Cry of Eagles
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by Stefan Vucak
Description: Mossad will stop at nothing to protect the security of Israel -- even if it means dragging the United States into a war with Iran. Since the government is not prepared to act, Namir Bethan, director of Mossad's clandestine services division, decides to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon. One of his operatives, Matan Irian, proposes to sabotage a Texas refinery, making it appear to be an act of Iranian terrorism. Following the audacious mission, the world waits for America to strike. Will the FBI succeed at uncovering the deception and prevent a holocaust?
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [508 KB]
Reading time: 309-432 min.
"Reviewed by Fiona I. for ReadersFavorite.com ***** This is a great read, a real page-turner. The author lays bare the deep-rooted hatreds, as well as tribal rivalries that dog the composition of the Middle East, and preclude a possible resolution. From the start, the author draws the reader into a world where modern and historical animosities are twisted together in a knot that seems impossible to untangle. The actions of two men, Namir Bethan (Director of Metsada) and Matan Irian, the man who proposes a drastic solution to the nuclear terrors that threaten his county, cut this Gordian Knot. The author draws on current events, such as international fears of a nuclear-capable Iran ready to hit the red button at any time, to the natural anxieties of the USA bigwigs, to the defiant and entrenched recalcitrant attitudes of the Israelis towards any attempt at removing what they perceive to be their God-given rights. The author also eases the unversed reader into the technical and forensic aspects of explosives and armaments, as well as laying bare the complexities, the chaos, and the internecine rivalry that dominate government departments in the delicate interplay of politics and war. I enjoyed the development of the characters and the dialogue. Each character came with his or her history and motives, created in a believable and natural way. The author also has an excellent eye for visual detail to paint the picture of different environments for the reader. This is a must for lovers of political thrillers.
Northern Israel, 1979
Town of Kiryat Shmona on the Lebanon border
Low clouds, gray and fluffy, rolled down the gentle Golan Heights slopes, obscuring the Hulla Valley in creeping shadow. Somewhere in their depths lightning flickered, followed immediately by a muted rumble of rolling thunder. A patch of clear, deep blue sky still hung above the city. Warm, buttery sunshine bathed the sprawling settlement and the checkered pattern of green and yellow fields surrounding it. A cool breeze gusted among the curbside trees and made the leaves whisper in alarm.
Dressed in a dark red cotton T-shirt, blue collar fluttering around his neck, black sweat pants and green-striped Asics, Matan leaned into the turn when the bike rounded the corner. The old Vespa sputtered then surged down the street as he shifted gears. It might be old, battered and scarred, but it served him faithfully and he would not trade it in for the plastic things they made these days for anything. With the hot, stuffy and smelly stores of the town center and its milling traffic safely behind him, he welcomed being back in the residential district. The last-minute shoppers gave him a pain; everyone wanting to finish the necessary chores before tomorrow evening's festivities. Why leave it all until the last minute? The cool, shaded street looked infinitely more preferable. He fancied he could smell cut hay, probably ketchup from his last hamburger.
A group of youngsters playing hopscotch on the sidewalk looked up when he approached and waved as the worn-out little scooter, trailing a thread of blue smoke, roared past them. Matan waved back, not stopping this time. Sometimes, when feeling mellow and generous, he would give the kids a treat and take them for a spin round the neighborhood, the distinctive thrumming of his Vespa a familiar sound to everyone in the area. Today, he was in trouble and not feeling particularly mellow or generous. It wasn't as though he'd actually done anything wrong. But try explaining it to his mother and he had tried. She simply didn't understand him or where he saw his future taking him. Buried in Israel's 'glorious past' as she put it, that was her problem. He'd lived through that past: the deprivation, missed meals, sweating in the kibbutz fields, ritual and prayers. It held little glory for him.
