Arieh O'Sullivan's Adventures

Olive Oil, Politics and Adventures in the Holy Land

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Friday, March 20, 2009

Searching for the lost Turkish Gold

Gold Fever. We got it and it sent us out this week in search of the Legend of the Turkish Gold. Legend has it that Turkish soldiers fleeing the British in Gaza in 1917 buried four crates of gold coins at the Tel Najila train station north of Beersheba.
My buddy Yoav and I set out for the Negev to Tel Najila. According to the legend, the Turks saw they wouldn't be able to out run the British cavalry and ordered 30 soldiers to dig a pit on top of Tel Najila, a prominent ancient mound. They then lowered the crates into the pit and the officers shot the soldiers dead so they couldnt' tell the tale. The plan was to return after the war and retreive the gold. The six officers drew a map, marking off 30 meters north of the great 400-year-old tamirisk on top of the tel where the pit was.
They never came back and the legend was born. Over the decades grave robbers and others in search of the gold returned to the tel.
When we arrived to the top we discovered that the entire site had been plundered. Some of the pits were even dug by backhoes or bulldozers. Pits were everywhere. I saw one with fresh digging and jumped in. I suddenly noticed it was filled with bones... human bones. How did I know? Because I found a human jaw bone. My first thought was that this was proof of the validity of the story. This must be the remains of one of the poor Turkish soldiers who was killed in the treasure pit. I dug more with a garden hoe and just hit dirt.
We were weary of the Antiquties Authority's rangers and decided to leave it for now. Maybe we'll go back with my buddy's metal detector one day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Talking about revolution starts with whispers

We’ve all been there. Out in that jungle where we constantly wage our hierarchical battles. Mostly verbally, but sometimes physically as well.
I’m talking about standing in line at the local Post Office.
It’s common for arguments to erupt over who’s last and who’s next.
And so it was I find myself the other day standing on queue at a Post Office in Tel Aviv lost in the weary glum contentment that sometimes characterizes my life. The line of 20 or so shuffles on slowly.
“Freeloaders,” (ochleh hinam) the elderly tall fellow behind me mutters under his breath.
What the hell, I thought, let’s wind this up.
“What did you say?”
“Freeloaders! Look at this place. There are 15 people in the back there doing nothing and getting paid for it,” he says.
“And you know what,” he continues, his voice rising. “It won’t end until there is a revolution!”
He said it. He said “Revolution.” I haven’t heard anyone call for a revolution in such a long time it nearly brought tears to my purring, satisfied face.
First worker leader Amir Peretz gets elected head of the Labor Party on a return-power-to-the-worker type ticket and now this: calls for revolution in the post office.
It was like being on O’Connell Street in downtown Dublin on Easter 1916, or Red Square a few years later.
“Revolution?” I say in English urging on our own Che Gevara of the moment.
“”Yes. Revolution,” he says louder. “Revolution until there is blood flowing in the streets and these freeloaders are tossed out on their behinds.”
“Yes!” says the woman next to me wearing a leather jacket with a faux fox fur collar.
Suddenly the line in the post office began to look as if it was going to start metamorphosing into a mob right before my eyes.
“Ma’apaha!” shouted a shaved headed fellow in a drooling epileptic-like fit probably brought on his extra tight jeans and muscle shirt.
There were loud complaints now to the management to send his idle workers to open more tills. All ignored.
“But you know,” my comrade says, suddenly quiet and calm. “It’ll probably not change anything.”
“Yeah, you’re most likely right,” I say. And we all return to waiting quietly in line. He pulls out a French magazine. The woman with the fake fur collar makes a phone call on her mobile phone. Someone comes in and says: “Who’s last?”
“He is.”
“No, I was here before you.”
“You’re all after me.”
“I’ve been here for20 minutes.”
The matter is finally settled. Quiet returns to the post office and calm to our apoplectic faces as we shuffle closer to the teller. In the returned dullness of the morning, I heard the old man muttering again: