M O S H E,



--E A R T H





Born Free

Born a Sabra, always a Sabra--and always a maverick who runs outside the common herd. Moshe Benlevi saw things differently from the way immigrants saw them—could see them. It wasn’t a new life he was seeking in a foreign land-—Israel was his homeland from the start. He had sprung from its soil, and its soil was in him. He felt and saw nothing strange or hard to adapt to in it-—it was his fatherland. That was the big difference between him and the other Israelis, many of whom were first generation immigrants.

Hebrew was, moreover, his mother tongue. He hadn’t learned it after speaking another language all his life. Israel’s culture was his too, and all its ways were known and intimately connected with him. He had played as a baby in the sand and rocks of En-Gedi at the kibbutz, his home. He had bounded like an En-Gedi antelope up the steep slopes, climbing in the cliffs in pursuit of the antelope, and, afterwards, washing off his sweaty, dusty body in the waterfalls of the sweet, cold springs that came spurting here and there right out of the hot, sun-beaten rock.

Things like that made a Sabra--and coursed in his veins, thickening his blood while adding fire to it.

The smells of the desert, the individual and recognized aromas of the wild plants and flowers and herbs, the fragrant earthiness of the newly plowed land, the lush kibbutz flower gardens with palms and ferns and bougainvillea and cacti, the lemon, orange, and mango orchards--it was all such a part of him, he had known it all his life.

He had grown up in the kibbutz, been taught in its schools, and all his friends were Sabras like himself.

Only when he and his mother and father and two brothers went to Jerusalem for shopping and take in the sports events and sometimes a special concert, did he see another world. That other Israel (the one he visited but didn't identify with) was full of emigres, foreign-born Israelis of various colors, speaking no Hebrew or maybe some bad Hebrew, and, of course, full of tourists-—Americans, English, French, Germans, all carrying cameras and wearing too much or too little.

Then he also saw the big Moslem Arab population, for Jerusalem’s Old City was still mostly Arab, though the Jews lived there too, century after century. But it was the new parts of the city with the bigger shops and stores that his mother preferred and felt most at home in, and so they didn’t see many Arabs in their daily lives-—except for occasional trips into the Old City and into Jericho, which wasn't far from Ein-Gedi on the road to Jerusalem. Arabs too had lived in Israel a long time-—he accepted that, and it made little impression on him. He had no religious issue with them either. They were Moslem Arabs, they had mosques in the Old City and prayed southeast toward Mecca and squatted on rugs whenever they prayed. But he and his family were Israelis, Jews, born so, and wouldn’t think of becoming a Moslem, which to him meant Arab. Either you were born into the Moslem community as an Arab, or you were not. He didn’t hold it against the Arabs that they were Arabs and not Jews-—that was just the way they were born—-fated also to believe in a God called Allah and a prophet callled Mohammed.

Though his own parents sometimes mentioned YHWH, the God of Israel, called by the Jews "The One True God," it was not that they believed he had anything particularly to do with their everyday lives. It was the God of their fathers, he had learned in school. That was all. It was just another old, old, Jewish tradition, believing in Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who delivered the people Of Israel from bondage in Egypt long, long, ago, back when Moses was raised up to lead the Israelis to freedom and back to the promised land of Israel.

Yahweh the Rock of the State of Israel was part of his Jewishness, but not a part that was paramount anymore. It was just like a Jewish shrine. Shrines dotted the lanscape, but they didn't involve his life except that they existed and were Jewish. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, just about every prophet too, all had shrines or tombs--and he scarcely gave them a second glance whenever he happened to pass by.

Moshe was now twenty. He hadn’t yet married, and expected to marry once he was discharged from the army or had enlisted. He knew several good-looking, nice Jewish girls, that was the case with all his friends in the army; but which one was the right mate for him? Would she be a good cook? He wanted a good cook and homemaker like his mother. He hadn’t yet decided, as he had his mind centered on his army duties and a possible career. He was seriously considering the military as his vocation, since he didn’t like academics or even farm work. Though he had done his share of outdoor work in the farms and gardens of the kibbutz growing up, he had done it without an excess of enthusiasm. It was such sweaty going in the sun, he thought sometimes he would melt--with temperatures that peeled the skin right off the oranges.

