Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letter from Netanya: A Difficult Week

Dear Friends,

It has been a difficult week. The bestial murders in Itamar, followed by continuing missile launched against Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod , Sderot and other smaller communities.

So once again we turn toward our IDF and our Border Police to try and keep us safe. Which brings me to tell you a little about Two Guys and the IDF.

Guy One is now in basic training. He will soon be going into one of two of the most difficult and prestigious units in the IDF. He will essentially train as a commando.

Guy doesn't look at all like a commando. He's not real tall and he's not real broad, although he's been working out and it certainly shows it. He comes from a very upscale family and Tel Aviv suburb, but there is nothing spoiled about him. He's been a member of the Israeli Scouts for many years. He is very affectionate and will give you a hug even if he hardly knows you. He has a great sense of humor and loves to surprise friends and family.

I know him as a friend of my granddaughter.

Guy Two also comes from a very upscale family and from Herzliyah Pituach which is the Tel Aviv suburb that is home to all of the Ambassadors homes as well as wealthy businessmen and professionals. Guy Two is a singer and performer. I saw him in a Herzliyah teen drama club production of "Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat". He played the lead. He is gorgeous looking, has a nice voice and a great stage presence. After the show was over I was standing with his parents and a friend who had brought me, and Guy came out and hugged everyone in sight, including me whom he had never seen before. He was ecstatic. I asked his father if Guy Two would be trying out for the Army entertainment branch. Absolutely not answered his father. Guy insists on going into a fighting unit of the IDF, as tough as he can apply for.

Why do I want to tell you about the two Guys.? Because they are typical of Israeli youth, who are idealistic and committed to their country. Because they could easily get softer jobs in intelligence or communication. But in spite of their very upscale background, they don't want anything soft or easy.

We often hear about upscale Tel Aviv youth who try to get out of the Army or to get soft assignments. But my experience is exactly the opposite. And I recently read in the newspaper that the percentage of young people requesting combat duty now tops 60%. That confirms what I see in my much smaller sample.

These kids know they have some tough years ahead of them and probably they will not see "peace" anytime in the near future. These days, "peace" only means the absence of attacks, nothing more. But nevertheless they are ready to take on this huge burden of three to four years of their young lives, with an outcome no one can predict for them.

That's why I've become more like Israelis when it comes to war. I worry about all these wonderful "guys" all the time. But never, ever, do I doubt that Israel will survive because of them.

Shalom, Jan

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