BE THE NEXT "RE-BIRTH" ON THIS COMING BIRTHDAY OF 58 in August 1997?
And many more details I haven't told you yet...
P.S. Why the real and full-length Orient-Express train - London-Cairo - cannot run, and Israel's railway system consists of one single line, disconnected from the Euro-Asian Train Network?