Moshe had done so well, made himself a model soldier of sorts, but still it came as surprise when his unit headquarter's colonel came calling on him personally in the barracks of the Moshe Dayan army base outside Haifa.

Everyone-—his superiors at the base and the captain and sergeant in charge of his so-called "fast-track" computer/laser-guided artillery unit—- stood at attention as the colonel came directly in to where he was told to wait at the captain’s office.

His mind was whirling—-what had he done that a colonel had to come personally to tell him? For the life of him he couldn’t think of any infraction. Were they going to give him an award instead? But if that was the case, why hadn’t he been told beforehand, as was the routine. He could have given extra attention to his shoes and uniform.

No; this visit had to be unannounced, and, therefore, it was secret, a special mission of some kind.

Moshe waited, as the officers went through the protocol of introductions, and then the colonel walked over to him where he stood at stiff attention.

“At ease, Lieutenant!”

Moshe’s ears almost popped. “Lieutenant?” He wasn’t a lieutenant. But the colonel, after giving him a full scan, repeated it. “Lieutenant, you are offered a special, new duty, and I am privileged to tell you about it. It is a great honor, awarded to you because you rate highest in the performance reports and also have the necessary—ah—“ The officer paused, winked at the other officers who chuckled nervously, and continued. “Your appearance fits the profile given us in every detail, Lieutenant. That’s all I have to say. Will you accept the offer?”

“What offer, sir?” Moshe stammered out, looking directly into the colonel’s smiling eyes.

“Why, didn’t I tell you? Honor guard for the EU/World President, of course. We furnish the Israeli components for the Honor Guard, and it requires you to spend a year of service, though the actual time you will be serving on duty will only be a few days or a week at the most when—ah, the President is on our soil.”

Now Moshe was really overcome with thoughts. Honor Guard? A year to commit for only a few days of service? Guarding the Eu/World President, whoever he was?

“Well?” the colonel prompted. Moshe could feel time stand still in the captain’s office as the colonel’s four aides and the captain and sergeant waited.

Moshe had to say something, so he heard himself in a stranger's grateful voice exclaiming, “Thank you, sir! It is a great honor! I would be happy to consider the duty, if I can have a few days to think it over.”

Moshe felt instantly that he had said the wrong thing. The colonel shot a glance to the captain, who looked down. The colonel stepped even closer to Moshe, and fixed him with eyes that were serious this time.

“You are the brightest and best, a true Sabra in every respect, I am informed. You are perfect in every detail-—every detail! We cannot compromise security by looking further. This has to remain here, our offer, do you understand, Lieutenant?”

Moshe, feelings put upon, nearly protested, “Why do you call me lieutenant? I am not an officer.” but, fortunately, the colonel stepped aside at that moment, sparing him an embarrassing outburst, and the captain came over to him. He was whispering. “Moshe, this is a secret agreement, and can’t be made known to anyone who would possibly refuse and let it out to others. According to our instructions, we simply must have your cooperation-—as it is impossible for us to compromise the, ah, procedure.”

Moshe’s dark brows narrowed. “Impossible not to cooperate?” he thought. He was being forced! Forced! He MUST accept the “honor” or—or what? What would they do with him? He must find out, one way or another.

“What is the other option, sir?” he said in a low voice.

“S.C.” the captain whispered.

Solitary confinement—for a year no doubt! Moshe’s heart suddenly felt like an icy hand was squeezing it. Was he hearing right? How could an Israeli soldier be treated this way? He wasn’t an animal. He was a Sabra. His blood, normally slow and thick, began to boil. His fists swelled. He felt like he was about to fight for his life-—and he could fight anyone and anything, since he was afraid of nothing that stood on two legs and wore pants.

The captain, knowing he had a half-tamed En-Gedi antelope on his hands, gently patted Moshe’s arm. “Cool it, son, “ he advised. “It really isn’t a bad thing, serving in the honor guard. You will bring honor to us all here, when the news breaks. Do it for En-gedi, all your friends and family down there. Do it for your Army and unit. Do it for yourself—-you’ve already been promoted to lieutenant with back pay from the first of the year added to this month's, and your uniform is in a box at the gate. Just think what you'll be able to do with that kind of money when you're given leave--the girls in the clubs--you can buy them all a nice dinner and then take in a movie before escorting the young lady to a nice room in a fancy new hotel. But now to your future. You will be taken directly from here to your new quarters in Tel Aviv, which you will share with the other lucky members of the Guard.”

Moshe’s eyes moistened. Friends, family, home, his unit and buddies, not to mention his superior officers—-they all stood to gain from his accepting the deal. But why was it a forced thing if it was such a good change for him-—that one part of the deal made him want to jump out of his skin and make somebody pay for the experience.

The captain seemed to sense his question, anticipating it.

“The security is so tight, Lieutenant, we aren’t allowed to give you any time to make a contrary decision. It is accept now, or say goodbye to the sunshine for a while. But why put yourself to all the disgrace and discomfort of that, when you don’t have to, Moshe? It doesn’t make sense! Just try to understand the super tight security we are all under regarding this. Old MJ-—I mean, the World President, is coming and we must form up this Honor Guard without the slightest delay. We weren’t given any advance time, as it has to be done at a moment’s notice, without any chance of leaks or infiltration with double agents or assassins-—that is what we are bound to implement; so please cooperate like a good boy. We have done everything we possibly could to break this to you the best way in a private conference like this-—but there is only so much we could do, you understand, to--um--soften the edges.”

Moshe wasn’t listening to the long and windy explanation, which he sensed was evasive anyway. He knew his life was changing, thanks to decisions he had no part in. In a private conference he was being launched to something he had never imagined for himself. What would he see and do—it was all unknown—if he accepted? He knew the captain and those above him really didn't care how he felt--they weren't Sabras, born free, and were used to being shoved about like cases of oranges and limes in the back of a farmer's produce truck. They didn't know you can't treat a Sabra like that.

The colonel stepped up to face Moshe again, and the captain stood aside.

“Well, Lieutenant?”

Moshe, with the self-discipline worthy of a Sabra, but with gritted teeth replied, “Affirmative, sir.”

Immediately, the whole climate in the room changed. Bottles came out of hiding places—-corks popped, and they began toasting his new career, his promotion, and all it was going to mean to Moshe, his family, kibbutz, army unit, and nation. Did they leave anything out? Moshe didn't think so--unless it was his born-free heart and soul--the two things that meant most to him.

Moshe didn’t want the French bubbly handed to him by the colonel, but took it anyway. After savoring the bouquet like a connoisseur and a tiny sip, the captain wished Moshe the best and departed, his aides opening locked doors and standing guard for him as he went to his car.

The captain turned to Moshe as soon as the colonel was gone. His familiar, fatherly manner and tone were gone, and he was all military spit and polish--a martinet if there ever was one. “Listen up. You have fifteen minutes, Lieutenant, to gather your things-—but you will go with the sergeant, who is instructed not to let you speak to the others.

Moshe’s heart began to burn again, with a white-hot torch's intensity. At that moment he hated the captain, passionately, enough to want to leap on him and send him through the nearest window head first What? He couldn’t even say good-bye to the fellows he had

trained and bivouaced with in countless field maneuvers, sharing rations, sharing the loneliness broken by letters, then sharing the occasional joys of a soldier's life--a newborn baby of a pretty, young bride, somebody's wedding, a medal of honor full dress ceremony, and so on--how could he just walk away from them after all that without a word?

The sergeant gave Moshe a look of a wise, old uncle lecturing nephews, nodding. “It’s a little hard, Moshe, but you are a big step up now, and your life isn’t going to run the same. They’ll understand if you can’t tell them your new assignment. Follow me!”

What could Moshe do now? He had given his assent.

