Bureaucratic mix-up taints Aussie's '67 reminiscent trip

Bureaucratic mix-up tain

A bureaucratic mix-up can ruin a reminiscent trip. Ask Philip Feinstein, in Israel for a trip down memory lane. Feinstein first came to Israel from South Africa in May of 1967, as a 17 year old, to attend Ulpan at Kibbutz Hazorea. When the Six-Day War broke out a month later, Feinstein said that he was one of the few foreigners who remained. His scrapbooks chronicle the time period. But now a bureaucratic delay has made Feinstein's memoribilia inaccessible at a time when he needs them most. More than 40 years after his teenage visit, Feinstein mailed his scrapbooks to Israel from Egypt where he was travelling, in preparation for a visit to Israel. Not wanting to carry the photos with him Feinstein mailed them so they would be in Israel when he arrived from Australia where he has lived for the past 37 years. But the books are sitting in customs in Tel Aviv awaiting approval to be released or sent back. "At the end of the day it's lovely to be back here in Israel. It was a life changing experience for me here," Feinstein said. "By coming back I am on my way to achieving one of my life goals of returning these scrapbooks to the kibbutzim I once called home. But the bureaucracy of it all is making it so hard that it is frustrating." "I sent them by courier direct to a family member in Tel Aviv before I arrived. I am visiting Hazorea on Wednesday and Sede Yoav the following day. While I am very excited to be returning to where I spent a part of my life, it is unfortunate that these books will not be with me." According to Feinstein, all of the contents were purchased in Israel. Nevertheless, customs has decided to impose duty of $180 since it took him so long to retrieve the items. "This is disgusting, but I'll pay it since it is so important to me and this country," Feinstein said. He said that he does not understand why the items are being held for so long. The Tel Aviv customs branch could not be reached for comment. While staying at the kibbutzim he took many photographs as well as collected memorabilia from the area such as army badges and medals, paperwork lying in the streets, tourist items and some rare stamps. "Amazingly I found some stamps from Arab countries and Israel but don't ask how I got them," Feinstein said. "Long story short, I have all kinds of things like postcards to troops in the fields and made two huge albums." After 6 months at Kibbutz Hazorea, Feinstein spent a further six months at Kibbutz Sede Yoav, and continued recording his experiences. The books also included his own personal accounts of the short time he was in the country. "It was a life changing experience that I went through at the age of 17 and 18," Feinstein said. Feinstein's trip ends on Friday. He will be returning to his home country of Australia and he said that it would be a shame if these scrapbooks were kept at customs until he left. He expects to get a definitive answer Tuesday on whether he will make the trip to the kibbutzim with his scrapbooks in hand or not. But he said regardless, the ordeal has been in his words, "a bloody mess." "I just hope that these books do not disappear off the face of the earth," Feinstein said. "It would be very tragic to lose information like this that chronicle an important time in Israel's history."