|Rona Hart had been in Israel for only a few weeks when warclouds started to gather. She confided her thoughts and impressions to her parents in England. For forty years these letters gathered dust in an old shoebox until they were rediscovered a few weeks ago. Here are a few extracts that capture her thoughts and fears.|
May 25th 1967
"It's a lovely sunny day here, and I'm at the relatives & will be helping Itzhak with English, as he has an exam soon. I bought a Daily Express (May 24) and a Jerusalem Post on the way, and although the facts given in each are more or less the same, the Express sounds much more excited and alarmist. The Jerusalem Post gives more of a picture of what is happening, everyone is rather calm & waiting to see what will happen next.
I hear lots of people from abroad are volunteering to come... am going to Rsusriell tonight for supper. He has two boys in the army.
All sorts of stories keep coming up; a few days ago a dog arrived at a border kibbutz near the Gaza strip, with a message round its neck. It said it was left behind by a UN soldier, who didn't want the Arabs to have it, and would whoever found it please look after it well!"
Haifa, May 31st 1967
"Am sitting in car on the top of Mt Carmel, by a monastery, where
there's a wonderful view. We have just been listening to a Sherlock Holmes
on the BBC and the Voice of Lebanon in English.
We have the news on now, Egypt and Jordan have suddenly agreed on something. The way Radio Jordan was going on about Nasser the other week, I rather hoped he and Hussein would poison each other off in Cairo. Egypt has been accusing Israel of all sorts of things since way back, & the word is going round that soon they'll come to the Ten Plagues.
I went shopping today to buy shorts, sandals and a white blouse for kibbutz, & intend going tomorrow. It doesn't sound very "glamorous" but work on kibbutz is needed, and all the 007 work is, we hope, in the hands of experts.
Carloads of priests are coming & going from the monastery..."
June 1st 1967
The radio is playing "Hiney ma tov"  and I am at Tel Yitzhak (a kibbutz not far from Netanya). Mavis and I are reading - me Scientific American and Mavis "Forever Amber" (I brought Y's copy).
As it's my first day here, am not working, although I helped a bit in the kitchen this morning. Yesterday was also very nice & relaxed, and Y. brought me here by car.
I got the telegramme - I love you for it & the way you put the messages, but with people all over volunteering to come, & Israel asking for help, you don't really expect that I'd leave, do you? My only worry is that I'm worrying you, the whole thing is a bloody nuisance, with the possibility of hurting so many people, but what can we do? She-yihihyeh Shalom 
Y. is at the Technion - I miss him already."
 An upbeat Israeli song, based on a Psalm, "Behold how goodly it is for brothers to dwell together in unity..."
 Hebrew: She-yihihyeh Shalom - May there be peace.
June 5th 1967
"Well, hostilities commenced today, and I don't know how long this
will take to get to England, if at all, but I hope so.
...I already feel as if the war has been on for ever. The radio is playing "Shalom Aleichem"  Huh! So far I have felt calm, even with the bombing of Netanya which you will have heard of, and which we heard too.
Maybe the UN will succeed in stopping it. I feel as if the Jews get bashed about in every generation and if this happens to be our turn then G-d help us! I hope He does... you should have seen the older members of the kibbutz. I wondered what they were remembering - getting out of Germany & working on the land here for over 20 years. My biggest worry is that you are worrying. This is how it is, these things happen, we just have to do the best under the circumstances.
...I could do with some chocolate. That's not a hint, just an observation."
 "Peace unto You"
June 6th 1967
"We just had the news that the Old City is in our hands! You should see the rejoicing - the radio is playing songs about Jerusalem.
There is thankfulness, unbelief, and joy - tinged as it is with sorrow and worry.
Cairo Radio is still telling us how Tel Aviv is in Arab hands, and to give in now, but since they said Eshkol and Dayan had fled the country, one's faith in them has been shaken.
How can one write down hours like these in an orderly fashion? I have washed up with sound of guns firing in anger in the background (OK, so they were probably ours), and got up at 3.15 am cursing the Arabs for sending their planes at such an hour (that was when they had planes), as well as see the most glorious sky ever - millions and millions of stars - no moon, no light. I just sat and watched and watched.
I hope there will be peace soon."
June 7th 1967
This evening we heard the Shofar blown at the Kotel Maravi . I was in the mazkirut , where the phone is, & there were quite a few people round the radio. the news came on, & we heard the soldiers from the Old City - they spoke about getting through, and how Moishele put a flag on the Wall... the soldier who was commentating said "I'm not religious, and never have been, but..." and nearly cried. The soldiers chanted "Shekhianu" and then Kaddish was said for those lost in battle. Then they sang the Hatikvah, and if there was a dry eye in the mazkirut it wasn't mine, although one man blew his nose hard.
I thought how you would feel, and hoped some of it might be on TV or something in Britain.
This is a lovely country. I have my radio here all the time, and there are more songs about "Freed Jerusalem."
This Year in Rebuilt Jerusalem?!"
 Western Wall
 kibbutz office
June 10th 1967
I've just heard that our cousins are safe, thank G-d. Zvika drove his tank to the Suez Canal, and Srulik was in Syria, Shechem, the Old City, and practically anywhere you can mention. Ziporah's boyfriend, Yoram, is also OK. He was in the navy.
We have just played Beethoven's Vth, and I listened to it as it's never been listened to before! It's fantastic.
We're just off to a party to celebrate Jan's coming home. He's the bloke with the beard in the photo I sent you. Micha (the one with the Canadian wife) was wounded in Syria, but everyone in the estate came back OK."
Thursday (undated) 1967
"OK, have some nachas!
Yesterday I went to the Old City of Jerusalem & said the Shema at the "Wailing Wall" - (in Hebrew, the Western Wall - & in fact there was a good deal of rejoicing & the name should be changed!)
Quite a few of the houses had white flags on them, and Arabs - Jordanians that were - looked sullenly out of their windows at me and the other odd two hundred thousand Jews who made the trip, the first day it was possible for the public to go, and Shavuot as well! it was quite an experience. All sorts of people came, Mea Shearim, kibbutz, & all the rest - happy, good humoured - even relatively polite, and there was a sort of intimacy. People picnicked by the Wall - well, not far away - but I didn't feel it was wrong, as it was as if the praying and the eating were all part of life, and the Wall was ours, and we understood each other. All around were soldiers, poor devils, in 90 degrees F, armed, on guard.
We passed the "Palestine coffee bar", and various churches. At one point I saw an old Jewish man with a white beard, with a really rapturous expression, and a sweet face, followed by two priests..."
- Rona Hart 1967