INSIDE the Athens airport, the baggage of a small group of passengers is being subjected to a minute search by security agents (an opening of screw-top jars, a running of hands along linings, a confiscating of knives, scissors, cans of lighter fluid). Although these passengers joke and compare notes, they suffer from a mild hilarity caused by nervousness; in fact they obviously share the El Al anxiety which seems so out of place in an airport redolent of Greek laissez-faire. (None of this is surprising, since these are Israel-bound passengers, and this is the time of terrorism.)
“Have you received anything from anyone during the voyage?” a small neat woman in a blue uniform is asking. “Are you sure you are not carrying anything which does not belong to you?” And a moment later with a hint of sharpness: “Why have you no return ticket?”
Several young Americans, slated for work on kibbutzim in Israel, arrive a little late, bent under bulky blue and orange packs. They are frank about their motives. “It is half idealism,” a fresh-faced boy with curly hair confides, “a moral imperative. But let’s face it-where else could you go to live for so little and so pleasantly?” There is a fanatical looking red-bearded Australian wearing a large button of the Child Swami; his dreamy eyes focus for a moment as he claims that he is interested in peace not destruction. But he adds that he is confident that there will be a major war soon. “What will be, will be,” he declares in a fatalistic tone.
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