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11 August 2012 (Soldiers on Shabbat)

August 11, 2012

As Yuval and I stepped in to our favorite restaurant in the Golan Heights for lunch today, a soldier passed us by pushing a baby cart.

We have only been to this restaurant on Shabbat (Saturdays) and we always see soldiers dining here with their parents, families, significant others, and so on. There are many army bases in this area, which is situated near the border with Syria.

 

When we sit down, I can’t help asking Yuval.

“Do you think that baby was his?” (He had a few family members with him.)

“Probably.” Yuval answers.

“So I guess men still have to go to the army even if they have children.” (Women don’t have to.)

“Yes. But that guy was a lieutenant colonel. He must be at least 28 years old.”

“How can you tell he’s a lieutenant colonel?”

“By the badge on his shoulder.”

 

To our right there is another soldier sitting at the bar, his arm draped around a girl.

“How often do you think they get to see each other?” I wonder.

“Maybe once every few weeks?” Yuval guesses.

He also told me the uniforms both soldiers were wearing were the every day bet types that are worn within army bases. They were on break, but still on alert.

 

I couldn’t help asking my questions because even after living in Israel for over two years now, the army is still a very unknown territory for me. It’s not that I never see soldiers. I actually see them all the time, returning to the kibbutz for the weekend, talking on their cellphones in bus stops, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes in gas stations. But strangely it’s when I see them in a situation like today, on Shabbat, the day of rest, briefly enjoying a meal with their loved ones, that make them more real somehow. I am reminded that they, along with many other soldiers all over Israel, rarely get to see their families while they risk their lives protecting their country.

On our way to the restaurant we saw a few colorful paragliders flying above the fields alongside the road we were driving on. And further on in the distance, we could see Syria.

 

今日はゴラン高原にあるお気に入りのレストランにランチをしに行きました。
レストランに入った時、ベビーカーを押す兵士とすれ違いました。

このレストランには何回か来たことがあるのですが、
毎回シャバート(土曜日でユダヤ教の休息日)で、
いつも兵士が両親や家族、恋人などと食事しているのをみかけます。
この地域はシリアとの国境に近いので、アーミー基地が数カ所あります。

 

席についてから、ユバルに聞かずにはいられませんでした。

「あの赤ちゃん、彼(兵士)の子供だと思う?」(結構大きな家族連れだったので)

「多分ね。」とユバル。

「じゃあ男性は子供がいても兵役免除されないんだ。」(女性は免除されるそうです。)

「そう。でも彼は兵役じゃないよ。中佐だった。最低28歳だと思う。」

「どうやって中佐だとわかったの?」

「肩のバッジ。」

 

私たちの右側のバーにもう一人の兵士が、女の子と寄り添っている。

「あの二人はどれくらい頻繁に会えるのかな?」

「数週間に一度ぐらいじゃないかな。」

ユバルはまた、この兵士も先ほどベビーカーを押していた兵士も、
ベットのユニフォームを着ている、と言いました。
ベットのユニフォームとは、基地内で着る「普段着」的なユニフォーム。
つまり、二人の兵士は休憩中だけど待機体制だということ。

 

ユバルに色んな質問をついついしてしまうのは、
2年以上イスラエルに住んでも、アーミーは私にとって未だに謎の世界だから。
兵士はしょっちゅうみかけるんです。キブツに帰省する兵士、バス停で携帯をいじる兵士、
ガソリンスタンドでコーヒーを飲みながら一服する兵士、、、

でも不思議と今日みたいに、シャバートの日にレストランで束の間、
大切な人と食事を共にする姿をみると兵士達の現実が少しみえた気がするのです。
この兵士達のように、イスラエル中で家族や大切な人とめったに会えることもなく、
命をかけながら国を守っている兵士達がいることも実感させられました。

レストランへ向かう途中、カラフルなパラグライダーに乗る人を数人みかけました。
その向こう側にはシリアがみえました。

Much love,
Kaori

2 Comments leave one →
  1. praisethelorne permalink
    August 13, 2012 10:48 pm

    As culturally ‘shocking’ as seeing soldiers still is to me, seeing Syria would probably freak me out a bit more, considering the current political situation.

    • August 15, 2012 4:47 pm

      It took me a while to get used to seeing soldiers too! When I first realized how close Syria was when I first got here, I was freaked out because of the hostile relations with Israel, and now it freaks out for different reasons…

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