“Hold on,” the young voice said. “I’ve got to check with the Mem-mem.”
The Mem-mem wasn’t certain. The truth is, he wasn’t much older than his soldiers, and the orders to shoot weren’t clear. With sensitive peace negotiations in progress, and a quasi cease fire in effect, he didn’t want to be the one to blow the Middle East situation sky high.
“Tell him to hold off until I get word from the Mem-peh,” he told the Mem-men.
The Mem-peh said he would call the Magad. After ten minutes of busy signals and crossed connections, the Magad was put on the phone.
“Why should I stick my neck out on this one?” he thought. “It’s the Machat’s headache, not mine.”
“Affirmative. I understand the situation,” the busy Machat said. “I’ll speak to the Mefaked HaUgdah and get back to you on the double.”
“Tov, tov,” Mefaked HaUgdah said with a sigh. As far as he was concerned, he didn’t know why the army had to babysit every troublemaker who wanted to live on a mountaintop in the West Bank. But since the rules about opening fire were reissued every week, depending if negotiations were stalled or progressing, he figured he had better forward the call to the Aluf HaPekud.
The Aluf HaPeku didn’t have an answer. He wasn’t in a hurry to make headlines. If he messed up, he’d catch all the blame. Besides, he was an army man, not a politician. So he decided to call the Ramat-kal.
The army’s Chief Officer wasn’t about to put his future career on the line when cameras from all over the world were focused on Tzahal. But since a soldier was in danger, he got through to the Defense Minister as fast as he could.
“I’ve got a soldier being bombarded by stones on a hilltop near Shechem. Can I give him a green light to shoot?”
“What are you asking me for?” the Defense Minister answered. “Call the Prime Minister.”
“You call him, that’s your job.”
With a deep sigh, the Defense Minister called the man whom the nation had elected to bring security to the land.
The Israeli Prime Minister took a moment to think. This wasn’t a time for gut reactions. He had to keep the whole complicated picture in mind.
“Get me the President,” he said to his aide.
“Our President, sir?” the aide asked.
“No, not our President. The President of the United States.”
The President of the United States wasn’t in the Oval Office. He wasn’t in the White House. He was on a two day vacation, playing golf.
“Tell him to wait,” the President said as he lined up a putt. Biting his lip, he eyed the hole and took a few practice swings. Then, concentrating on the flag, he swung the putter forward and watched as the tiny white ball streaked over the Florida green. The ball curved along a slight slope and headed straight for the hole.
“Get in there, baby!” the President shouted. But the ball hit the rim of the cup and bounced over the hole, coming to a stop a few golf clubs away.
“Damn!” the President swore, shaking his head.
“The Israeli Prime Minister,” his aide said, holding the phone out.
“Yeah, yeah, in a minute,” the President answered, striding over to his ball. Once again, he lined up the putt. This time, the curve broke in the other direction. Focusing between the cup and the ball, he gave the putter a flick. Once again, the ball hit the lip and bounced out, coming to rest only inches away.
“Damn it!” the President moaned.
With his golf cap, he wiped the sweat off his brow. After a few sips of cold water he looked around for his aide, who was standing at his side with the telephone.
“Hello, Mr. President, shalom,”Israel’s Prime Minister said.
“Yeah, shalom,” the President answered.
“How are you, sir?” the Prime Minister asked.
“I’m on vacation,” the President answered.
“Yes, sir, I know, sir. I’m sorry to bother you, but I have a soldier under attack and I want to know if he can open fire.”
“Open fire? In the middle of peace negotiations? Are you people nuts?”