Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Let's Talk

It was the winter of 1966/1967. I was on a parachute training course. It was like a holiday, no marching or running for a few weeks.

One paratrooper company in the country had to be on alert every Shabbat. That meant keeping your boots on even when sleeping, keeping near to your sleeping quarters at all times, no showers and being ready to travel in full gear in 20 minutes.
That Shabbat was our turn.
We were lounging about on our beds. Someone came in, started banging on the wall and shouted alert, alert.
At that moment you switch to automatic pilot. You do not talk or think, you just start getting your gear ready the way you have been taught. Check your weapon, check your ammunition and move.
Even though there were no hitches, I doubt we were in the waiting trucks within 20 minutes. Anyway, we had to wait for the heavy weapons.
The trucks set off towards the Lebanese border. Someone had planted a mine on a football field on our side. Our company had been given orders to carry out a retaliatory raid.
At first, nobody was talking. We sat there in silence trying to get our minds back to normal.
I lit up a cigarette, a kibbutz cigarette called Nadiv that was more straw than tobacco.
I could take as many packs as I wanted from the kibbutz shop.
There were two religious Yemenite soldiers sitting to my left. The one next to me asked me to stop smoking.
He said it was bad enough for them they were riding on Shabbat. My smoking made things worse.
I said sorry, and explained I was smoking to calm my nerves.
He replied he could understand that and it was okay by him if I continued smoking.
I said no, I would stop because I realized how important it was for him.
And our discussion went on for a few minutes like that.
I cannot remember if I stopped or continued smoking, but that is not important.