"Terrorism is usually considered to be an illegal act. But what are laws? A large part of the law books are but a disguise for a terrorist rule. Those in power can enact any law they want; anyone breaking those laws is 'a terrorist.' The true terrorist sits behind his papers, behind the laws he made." Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, Lochamey Herut Yisrael.

Hellanback was taken to a military camp, searched, and questioned. After eight hours he was driven by jeep through the Gaza Strip, guarded by four Palestinian policemen.

"All desert before the Israelis arrived," the ranking policeman gestured like a tour guide at the orchards as they passed. "They have made the deserts bloom."

"What did you do before the Israelis came?" Hellanback asked.

"I was a policeman," answered the man.

Nothing's changed but the signature on his paycheck, Hellanback thought to himself.

The towns they passed through were teeming with uniformed men toting automatic weapons. Half-tracks and trucks bristling with troops rumbled through the streets, and tanks squatted malevolently at strategic locations.

First Hellanback thought of Hitler, then he remembered the Palestinian in Libya: "Zionism is Nazism." His eyes seemed to be telling him that the rulers of this country had become what they feared and claimed to abhor the most.

Hellanback was taken to a prison not too far from Gaza. In the entry hall he was seated in handcuffs on a bench next to a young Palestinian in handcuffs.

"When I came to my home the Israelis were destroying it with a bulldozer. My mother and grandmother were crying. I cursed them. I was arrested."

Hellanback overheard several of the jailors talking about two Bedouins who had been machine-gunned the night before south of El-Arish, and a Palestinian found on the beach near Gaza who died mysteriously in custody. He found himself wondering whether governments make laws to prevent chaos, or whether laws make chaos an acceptable government.

From there he was removed to a jail in Askelon, charged with entering the country illegally.

To Hellanback the jail appeared an interesting combination of Israeli design cemented by Arab labor. The food was of better quality than it had been under Egyptian incarceration, and was delivered three times a day. Israel was far more affluent than Egypt.

He was confined to a six-by-eleven-foot cell with a western-style toilet and sink, but no light. Hellanback could only read his small Bible by positioning himself on his left side, lying on the metal bunk, to catch a thin beam of light that stabbed the darkness of his cell. It was in that position, eighteen hours a day, that he passed two weeks.

Hellanback was taken twice before the magistrate, but from his perspective, the wheels of justice seemed to turn from outside the Court. While waiting to be ushered before the magistrate, Hellanback was interviewed by an unidentified official of the Zionist State, who informed him that the government was inclined to have him deported.

"I've gone through a lot of trouble to get here. If you deport me I'm going to have to go back and do it all over again. There are only a few things I want to do here. You can save everybody a lot of trouble by letting me do what I've set out to do."

Apparently some wheels had turned and it was settled: "You will be allowed to remain in the country for two weeks. If you are not out at the end of that time you will never be allowed to re-enter this country."

He was released from the jail and started walking to Jerusalem. Very soon the hip which had supported him during his jailhouse Bible reading began to hurt. With each step the pain grew more intense. Grinding his teeth, he kept walking.

His U.S. passport saw him through a couple of military roadblocks, and he arrived in the holy city late the next morning. The long painful walk and lack of sleep weren't enough to dampen his exhilaration. Hellanback was anxious to commune with the Creator in the holy city.

Wandering without directions, he happened upon the Dome of the Rock, a mosque traditionally believed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to heaven, second only to Mecca's Kaaba as the most holy site in Islam.

Hellanback took off his shoes, preparing to enter the mosque.

"Five pounds," said a doorman, in English.

"What is this, a movie house? I came here to pray," Hellanback replied in Arabic.

"Five pounds," the doorman insisted.

Frustrated, Hellanback put on his shoes, walked about fifty feet from the mosque and sat cross-legged in the courtyard, head bowed in prayer.


Hellanback raised his head to find himself surrounded by Arab policemen.

"What passport?"

"It is forbidden to sit here."

"What do you mean, it's forbidden to sit here?"

"Come with us."