Almost dragging his boots, he followed the sergeant who was now below him in rank but still ruled the barracks.

Moshe came to his bunk and got his personal items. “You don’t need anything else,” the sergeant said. “You will be issued your uniform at the gate, so just come with me as you are.”

Dressed in his army unit dress uniform, he left his regular uniforms and hats and went with the sergeant as he said.

At the gate, they were handed a big package which went into the back of the jeep, then the sergeant and Moshe continued, the sergeant at the wheel, as they turned at the sign for Tel Aviv. On the way, they didn’t stop for anything at the restaurants in the various towns, only to use a latrine at a gas station.

But the sergeant, seeing it was long past lunch, handed Moshe a box of sandwiches, and he ate ravenously, as he had not had any food since before the unexpected interview.

It was late, two in the morning, when the sergeant pulled up at the gate of a private, gated mansion on the outskirts of what Moshe guessed was their destination-—Tel Aviv. They got out and stretched first, then Moshe waited while the sergeant was speaking with the gate guards. They were a little too numerous--it looked like sardines in a can to Moshe. It took some time, fifteen minutes to be exact, as Moshe noted, wondering all that time why he was considered so indispensable he had to be the one to be commanded to fill the post--or if not so important, why was he so expendable? It didn’t seem fair, in a way. What had he done to deserve this “honor” of being forced into a guard unit he really had no desire joining?

“You’ll like how you’re treated,” the older man said, coming back to Moshe. “Now that you’re cleared to enter, I can go. Good luck. Lieutenant, and remember one thing, just act like you didn't understand, if he makes a hit on you!”

Moshe was shocked to see the sergeant saluting him. He barely remembered to salute him back, and the next moment the sergeant was driving off. Moshe hardly able to accept his going and leaving him with utter strangers.

What on earth was going to happen to him? MJ--making a hit on him? Was that possible?

Now that was three weeks ago. Now here he was, standing as a trained Israeli member (half the dozen honor guards were Palestinian Arabs and the rest Israeli Jews) on the airport parking, waiting for the world-famous MJ the EU/World President to disembark.

It wasn’t more than forty minutes that they stood looking their best below the special, security-checked steps that had been hauled out to MJ’s jet—-props to be used just this once, no doubt. A red carpet (only this was green to represent the Amazon rain forest) was rolled out and the Honor Guard stood at attention on each side.

Their uniforms were tailored and felt like nothing the army had ever ordered him to wear-—ridiculous as Moshe felt in his uniform, from the first time he tried it on. The special forces beret-type hat with a flap like a dog's ear wasn’t so bad, but why did it have to have a barber’s brush sticking out in front? He had gold ropes handing from his shoulders-—and, worse, the unform he had heard MJ had designed was really a body suit-—better suited for gymnastics than for affording him any protection. To top it off, he carried a ceremonial sword. Now how in the world was he to fend off any attackers bristling with the latest wsaponry and firepower? Impossible! He felt like a plucked chicken in the silly, skimpy ballet suit with the sword that would probably please the likes of that crazy, old Spaniard, Quixote the wannabe knight, who rode a nag Of a horse and rode into battle, not against soldiers but windmills, thinking they Were opposing enemy knights or infidel Saracens!

“It’s a ceremonial uniform only,” they explained to him, when he first took it from the box. “MJ won’t allow anyone with real weapons to get close to him-—for security sake.”

“For security sake?” What could he protect without a real weapon? That sword was utterly useless--it came glued into its sheath! And all he had was his hands and feet—- which he could kill somebody with-—but he wouldn’t be given the chance in a real attack. No, MJ was so afraid of the possibility of assassination, everyone close to him had to be disarmed. Which meant they, the Honor Guard, were cannon fodder, chickens thrown to any lion that escaped the circus cage of Israeli security on the periphery, in the event something really threatening happened!

But what choice did he really have? He had to wear this girley costume, and look as if he were a real soldier, the best he could fake it.

So here he stood waiting with the Guard, along with specially authorized and security cleared dignitaries--all disarmed and defenceless, of course.

