Sunday, April 13, 2008

Now why doesn't he write?

Because I was on the Burma road!

I tried to sign up for the Nefesh B'Nefesh-organized night hike but found it was full. But then, a few hours before, I got a call that I could still get on the bus, so I snatched the opportunity and off we went.

Throngs of hikers arriving from Tel Aviv

The tour was a moonlight hike on the Burma road. During Israel's Independence War, Jerusalem was surrounded by the invading Jordanian Legion and local "irregulars" (the contemporary equivelant would be Hamas.) The Jewish community of Jerusalem was encircled, besieged, and facing certain death at the hands of the Arabs.

First, the army attempted to capture the crucial strategic city of Latrun, overlooking the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv supply route. Wave after wave of soldiers stormed Latrun and were mowed down. Jordan held the town. The attack on Latrun having failed, Israel made several attempts to run supplies up the perilous roads even without Latrun, but the convoys were easily picked off by Arab and ambushes. The Haganah (the early version of the Israeli army) then heard from a source in the friendly Arab village of Abu Ghosh, just west of Jerusalem, that a small goat path lead through the hills around Latrun. The army, then under the command of an American named Mickey Marcus, buldozed through the forest, transformed this narrow goat path into a fully functional road. The road was not detected because it was located between territory held by the irregulars and territory held by the Jordanians. Each side heard the noise of construction during the night, but assumed that their allies across the valley were doing something and did not inquire further.

At a memorial to the Burma road crew.

In the end, the road was completed amazingly quickly, the siege was broken, and Jerusalem remained in Jewish hands. Later, when mapping out how much territory Israel controlled for a territorial division, one of the UN inspectors reminisced about his service against the Japanese. Having been involved in the building of the famous "Burma Road" connecting India to supply the Chinese against the Japanese, he said, "Seems you've built a Burma road all of your own." The name stuck.
After completing our hike, we all got together for an all-you-can-eat barbecue.

And we roasted marshmallows over a flaming shipping pallate.

I finally got to sleep at about 1:30. But next thing I knew, it was bright and early and I was up and at 'em. There was a little sale by merchants from the city of Sderot and other communities currently suffering from Hamas rocket fire. The goal is to help these economically struggling communities afloat.
I had thought that it would be more like every-day merchants. Butchers, bakers, candle-stick makers and the like. But it was mostly artsy stuff and jewelry. It was pretty stuff, but not the sort of things I buy. Perhaps if they had a band-saw or an arc-welder. I felt badly about it, but there was really nothing I could buy.

But there was a new-orleans type band, so I took a moment to bask.

Now we're in the run-up to Pesach, so I have to focus my energies on destroying chametz (leaven) molecules before I go on the no-bread diet. Shavua tov!

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