The Hill of Evil Counsel
1. IT WAS DARK. In the dark a woman said, “I’m not afraid.” A man replied, “Oh, yes, you are.” Another man said, “Quiet.”
Then dim lights came on at either side of the stage, the curtains parted, and all was quiet.
In May 1946, one year after the Allied victory, the Jewish Agency mounted a great celebration in the Edison Cinema. The walls were draped with the flags of Great Britain and the Zionist movement. Vases of gladioli stood on the front of the stage. And a banner carried a quotation from the Bible: PEACE BE WITHIN THY WALLS AND PROSPERITY WITHIN THY PALACES.
The British governor of Jerusalem strode up to the stage with a military gait and delivered a short address, in the course of which he cracked a subtle joke and read some lines of Byron. He was followed by the Zionist leader, Moshe Shertok, who expressed in English and Hebrew the feelings of the Jewish community. In the corners of the auditorium, on either side of the stage, and by all the doors stood British soldiers wearing red berets and carrying submachine guns, to guard against the underground. In the dress circle could be discerned the stiffly seated figure of the high commissioner, Sir Alan Cunningham, with a small party of ladies and army officers. The ladies were holding opera glasses. A choir of pioneers in blue shirts sang some work songs. The songs were Russian, and, like the audience, they were wistful rather than happy.
About the Author