I just experienced one of the most Israeli moments you can possibly have.
That Israeli moment when your man helps his son decide which IDF unit to request. Enlistment is mandatory but the IDF gives pre-inductees the opportunity to rank their preferences. Final decisions are made according to need and, of course, the capabilities of each individual soldier.
I watched two versions of the same man, so similar and yet so different, one grown up, one almost grown up, sit shoulder to shoulder, to choose the destiny of the younger.
To watch a father watch his son read about each army unit and what they do.
“This commando unit is better than that one, isn’t it dad?”
“Yes. They go first in to fire.”
To watch a father imagine his son die a thousand ways. In Gaza, in Lebanon, in Judea and Samaria. Arresting terrorists. In urban combat. Sneaking behind enemy lines on a special mission. By a sniper shot, in an explosion, in a battle.
The nightmare floating in front of his eyes. The sound of the dreaded knock on the door ringing in his ears…
“If you don’t pass the tests for the elite you unit want, you should go to the anti-aircraft defense unit.”
“Dad, there is no way I’m going to sit in a base and push a button to knock planes out of the sky when I could be in the field, directing combat.”
That expression on his face, simultaneously glowing with pride and drowning in the horrible possibility of losing that which is most precious… I watched him sit silently, listening.
“Dad, dismantling bombs is kinda cool, don’t you think?”
That moment when a father watches his son make his choices, explain his priorities and preferences. When a son asks his father, “Is it ok dad? Did I choose well?”
That moment when a father waits until his teenage son walks out of the room to let the tears well up in his eyes.
Quietly I said, “You should tell him that you are proud of him.”
“I want my son to come home, not a [dead] hero.”
“I know dear. I know.”
My God. What a moment.