Yossi Klein Halevi’s new book, “Like Dreamers,” is about seven of the paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Their lives spiraled out from that triumphant moment in dramatically different directions, emblematic of a country that has been stretched between the extremes of right and left over the past 40 years. This week’s excerpt, the second to be published by the Forward, focuses on Udi Adiv, one of those paratroopers, who veered sharply to the left in the early 1970s. This is the story of how Adiv, a kibbutznik and son of kibbutz founders, found himself part of an anti-Zionist terrorist group, trained with militants in Damascus, and was even praised for his militancy by Yasser Arafat from the rostrum at the United Nations. Adiv would eventually repudiate his actions, but not before serving 12 years in an Israeli prison.
Udi walked the cobbled streets of Wadi Nisnass, Haifa’s Arab neighborhood near the docks. Burlap sacks with dried chili peppers and fava beans lined the sidewalks. Workmen’s restaurants served hummus for breakfast. Udi was charmed. He belonged here, he felt, more than among the Jews.
Udi was leading a schizophrenic existence. He was enjoying student life at the University of Haifa, Israel’s most integrated Arab-Jewish campus, and he felt as comfortable there as he could in any Israeli institution. He joined the university basketball team and was rarely without at least one girlfriend. But his political life was drawing him farther toward the fringe. When Naif Hawatmeh, leader of a Marxist faction of the PLO, called for incorporating “Israeli progressives” into the Palestinian war against Israel, Udi was elated.
One of Udi’s regular stops in Wadi Nisnass was a Marxist bookshop run by Daoud Turki, an Arab Israeli who had been expelled from Israel’s Communist Party for supporting terrorism. The corner bookshop was so small, there was scarcely room for a table and chairs. In his early forties, Daoud was a self-taught political theorist. He told Udi about the humiliation of growing up under Israeli military rule, which all Arab
Israelis had been subjected to until the government abolished it in 1966. To travel from Haifa to Nazareth had required a military pass. He spoke about how his father had almost been killed by a Jewish terrorist bomb in 1948. Terrorism, said Daoud, was simply a political tactic, the way wars were fought in the Middle East.
Udi confided to .Daoud his frustrations with Matzpen. “The intellectuals lecture the petit bourgeois youth about trade unions,” he said, mockingly. Worse, Matzpen had endorsed a two-state solution, rather than the single binational state advocated by the PLO. “Israel is a colonialist state,” Udi said. “Jews and Arabs are one nation.”
“You and I agree about everything,” Daoud said.
In fact there was a big disagreement between them, which Daoud kept to himself. Udi opposed all forms of nationalism and supported the Palestinian national movement only for tactical reasons, as catalyst for revolution in the Middle East. Daoud, though, was a nationalist, a pan-Arabist.
He was willing to make room in Arab Palestine for a Jewish minority — as a religion, not a people. Just as there were Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, so too Arab Jews.
Daoud had one more secret. He had begun recruiting fellow Arab Israelis to bomb government and military installations. Udi’s enthusiasm for Hawatmeh’s vision of a joint Arab-Jewish “armed struggle” against Zionism intrigued Daoud. Why not broaden the underground to include radical Jews? For now, though, Daoud said nothing to Udi, and waited for an opening.