He slowed down as he approached his house, waved to the frail old lady next door picking up her mail from the gatepost letterbox then gave a long sigh. Sickly, Milaka lived alone, was kind to him mostly, except when he and the guys trampled her flowerbed tearing down the sidewalk. His mother used to beat him up for those antics when he was a kid, but what could he to do? It is not like they did it deliberately. The old lady should not have planted along the fence in any case -- an open invitation for mischief. Anyway, he figured her to be a goner before Hanukkah. There would be mourning, tears, wailing and other unpleasantness. And he would have to stoically endure the whole miserable business, like anybody actually cared and no one did. But the dreary observance of due form had to be obeyed, no matter how banal. Inertia, the thought came to him unbidden. And those who had gossiped the most would wail the loudest. It was all so irrelevant and hypocritical.
He pulled into the driveway, killed the engine and took off his helmet. With a quick squint at the clouds, he hung the helmet on the left handlebar. Across the street, Eben, a retired investment banker from Tel Aviv, leaned against his spade, looked at him and the Vespa then shook his head in disapproval. Matan could clearly imagine the old relic's thoughts: 'That the boy would be working on the eve of Pesach. They had no respect any more, that's what it was, and no discipline. Now, in his day such transgressions would not be tolerated.' Matan had heard it all before. Clearly, Eben saw no inconsistency that he was digging up his own garden on the eve of this most revered festival. Nevertheless, when Matan climbed off the scooter, he nodded politely to his neighbor. Standing behind his rough-hewn limestone fence, Eben's frown only deepened.
What made the crabby man come to this place, Matan could never figure out. The acerbic hypocrite clung to his shield of orthodoxy like a drunkard clutching the edge of a bar, assured of the superiority of his outdated convictions, refusing to acknowledge the danger of his extremist position. An investment banker? More likely, a collection agency hit man. Matan smoothed back a shock of thick black hair with an unconscious gesture. He should have had a haircut, he mused ruefully, another thing for his mother to complain about.
"Shalom, neighbor Eben!" he shouted good-naturedly to make sure the old dotter heard him. The old man supposedly had hearing problems. Sometimes Matan wondered whether the gambit was simply a ploy to gain attention. He'd seen that gag pulled by oldsters before and it always felt pathetic.
"Joyriding again, eh, Matan?" Eben ventured, his voice filled with veiled accusation.
"At school," Matan countered, not in the mood to argue. The old man's sour demeanor hung over him like a dark blanket, cutting out the sunshine of life. They lived in two different worlds and Matan could not bridge them. He did not care to meet the old duffer halfway anyway. As a young impressionable kid, he'd liked listening to Eben's stories, his life in Tel Aviv, the world of high finance and political intrigues, the Yom Kippur war and the never-ending lamentations on the degenerating morality of the young. Kiryat Shmona being a stone's throw from the Lebanese border, Matan had first-hand experience of the 1973 war, had seen and heard the crash of artillery in the hills. He and his family had spent too much time in smelly bomb shelters for the adventure to be amusing. But it had been exciting in its way, not understanding what all the fuss was about, not having to go to school. That was the best part. But while Eben became increasingly conservative and cantankerous in his outlook, Matan's world had expanded when education and travel -- admittedly only within Israel -- broadened his horizons. He found the old man's dogmatic and pontificating pronouncements increasingly hard to digest and, moreover, extraneous. In his opinion, the guy was a senile relic who should confine himself to a rocking chair. But as a dutiful son, he nevertheless paid the man respect due an elder.
Eben raised his head and lifted an admonishing finger. "At school? Today? You're a good boy, Matan, most of the time, but you mock the Lord with your sins."
"He shall judge, old man," Matan said impatiently and strode toward the front door, ignoring the cool breeze ruffling his T-shirt and Eben's displeased stare. He looked up at the gray clouds and hoped it wasn't going to rain tomorrow.
Built of typical white sandstone, the double story house had a balcony bordered by a wrought iron railing from which hung potted flowers on black chains. Flaked paint gaped along the white railing and rust streaks marred some support rods. Looking at them, Matan grimaced. He needed to sand and repaint the things, but the arduous, exacting task did not altogether fill him with eagerness. Sooner or later, though, he knew his father would take him to task over it. Probably sooner than later, he thought glumly. How could he keep up with his studies if they kept piling chores on him? But did that get him any sympathy? Hardly. According to his mother, the sooner he started 'honest work' the better. That meant working in a factory or being a field hand; both options were outside Matan's life plan and a source of ongoing irritation for his mother. Who was going to maintain the kibbutz tradition? But there, at least, his father was sympathetic, for which Matan was extremely grateful. His father understood that Israel's future lay in industry and commerce; the kibbutz was part of a romanticized past.
