US Embassy, Tel Aviv
Geoff is coming to Washing DC
for a couple months between his old posting to Tel Aviv and his
anticipated move to Moscow for a few years. The Moscow Embassy
has an, er, interesting place in Cold War Foreign Service history.
US Embassy Moscow -- this is probably the New Embassy Complex completed in 1986.
In 1992, the first Bush administration closed a deal with President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia to resolve the fate of the "New Office Building" part of the American Embassy in Moscow that was never occupied because it was bugged
by the Soviets. Work on the embassy (begun 1979) was stopped in 1985, after it was
determined that the building was so riddled with listening devices
implanted by Soviet workers that the structure was in effect a
multistory microphone. The "New Office Building" was then rebuilt entirely
by American contractors from mostly imported American materials and
occupied in Y2K. I [jin] don't know if it's in the "Complex"
above or in a separate part of Moscow.
These campus-like facilities replaced the original US Embassy which was
close to other buildings in a typical urban city street setting.
This made it easy to beam microwaves at the Embassy from all
sides at intensity levels sufficient to power the listening
devices inside, which had no batteries. Despite aluminum awnings
installed on all windows, the Embassy continued to cook, and concerns
about personnel damage were added to concerns about security.
When Embassy secretaries found out that results showing genetic
damage to American personnel had been concealed from employees, they
initiated a lawsuit against the government that became infamous in
Foreign Service circles.
incident has garnered fresh attention because cellphones use similar
frequencies today. Some of that attention is
horribly shrill, but here's something from the Web today that
pretty well matches what I remember from press coverage at the time:
"In 1962 the
US Defense Department learned that since 1953 Soviet authorities were
beaming microwaves from across the street directly into the US embassy
in Moscow. ... at a Superpower summit in June 1967, the
irradiation of the Moscow embassy was the subject of a confidential
exchange between the US president Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Prime
Minister Alexi Kosygin. Johnson asked that the Soviet Union stop
irradiating its Moscow embassy with microwaves and harming the health
of American citizens.21
In 1966 a covert study, called Project Pandora was commenced to study
the possible effects on health from the microwave irradiation of the
Moscow embassy staff, who were not told the true reason for the
....An initial study was done on the Moscow personnel in 1967 and
examined a group of 43 workers, (37 exposed and 7 not exposed) tested
for abnormalities in chromosomes on stimulated division. 20 out of the
37 were above the normal range among the exposed, compared to 2/7 among
An unpublished 1975 hematologic study on the embassy employees and
dependents by J & S Tonascia26 compared blood counts among exposed
persons at the embassy to comparable examinations conducted on
personnel stationed in Washington DC. In just about every parameter
there were highly significant differences in blood counts between the
two groups.27 28
The Moscow embassy employees and dependents were studied for possible
health effects of microwave irradiation by a team from John Hopkins
University under the direction of epidemiologist Professor Abraham
Lilienfeld. ... The incidence of multiple-site cancers was far more
frequent in the Moscow embassy group than in any other population
studied. It was noted that while multiple-site cancers are
characteristic of older populations, the Moscow embassy group was
relatively young. ....
Prof. Goldsmith concludes about the Moscow study that evidence was
suggestive for four health effects, (a) chromosomal changes, (b)
hematological changes, (c) reproductive effects, and (d) increased
cancer incidence from the microwave irradiation in Moscow.32"
From Moscow Geoff hopes to run programs at and (and visit !) the US's 29 "American Corners" all over Russia.
Most have enough books and magazines, but if you want to perform or speak, get in touch.
Yekaterinburg American Corner building; some are historic and beautiful; others, Soviet and drab.
Tel Aviv work has involved boring paperwork and the care and feeding of visitors.
Geoff reports, "During my first year in Tel Aviv, I conducted
interviews and was exposed to an incredible cross-section of
Israeli society in the visa window. I had a lot of fun. When I
had applicants who had been born in Casablanca, I encouraged them
to see the movie." He was also a guest on a live Russian
radio show called "Mir Muzhchin" which means "The World of Men," but
it's not video so I can't find anything incriminating on You Tube.
The most annoying part
of this newsletter are the trips to the Ukraine last spring (south
Ukraine with his Dad) and again in summer. OK, so half my family
comes from Odessa, but what does it look like? No clue. And
no photos from Geoff, so time to search the Web for images. Then
on to the other town.
Sobornaya Passage, Odessa
Pushkinskaya St., Odessa
The town was founded in 1789
by the Governor General of Novorossiya Knyaz Potemkin initially as a
shipyard called simply a New Shipyard on the Ingul river. The
history of the city has always been closely connected to the ship
Another place visited in Spring
was Krive Ozero in Ukrainian, Crooked Lake in English. Geoff's paternal
grandparents come from Krivozer, but it's too small for any Web photos
I can find.
visit to the grave of Rabbi Nachman, the founder of the Breslov Chasidic sect
Uman- Rabbi Nachman gravesite seems to be just plain concrete in the ground.
Geoff reports, "At the synagogue near Rav Nachman's grave, there
is a plaque written in Russian, Hebrew, English, and Yiddish,
with a 200 year old promise from Nachman. It states that Nachman
will help any man who says the "Tikkun Haklali" prayer and gives
charity at the grave site, even if he has not lead a virtuous
life, by reaching down from the heavens and pulling him up by his
earlocks. There were several Ukrainian women clustered
near the grave hawking souvenirs, and to my amazement, they had
somehow managed to teach themselves broken Hebrew to improve
their pitches to Israeli tourists."
The summertime return to the
Ukraine came in July on the occasion of his friends' wedding in Krakow,
Poland. "The wedding took place in St. Mary's
Basilica, the huge and beautiful Gothic church that graces
Krakow's main square. Every hour, a trumpet blares from the
tallest tower, commemorating a famous 13th century trumpeter who
was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before a Mongol
We miss the wedding, but surely can dig up some photos of the place.
Krakow's St. Mary's Church. The trumpet tower is on the left.
Looking up at nave, inside Krakow's St. Mary's Church.
The party that followed the wedding "was an amazing cross cultural
encounter with endless Polish food, Polish singing, and of course
(my favorite), polka dancing. "
Formacja Taneczna AKTT „encek” -- Krakow Dance Show
Bumming through the Ukraine came before the wedding, starting in Kiev.
Geoff spent a week taking trains, buses, and long
distance taxis to more cities I mostly never heard of, like
Uzhgorod is famous for its wines; right, bridge over the river Uhz in the center of town.
Mukachevo is located in the
valley of the Latorica river in western Ukraine, where ownership has
passed between Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Russia. Left: Mukachevo has a castle constructed between 800 and 1500s on top of the Lamkova hill. Synagogue on right.
Chernivtsy. Settled since Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Will show you university & other fine bldgs next time!
The Lviv Opera House is patterned after the Vienna Opera, as is the opera house of
Frankfurt, Germany, now restored from a bombed out shell to look eerily like this bldg so far away.
Getting himself to the church on time, Geoff's trip ended with Pshemesh, and finally Krakow.
Ever the linguist, Our Man on the Bus reports, "The language dynamic in Uzhgorod and Mukachevo was fascinating,
with most of the ethnically Ruthenian locals speaking Ukrainian,
spiced with Hungarian and Russian. "
"On the social front in Tel Aviv, I have been making a lot of new
friends. I am studying Hebrew by listening to Israeli pop music
hits on my iPod, and sometimes sing along. I also spend a lot of
time hanging out with my (Persian) cat."