The Independent: Education

8th July 1999



‘Uri Geller, 52, paranormalist and author, is famed for his spoonbending skills. His novel ‘Dead Cold’ has just been published and ‘Ella’ is out in paperback. ‘Uri Geller – Magician or Mystic?’ by Jonathan Margolis is out in July

Primary colours: I showed my abilities at a very early age. At around six I started at Ahjaad Haam (United People) school in Tel Aviv. I was bullied. I was beaten up one day in the changing-room by someone who thought I was a freak because I demonstrated my prowess of bending metal: the keys that children carried and the bracelets that the girls wore, which I could demolish – almost melt them. But I also became a minor hero: I was a great storyteller. The teachers would put me up in front of the class, and I would make up stories about astronauts, rockets and extraterrestrials. I was there until I was 10.

Secondary characteristics:

When my parents divorced, I was put into a kibbutz called Hazor in the south of Israel, and I was thrown into the kibbutz school, which I hated. I was an outsider. I was lonely; every night I used to look at the moon, knowing my mother and my dog could see the same moon, I continued my stories, but I hid my powers.

Boarder country: Then my mother remarried and took me out of the kibbutz and suddenly I found myself in a foreign country, Cyprus. My stepfather owned a little hotel, Pensione Ritz, and music shop in Nicosia. The Greek Cypriot [Eoka] partisans [seeking union with Greece] were at war with Britain. I’ve seen British soldiers shot in the back; Greek throats slashed by Turks. That island changed my life. I went to school as a boarder in Larnaca. The American Academy, adjoined a hospital, and I remember that at 12 we would gather at the end of the yard and see the blood oozing out of the morgue’s drains. Now they all liked me, but homesickness overpowered my joy.

Further education: I went back to Nicosia. Our hotel gradually became a safe house for Mossad [Israeli secret service] agents. At 13 I became a little courier for letters sent there from Arabic countries and I would bicycle with them to the Israeli embassy.

My stepfather wanted me to go to the best school in Cyprus, Terra Santa College, a Catholic school. As we were Jewish… churches and crosses were taboo. I’ll never forget the first thing I saw at the college was this huge – 50 metres long – cross cut out of the flowerbeds. I thought I was being taken to some medieval place of torture!

I panicked but the monks made me very comfortable. Jonathan Margolis [in his book on Geller] tracked down people at the school who remembered me bending spoons and moving the hands of a clock on the wall. The teachers were amazed, fascinated. There was for me a major shift, a gateway to knowledge.

One day the head called me into his room, locked the door and began unbuttoning his shirt. He pulled out a chain with a cross and other Catholic symbols – and a little star of David was tucked away behind them. “Why are you wearing a Jewish symbol?” I asked. He said: “Because I believe in one God.” All the fear melted away in me.

University challenged: The [Eoka] war [in Cyprus] was so intense that when I was 17 we had to close down the shop and hotel and go back to Israel.

I didn’t go to university. My childhood in the kibbutz, the American Academy and the Terra Santa college taught me more than a thousand universities.



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