Out of the corner of his eye, Moshe observed some of them just to pass the time.

They looked crazy—-all foreigners in strange clothes nobody in his right mind, he thought, would choose. Naturally, his costume fitted in-—though he loathed it!

Witches, peaceniks, homeopathic experts and gurus, "Indian medicine men" from Berkeley, California, EU bluebloods and aristocrats from the Netherlands and France and Belgium serving as emissaries and protocol officers, not to mention, MJ’s personal entourage of Black Mass satanists, masseuses, collagen specialists, doctors, aroma therapists, choreographers, media spin masters, and the like-—this whole crowd, to Moshe, looked like nothing he could see would ever fit into Israeli life. They were all like Martians, invading Earth. But here he was, welcoming the head Martian-—MJ himself!

There was a stir. He knew what that meant. The cabin door was opening that accessed MJ’s presidential staircase.

Photographers were cleared and allowed to approach the green carpet below the steps, but it wasn’t allowed them to proceed any further.

That was Moshe and his honor guard cohorts’ responsibility, to keep everyone like that off-— allowing only the army brass and top Israeli government officials, along with the Palestinian Authority president and his thuggish-looking aides.

He had nothing to back his authority up with but his own muscled body and the stupid, epoxy sword, but Moshe stood determined not to let any unauthorized person on the carpet as MJ suddenly appeared at the head of the stairs.

The officials and dignitaries and V.I.P. guests erupted, waving and cheering. A sound track of MJ’s favorite music played—-though it wasn’t exactly pleasant to Moshe’s classical-music traned ears, sounding like a pop tune from MJ’s early days as a song-and-dance celebrity over in America.

What was that song anyway? Moshe wondered as he watched through slitted eyes a man who looked more like a woman than a man descend the stairs. His paid greeters pushed forward at the same moment, and Moshe and the Honor Guard were surrounded by the people, all pressing in. it was impossibly, security-wise, Moshe saw instantly, but what could they do?

MJ, however, didn’t seem the least uneasy and kept descending the stairs, his gilded and jewel-studded boots flashing with light and color. The music decibels soared to a deafening level along with the cheers from the greeters. A little girl was shoved out from somewhere, With roses for the great Prince of World Peace.

As cameras took the scene, instantly sending it to the watching world live on American and EU networks (Israeli news would not take it live, but had to wait for an edited version), MJ smiled, thrust out his hand, and accepted the bouquet. Waving to everyone, MJ continued smiling, as he proceeded to greet the hosts of his peace treaty conference-—the heads of the P.A. and Israel.

The proper official hands properly shook, he proceeded from the rainforest-green carpet emblazoned with the world peace sign, the Honor Guard, moving with him. They escorted him and his chief aides to the airport terminal, where instructions said their duties terminated.

But first, ceremony was ceremony. MJ had to walk between them, the carpet being cleared for that purpose, with MJ supposedly inspecting the ranks of his Honor Guard.

“This is just a waste of time,” thought Moshe. “He probably won’t even give us a glance. “

MJ, his flowing cape flowing from his shoulders, passed through their two ranks, and Moshe, remembering the sergeant's wisecrack back at the honor guard quarters outside Tel Aviv, felt a distinct chill and shivered when he should have felt relief.

It wasn’t how the man looked-— that look of his was odd, even bizarre, but a sense of something else that swept over him. He felt as if this really was a world event, MJ himself in the sequined flesh, but an event that could not bode any possible good to Israel. Howso? He had nothing to go on at that moment-—knowing little about the man who had abandoned his American citizenship and his Dream Ranch so-called to become the EU’s President and public relations envoy to the world.

Yet, without knowing much of anything about the world leader, his senses told him this fellow was not only an old man made to appear incredibly young, but in the process he had transformed himself into an utterly heartless beast of some kind. That horrible, slithering beast from the rainforest that he dragged along with him-—where was it? He would bring it out, at some big bash or gathering of the world press, to please the crowds and take advantage of all the cameras.

For some reason his fanatical supporters and fans, jamming every hotel in Israel, just adored the iguana MJ called Elizabeth!

