Serge, friend of Nathan

Sergiu Samuel, engineer

"So, we went on living. And we're still trying to do it."

Serge (friend of Nathan) came to our hotel in the morning. We walked down to what was to become our de facto office for the next few days, the beachfront cafe at the foot of Frishman Street.

Serge came to Israel in 1941, on the last boat out of Romania before it went totally Nazi. His father was in hotels and casinos, and had a transit visa for Cuba, where friends had urged him to come and wait out the passing storm of European madness. He decided to stay in Israel (Serge thinks because it wasn't so far from home) and ran a hotel in Haifa. Serge learned Hebrew (also English and Arabic) and went to school.

Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 1

8:23 minutes
Real Video (4.2 MB)

Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 2

5:03 minutes
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Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 3

1:54 minutes
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Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 4

2:18 minutes
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Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 5

6:43 minutes
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Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 6

3:36 minutes
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Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 7

2:33 minutes
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Sergiu Samuel
Pt. 8

4:14 minutes
Real Video (2.1 MB)

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After the war, Serge's father went to France ("He was never quite happy here") and discovered that some money he had in a safe deposit box actually made it through the war. He was very much surprised and with a couple of partners bought a hotel in Paris. Serge spent a few months training holocaust survivors and volunteers in Italy and France for the coming war of Independence. He returned to Israel and joined the Palmach, and had "the misfortune to meet some Egyptian lead."

After that war Serge thought he might join a kibbutz the Palmach had established just south of Tel Aviv ("Although I didn't believe in socialism, I did believe in making something here"), but he was wounded and not much use to a kibbutz just getting started, and his folks wanted him to come to France and go to school, which he did.

Serge is an engineer specializing in reliability and quality, working "for the defense establishment."

Summary of video clips:

Part 1: Serge tells about how his family left Romania on the last boat out, and how they got settled in Israel...His parents move to Paris...war of independence...why Arabs left..."So, we went on living. And we're still trying to do it."

Part 2: Serge doesn't use the Zionist slogan, "A land without people for a people without land," but this is the view of Israeli history he presents here...I ask him what will happen to Israel. He says he hopes for a "more or less imposed peace." He says the Arabs don't want peace..."No Arab village was touched, no Arab land was taken" in the West Bank...He says Israel has been willing to do everything reasonable and a lot more for peace. "They don't want it."

Part 3: "You don't quite see what Israel looked like 50 years ago, when I grew up. The desert started 20 miles south of Tel Aviv."..."The starts 200 miles from Tel Aviv."..."I never thought that the Jews were saints. We're not saints. But we try to be reasonable and just. We don't always succeed, but we try."

Part 4: "I'm very sure 90 per cent of the Palestinians want peace."...We discuss first and second languages. "We should speak Arabic but we don't."...I ask Serge if he has Arabic friends.

Part 5: Serge tells how a would-be suicide bomber was caught and disarmed right here on the strand in the past few weeks....Discusses what happened at Jenin..."Our people have very strict do their damned best not to harm civilians."

Part 6: I ask Serge to comment on analogies between Israel and South Africa on the one hand and the American settlement of the west. "Very few Arabs were driven off their land."

Part 7: I ask Serge what he knew about the holocaust, and when he knew it. He describes a visit to Auschwitz with his son. "I thought I new everything, until I was there.".."There were cases of holocaust since the world war, notably in Africa. Happily they were less efficient."..."Animals kill to eat. I prefer cannibals to nazis."

Part 8: Serge discusses Iraq and Hitler. "When you have a viper, you have to get rid of it." ...Serge discusses the Palmach, "the shock troops of the Israeli underground."..."We had our terrorists, too, but with a difference."

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Copyright 2003-2009 Peter Rashkin. Material under other bylines is copyright by the authors. All rights reserved.