July 30, 2023, Israel
IKI members training in counter terrorism during Tour and Train Israel Experience
I spent the Sabbath with family in a village in a heavily populated Arab area. Security is tight, there is an army base ajacent to the village and soldiers are a common sight. The community is very idealistic and most serve in elite combat units in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). In the synagogue nearly every prayer book, bible, chair or light fixture has a dedication; dedicated to the memory of the soldier...so so son of so and so who fell in combat defending the nation of Israel. Soldiers on break from guard duty come to the synagogue in uniform and participate in the services. Soldiers are appreciated and honored.
As I entered the village on Friday, I was struck by homemade signs that greeted a son who came home recently. The simple signs, pain on canvas, read, "Welcome home Hero of Israel".
I was told that a local boy had participated in one of the counter terror operations in Jenin, (Arab village known for its' violence and a base for terrorists) and was badly hurt. Apparently he had just come home after a long hospital stay.
This brought back memories of another local hero, a young man, married with children, who participated in the war with terrorists in Gaza. He too came home but was never the same. With severe brain damage he will never be able to live a normal life. For years there was signs, "build Yehuda a home", so that he could have what a handicapped person needs. His parents have been taking care of them, but they are getting older, and he needs permanent care. A brave soldier has been reduced to a brain damaged relic of his former self. How tragic.
But this young man who came home this week, is different, Thank God he is expected to make a full recovery.
This community is beautiful, one might say a Jewish utopia, other than the fact that they are surrounded by hostile Arab villages, unfortunately. This community is a true "ingathering of the exiles" as the prophets fortold more than a millennia ago. There are Jews from the East and the West, those of Eastern European heritage, Askenazi Jews, and Jews of Spanish or Iberian, or North African heritage, the Sefardim. There are also Jews from Yemen and Ethiopia and a large community of "lost Jews", the "Beni Menashe", The Sons of Menashe, Jews who were disconnected from the main body of the Jewish people for thousands of years. These Jews hail from the border of India and Burma, but today Israel is their home, and they are truly home. To see how all these ancient Jewish communities blend in together is to watch a miracle firsthand.
And then, while I was enjoying the services, I noticed a young man being wheeled in by an older man. His wheelchair was more like a bed and his legs were stretched out. He was greeted enthusiastically. I asked if this was in fact the young man who was injured in combat, and indeed he was. I was told that he performed heroic action while combatting terrorists and trying to destroy the in restructure of terror and seize their weapons.
I was sitting next to my brother, he leaned over and said, "Do you know the series Fauda?", I have heard of this, but I have never watched it, too close to home for me to see this as "entertainment", but I know of it. "The show is fictional" he said, "but this guy is the real deal, he is in that type of unit."
Now I looked at the young man, what struck me was his...innocence and sweetness. We tend to judge a book by its cover. but we should never do that.
When I was fighting full contact, I would always look for a challenge. If someone came in looking tough, mean, tall, muscular, I wanted him; that was the guy I was going to fight. But this guy in the synagogue, looking at his sweet gentle features and ordinary physique, I would certainly not even notice him in the dojo. He would not be someone I would want to train with. If I were to be assigned to train with him, I would think, oh well, I guess I will be teaching a beginning, darn, no real fight this lesson. and yet, my brother said...."Fauda?, this is the real Fauda".
I bring this up to once again to point out the difference between reality and fiction, real toughness and Hollywood image. These days it seems every Krav Maga instructor wants to look and act as Bad Ass as possible, give the people what they want. The sad part is that techniques are chosen because they appeal to this "Faude wannabe" rather than real self-defense. Integrity is compromised on the altar of egotism and commercialism. All that matters is that you look the part.
This young man in the synagogue, a religious man wheeled in by his grey-haired father, would never be chosen to act his own part in a film. If they made a movie about him, they would certainly choose a tougher looking guy, a guy more "believable" for the part. But this guy, like many others I have met, is the real deal, the real hero of the Fauda type of unit. This should serve as a wakeup call, or a reminder, to all of us; look for a real teacher, a true instructor, not a Hollywood actor wannabe.
Do you want to be an actor or a true Krav Maga practitioner who can defend him/herself?
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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