Thursday, April 30, 2009

Soldier Deaths

We're watching the Tekes Yom Ha'zikaron - the ceremony for Memorial Day for soldiers and civilians killed - and Gabe asks, 'How many soldiers fall in the line of duty?' A squirmy moment for the mother of 16 year old - they both know he'll get his 'tzav giyus'/command to report next year around his 17th birthday.

We discuss that in Israel's 61 year history, their losses are about 10% of the population, comparable numbers in the US would mean 1 million losses within country. We analyze the old adage of more Israelis die in car accidents than in wars. That the numbers can even reflect someone killed in a car accident during his army service will be put on the lists. Is that the same as a combat death? This is all true but it's not exactly comforting to parents.

Gabe often worries that he's fit, strong, not scholastically inclined (meaning, Modi'in/Intelligence won't necessarily run after him) and that he's clearly headed towards a combat role when his time in the army come. I reasoned that his cousin Adam, who is a paratrooper, ended up taking a course to train other soldiers and by this means, wasn't involved in the recent combat in Gaza. That there are ways to avoid direct combat and still be in a combat unit. Truth is, I don't know enough about it anyway to really assure him of anything and as we see with Natan, the army here is a big machine and your kid is of course, one of many.

Look at Gilad Schalit? What are parents supposed to think about that one? We're just supposed to send our kids off and hope for the best. יהיה בסדר - It will be okay. It probably will be okay but every so often, it just isn't.

May their memories all be a blessing.


Ira Skop said...

Okay, I apologize for doing something predictable and correcting the math, but it is misleading so I want to make sure the number is stated correctly, especially because 10% is a lot, and the number is nowhere near that big (I probably didn't make it clear enough when I calculated this - of course I did, who else? - to begin with).

The number of Israelis who were killed in wars and terrorist acts in the past 61 years is about 2500. That is about 0.35% (roughly a third of a percent) of the current Israeli population of about 7 million - not 10%. The 1 million Americans part is right - that's the relative percentage of the US population of roughly 300 million.

Ira Skop said...

Correcting my correction - the number of Israelis killed is 25,000 not 2,500 but the rest of the calculation is correct (.35% etc.).