Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Life photographer John Phillips suffered only one wound during the Arab-Israeli fighting in 1948. The car he was riding in came to a stop where the road had been bombed away and turned over three times, landing on its wheels still in drivable condition.
He had a cut on his little finger from flying glass; the driver had a broken collarbone, so they changed seats and Phillips drove Don Berg of Times magazine to a hospital.
"I could do a commercial on the safety of that car," Phillips recalled Thursday night at a party in his honor. "It was a Studebaker; of course, they're out of business now."
Following an exhibit of his photos at the B'nai B'rith Klutznick Museum, 200 of Phillips' admirers gathered at the rambling, Spanish-style villa of Washington businessman Jack Shulman in Chevy Chase to sip Israeli wine and share a buffet dinner and discuss the Middle East, past and present.
Ruth Dayan, an expert on the subject if ever there was one, also recalled another kind of battle. Like the others overheard talking about bygone wars, she spoke with humor, not with bitterness: "Thirty-sevn years married to the general is like five liftimes," she laughed, recalling her former husband, Moshe Dayan, from whom she is divorced. "Actually, 37 years was just right."
Dayan, who recently arrived here, will be in Washington for a year, helping the Inter-American Development Bank to develop an international handicrafts program like that of her own company, Maskit, a multi-million dollar operation.
The exhibit of Phillips' photos, sponsored by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Washington Chapter, is made up of photos taken 30 years ago during the Arab-Israeli war paired with present-day photos of some of the people from that earlier time.
"This exhibit reminds me of how many people today were around in 1948," Dayan commented. "Who remembers who started that war in the first place? Very few of us. They had masses, and we were 600,000 Jews, of which 6,000 men were lost."
"None of these men was a soldier," Phillips recalled, "but they fought - my God, they fought the Arab Legion, which was a damned tough outfit, and when it was over, each of them went back to a civilian job. One is a diplomat today, another is a pastry cook for Golda Meir. When you talk to them now, they will remember the fighting, but there is no bitterness."
The 200 guests fit easily into the spacious Shulman home and a patio outside. In one front room, music-lovers sat quietly listening to a woodwind quartet with harpischord. In an adjoining room, guests stood before a long buffet with a golden menorah at its center, nibbing petits fours and chatting quietly.
The easygoing, international flavor of the home and its guests was echoed on a modest self of liqueurs in one room - a bottle of Strega, next to a bottle of Manischevitz Concord Grape Wine, Sabra orange liqueur, Irish Mist and Amaretto (now mandatory at all Washington parties).
"I was a Protestant," Phillips reminisced, "so I was assigned to cover the Arabs. My friend Robert Capa, being Jewish, was assigned to the Israelis. Glubb Pasha gave me an Arab Legion uniform that made my work easier and may have saved my life. I had to smuggle out the pictures; they got into Life eventually.
Some of his other pictures have never been published and, he thinks, probably never will be. "I was at Dachau right after the war," he recalled, "and I heard about something they called the 'human soap factory.' I finally talked them into letting me see it and take pictures - but they were so awful that Life never published them. I think they may have sent them to the Nuremberg Tribunal."
There was a trace of the same kind of horror in the reaction of Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz to the exhibit "A Will to Survive": "It is said that one picture speaks for a thousands words. I think it can be said that these pictures speak for a thousand years. The whole story of Israel is there: persecution, expulsion, captivity and return. The essential purpose of Israel is to see that this cycle does not repeat itself."