Moshe’s flesh beneath his tight uniform crawled at the thought of it. He felt like he could grab its big tail and give it a swing that would send it all the way to Tabriz-—a missile the fundamentalist mullahs and clerics, foaming white at the mouth against Israel, wouldn’t expect! But, fortunately for the iguana, it had gotten pneumonia on in the draughty baggage department of MJ's jet, and another had to be rushed in and christened Elizabeth.

“Liz” or “Liz II,” as the green reptile was called in the news, was not present at MJ’s arrival, but, no doubted it would show up later.

With MJ being given a gold and white cart to ride while everyone else walked, they eventually reached the terminal. There Moshe’s duties ended. The regular army and the security forces and secret services of the EU/World Government, Israel, and the P.A. took over completely.

Moshe and the other eleven honor guards, as briefed, filled two vans, and their drivers immediately rushed them from there to the road and a fast trip to Jerusalem. They were to meet MJ when he arrived in a couple hours, their unit reformed at the Knesset, and when that duty was over, they had one more duty—to moshe the most important, or at least it was the last thing he would ever do personally for the Supreme Commander of the EU/World government—-stand duty as honor guard for MJ when he entered the new Third Temple.

It was the third day when MJ’s scheduled appearance at the Third Temple took shape. He wasn’t well enough-—a cold or something-—kept him hours late from the ceremonial welcome, attended by the temple’s chief rabbis and the newly formed Sanhedrin. Scholars of the Jewish talmud, even a few friendly Orthodox observers were invited. The Governments, along with state department officers, and three combined security forces, all crowded together with MJ’s entourage and aides and Honor Guard at the entrance.

After two and a half hours wait, MJ’s white and gold limo appeared behind armored cars, escorted by Israeli and Palestinian Army armored personnel carriers and American-built humvees.

The Temple was the most controversial venue for MJ, Moshe understood, and it was briefed to them as such in the prior meeting with protocol officers sent to their guards’ quarters at the five-star hotel taken over by MJ.

A special car behind MJ’s let out an animal handler and—-the crowd gasped with delight-—MJ’s new, stand-in friend, Elizabeth II.

Moshe couldn’t believe his eyes. MJ saw Elizabeth II, and rushed to it immediately, ignoring the lapse in security as he left the confines of his aides and bodyguards to greet his scaled friend.

Cameras rolled as MJ took every pose possible with Elizabeth II on a leash. Then he waved to the world and proceeded back to the entrance, the iguana following him on the leash like a trained poodle.

Moshe and his fellow guards watched a scene they could scarcely believe they were not imagining as MJ went into the Temple with the big lizard.

Moshe didn't have to be an orthodox Jew to know that this animal alone would defile the sacrosanct temple.

Almost an hour later, the crowds waiting outside erupted as MJ again appeared with Elizabeth II.

MJ gave a speech, which was broadcast to the world.

“This is truly a new day, a new beginning, a second genesis for the world. We—-Elizabeth my dearest friend and I-—have been specially honored to tour the new temple here, and we find it very satisfactory, as well as wish all believers in peace and love every blessing. This peace will last forever! Never again will there be a war between us citizens and children of Earth our holy mother--for we are all friends, and the precious earth is now made absolutely safe-— the rainforests, the animals, every creature alive-—are all safe! That is why I call this a new day! For, people of Earth, my fellow, beloved brothers and sisters, a new age has dawned, the brave reign of Aquarius!

So take joy, my children, knowing that this glorious new world we have just created will never pass away or suffer harm. Peace and love are triumphant, overcoming and conquering all the dark forces of hate and bigotry and environmental abuse. The radical, religious right will never again be allowed to threaten the peace and security of the world! We have you all to thank for that in helping support this peace accord-—and now let me go, as Elizabeth is needing a warm bath at the hotel! Gaia bless you all! I love you! I love you all, every one!” He flashed the peace sign and blew kisses. The crowd roared deafeningly.

