Sunday, May 1, 2016


Elie was drafted into Artillery. It was a soft landing for me...or at least I thought it was at the time. Elie's commanding officer, Ohr, came and told me that Artillery soldiers always fight on the periphery. In war, he explained, they need to be many kilometers behind the front lines; in non-war (no, I can't write peace) situations, they hold the lines outside while Golani and Givati and Paratroopers go into the villages...Arab villages. It was a lie. But I bought it and by the time I realized it wasn't true, I had settled into a better understanding of the army.

Shmulik was drafted into Kfir but before he could finish the advanced training, he was moved into a combat support role, rather than combat, because he was experiencing terrible migraine headaches. He was given an amazing commander and role model and completed his service with that officer. While he could easily have been in dangerous situations (and I know he was in dangerous places), there was no advance warning that there was danger or that tensions were rising.

Now Davidi has been drafted - into Givati...Givati is one of the units of ground forces. Once, there was Golani, which focused on the Golan; Givati, which focused on the south; Paratroopers...I'm not sure where they focused...and now there is Kfir, which focuses on Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Only, that's not really true - Golani can often be found in the south; Givati can be in the most dangerous places up north.

But for my family, Givati is where we started - our first real encounter with the army; and Givati is where we will end - God willing when Davidi turns 40-something and finishes with miluim. It's a circle, in a way, perhaps several of them. Yakov went into Givati and was a sharpshooter; Chaim went into another division of Kfir at the same time as Shmulik and was also chosen to be one of the unit's sharpshooters...and now Davidi has been chosen to go into Givati and like his two adopted brothers, given the task of sharpshooter.

Givati scares me to a depth I can't admit to David. I didn't know enough when Yakov was in to be scared and truthfully, back then, we didn't seem to be going to war every two or four years. I started to cry when I heard David was going in to Givati; worse, I did something no mother should do...I cried in front of my son and told him if something happens to him, I'll die. I will. I can't go on
without him. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And so he was comforting me, saying words that we all know are meaningless - but what else could he say to a mother whose eyes are filled with tears. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I don't want Givati. I think they are amazing, brave...I don't want my son to be amazing and brave. They are strong. I don't want him to be strong either. I do...I know I do...but Givati. They don't hold the perimeter...okay, Artillery didn't either; it was a lie. Elie came home one time and told me, "Ima, they have some really tall buildings in Kalkilya."

"Why do you know that?" I asked him; knowing the answer already. Ohr lied to me.

But with Davidi, I knew from the beginning. There is no pretense. Givati goes in. Givati doesn't hold the perimeter...ever. Davidi's commanding officer came to visit us. He was actually Davidi's commanding officer's deputy commanding officer and his name is Shaked. Shaked didn't lie...not exactly. He told me that if there will be a war this summer, David's group will be sent to a checkpoint to relieve other Givati soldiers so that they can go into Gaza, if needed. He said Davidi's unit wouldn't go in. Not this summer. I don't know if it is a lie yet but I know under certain circumstances, it could be.

And even if it is the truth this summer, what of next summer? And the one after that?

The tune for Givati's "anthem" goes through my brain at the strangest times. "I have heard the sound of the wind," Givati soldiers sing. "It is the spirit that is named Givati." My son hears the sound of the wind. My son dreams Givati; he breathes Givati.

Years ago, Elie's unit was involved in a terror attack. He wasn't there but more than 20 boys were wounded, some seriously, when a young Arab got mad at his family for not allowing him to marry his cousin and so, to express his disappointment and anger, he rammed the family vehicle into Elie's unit. Even knowing that Elie had been "busy" doing something else and so wasn't with them at the time of the attack, I found little comfort. As I sat alone in the middle of the night with tears running down my face trying desperately to find some balance before facing others, I heard, for the first time in my life, my heart screaming.

I looked around wondering why others couldn't hear it. It was so loud but it was a sound only I could hear. That was what I realized as people came over and asked me silly questions. I'm the only one who can hear my heart screaming. Then...and now, sometimes, my heart screams...David is in Givati doing well. He meets each week, they walk more than 30 kilometers over a few hours; he is climbing, scaling, shooting...and my heart screams. I didn't want Givati; I want to believe the lies and Shaked didn't really lie.

By son now dreams Givati; my son now breathes Givati.

Givati "Anthem"

Facing the light of dawns and spring sunsets 
I have heard the sound of the wind [also spirit]
It is the spirit that wanders around 
It is the spirit that is named Givati 

Those who dream Givati, those who breathed Givati 
Those who walked with us down the paths 
They repeat the name Givati 
And again they recite the name Givati 

With Givati we continue forward 
And today they return and carry with them the comradeship I swore upon 
They return to the map from desert and sea 
 And carry the spirit of Givati 

Those who dream Givati, those who breathed Givati 
Those who walked with us down the paths 
They repeat the name Givati 
And again they recite the name Givati 
With Givati we continue forward

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