I'm always amazed here in Israel by how phenomenal the soldiers in the army are. They go through three years there, starting when they are still in their teenage years, and even after that, they still participate in the reserves until they no longer can by law.
They are tough individuals, strong, brave- people you would want to have defending you and your country and people. Walking around all day with a gun on your shoulder might scare the passerby, or make them realize how special you are- to give up some of the time in your life to do something so constructive and valuable.
They put on this gruff exterior when they are on duty- no nonsense, no funny business or even cracking a smile to those watching. But peer out of the corner of your eye, and you see them laughing with their comrades in arms, playing jokes on the men they are supposed to command, and generally acting like normal people. Each one of these soldiers is a brother to some, a son to some, and they act it, despite the fact that they have learnt Krav Maga- a deadly form of martial arts.
I was in a mall with a friend and her baby daughter. As we passed through security, she needed to remove her daughter from the stroller, because the little one was scared by the metal detector. All of a sudden, the stern-faced security guard and his soldier friend turned into different people. "Aize Metuka!" (such a cutie!) they cried, and started to make funny faces to cheer up the slightly shocked baby. "Chamuda," they said, as they grilled my friend as to how old the baby was. The little one made their day by giving a grin, and these soldiers thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I would have thought they would have grabbed the little one and bounced her on their laps soundly, if they hadn't been on duty. That's Israeli security. Give them a little one- and they turn into the brothers of the sisters they left at home.
Recently, I was in the Old City with NBD, and I wanted to get from the Kotel to the Rova. Being as I had a stroller, I had to take the long way around. When I got half way up, I saw a security guard standing by an entrance- and I asked him if that way led up, and were there stairs. He looked at me, and at NBD- and said, "What's the problem?! I'll carry her up." And so he proceeded to do, chattering all the while about how cute she was, and how he has a 1 1/2 year old at home waiting for him.
So, beneath that exterior lies something waiting. No Israeli can resist a baby.
16 hours ago