Waving, he tried to get back to his limo, but the crowds could not be controlled. They broke the barriers and it was anarchy. The way had to be cleared with with truncheons and electric prods, which added a lot of screaming to the noise. Some people (among them, an activist group of so-called Women in Black) fell and were trampled—-what happened to them, Moshe could not tell—for he had to vacate the scene too with the other guardsmen—-as they loaded two vans for a return trip to the hotel. They were just assembled in their connecting suites when an officer arrived from both governments. They were decommissioned on the spot, without ceremony. Brusquely ordered to turn in their uniforms and dress in civvies, they were escorted by secret service jocks back to the vans after hurriedly grabbing their personal items from the rooms.

Moshe, with five other Israeli guards, were debriefed at an Israeli base he had never heard of, it was so secret and new. He was shown his quarters. They were told by their superior, a no-name captain, “Lieutenants, this is your home for the next eleven months. You have the run of the base, but absolutely no further, and no possibility of visitation from any family, friends, or wives and children. There will be no leave, even if someone dies in your family, but no one can assign you any duty while you are our guests. You are simply to remain here, and keep yourself occupied and amused the best you can in the circumstances, and for that there are the base’s recreation facilities. Please no fraternization with anyone outside your group. We will be checking on that, so spare us any trouble along that line. You will continue to receive full honor guard pay for the remainder of your term, but none of you is to say a word to the other soldiers on this base about that or anything else about the reason for your residing here--we will know ff you do and you will receive appropriate discipline and a step-down in rank. Well, any questions? Good. My sergeant here will show you to the dining hall and gym and whatever else takes your interest. We hope you all enjoy your stay. We are honored to have you—“

“What garbage!” Moshe fumed. “We’re in a velvet prison—-thanks to that long-haired MJ and his ugly, green-skinned pet!”

Moshe, later after dinner, sat on his bed, with Israeli tv news playing. Of course, tt had been edited for his consumption and also for the general Israeli public-—but he saw himself standing with his fellow guards at the Third Temple. Strangely, he saw things he hadn’t seen then in person. The sky, for example. It was a strange, glowing red color, and there were even stranger objects flitting back and forth as ff they were experimental Israeli aircraft. He had heard rumors of UFOs appearing over Jerusalem at the same time MJ arrived, or just before— but thought nothing of it at the time. Yet there these objects were-—and they seemed to take interest in the celebrations at the Temple.

But there was more, as MJ moved his face close to the screen in a close-up. Ignoring the knock Of his friends who had just returned from whatever game they had played at the gym, Moshe kept watching. The close-up of MJ’s face, it was especially uncanny-—he too was almost an animal in appearance to Moshe's eyes-—there wasn’t even the hint of a normal human staring and smiling fixedly into the cameras while waving and throwing kiss after kiss. Was it all an act? What all did it mean-—this "universal peace and love" MJ was trumpeting as the greatest achievement of his life and career?

Unreality seemed to sweep over Moshe like a big wave. He felt as if he were drowning in a kind of epoxy. Was the world mad? How could it be cheering like that for someone who looked like a queen in drag and hugged a jungle lizard as his best friend and confidante? It was all so crazy-—the Sabra in him, long held back by the leash of his military bearing and training—-rose up and broke out. It was like Moshe woke up at long last.

He leaped to his feet, and his foot shot out without any thought. A moment later there was a big crash as the plasma screen and its guts went flying right through the next room, landing in the kitchen of the officer’s living quarters.

Before a minute could pass, pounding at the door grew intense, overcoming the pounding of Sabra blood in Moshe’s ears. “My God, I can’t take this!” he thought. “He’s a filthy, little beast, and he’s making us all one too!”

He felt like he were suffocating. He had to get air. Air! He flung open the locked door and pushed through his fellow decoms.

“Stand aside!” he shouted at the startled men. “I’m going home!”

What followed was a tremenous struggle with security men called in and a special SWAT team to “disengage” Moshe from his perch on the army base flag pole, right at the very top.

Moshe, as he clung sixty feet up, found he could breathe at last in the wind blowing from the deserts beyond the fenced and watchtower-studded permimeter Of the secret base.

