War

The only thing that threatened to knock his ladder down was war. Like all young Israelis, he was trained to defend his country. His calling came in June of 1967, The Six Day War.

Ginzburg recalls, “My unit was the first to enter the town of Kalkilya. It is a small Arab village near the Jordanian border. We had no quarrel with the villagers, they just happened to be between us and the invading Jordanian Army. I remember we broadcasted on the radio, shouted from loudspeakers and dropped leaflets in Arabic, Hebrew and English announcing that we would be marching through. We did not want to hurt anyone. Those holding a white flag would not be hurt and any property posted with a white flag would not be destroyed.

During our advancement, I made an observation. People with nice homes and sturdy property, the well to do families, did not hesitate to display the white flags. They had something to lose. In contrast, as we approached the poorer sections of town, the people fought us, they shot at us from left and right. Basically, I observed that they had nothing to lose. Later as I digested what I saw, the horror and destruction of this inhumane carnage, I began to realize that if we could improve the plight of the impoverished, we all would have something to lose. We all would strive for peace. I vowed that if I survived this horrific experience that I would dedicate myself to peace and seek ways to equalize the injustices of the world."

Ginzburg’s war experiences tormented and bewildered him. Shortly after the war ended, he and his unit remained by the Jordan River. They were stationed there to show a strong Israeli presence. Every few hours a patrol traveled the narrow banks of the river to show the Jordanian Army that the IsraeliArmy was a power to fear. The patrols were totally exposed to snipers and traveling a certain part of the bank close to the Allenby Bridge was always a tense moment. On one particular noon patrol, Ginzburg and his fellow soldiers were stopped suddenly by a young Arab boy screaming for help. His father had fallen into the ravine and was hurt.

Ginzburg instructed the driver to follow the boy so they could help his father. As soon as they reached the narrowest part of the path the patrol was ambushed. Gunfire sounded from all sides. Immediately, Ginzburg grabbed the boy and shoved him into a crater in the river embankment. For severalhours the patrol was pinned in their position, unable to move or communicate with their base. When the patrol did not return, reinforcements were sent to look for them. One by one, under the protection of an armored car, the soldiers and the boy were rescued.

Ginzburg saved the boy’s life, even though he knew it was the boy who had led them into the ambush. The child was just a pawn in a violent and deadly adult game. In a way, Ginzburg felt connected to the boy. They both had been deprived of a youthful, carefree childhood. It was not in Ginzburg’s power to give the boy back his childhood, but it was in his power to shelter him and show him compassion. It was only one small act, but maybe it was enough to implant a mutual bond between them, forcing their hatred of one another to wane and their respect for one another to grow.

From Ginzburg’s harsh experiences of war grew his conviction to pursue peace and human understanding. He just needed the right opportunity, the right door, the right step. Maybe art was his method.