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Not only the wildflowers but also the staff of the NRA grew under Yoffe's leadership. In his first three years at the helm, the number of inspectors in the field increased from fifteen to thirty-three. After ten years the number reached 156.[97] Although it may have been an institutional flop, the Shachal unit introduced to the Authority a generation of young SPNI personnel who chose to stay with Yoffe in government service. This group included such figures as Adir Shapira, Dan Perry, and Alon Galili. They brought with them not only a passion for the subject matter, but knowl-edge and field experience.

Their presence also created a clear dichotomy among the NRA workers. Despite their lack of formal training, the SPNI alumni were perceived as the experts. Primarily from kibbutzim, they wore their sandals year-round and shared a youth movement educational orientation. On the other side were the more macho military types that Yoffe had brought with him from the army. Many of these “rangers” were attracted to nature because of hunting. For instance, Uri Horowitz, one of the early NRA inspectors, had been convicted of hunting violations.[98] Yoffe also brought on board Arab and Druze inspectors who were known to be skilled hunters. The rangers departed from conventional international stereotypes. Hunting enthusiasts are typically found in forestry rather than nature preservation agencies.

Although the new agency probably benefited from the different skill sets and capabilities each group brought with it, there was tension between the two camps. It was not only their attitudes toward nature that differed, but their deportment. The coarseness of the military types, who freely burped and cursed, made the more refined and younger SPNI inspectors somewhat uncomfortable.[99] Yoav Sagi was one of the few Shachal rangers who chose not to leave the SPNI, maintaining a formal “dual affiliation” as chief ranger and field-school director in the Meron region until the end of the 1960s. He believes the essential difference in the organizations was the approach to decision making. Raised in a kibbutzlike organizational culture, SPNI rangers worked around the clock but expected their views to be influential in decision making. Yoffe, on the other hand, was used

to giving orders. Eventually, however, he came to rely on the naturalist contingent, which were more committed to the new agency and which ul-timately replaced him at the Authority's helm.

It did not take long for a synthesis of the two styles to emerge. The macho “sheriff” function was manifested in the tough oversight of the two thousand hunting licenses the NRA granted during the 1970s (and of the many others who hunted anyway).[100] It also was reflected in the alacrity with which rangers themselves picked up rifles. In 1966 the NRA forged a formal agreement with the Veterinary Service. Rangers agreed to shoot any stray dogs they encountered, and the veterinarians agreed to suspend all poisoning activities.[101] During the 1960s and 1970s, seven thousand to ten thousand dogs were shot each year. Even today the problem remains acute in the West Bank, where several hundred dogs are shot each month.[102] In addition, stray cats in natural settings were gunned down in order to pre-serve the genetic purity of the indigenous wildcats. Recently, at the request of animal rights groups, the NRA instructed its field personnel to try to call stray dogs before shooting them, but the 1966 agreement remains in force.[103] Sometimes a rabies outbreak, such as a 1997 scare in the Arava, requires broader intervention; in this case NRA rangers shot dozens of potentially rabid foxes inside the perimeters of area kibbutzim.[104]

None of the rangers had advanced zoological or botanical training. Yoffe was aware of this and, in 1966, brought D'vora Ben Shaul (see Figure 14) onto the NRA staff. Ben Shaul did not fit into any particular mold. Raised on a farm in east Texas, she believes that her passion for animals was forced on her by a pet dog who would chase down a variety of rabbits, par-tridges, and squirrels and then tote them home to her. Having acquried doctoral degrees in biology and theology, she spent much of her time in the 1960s working as an unpaid curator at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. When she came to complain to Yoffe about the pervasiveness of poison-ings and their impact, he ended up hiring her as a wildlife supervisor.[105]

She was not welcomed into the Authority's pervasive macho culture. (Years later, the inspectors told her that they actually staged a protest when they heard they might have a female boss. Yoffe threw them out, telling them he had “enough balls” already and wanted some brains.) It was not just her hands-on experience with animals that eventually gained the confidence of her coworkers: Ben Shaul was from Texas and could drink many of the inspectors under the table.

In 1970 the NRA founded a Poison Department to deal more systemat-ically with the issue of pesticide abuse. Ben Shaul was pressed into service to begin the long task of reining in the agrochemical industry and its allies at the Ministry of Agriculture's Plant Protection Department.[106]

Coalitions were formed with the Ministry of Health, but their influence was not extraordinary. In 1973, for example, there were two thousand doc-umented cases of protected animals being poisoned from agricultural sources;[107] birds were especially affected. By 1972 Professor Mendelssohn had enough evidence to indict the exaggerated (and illegal) application of the rodenticide thallium sulfate as the primary reason for the dwindling raptor population.[108] The sins of the past could last as long as the chlorine-carbon bonds in a persistent pesticide.

The next scientist that Yoffe recruited was also a woman and no less a maverick. Aviva Rabinovich also grew up on a farm, but in Israel near Rehovoth. As a child, her constant forays into the fields to bring back plants and animals baffled her immigrant parents. At age seventeen she ran away to join the Palmach. During her five years of service in the noted Har El division, she was involved in many of the most decisive battles of Israel's War of Independence. She thinks that in later years veterans of the unit, among them Arik Sharon, Rafael Eitan, and Yizhak Rabin, listened to her ecological ravings only because they remember her as the only woman wounded during the War while charging an enemy position.[109]

After the war, Rabinovich settled on Kibbutz Kabri, where she still lives. She raised a family and taught high-school biology, chemistry, and physics. By age forty, her command of botany and ecology was so impres-sive that traditionally inflexible Hebrew University allowed her to skip formal B.A. requirements and complete her graduate studies in a few years. In 1969, at the recommendation of a staffer, Avraham Yoffe asked to meet her. Rabinovich chewed Yoffe out for starting their interview late, and he immediately hired her.[110] It was a good match. Rabinovich re-mained affiliated with the NRA for twenty-seven years.

Regardless of their differences, the motley crew assembled during the 1960s universally adored Yoffe, perhaps because he never tried to hide his flaws. He was a demanding boss with a temper and had a hard time stay-ing on budget, but he readily delegated authority and backed up his work-ers. He was also unapologetically autocratic. The eleven-person Authority, to which he formally was subservient, quickly became a rubber stamp. By 1970, there was rarely a quorum at meetings.[111]

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