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Pic: Yaki Assaig
Today's soldiers don't want to be heroes, they want to come home for Shabbat
There's no such thing as an Israeli soldier, there's a young boy who enlisted because he knows he has to - we're all in the same boat, so we either sink or keep going
There's no such thing as an Israeli soldier. There is a father who gets up in the morning to give his children a lift, only later does he put on his uniform. There's a 19-year-old from the Golani Unit who came first in basic training, but doesn't know how to say "I love you" to the girl in his class. There's that officer who gives everybody a hard time, but in the evening writes a heartfelt poem to the military welfare NCO in the dimming light of the armored personnel carrier.

 

The Israeli soldier has problems no other soldiers have. Only he knows that each time he goes to battle, someone from among 70 countries worldwide will decide he has been vexed. Five times a day his mother appears on his cell phone screen relaying commentary on the current situation, and his father stands behind her shouting that it used to be more difficult and that they should get off the line.

 

A closed base with open chakras

 

He's in the only army in the world where you get up early to recite the Sliohot prayers. And since his commander returned from India they have a closed based with "open chakras."

 

It's even irrelevant as to what unit he serves in, because there will always be that Yemenite kid, who thinks it's hilarious when you fall; a kibbutznik who plays Meir Ariel's music on his guitar and a Moroccan who brought parcels from home and doesn't stop munching.

 

There will always be the military sports instructor wearing the dark "distance" glasses, mercilessly giving them a tough time, the one who stopped smoking but keeps shnorring from everyone else, and Sergei wearing his undershirt, who after five minutes in the sun looks like a red lobster. And it's only in this war that if you happen to be celebrating your birthday in the valley of death, you'll get a cake from your military company.

 

 

Nowhere else to go

 

Only the Israeli soldier asks how's the war going, and there will always be someone to tell him the harsh truth, that we have nowhere else to go. For more than sixty years he is trying to figure out what is worse - to miss those who deserve to die, or God forbid to hurt someone accidentally. And he is so preoccupied with the choices of good and bad, that there's sometimes a need to tell him to stop worrying, because when the cannons roar there is no room for morals.

 

There's no such thing as an Israeli soldier. There's a young boy who enlisted because he knows he has to, we're all in the same boat,

so we either sink or keep going. We all had better things to do than standing in the scorching heat and waiting for transportation. He takes a Hundred Years of Solitude to the watch tower, uses one eye to scour for terrorists and another to steal a line from the book. He doesn't want to become a hero, he prefers going home for Shabbat, but the weeks are flying by and the days are standing still.

 

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