You are it

May 13, 2024, Vienna Airport


Here stood the headquarters of the notorious Gestapo in Vienna. The building itself was destroyed by Allied bombing, today it is a peaceful park. 

As a child we played all sorts of games, often improvised. I was a shy child, one who did not like to stand out. I was never chosen as team captain or anything along those lines. I recall a game of tag, and at a certain point when one is tagged, everyone says, "You are IT". This means now it is your turn to do whatever the game required.

I thought about the phrase today. You are IT. There are times in life when you are it, it is your turn.

At the airport I wait impatiently for the El Al staff to show up (quite late). I am stressed out, why is this taking so long? First the Austrian police show up, they check things out. We are Jews, our flight is heading towards Israel, so naturally we are potential targets. The police come, armed to the teeth, do they do this for other groups, for other flights? do other people live with this feeling that you are always a target?

The Eurovision just took place, I don't care, and I don't follow it. I understand the Israeli singer was booed by both fans and other participants. So what is new? Such is life for us. I recall the group that represented us in the Eurovision in 1974 when I was a child, Poogy, or "Kaveret" (Beehive) led by our friend and neighbor Danny Sanderson. I recall one of their songs, "A Small State", and the lyrics, "We, and ourselves, and all that we contain, are always subject to being erased."

That is how we live, with this feeling that life can end at any moment, but not just our lives but our nation, we, ourselves and all that we contain, are always on the target of some madman. Today we fight a war no three fronts, and the Iranian threat looms heavy.

In Vienna we visit the location where the Gestapo headquarters stood. The main synagogue is just a short distance away, on Saturday we visit there to pray. It is protected like a fortress, with police, armed to the teeth, police vehicles blocking the road. We are questioned extensively before being allowed in. Clearly the Jewish community lives in fear. "We, and ourselves, and all that we contain, are always subject to being erased."

Back at the airport, after the police come the police dogs, to sniff and check for bombs. Then the Israeli El Al staff arrive to question the passengers. There are several levels of security, not including the basic airport security that all "regular" passengers go through. 

But despite all this I do not relax. Despite the professionals being around us to protect us, I still feel that I must be alert, I must train to protect myself and others. I do not rely on the Austrian police or on airport security, for sometimes in life we are "IT". 

It is our obligation, our responsibility, our moral duty, to train, so that when that moment comes when we are tagged, when we are "It", we will be ready. 

We will be ready.


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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