The Damage of the Five Percenters

Tuvia Weissman (may his memory be blessed) heard that there was a terror attack happening where he was shopping with his family. Without hesitating, unarmed, Tuvia ran into battle and because he was unarmed, he was killed.

Last week, my 20 year old son came home for a week’s vacation, similar to the vacation Tuvia was one when he died. This time, because of what happened with Tuvia, the army sent my son and his unit home with their guns. Over the course of the week, my son took his gun with him when he left the house.

He went back to the army, as motivated to conquer new challenges as he has been for all of the four months since he was drafted. He is stronger now than he was, thinner and though I know it isn’t possible, he even seems taller. He can run faster and farther; jump and scale wall. He’s midway through his training, meeting every challenge they throw at him. He’s even turned out to be an excellent marksman and so was given a special rifle, one of only two in his unit.

I speak to him as often as I can during the week but days can go by when he isn’t given time to call home. He is a combat soldier – a fraction of the entire army and yet, at the very core of the army’s reason for existing. His job, this beautiful son of mine, is to defend, to step forward as others fall back.

We walk together in the street. Last week, I was so sick I didn’t have the strength to even get myself home. I have raised amazing, giving children. Four out of five have volunteered for the local Magen David Adom, two still do. One took the advanced training course and is now an ambulance driver. He has to leave for a shift, so my soldier son took the bus to my office so that he could take me home.

He walks differently now than he did a few months ago. Besides the weapon strapped to his side and the hand near the trigger, his eyes are always moving. He stands with his back to the wall on the train, looking, noting, checking. I want to distract him, I want him to look at me and stop acting like the soldier he has become.

This was last week.

He called the other night and told me of what the soldiers are feeling and I am so filled with anger I can barely breathe. What the Chief of Staff and Defense Minister have done to the soldier accused…no, no longer of murder…but of some crime as yet undefined, perhaps…is unforgivable. I hope that Eizenkot knows his days are numbered. You can’t lead an army that will not follow, that does not trust you. He has betrayed the soldiers and they can no longer believe in him.

Yes, I believe the soldier will be exonerated. I believe the Military Courts actions and the way words were presented are very telling. There is no unequivocal evidence of guilt, of intention. There are two facets of justice that are held dear in a democratic society. The first is that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. The second is that they must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many very reasonable doubts in this case. The MADA investigation, the body language expert, the soldier’s rendition, the medics calling out warning of danger. There are no hard truths and I wouldn’t be surprised if even the soldier can’t fully confirm anything other than a reasonable reaction presented in the heat of battle.

This was not a cold-blooded execution. The commander said he checked the terrorist and yet, the medics who were there say he did not. By every army definition that I have ever seen, that terrorist was not neutralized…but I don’t want to get into this whole argument again. I’ve already written about this several times, including:

What I do want to say is that the 5% who called the soldier a murderer, and, for all intents and purposes the Defense Minister and Chief of Staff and the Prime Minister have set in place a terrible new reality, one in which our soldiers have lost faith in the army leadership. The one thing my son knew last week, was that the army was his family and they would be with him in all that he does. They may want to send him in to Gaza to fight, but they won’t send him in alone. They may order him to do something, but his commander will be leading the way and the army will have his back.

What the 5% have done that the 95% now have to work hard to undo, is damage the morale, the backbone of trust. Our sons gave everything and now, they have been stabbed in the back in ways more painful than any terrorist’s knife.

When you undermine soldiers with rules not followed by any other country, this is what you get. Once this skit was comedy, today, it might well be reality. A reality caused by those who don’t have the decency to have faith and trust in the sons and daughters they expect to be there when we are attacked. While they run for shelter, they expect these boys to try to shoot down the missiles; When a terrorist raises a knife and they go running for shelter, they expect the soldier to step forward, in the path of the terrorist, and protect them.

Won’t they be surprised when the soldier asks why they should bother when in the end, these 5% may well turn around and call them vile, murderers, and worse.

Once this was comedy…today, this may well be the reality of what we are doing to our sons:

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.