A Jewish volunteer after the Israeli six-day “war”: memoir of a lapsed catholic

When I was a young man, I was living in Cape Town in June 1967, when the six-day war began. There were a few hundred Jews in South Africa who went to Israel as volunteers (mitnadev “volunteer”). We couldn’t get into Israel during the war because the Israeli air space was a war zone. So, the 50 or so anti-heroes from Cape Town arrived in Israel a few days after the war was over. I went to Kibbutz Nachshon.

While at university (1960), I joined the Catholic Church. By 1967, I was a lapsed Catholic. Now, in a relatively small Jewish communities in countries like South Africa, everybody knows everybody else’s business. So, when, in June 1967, I went to the Cape Town offices of the Zionist Federation to offer my services as a mitnadev, they said they’d heard that I was a Christian. I said, not any more. My conscious pricked a bit but remember it was a lapsed conscience. A few days later about June 9-10, I was on the plane to Israel. I worked on Kibbutz Nachshon, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for about seven months, I wanted to settle in Israel, but events at home prevented this, and so I returned to Cape Town.

What if I had NOT lapsed from the Catholic church and yet still wanted to get accepted as a mitnadev (volonteer)? I would have had to deny the DIVINE Saviour before men. What would I have done? I’ll leave it there, because there are probably some (many?) who were allowed to make Aliyah because they made the painfully hard choice that I was – ironically – “saved” from making.

I made the following comment on the RoshPinaProject site, where I had also posted the above piece:

The outworkings and inwormings of a writer.

The editing process is very laborious, and if you don’t get it exactly right, you could puncture friendships and make enemies. Consider the use of punctuation marks as in the example below. I wrote above:

A Jewish volunteer after the Israeli six-day “war” ….

WHAT! He thinks it wasn’t a real war?


Whose side is he on!

None of these.

My title was meant to be:

A Jewish volunteer OF the Israeli six-day “war”…..

Your anti-hero wasn’t IN the war, but came after the war. So the inverted commas were to indicate that I was not in the war but in the (wink wink) “war”.

My brother Benny was a different cup of tea. He was a paratrooper in the six-day war and other wars. But, unlike me, he remains Jewish, which is the same as saying he didn’t become a Muslim or a Christian. He very well could be a Jewish Buddhist, though. By the way, there’s nothing to stop a confessing Buddhist from doing Aliyah. On the contrary, much of the Kabbalah – and the Talmud? – finds its (secret) inwormings and outworkings in Buddhism, and its more snaky form, Hinduism.

The term “inworming” (textual subversion) is a term used in “deconstruction,” which is not – intentionally – “destructing” anything. If you want to know more about what deworm.. I mean “inworming” is, here is a source (1o lines from the bottom of p. 148), but don’t think you’re ignorant if you can’t understand it. After all, it’s all in the mind.

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