In the tumultuous year of 2020, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to fester. Fourteen-year-old Dani Madgev accidentally finds several Cyrillic letters interwoven into the graphics of the Star of David symbol. His father, Ian, a mathematical linguist, and his mother, Rovine, a cognitive scientist, help him decipher them. But none of them realize what they're about to get themselves into.
To unravel the mystery of David's Star, Dani and his parents travel to Tel Aviv, Israel. Along with Nathan Epstein, a biblical history professor at Hebrew University; Kabbalah alchemist Uri Zohar; Ruben Openheim, the head of Peace Now; and Rabbi Loew, the Madgevs make a series of further discoveries within the symbol, leading them to believe they are on the brink of knowledge that may very well change the course of history.
Meanwhile, a mysterious character called the LaW begins sending messages encoded using King David's military cipher to Dani. Once deciphered, the messages and letters found on the Star of David point to a startling realization about the solution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
But are the two countries ready for the suggested solution? A domino chain of events is set in motion, and someone may have to pay the highest price.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
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By Dean Zahav
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Delian Zahariev
All right reserved.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 28 APRIL 2020 DOWNTOWN, OFF THE JAFFA GATE
Palm-tree branches and leaves lay scattered around the main thoroughfares and narrow streets of Jerusalem. The hamsin, the hot, dry wind sweeping down from the deserts in the east, had blown them about the Holy City the night before. It was as if the wind had further sought to acknowledge the arrival of spring, the most pleasant time of year in Israel. A soft rain had appeared from nowhere and the leaves of trees and plants seemed to shake themselves awake and prepare to offer their fruits and flowers. It was a time of trusting the symbolism of spring and of nurturing hope, hope for good causes exemplified by good men.
The view over the Old City's Citadel – The Tower of David, or Midgal David as it is in Hebrew – was dazzling. This ancient fortification has unchangeably been guarding the Western approach to the Old City for centuries.
In the narrow rectangular square running parallel to the Jaffa Road and standing above the Mamilla Mall, a relatively large group of dignified men had gathered. They were speaking to each other in soft tones, everyone in a peaceful mode, waiting expectantly for something to take place. It was a small-scale rally of Peace Now or Shalom Achshav – the well-known NGO promoting peace between Israel and Palestine and appealing to many in the country and far beyond.
A slightly balding man of average height, about 45 years old, wearing black-rimmed glasses above his long caftan, raised his open hand above his head and the gathering of people grew respectfully attentive. They knew this was Ruben Openheim, the forceful head of Peace Now.
"Thank you, each and every one of you, for the immense help you've provided for our cause." He paused and glanced around the plaza as the people shuffled closer, eager to hear every word. "Without the personal efforts of each of you, we wouldn't have been able to complete Safe Haven for Israel – a project costing millions in donations. What a miraculous project this has been! With all of you on our side during the past five years, we have succeeded in constructing many apartment complexes in different countries! In this way we have been able to provide safe havens for Israelis!" Openheim paused for dramatic effect and looked intensely into several faces in the crowd. He was a noted expert in Semitic languages and as such, was also well-versed in the personalities and cultural imprinting of his fellow Israelis.
He nodded in affirmation of his own premise and continued. "Why do we need these safe havens? Because in the event of an attack from allied hostile Arab neighbor states and outlawed terrorist organizations, millions of Israeli refugees can find safety and hospitality in your countries far from their own homes. In a way, I hope we never have to use these shelters; but with them now finished and ready for occupancy, I dare say we are prepared for a second berihah – the mass movement of Israelis from Europe to Israel during World War Two. This time it will be from Israel back to Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. Toda, thank you, Szymon Adamczyk from Poland, Matej Horak from the Czech Republic, Peter Novacek from Slovakia, Rabbi Loew, Bogdan Popescu from Romania, Goran Mladic from Serbia, Vladko Radic from Croatia, Ivan Ljubavic from Slovenia and especially the family, Rovine Dilesz from Hungary and Ian Magdev from Bulgaria."
The distinguished names Openheim mentioned evoked murmurs from the people as they nodded to express appreciation of his words. He continued speaking, standing in front of a wall upon which was hung the flag of Israel with its large Star of David in the middle. "Everything has been set. There's only one thing left for us to do now – keep on maintaining peace and fighting for it when necessary. This has always been Peace Now's primary goal. We have to carry on mustering all strength and efforts in maintaining peace in Israel and deliberately and firmly circumvent any danger from impending wars."
Ian Magdev, who had become close friends with Ruben Openheim, rose his hand and said, "On behalf of all the participants in this noble project, I'd like to thank Ruben for letting us give our share to the country we hold dearly." A wave of cheering issued from the people.
In another part of Jerusalem, tucked deeply underground in a decrepit basement and beyond the reach of mobile networks, a group of people was franticly working precisely on the opposite of what Ruben Openheim outlined as Peace Now's primary goal. For these people, war was the means to maintain fear and resignation throughout the region. It was necessary, worse still, vital as they arrogantly claimed.
