January 16, 2018, Business lounge, TLV airport, Israel
Israeli survival training, it begins in our youth. It begins informally, as the lessons are all around us, it continues in school, it becomes a way of life. Our very lives here in Israel are Israeli Survival Training.
I was a small child and I recall there was always a problem with the bathrooms, leaks, water problems. The plumber tried and tried, and dug and dug. Finally one day he found something interesting; a cache of weapons, ammunition, hand grenades. He concluded that it was hidden here during the war of independence in 1948. Somehow no one was able to come back and retrieve the valued cache.
Who were these people? What was their fate? We never found out.
Our school bus driver was a disabled military veteran, a paratrooper who fought and was injured in the Six Day War. He told us stories of bravery, and showed us trophies of war. But he also showed us his friends; warriors without arms, legs, eyes. But one thing none of them lacked was spirit.
They swam, played basketball in wheel chairs, held jobs. Israeli survivor training.
And I recall listening to the radio and hearing that the Syrians were in the Golan Heights with their tanks, storming towards Israeli towns just as the Nazis stormed across Europe. And I saw the fear in the eyes of Holocaust survivors: Not Again!
And I recall learning to be careful, not to ever pick up suspicious objects, to read signs carefully and know what areas to avoid.
And I recall the wonderful day our gardener Sadok was released from military duty just before Passover. As he explained to my dear mother, the army recognizes that the gardens of Israel must be beautiful before the spring holiday, and so they realized how important I am. So I am to make your garden beautiful for the Spring holiday.
Ah , Israel, who is like you!
Israel survival training includes keeping the garden beautiful and keeping up the spirit. We learn to survive.
And I recall my neighbors, the Hirschfields, and Bluma with her concentration camp tattoo. And when money was needed there was Uncle Abe in America. Later on I learned that he was a good friend of future president Donald Trump. When money was needed Uncle Abe was there.
Israeli survival training begins with the mind, and the body follows. Seventh grade, everyone eagerly going to the bulletin board to see which teachers wrote postcards to the students. And the day when we were informed that from one of the teachers no more postcards would be coming. And students canceling their bar mitzvah celebrations in solidarity with the fallen.
This is our Israel Survival Training, it begins early in life, we do not learn it in a commercial Krav Maga school in a foreign country, we live it here in Israel.
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