some military tid bits

through my experiences in the army, i’m learning about the concept of sympathy, of mercy, of pity and all other feeling associated with that which i feel sorry for, and how to aim those sentiments: when to utilize them, when to express them, when to withhold them, when to completely ignore them as the irrelevant entities they often are. anyway, here’s a few recent experiences that i’ll share with you…

  1. every friday, a small group of very right winged jewish settlers attempt to gather in an area prohibited to them by israeli law, a site that is nothing more than a collection of deteriorating, half demolished buildings festively decorated with “all the land belongs to us, the holy jews” type graffiti (this in contrast to the “die you heathen zionist swine” type graffiti found in the rest of the area…).  this pile of rubble is a symbol of the nation’s secular government’s refusal to allow the building of a settlement there, which even from a strictly non-political standpoint is completely unreasonable because it is entirely surrounded by hostile villages.  once in a while, the military gives them clearance to legally assemble, but this is the exception, and so almost every friday, we routinely block the entrance to vehicles with a checkpoint which looks identical to those which we use to check the passing palestinian cars.  about fifteen people arrived that day, to whom we politely refused entrance-though if they parked their cars outside, we could not stop from traveling on foot as we do not have the authority of police.  they yelled at us, taking pictures of our scandalous behavior.  one charming lady screamed in my face that i was antisemitic because i let palestinians drive to their own villages but would not allow her to pass.  “well i want to go to that village too!” she insisted.  really?  what exactly would she do there?  she didn’t quite seem to me to be the type that had long-time palestinian buddies, on her way to drink some sweet sage tea and chat with her muslim girlfriends.  anti-semitic?  most of what we do is to to protect israelis like her!  the gaul.  i sort of kind of wanted to punch that lady in the eye, but instead i just smiled and told her that her state has laws and perhaps she missed the bright red sign which marked this as an area prohibited to israelis.
  2. the other day we captured someone, bound and blindfolded him and left him kneeling on the floor of the vehicle in which we drove back to our outpost.  the entire ride i stared at his face, felt his knees squirming at my feet, slightly in pain after continual sitting in the unnatural position.  the first reaction that hit my heart was sympathy, perhaps connected in some way to my femininity, instinctively putting him in the category of every other suffering creature, wanting to somehow ease his discomfort.  secondly, and thanks to god immediately, my reason reminded me that the person before me, though judging by his appearances could be as innocent as any of the east jerusalem students with whom i went to hebrew school or a too-much-hair-gel israeli arab member of the kitchen staff of my past cafe jobs, was actually a member of a terrorist organization on his way to carrying out an attack on civilians.  unusually, we performed the arrest in broad daylight because of the time-sensitive aspect to this mission.  this gave me the opportunity to, while hearing the gargled crying of the man’s mother in the background, admire the undeniably adorable rabbits hopping about the yard, that is, when i could steal glances from the viewfinder of my  rifle which i aimed at the windows and roofs of the surrounding houses.   as we rode back i gave my inappropriate emotions the only possible outlet i could in form of prayer for the total transformation of the heart of that unsuccessful murderer.
  3. earlier in the week, while i was on an 8-hour hummer patrol, i noticed a passing shepherd using what i would call far too much force to gather his herd.  i rhetorically asked aloud why he was violently beating his sheep.  “because he’s an arab,” the commander of the patrol said-we’ll call him G.  the bigoted half-joking comment took me slightly aback – i didn’t expect it from someone as worldly as this specific person, who is well mannered, came to the unit as one of the 3/4 of the flight school students who fall along the way, lived three years in hong kong, and tried to teach me to salsa dance.  as i contemplated this newly revealed side to this otherwise sophisticated person, we checked cars at a check point.  a large palestinian taxi approached us, each person aboard smiling almost gleefully.  “what,” the other soldier with us said, “did someone tell them that if they look happy we won’t check them?”  i might have also suspected such, if it weren’t for the same gaping grin slapped across G’s  face.  the high-fives that ensued further confused me, as did one of the passenger’s comment of “he is a good capee-tahn.”  after waving goodbye, G said “oh, i know them.  those are some arrite guys.”  he explained to me that earlier, the same group of men were caught in the valleys between two jewish settlements, an area prohibited to them, which started an, in his opinion, exaggerated event including most of the higher officers arriving at the site and holding the “suspicious” persons for what may have been hours as they investigated the situation.  although there had been incidences of members of terrorist organizations spying out the area, this group, which included older men, was quite obviously there to pluck out a kind of root which they then sold for pennies in the villages, as we know them to do on their side.  a 50+ year old man sat in the sun crying, explaining that he only wanted to try to make some money to support his kids.  true, he should gather the plants where is legal for him, but did he deserve anything more than a warning?  G sat with him and listened through his broken hebrew, giving him water and even his own food.  he told me this story not out of pride, but rather showing his disapproval of the treatment of the situation.  similarly, my disapproval of his earlier comment was balanced out.  by the very uncommon behavior of the men in the taxi, it was obvious that his compassion was appreciated.
  4. similarly, another commander surprised me when he waved and smiled to another shepherd during a look out over a major road.  “we’re friends since i arrested him,” he said.  ok well that makes sense?  one day, in the same area, the commander saw were fires near the pillbox (see last entry)-molotov cocktails?  explosions?, and made an arrest…but the man was only burning thorny bushes inedible to his sheep.  i think this is the same bedouin shepherd that once told me “i am not arabs.”

good job if u read all of that.  it was long.

5 Responses to “some military tid bits”

  1. David Says:

    Wow. Amazing. We have to catch up soon.

  2. Shaya Says:

    Great post.

  3. Peggy Says:

    Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. As you think and ponder, wonder and observe – God will open your eyes and give you insights you never dreamed of. I personalize Psalm 91 praying over you (and Simcha whom I don’t even know if she’s still serving or not – is she?). Because you acknowledge His name He will protect you. Because you love Him He will rescue you. Because you call upon Him He will answer you, honor you, and deliver you. With long life will He satisfy you and show you His salvation.

  4. David Katz Says:

    You continue to amaze me . . . I am grateful that you have not lost yourself; that you remain one of the more creative, thoughtful and multi-dimensional women we know.

  5. Donna Says:

    When are you going to publish off the Web? I love your writing!

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