SOFIA, BULGARIA 29 APRIL 2020 LATE EVENING
For Rovine and Ian, the El Al flight back home was calm and uneventful. Sofia bustled with life despite the late hour and the fact that it was Wednesday and not Friday or Saturday night. It was springtime after all and it was pleasantly warm. Their taxi drove by open-air bars and restaurants downtown that teemed with people eager to have a drink outdoors after the long winter. Downtown was quickly over and the brick buildings were replaced by residential compounds. The taxi hit south, down a wide boulevard leading to the foothills of the Vitosha Mountain that guarded majestically the entire southern approach to Sofia. To drive up the mountain meant to reveal a beautiful bird's-eye view over the whole city of lights.
The taxi stopped in front of a two-storey house surrounded by a lush garden full of fruit trees and flowers. Rovine loved them and she had them all over the place.
"Dani, we are back, darling!" The cheerful voice belonged to Rovine as she announced their arrival back from Israel after Ian unlocked the front door. She moved inside the doorway gracefully, her lithe figure almost cat-like, and got in the hallway. She took off her long cashmere scarf and hung it on the hallstand. She wore her long straight hair pulled back into a thick braid down the middle of her back, this way having her beautiful high forehead revealed. Her lips were parted in a gentle, expectant smile. Rovine was the epitome of the nurturing and gentle mother.
"Where are you, Dani boy? Mom?" Ian, Dani's father, called out while hanging up their jackets. He ran his fingers through his dark curly hair, trying to smooth down the tangles twisted in by the wind and his cap. Ian was slender and physically active. He was a linguist-mathematician who maintained a good measure of spontaneity and unconventionality.
"He's in his room," Maya, Ian's mother, said with a smile as she hurried into the hallway. "Welcome home!" Her voice was that of a very kind and capable grandmother.
"Hi mom, how are you? I hope you didn't have any trouble!" Ian hugged and kissed her.
"I am fine. I'm watching the news. How was the flight?"
"It was perfect," Rovine replied.
"How have you and Dani been getting along?" Ian asked.
"Great, you know him, he's such a sweet boy. Never gave me any troubles."
"And he didn't stay up late?" Rovine pressed on, knowing her son.
"I don't think so," Ian's mother said and smiled.
"That's great because you know how addicted he is to his computer," Rovine explained.
"I know but he's been a good boy," Maya reassured the young parents, smiling to herself.
* * *
Ian and Rovine hurried upstairs and entered the room of their 14-year-old son Dani. The room was large enough for a single occupant and pretty tidy for a teenager with only a poster or two on the walls. By the window, there was a desk laden with books and dictionaries, a laptop in its middle. Dani's slim boyish figure was leaning forward, his blue eyes fixed on the brightly lit flat screen of the laptop while his fingers tapped rapidly on the keyboard. He stopped and turned around, broad smile lighting up his face at the sight of his parents, a feature he had undoubtedly inherited from his mother. The genes had bestowed the boy with lavish, dark curly hair without a doubt transferring it from Ian's side of the family. Dani jumped up and rushed to greet them.
"Mom, Dad, I'm so happy you are back! How was Israel?"
"A lot of work as usual," Ian said as he hugged his son.
"Unfortunately we didn't have time to go sight-seeing," Rovine said and joined them in one giant hug.
"Will you take me with you next time? You promised, remember?" he asked.
"There may not be another time. We finished the big construction project, Dani," Ian explained.
"So what now? That's it? No more going to Israel?" Dani asked surprised.
"Not for work anyway," Rovine said.
"But you promised we'd visit Aya's family," Dani said with a pleading voice. Aya was the daughter of Ruben and Sarah Openheim.
"Of course we will meet them! But we can visit them anytime. Ruben and Sarah are always happy to have us stay with them," Ian said.
"Great, because Aya asked me when we were going to visit them," Dani said.
"Oh, you are keeping in touch?" Rovine was surprised.
"We're chatting online, occasionally."
"Well, we might visit the Openheims for the summer vacation then," Rovine offered, looking at Ian.
"Why not? That sounds great, actually. We've never been to Israel on holiday," Ian said looking over Dani's shoulder. He spotted a Skype window open on the screen of Dani's laptop, "Are you still chatting with your friends this late?"
"Yea, but we're not just chatting, Dad, we're pigpen writing. And we've gone a step further. We are now also working on pigpen anagramming and monogramming."
"That sounds really interesting," Rovine said and added sternly, "But it's past eleven, Dani! You should have gone to bed by now."
"Mom, you know me, I was just going to bed ..."
"Precisely because I know you, Dani, I want you to turn off the laptop, brush your teeth and go straight to bed," Rovine said as she and Ian smiled at their son and left the room.
SOFIA, BULGARIA 30 APRIL 2020
Sofia was bathing in the rays of the early morning April sun. Spring had arrived in full swing. It was quite warm outside during the day but the morning air was still cool. In Rovine and Ian's house, the window of their bedroom was half-open so the cool air was gushing in. At exactly seven, the alarm clock went off. His eyes still shut Ian pressed a button to switch it off. He hugged Rovine and kissed her. She kissed him back. They had slept like tired puppies, very contented to be curled together in their own bed. Rovine was slow to force herself out of Ian's hug and to get out of the warm bed, but she knew she had to get Dani off to school. She tied on her dressing gown, shoved her feet in her slippers and hurried downstairs. Ian slid out of bed too and went to wake Dani up.
