Trailer for The Pier/Courtesy of United King Films
In Tiki Vidas's moving book, "Voices That Are Always With Me," the following shocking picture is described: On one of the first days of the Yom Kippur War, a soldier appeared in the brigade's operations room at the Beluza base where it served in northern Sinai, whose clothes were stained with blood. He stood there for a long hour, staring at the opposite wall and not uttering a word. Later it turned out that the blood on his uniform was not his, but that of one of the fighters in the tank where he was staying. Back then, the subject of shell shock was not yet clear and familiar enough. The same soldier about whom Vidas recounts with great emotion was examined, and when it was found that he was not injured and was physically fit to return to war, he was sent to the front again and three days later was killed.
Vidas served as a liaison in the brigade's operations room, and the commander of the Milan stronghold wrote about it on the canal bank at the time, that she, not the senior commanders on the ground, gave him the order to withdraw on the evening of the second day of the war, thus saving his life. Her book, published almost 20 years ago, was part of an important historiographical trend: the intention is to tell history not only from the point of view of kings, emperors, leaders and high-ranking commanders in the field, but to give a proper platform and place to other populations as well. From a military perspective, this is mainly the history of ordinary soldiers and junior commanders. The same generation that experienced firsthand, so to speak, the horror of war.
Adding to this trend is Dr. Nahum Verbin's book, "The Pier Post: A Tale of Surrender and Heroism." Dr. Verbin was the doctor who treated the wounded at the pier post - the southernmost post on the bank of the Suez Canal. The same outpost, whose story of surrender and the fall of the 37 soldiers who were held captive by the Egyptians, was also the basis for the film "The Pier" currently screening in theaters, which was also edited as a TV series of the same name that will soon be shown on Kan 11.
Book cover/with employee
How was the decision to surrender made? It is difficult to pinpoint exactly the sequence of events at the outpost in the first days of the war, but it is quite clear that Dr. Verbin played a significant part in this initiative, having correctly concluded that the other outposts had already fallen and that the battle for the pier had already been decided.
The materials contained in the book were initially published on a blog called "The Doctor's Option," which Verbin posted on Facebook together with his eldest daughter, the writer and translator Renee Verbin, ten years ago, marking the 40th anniversary of the war. Now it is being published as a book in an updated version published by Am Oved, which has joined the mission.
I will say in advance: it is difficult, if at all possible, to make a "judgment" or write a review of such a text based on the difficult experiences that Rabin went through, including the period during which he was held captive by Egypt, and especially in the entire second part, in which he describes the strange reception that awaited him in Israel, including the sleepwalking interrogation he undergoes at a field security facility in Kirya, when two officers, in a kind of grotesque edition of "The Good Cop and the Bad Cop", They accuse him of nothing less than betrayal of the state.
Still, I will say that my feeling, at least, is that there is something closed and processed in this book. Rabin himself testifies that alongside his work as a surgeon for decades, he took creative writing courses in the literature department at the university, meaning that his fundamental experiences from that bloody war have already undergone a kind of fusion and "transformation," and the question is to what extent the book manages to stay "on the pulse" of that fundamental destabilizing experience that he underwent.
The Thrill Trap
The same strange feeling has strengthened in me over the past few days, when I watched the masterpiece series "The One" that aired a week ago and a little bit on Kan 11 and touched the hearts of so many people. I will try to explain: the series broadcast on television raises a very strong feeling of fracture and disintegration. All those glorified and fierce-faced pilots allow themselves to be exposed to the camera, when they are more fragile and vulnerable, as an illustration that the same war has given them a great jolt. Verbin's book is framed as a "story of surrender and heroism" (with unnecessary embellishments in the form of words like "chilling text" on the cover) and somehow fails to convey the same feeling in the end.
More in Walla!
This is not just another docu-series about the Yom Kippur War. "The One" is a phenomenal series
See full article >
And Rabin himself may be aware of this fact. For example, he tells of a trip he made with five other friends to Cairo 20 years ago as part of a documentary produced by Educational Television. The film crew—he says with a glimmer of irony—thought they (he and his teammates) were "very reserved, and the texts that came out of them were technical..." And that "it wasn't the emotional outburst" that the filmmaker hoped would happen - while the fighters themselves locked themselves in their hotel room and each dealt alone with the painful problems that the encounter provoked in them. I guess maybe my criticism also falls into this trap of the need to "feel."
At the same time, we must remember: a book, or a movie or a television series, is always the result of thinking about the story we want to tell. It is quite clear that the way in which the series "The One" was conducted, for example (in what order to put the various interviews filmed, and which interview to choose as the "concluding segment" of the series), greatly influenced the strong emotional effect it created.
Michael Aloni, who portrays Verbin in the film and series "The Pier" / Danny Schwartzman, courtesy of United King Films
To a certain extent, Verbin's book deals mainly with the issue of values, which is naturally slightly more abstract – whether it was right or not to surrender and be taken prisoner – an extremely important moral issue that perhaps obscures the emotional effect we were talking about.
Either way, this war remains stuck in our throats. Standing before us like the same soldier who stood in the war room with bloodstained clothes, and three days later was sent like a lamb to die in battle - standing meaningless, arbitrary. Terrifying.
The Pier Post: A Tale of Surrender and Heroism. Published by Am Oved. 126 pages
- More on the subject:
- Yom Kippur War