He opened the door and walked into the cool, shadowy interior of the entrance corridor. He shook off the runners and slid his feet into a pair of slippers parked next to an assortment of shoes on a small square of carpet as the door clicked shut behind him.
"Matan? Is that you?" His mother's shrill voice echoed from the kitchen and he flinched, knowing what was to come.
Little Raya stuck her head out from the dining room doorway and grinned with gleeful anticipation. "You're in trouble," she pronounced comfortably, clearly relishing the coming scene.
He stuck out his tongue at his younger sister. "Am not."
"You are," she said and promptly stuck out her own tongue.
He took a step toward her and raised his right hand. She gave a shriek and vanished.
"Mommy! Matan was going to hit me!"
Peri emerged from the kitchen, wiped her hands on a somber black apron tied round her waist and glared at him.
"Where have you been? You were meant to help with the cleaning. If I find any chametz tomorrow, I'll be blaming you."
Clinging to her mother's dress, Raya beamed in expectation and made a face at him.
Matan's shoulders drooped, knowing he could never explain it to her. Why did she put him through this torture every time?
"I had an assignment to finish, Mom, and--"
"And being at Tel Hai is more important than preparing for the Pesach?" she demanded, her voice deceptively mild whenever her anger spilled against him and he recognized the danger signal.
"Of course not," he said defensively. "But if I didn't get the thing finished, it could affect my whole semester's grade."
"You should have thought of that before. Instead, you spend all your time with those traitorous friends of yours and leave your work until the last minute. Doesn't your family mean anything? Don't we come first?"
Matan winced, stung by her words, the cut worse for being partly true. Not wishing to talk about it, he walked to where she stood and hung his head.
"I'm sorry, Mom, that you don't understand. My friends are not bad, even if two of them happen to be Palestinians."
Her clear chocolate eyes regarded him with seething fury. "That's exactly what I mean. Those people want to destroy us and you besmirch the family name by associating with them. Your father and I raised you to respect our country and, if necessary, to fight for its freedom from those who would destroy us. Like your friends! And to have you hanging around them, well, it's a disgrace. That's what it is."
"Let's talk about it some other time, okay?" Mati countered sharply, having heard the old arguments many times before. "If you want me to help, tell me what you want done."
"We'll talk about it when your father gets home," Peri promised and wiped a trace of flour off her left cheek. "And you keep a respectful tone, you hear? You children have it too easy these days. When your father and I settled here..."
Here it comes, Matan thought with a silent groan.
"...life was harsh, but we endured, and we endured for a good reason. We had a country to fight for--"
Matan looked around. "Where is he?" he countered to break up her tirade.
"Selling chametz," his mother snapped, "and don't interrupt."
During Passover, no chametz -- leavened grain products -- could be held in the house. Anything found had to be either burned or sold, usually to a local rabbi who acted as an agent, or directly to a non-Jew. The Irian family had a gentile friend on the other side of town who regularly bought their leftover and unused chametz, and as such transactions took a bit of time to conclude while the hospitality rituals were played out, Matan did not expect to see his father until evening.
"And Janina?" he demanded, having got his mother distracted.
"Unlike you, you ruffian, your sister knows her duty. She's out shopping. Should be back any minute."
Apart from kosher cakes, cookies and cereals, the treats were expensive and overly fattening, but very good to eat. Right now, that part did not even hit his list of concerns. Despite the weary ceremonial and dull ritual, Matan liked Passover and the feasting. It was celebrating a fable, he knew that, but a country needed roots. Anyway, it should take his parents' minds off him and his list of misdemeanors, at least for a while.
They just didn't understand.