Within minutes, the aroma of fresh coffee wafted through the house and Ian, shaving while still a bit sleepy, grinned at his reflection in the bathroom mirror.
A bit later and with his bookbag slung over his shoulder, Dani skipped down the stairs two at a time and slid into his seat at the table. "Here's your breakfast, darling," Rovine said as she placed a plate with two sandwiches and a cup of milk in front of him and kissed him on the forehead.
"Thank you, Mom," he smiled at his caring mother.
"Have you prepared yourself for today's lessons?" Ian asked his son, as he joined the family at the table.
"Sure, Dad," he replied biting off a big chunk of the grilled sandwich oozing with cheese and eggs.
"Hun, would you pass me the sugar?" Ian loved calling his wife like that because she was both his sweetheart and she was Hungarian.
"Dad, now that you've finished the Jerusalem project, are we still keeping Israel's flag in the living room?" Dani took a gulp of milk. His parents looked at him quizzically.
"Why?" Ian was puzzled by the question.
"I like it."
"You do?" Rovine asked surprised.
"Yes, I like the huge star in the middle of it. Might as well hang it in my room, if you don't mind," Dani grinned at his parents.
Ian glanced at Rovine and said, "Why not? I'll help you hang it in your room. Now get ready for school, all right?"
"Thanks. See you later!" He jumped up from the table, grabbed his schoolbag, and raced out the door just as the school minibus slowed to a stop in front of the house.
Rovine and Ian were a bit surprised at Dani's request to have the Israeli flag hung in his room. They spoke about it. They had been involved with the Safe Haven project for quite a few years. The flag of Israel had been hanging in their kitchen all along.
"Finally, it makes sense, Rovine. It has to. Dani must have grown fond of the flag with its massive and captivating star in the middle," he concluded looking at her.
"What can I say, he's taken so much after you," she smiled at him.
* * *
In the evening, after dinner, Dani and Ian carefully removed the Israeli flag from the kitchen wall and transferred it upstairs to Dani's room. There father and son drilled two small holes in the wall, fixed two hooks and mounted the flag on them.
"There you go, Dani!" Ian said as they finished the job. The flag of Israel now hung on the wall across the window and above Dani's bed. The huge Star of David could be clearly seen.
"Thanks, Dad. I'll take a picture of it and send it to Aya."
"Yes, I'm sure she will like it."
"It's getting late. You should go to bed now, Dani."
"I've got the feeling you want to ask me something?"
"No, I don't, it's okay, really."
"Good night, Dani."
SOFIA, BULGARIA 1 MAY 2020 EVENING
Despite the fact that it was a long and tedious day, Dani didn't feel exhausted. He was sitting on his desk and writing his homework. From time to time he would stop, think for awhile and resume his writing. The flag of Israel hung impressively on the wall across the desk. At one point, his eyes fell on the huge blue Star of David in the middle of it. It was so huge, its lines thick, its structure solid, its rays sharp. All too naturally, Dani's eyes locked on one of those lines and began following it. They got to its end and made a right turn and then went up. A second turn followed and a sharp descent. Another right turn and his eyes went back to the starting point. Almost without realizing it, he had made a triangle. It took a moment for his mind to register and process what had just happened. Then, invariably, it hit him like an oncoming freight train. I've just completed a triangle. His eyes began frantically going up and down, making right and left turns. He didn't know how long it took him to do that but after awhile his face froze in amazement. Wow, there are so many geometric figures. His expression was one of instant revelation. He hadn't simply discovered geometric figures. He'd just come up with something way bigger. These are symbols ...
* * *
"Are you sure you don't need my help with your homework in Bulgarian?" Rovine asked Dani when she had finished going through all his assignments. She had come earlier to his room to help him with some of his homework.
"Sure, Mom, it's already done."
"Great, so you can go straight to bed now. We all have to get up early tomorrow."
"All right, all right, I know ... but I want to show both of you something first," Dani said and called out his father.
"Wow, the flag looks really nice, Dani!" Rovine smiled as Ian entered the room.
"It does," Ian said and beamed at his son. In the meantime Dani had taken out a sheet of paper from the top of his desk.
"You remember I told you I was pigpen-writing with my friends and that we'd gone a step further by pigpen anagramming and monogramming?" He was excited.
"Yes, we do remember," Rovine replied, casting a quick glance at Ian. He gave her a reassuring smile.
"As I was doing my homework earlier this evening something about the huge Star of David grabbed my attention. I'm not sure what it was. I was just staring at the star for a long time until I caught myself sketching parts of it in my mind. Then I just put it all down on paper. Look," he said and showed them a sheet of paper upon which he had drawn several Stars of David. Some of the lines were thicker than the others to indicate the parts that had been deliberately made more prominent. And indeed, there they were, four neatly outlined symbols. Ian and Rovine were astounded by this discovery.
Excerpted from DAVID'S STAR by Dean Zahav Copyright © 2011 by Delian Zahariev. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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