So, Martha and I were lucky enough to have Zion as our dinner partner last night and he might as well have been in the Inquisition. If Martha didn’t ask it, Karen did. His sister and her family have moved in with his parents after the rocket destroyed their home. Our group gave a donation to help them in the meantime. Zion’s 18 yr old daughter recently started her 2 years in the Israeli army. Zion explained that it was not only necessary but prudent to go into the army. After the 1st 2 years, you can stay a 3rd or you can begin college with a 2 year scholarship paid by the Israeli government. (How nice would that be??) We asked him what the legal drinking age was (18) and if the kids drank and partied in high school like the American kids. With a very straight, no nonsense face, he said never. He then explained that one infraction eliminates a student’s right to the army. Without the army, no college. Without college he said that one would become a cleaner. All jobs hinge on army service. His job as a tour guide/ bus driver was not possible without the army service in the IDF. After your initial 2 year stint-man or woman-you are required to spend one month each year in the army for the next 28 years, so 30 years service. Service is mandatory for all Israelis except strict Orthodox Jews and Arabs.
We then asked about gun laws. He said that you receive your permit when you begin your service in the IDF. Whenever you go out, it is required that your gun accompany you. Therefore, tourists see armed soldiers often walking or traveling on busses and think Israel is dangerous. Zion said that it is normal-just like in America when all the kids have backpacks on!
He said that he loves Americans and wishes they would start coming back to Israel. His country appreciates all the billions of $s America has spent on Israeli roads and other improvements. He would love to come to America, so Martha & I assured him he was welcome in our homes. He wants to come to St. Luke’s! It was a great evening here in old Jerusalem, K