My cup runneth over. The University of Pennsylvania alumni magazine publishes a memoir by Joel Chasnoff, who graduated from the school 14 years ago and thanks to an ethnocentric family background that caused him to think, "It wasn’t fair that we American Jews called Israel our homeland but left Israelis to defend it," joined the Israeli army before becoming a writer in New York. A lot like Jeffrey Goldberg, another Penn graduate and writer (though Goldberg was, I’ve heard, a jobnik— a desk-wallah). Chasnoff:
Most captivating of all were the Israeli soldiers. Here they were, just a year older than me, flying F-16s, carrying Uzis, and strutting around Jerusalem in olive-green uniforms and Ray-Bans. Compared to them, I felt like such a putz: they defended the homeland like Jewish Rambos…
I lean in for a closer look. The poster is a crude, hand-drawn sketch of a Lebanese hillside. In the picture, three Hezbollah guerrillas set booby traps under a full moon. The guerrillas have dark skin and beards. They wear sneakers, white T-shirts, and jeans. One guerrilla stuffs dynamite into a fake rock. A few yards away, his buddy covers a land mine with a branch. The third guy holds a remote control device that, I suppose, will blow up the explosives in the rock.
I peer at the three guerrillas. In their sneakers and jeans, they look more like high school riffraff than enemies of the Jewish state. I try to imagine what it’s like in that nightmare called Lebanon, where monsters in T-shirts and jeans set booby traps by the light of the moon. Suddenly, I’m overcome with a fresh wave of fear. It hits me that my stint in the Israeli Army isn’t just some crazy adventure. It’s real.
Thanks to Seth!