Bent on Uri Geller – The Jerusalem Post Magazine – December 3, 1999
Bent on Uri Geller
By Ruth Beloff
‘Don’t eat. Keep your cutlery away from me,” quipped Uri Geller as he stepped into the limelight at the Jerusalem Hilton to entertain and amaze the 400 guests at the gala dinner of the Jerusalem Fund for Alyn.
He had flown in from London especially for this annual fund-raising event, donating his time to the Alyn Hospital Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center.
Renowned the world over for his psychic and telekinetic abilities, the Israeli-born Geller has been most identified over the years with his ability to bend spoons with the power of his mind. The 53-year-old Geller has, however, a more compelling history than just curling cutlery.
What’s more, his future is taking a turn for the greater good with his latest book, Mind Medicine, in which he explains how any one of us can awaken the dormant powers within us to heal ourselves. It is being received with great enthusiasm, putting him back in the spotlight.
It is fitting that Geller should have done a benefit for Alyn, as he seems to have a special affinity for children.
“A child is open,” he says. “Children allow the powers to be awakened.”
Geller is the vice president of two children’s hospitals in England, where he resides with his wife. All the royalties from his book will go to various children’s hospitals.
Geller was a child himself when he first discovered his unusual powers.
“I grew up in a one-room apartment in Tel Aviv. We were very poor,” he told the Alyn dinner guests as he strode comfortably back and forth across the center of the room. “When I was five years old I was eating mushroom soup,” he recounted. “As I lifted the spoon to my mouth, it bent in half and broke.”
At first he didn’t tell anyone about it except his parents. Then at school he started to demonstrate his skill.
“But,” he said, “there were bullies at school and I had to be careful whom to show my powers to.”
When he and his family moved to Kibbutz Hatzor, he exhibited another power, crying out suddenly one day: “A plane is going to crash!”
Five minutes later, he said, an Israel Air Force jet plummeted to the ground. “But,” he reassured the audience, “the pilot was all right.”
HIS parents divorced, his mother remarried, and they moved to Cyprus when he was 11. There, they ran a small pension called the Ritz. A war was going on, he explained, with the British, the Turks, and the Greeks.
“When the Israeli Embassy found out that we were from Israel, they started using our pension as a safe house for Mossad agents.”
One day the young Geller approached a guest who claimed to be Turkish and said, “You’re not a Turk, you’re a spy!”
“How do you know that?” the man asked.
“I can read your mind,” Geller replied.
To test his powers, the man drew something on a piece of paper and Geller, without seeing it, duplicated it exactly.
At 18, Geller came back to Israel and did his army duty as a paratrooper. After completing his military service, he did not know what to do with himself.
“I had a girlfriend who was a model,” he said. One day the male model at her shoot didn’t show up, so they asked Geller to model.
“It was an ad for towels; a full page in Yediot Aharonot of me lying on a towel,” he said, laughing.
He modeled for a year, promoting everything from watches to underwear. To maintain his slim physique, Geller became bulimic. But once he realised that he was damaging his health, he put an end to the bulimia through sheer force of will.
One day Geller told a photographer to take out his key and he bent the key with the power of his mind. Soon he was invited to party after party, where he would bend spoons and keys and rings, as well as exhibit his mind-reading skills.
But the party that catapulted him to stardom was one attended by then prime minister Golda Meir in 1969.
“I went up to her and said I wanted to read her mind,” he recounted. He told her to make a drawing. She held it up in front of her, and he drew exactly the same figure she had drawn. Perhaps you wouldn’t have had to be a mind reader to know that it was a Star of David, Geller conceded, but what impressed him about his own ability was that the Star of David he had drawn was exactly the same size as Golda’s.
The following day, in an interview on national radio, Meir was asked, “What do you predict for the future of Israel?”
She replied, “Don’t ask me. Ask Uri Geller.”
THAT statement secured Geller’s destiny. In a matter of 10 days, he had performed for over 10,000 people. Magazines were touting his talents, and people were hauling in their broken watches and appliances. Looking at each abject object, Geller would say “Work!” – and it did. He became an international success, living in the lap of luxury.
“It was not magic, it was real,” Geller stressed to the Alyn dinner guests.
But after a while even the most amazing talent begins to wear a little thin, and by 1972 Geller found himself playing to audiences of three rows instead of packed houses. They wanted him to do something new and he couldn’t. Those were his skills – he wasn’t making up parlor tricks. So he ended up performing in dumps and dives.
“No one was paying attention anymore,” he said.
Then governments started to take notice. When the Russians began to study paranormal activity, the CIA also wanted to test someone with those capabilities, so they called in Geller. They tested him, reported their findings in the well-respected Nature magazine, and began to use his powers for such tasks as telekinesis and mind control. But when they asked him to stop the heart of a live animal, he drew the line.
Geller now earns a handsome living by telepathically locating oil and mineral deposits for petroleum companies. “I would be glad to help the Israeli government find oil. They just have to ask me,” he said.
“I want to believe that my powers are a gift,” Geller told the Alyn donors. “I am a religious man. I pray to God every day. Bending keys or spoons is trivial, but I learned that we can use our Mindpower for healing. Human potential is enormous.”
Trivial or not, it is still very impressive to see Geller at work.
Casting a wide psychic net, not only did he bend the car key of the man who haplessly volunteered his set, but many people in the room watched their house and car keys yield visibly to the mastermind as well.
“How am I going to get into my car?” the man wailed.
“Don’t worry,” Geller reassured him. “I have a hammer outside. You cannot physically bend a key,” explained Geller. “And you can’t bend the key back again. You can only hammer it back into shape.”
He also bent a spoon by gently stroking it. “I change the molecular structure of the spoon,” he explained.
As he strokes it, the spoon becomes soft like plastic. But there is no heat – it is not melting; in fact, it remains cold to the touch.
“When I do this in a lab, the spoon is in a bell jar. I don’t even touch it,” he said.
“A spoon that I bend has my energy,” said Geller, “and that has good luck.”
This particular spoon, which Geller autographed while it was still soft, carried a lot of luck for Alyn hospital, as it was auctioned off to the highest bidder for $5,000. The fortunate bidder was also invited to have tea at the Gellers’ palatial home in London the next time she’s in England.
The following day, the children at Alyn were in luck as well, as Geller performed there for over 100 disabled children. Using some of them as assistants, Geller delighted his young audience by bending spoons, naming the colors of cards he could not see, and turning the hands of watches. The children simply adored him.
Patient, personable, and consummately pleasant, Geller stayed and talked with them long after the show was over.
For a man whose personal and professional life have both prospered and suffered the proverbial slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Geller’s philosophy is very straightforward: “Be positive. Always be optimistic. Believe in yourself. Smile a lot, and good things will have to come your way.”
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