Journal: Arrival


Wed. Oct. 26 [1988]


My first morning on the kibbutz [Shamir] and what a beautiful one it is! The view from outside my cabin of the hills of Galilee rising out of the mist is breathtaking.

I spent most of the last evening chatting with my next-door neighbour, a fellow Canadian as it turns out, though he’s been living in Europe the past 5 years, exchanging stories and learning about the different jobs he’s had to do on the kibbutz. I still can’t remember his name, he was one of the people introduced to me in the T.V. shack.

All last night I could hear the unnerving sound of mongoose (mongeese?) howling in the valley below, sounding disturbingly close at times. My bed seems comfortable enough; the sleep I got in it last night managed to work out the painful kinks in my backside brought on by lugging my massive backpack all over Tel Aviv.


It’s afternoon and I’m sitting on my porch, looking at the rest of the “Ghetto”, the affectionate moniker of the volunteers’ village. Tomorrow will be my first work day and God knows that I will be doing. I’m hoping that it will be nothing too industrial or mechanical such as the optical factory or the Shelagh [sp: Shalag].

I just saw my first mongoose, it slithered up to the porch of the T.V. cabin to pilfer some of the weiners left for the cat. They are very slimy looking creatures, long and slender with fine, light brown hair and a thin tail, straight as an arrow with a dark, pointed tip. They have a casual, undulating gait but are inclined to sudden dashes and leaps to pounce on food or at the slightest noise.


I was given a tour of the kibbutz by Ami, the volunteer leader, a short Jewish man with thinning blonde hair and obviously stricken with some ailment as he walks with an exaggerated gait, having to lift lift his foot up distinctly higher than normal for each step and thus usually travelling in a golf-cart-like vehicle.

He briefly explained to me the history of Israel in general and Kibbutz Shamir in particular, as well as outlining the geographic area surrounding the kibbutz. It lies right on the edge of the Golan Heights, adjacent to land only recently claimed by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. Over the surrounding mountains lie the borders dividing Israel from Syria and Lebanon, only about 20 or 30 km away. In 1974, two kibbutzniks and a volunteer were killed here by terrorists. He seems to feel that if Israel is ever going to gain any lasting peace with its hostile Arab neighbours, it will have to give up some of the occupied territories. Most of the older men on the kibbutz would have fought in one or more of the six or seven “major” wars Israel has waged since its conception in 1948, actually struggled violently for the very land they now cultivate and build upon.