To the editors:
I am writing to you in response to your July 9 article “Enemy of Israel?” I personally had a bitter taste left in my mouth after being a “Volunteer for Israel” in the days just prior to “Desert Storm” becoming a hot war. I worked in a hospital in the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv. I won’t comment on the filthy septic conditions of the hospital for that could be a story in itself. What I will comment on is circumstances similar to Mr. Evgenii Koifman; however by far not as bad as his, though at this time I very well would consider them as bad.
While working as a volunteer I was entitled to three meals per day. After three days I complained about the lack of food, and the heavy-duty work I was asked to do. After the first week of working extremely hard and getting meals fit for a canary I made a comment to the director that now I know what the inmates of Auschwitz went thru. I know it was a stupid remark but they sure were working me hard with manual labor and giving me such microscopic portions to eat. What was worse yet was while helping to carry “huge” tables up three flights of stairs to help set up for a Chanukah party I fell over a box someone carelessly left on the floor. The next day my back was “killing me.” I reported the incident to the director, seeking some medical assistance. The answer was no, and I was told to find my own doctor. I did, and was told not to work for ten days.
Frankly the director treated and talked to me like a dog. Then when I returned to work I was told that now since I did not work for my original designated term I had to come up with another $300, for my original ticket there was at a discount. I am a single man that raised five children. When I called Chicago no one was ever home. I went to the embassy in Tel Aviv, but there is no satisfaction there because they simply did not wish to disturb the Israeli Army, which sponsors the Volunteer Group. I tried a day or two at panhandling but they are not as generous as we Americans. I told my story to a nice Arab nurse who worked at the hospital and she loaned me enough money to get back in time, and I mean just in time. I did repay her with interest. I can really feel for Mr. Koifman for those people are “hardheads.”
Julius N. Magill