The Visit

A week has passed and I'm still wondering who the hell sent those security people to attack the book and me, and what exactly he wanted to achieve. And why now of all times?

It's not just newspapers, now they're going after books. And it wouldn't be right to keep this conversation "between us."

Two weeks ago I was told that Malmab, the Defense Ministry's security arm, was looking for me. I received a call and made an appointment in my home. Last week they showed up, pleased to meet you. I have no good memories from an earlier meeting with Yehiel Horev, a former Malmab head and today the assistant of a tycoon very involved in the weapons business in Africa.

At the time, 20 years ago, I had the impression Malmab was trying to put the defense minister in his place. Because I was considered a confidant and even served as a supervisor of the Atomic Energy Commission for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, there was a need for a clarification. Who was in charge there? Horev had no doubts.

We came to speak to you about your latest book, they began last week. For a moment I was filled with satisfaction: This means there's now a different atmosphere at the security arm, which is beginning to take an interest in poetry. But I was soon disappointed; we discussed prose rather than poetry. We've noticed, they said, that in "Accordingly, We are Here Assembled," my next-to-last book, you mention a conversation between Shimon Peres and David Ben-Gurion. We find that very problematic. I was astonished - what were the high priests of defense doing in a book cemetery?

I didn't know what to say, which is why the anger spoke from my throat. First of all, friends, you have neglected your duties, you are locking the cupboard after the shelves have been emptied. The book was published three years ago, sold well, and its writer was even awarded gold and platinum certificates. What should we do now, censor it after the fact? Second, it's a product of imagination and fiction, a kind of personal fantasy, and here's the proof: At the end of the book, the Six-Day War is prevented at the last moment; it's a shame that's not what happened in real life.

And besides, don't you have anything else to worry about? Go to our political leaders, who have already removed six veils of ambiguity, and in recent days the seventh as well. I refused to continue with the conversation; I deny their authority to supervise literature, I told them. So we parted as friends, though not necessarily in friendship.

Only after they left did I take the book down from the shelf to refresh my memory. "I know that you consider an all-out war a terrible mistake," says Peres to Ben-Gurion in the last chapter, the "problematic" one. "Once again we will swallow up refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank and we won't be able to spit them up. We will sow destruction in Jerusalem and the places sacred to Christianity and Islam, and the world won't accept it. We will reach the Suez Canal and be expelled as we were in 1956, we will ascend the Syrian heights, and once we go up we won't be able to come back down except by force."

"So this is my idea," Peres says to B-G on page 194, revealing his secret thoughts. "Israel will conduct a nuclear test, and those who want to destroy us will understand that we cannot be destroyed, and the war will become unnecessary .... I'm leaving you my idea, think about it, and if worse comes to worst, Ben-Gurion, you can propose it discreetly to the cabinet.

"And B-G concluded that everyone was already seized by insanity, everyone was riding a wild horse and behaving crazily, even Shimon."

Do I have to point out again that I invented the entire conversation? Is the reality once again surpassing my power of imagination?

A week has passed and I'm still wondering who the hell sent those security people to attack the book and me, and what exactly he wanted to achieve. And why now of all times? Does anyone have a theory?

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: הם מיירטים גם ספרים