When Hellanback didn't respond, the policemen pulled him to his feet and led him off to a small police station at the edge of the courtyard, where he relented, surrendered his passport, and was released.

He limped out of the courtyard onto a parapet overlooking the Wailing Wall, looking down on the people queued up before several booths where yarmulkes were distributed to those who wished to pray at the wall.

"Passport," demanded an Israeli toting an Uzi.

Hellanback handed over his passport, feeling picked on.

He wandered off to a Lutheran Church where he sat, the only person in the church, reading his Bible. The rector made small talk with two German tourists in the vestibule.

"I'm sorry," the rector said, "you'll have to leave now. I must lock up for lunch."

*** ***

Rudy Blintz had been born in Denmark, and said he lost his parents in the holocaust. He emigrated to Israel after the war, not out of fear but for economic opportunity.

Thinking of Fhyz at El-Kanatra, Hellanback told Rudy that Israelis shouldn't kill Egyptians over God's land because as God's children all men are brothers.

Rudy -- who denied being prejudiced, but didn't like the way Palestinians smelled, and didn't think they were very intelligent -- was the first of two Israelis who gave the same reply.

"That's fine for you to say; you're an American. Whenever you like you can return to America and live in comfort and security. Here we are fighting for our lives."

Hellanback thought about the military might of genocidal arsenals. He had been born into an organization (called the United States) which provided certain material benefits to its members. To insure those benefits, the organization formulated and implemented various systems of force, violence and oppression, each supported by membership dues. Under those circumstances to simultaneously call himself a peacemaker and a U.S. citizen sounded as ridiculous as a fire-breathing dragon in a fishbowl.

He thought about the arguments crafted by social bodies over the centuries to justify the continuing oppression. Sure, schools, streets and hospitals are convenient. But what is convenience when a social body's perception of reality produces an equivalent of four tons of TNT for every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth, under the notion of protecting its infrastructure or judicial, economic, and ideological traditions?

The promotion of personal convenience and pleasure at the expense of oppression or violence to others began to seem a practical definition for "sin."

Rudy and Hellanback were in a storybook house, surrounded by fruit trees, on the Bethlehem road at the south edge of Jerusalem. Rudy's wife, Rachel, bustled about tidying up in anticipation of moving into their first home.

"It is in the government's interest to have these homes occupied." Rudy was explaining the reasonable terms he'd gotten on the house.

"How did the government come to own this house?" Hellanback asked.

"After the War of Independence many Palestinians fled this country. They left their homes behind. Of course, I am taking a chance. If the people who owned this house ever return I will have to return it to them."

Rudy had a separate-but-equal-by-necessity sort of philosophy about life.

"Hitler's holocaust is my reality. It was the fulfillment of Theodor Herzel's prophesy. Unless we are separate we'll be destroyed," Rudy claimed.

"You'll be destroyed?" Hellanback saw it differently. "God's been especially taking care of the Jews. Never more than a tiny fraction of the human race, yet probably 20% of the names in an encyclopedia are Jewish. Jews have maintained their cultural identity long after the language and customs of more empires than Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome are long forgotten and the Third Reich is history. Suddenly, after 2,000 years of prospering, not without pain but certainly without a homeland, 'national security' has become the god of zion."

"History proves we cannot co-exist within hostile nations. Our only hope lies in our own land," Rudy persisted.

"I believe that the Jews were chosen by God." Hellanback said. "Chosen to be a living example of God's will. Moses told the people that the Law would be either a blessing or a curse. I think the essence of Moses' advice to the Children of Israel was be kind to widows, orphans, and strangers, those easiest to prey upon. Had the children followed Moses' advice they'd have been a living example of God's choice. Instead, I sometimes think, the Jews have preferred to look at 'chosen' as 'better,' and build their ghettos with their own hands. I believe that might explain why God has allowed them to see such tribulation."

"I don't believe in God," Rudy said flatly.

"You don't believe in God?" Hellanback was shocked. "What makes Abraham different except for his covenant with God? What is a Jew except for a belief in the God of Abraham?"

Rudy couldn't say exactly, but thought it had something to do with race.

IN GOD WE TRUST ==================>>