For those moments at least he felt freed of a tyranny that had somehow clamped down on his once free and proud soul.

He saw the SWAT team coming at him with a kind of armored date picker they had found in the motor pool.

He knew there was no recourse for him. He had gone way too far to back up now. The Americans had the Alamo, well, the Israelies had Masada.

“This is one date they won't pick. They’ll lock me up forever in a psychiatric ward somewhere,” he thought. “This country has gone mad, along with the world! But I want no part of it-—I am going to be free! Free to the last!”

Heedless of the cliches, Moshe meant every word. Sixty feet above the cement, he flung wide his arms and let go.

The base had a hospital but no medics unit. That was unusual for a base, but Moshe Dayan was so hurriedly put together, the medics had not been included, since the nearby town had more than enough to handle the town and anything the military, aside from a major battle's casualties, could throw at them.

Four medics from the nearest town stood around their unneeded vehicle and were discussing the fatality afterwards. One looked up at the top of the flag pole, trying to imagine how the berserk soldier had climbed that far, only to take the big jump.

“What got into him? Went bonkers! He climbed the flag pole, then wouldn’t come down and jumped off, throwing out his arms as if he were flying somewhere on his own power. How crazy can you get?”

One medic, an emigre from Chicago, cultivated a gallows sense of humor. "Just girl trouble," he laughed. "He got dumped for another guy, and he went over the edge, literally!"

The other medics saw the humor in "over the edge," and called it a night. "The mortuary on base is handling everything, so let's go. They don't need us civvy paramedics, so why don't we go enjoy a movie, pizza and beer in the lounge?"

That sounded all right. A minute later, after a check of their vehicle for any bombs (a routine security check), they departed the main gate.

"Taking that guy out who jumped from the pole?" the chatty gate guard asked the medics.

"Naw, he's staying--or what's left of him is staying, I should say," a medic laughed.

The guard's face took a squeamish expression and pale hue.

"What do you mean? You saw it. What did it look like?"

The driver was moving off and shutting the window. "Just like you would expect an egg would look like, after being thrown at a brick wall!"

The guard stood shaking his head, watching them drive off.

Moshe was falling (and finding exactly how much could happen in the space of a few seconds). He suddenly saw his whole life unfold, like a movie. Then a voice broke in: 'What is going to happen to you now?" Startled, Moshe somehow had time to think and reply, "I dunno. I won't exist anymore after I make a souffle of myself on the cement.' 'Wrong, Moshe,' the voice corrected him sadly. 'You have forgotten, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--the God of your fathers--He sent His Son to save you and your people. I am that One. Well--what will you do with Me now?' 'What?' Moshe cried, beside himself. 'I thought the Nazarenes were crazy, talking about a Savior who saved them from sin--that is what they said, I heard once or twice--and it didn't seem to include me or any other Israelis.' 'But it does concern you. I was sent to you and your people, My people, first! What will you do with Me? Will you now face me as Judge or Savior? Choose!' Moshe had only a fraction of second left, but it was enough. He had already seen his life played out before his eyes--and every lie to his parents when he was a boy growing up to manhood, every mean thing he had done in school to his school mates or people he disliked, every forgotten breaking of a rule, even the slightest traffic infraction--every last thing he had done wrong was recorded! He couldn't deny he was guilty of those things--though he hadn't bothered himself about them at the time. 'Only I can forgive you--since I shed My own blood to pay the penalty for your sin, Moshe. So what will you say now to Me?' Moshe had liked to think of himself as a good kibbutzer and a true Sabra--but none of that mattered now. He felt the weight of his sin like a truckload of bricks dragging him, at terrific speed, toward the cement that would snuff out his life. He couldn't possibly avoid death, he had chosen it rather than endure MJ's prison and reign over Earth a moment longer. But now he was being offered something else, which terrified him more than death. This Yeshua--for it had to be Him--was offering him an entirely new vocation, a new life, a new beginning--and this time it wasn't being forced on him.

Moshe made his choice.

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