Since I started helping pack meals in a restaurant in the beginning of the war, I’ve noticed that many of the returning volunteers are older people. Every day, dozens of people work in the restaurant, but those who stay the longest and work the hardest are usually retirees. On the one hand, it seems natural, as older people have more time and fewer obligations. On the other hand, it’s quite remarkable that they have so much energy and goodwill. However, I’m not really that surprised. In recent years, most of the Israeli activists who protested against the prime minister’s corruption and incitement were older individuals. Even during the pandemic, they gathered at Paris Square next to Balfour Street, the prime minister’s residence, to demonstrate against Netanyahu. Quite a few of them even slept there and held communal Shabbat dinners on Friday nights. They were the backbone and inspiration for the recent protest against the current corrupt government’s, and the attempts to overhaul the judicial system.
It was a great surprise when, on January 7th, a few days after Yariv Levin, the justice minister, announced his intention to weaken the judicial system, many young people joined the older ones in a protest in Habima Square for the first time in years. The presence of older individuals as volunteers and activists (I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that the people I worked with in the restaurant are also part of the protest movement) is encouraging. It shows that in Israel they are very involved and far from being helpless and frail, as the stereotype suggests. Moreover, when we think of older people, courage might not be the first word that comes to mind, but in this war, we heard about brave men and women, including some older individuals. On October 7th, two retired major generals in the Israeli army, Noam Tibon and Yair Golan, independently drove south and risked their lives to save others. In Tibon’s case, he was able to save the lives of his family in a kibbutz in the south. Another remarkable example is Rachel Edri from Ofakim. She’s an older woman who displayed unusual courage and resourcefulness, managing to keep several terrorists who invaded her home content and satiated, thus preventing harm to her husband and herself.
These examples of inspiring older people give me hope for the older individuals among the hostages. From my own experience, I know that Vivian Silver, for example, is a brave and optimistic woman. I got a similar impression from Yocheved Lifshitz who was released by Hamas. I don’t really know anything, and I fear for the lives of the hostages, and worry about them all the time, like everybody else in this country. However, I’d like to believe that the resilience of the older hostages in Gaza could perhaps help and give hope to everyone else there.