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Monday, August 29, 2005

Please take a moment...

Those of us living in Israel take for granted the relatively minor inconvenience of having to wait in line to enter pretty much any place where large numbers of people gather.  At the entrance to malls, bus stations, restaurants, etc, you will find the ubiquitous security guards with their electronic wands waiting to check anyone who enters for weapons or bombs.

If we are in a hurry we will mentally curse the plodding pace of the minimum-wage security guard... and if not, he or she probably doesn't even register on our mental radar. 

This strikes me as strange since so many of the bombings over the past few years have been averted, or at least minimized, by the brave actions of these under-appreciated people.  I am truly surprised that it has not become a cultural norm here to single them out more often for praise and recognition... or even a simple hello.

We glorify the body guards who protect heads of state for their willingness to 'take a bullet' for their 'principle' (the person they are protecting)... yet we don't really consider the statistical odds of these secret service agents and 'shabknikim' actually having to do so during the course of their career.  Yet the lowly mall, bus station or restaurant security guard in his/her loose-fitting blue or beige 'bowling shirt' (for lack of a better description), working for little pay and absolutely no recognition, has at least as good a chance of being injured or killed.

The two security guards in yesterday's attack did an impossibly brave thing and prevented a human bomb from making his way into a crowded bus station.  They knew the bomber looked suspicious.  He had been pointed out to them by a bus driver, and they still pursued him and used their presence to force him away from the crowds.  They were standing right in front of him when he exploded! 

How can anyone be that brave?

Think for a moment about the people who merit a formal greeting during your typical day:  The barista who sells you your coffee... the waitress who brings you your lunch... the bus driver along your regular route... the flower guy/girl where you pick up your weekly bouquet for shabbat.  All of these people get your attention - if only for a moment - when you make eye contact, acknowledge them as a fellow human being, and say hello... good morning... good afternoon... Shabbat Shalom.

How many times have you sullenly submitted your bag or backpack for inspection while carrying on a conversation with someone... never acknowledging the person who is searching for danger amongst your reading glasses and lipsticks?  How many times have you opened your bag while staring stoically into the mall where you wish you already were?   Did you say hello to the security guard?  Did you say 'thank you'?  Did you say 'Kol hakavod'?

That person in the ill-fitting over-garment has agreed to do much more than take a bullet for you.  He/she has agreed to be burned... blinded... mutilated by flying shrapnel... all so you can sip your cappuccino in relative security, or wander through the mall as if you lived in a country where people don't turn themselves into walking bombs.  He/she has agreed to do this for minimum wage.

Please take a moment and stop your conversation... stop staring longingly into the mall... put aside thoughts of your impending dinner... and look the security guard in the eye and say 'hello', 'thank you' or 'kol hakavod'.

In the mean time, may Lu'ay Abu Juma and Pavel Strotskin be granted a speedy recovery from their horrible injuries.


Posted by David Bogner on August 29, 2005 | Permalink


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i want to thank you for this entry. ive been thinking about this a lot. i hope you dont mind that i linked this in my own livejournal, as i could not have nearly said it better myself.

Posted by: Lisa | Aug 29, 2005 10:53:02 AM

You're so right, David. This is something I try to be careful about.

Posted by: Rahel | Aug 29, 2005 11:22:11 AM


Posted by: Dave | Aug 29, 2005 11:29:56 AM

Thank you David for an important post!

Posted by: Safranit | Aug 29, 2005 1:09:17 PM

I make my kids stop and say thank you everytime - from the soldiers at the checkpoints to the security gaurd at the Kupat cholim. They are there for a reason, not to be taken for granted. And although the two security guards from Ber Sheva were doing their jobs - they are still very brave heroes! Thank you

Posted by: sarahb | Aug 29, 2005 2:00:38 PM

Excellent posting!

Posted by: A Simple Jew | Aug 29, 2005 2:13:09 PM

Lisa... Mind? Linking is one of the biggest compliments a fellow blogger/journaler can give! Thanks.

Rahel... Someone once told me that being a security guard in Israel is as dangerous (and thankless) a job as finding a route through a mine field simply by walking through it. The point being that others will benefit from your efforts... but you probably won't be around to accept their thanks.

Safranit... A lot of what I write here serves as a reminder for me as well. I wouldn't have been able to accurately describe the way we casually pretend the security guards aren't there if I hadn't done it plenty of times myself.

SarahB... I'm not at all surprised. You keep raising those kids right! :-)

Simple Jew... Thank you.

Posted by: David | Aug 29, 2005 2:31:08 PM

You are so right. The bombing in Be'er Sheva never even made it to the front page in the US because of the hurricane. Reading the victims' names in your post brings it home.

Posted by: Alan | Aug 29, 2005 2:31:45 PM

that SarahB...

thanks Mr B.

Posted by: Tonny | Aug 29, 2005 2:56:22 PM

Thanks for the post. This is a super important message to get out. Your post (which I linked to) was the motivation for me to write a similar post sharing a nice exchange that I had with a few security guards last night...

Keep them coming!

Posted by: Ze'ev | Aug 29, 2005 4:20:09 PM

You are 100% right. I always try to thank anyone I come in contact with...always good to be reminded. Refua Sheleima to the security guards.

Posted by: Essie | Aug 29, 2005 4:25:22 PM


Posted by: lisa | Aug 29, 2005 7:44:29 PM


A perfect point. Love needs to be encouraged. Because when we rush we're prone to expose a temper. And, that exposes hate. As if humans were made of porcupine needles. (Not that porcupines aren't animals that produce young; with their own satisfied moms, to boot.)

But I've been thinking hard, now. About how my own reactions (from way out here on the left coast of the USA), seems to be less dedicated to love than it should be.

Perhaps, I thought answers were "rational?" Only to learn, well, from the IDF and the police, that a soft touch, and love, exist between people and their "guards." And, however Arik and his team put together the disengagement; they didn't forget the FIRST LESSON. We will go far when we notice the sacrifice of others. Even if we don't want to wear their shoes.

Someday, ahead, I hope the guards can do what they just did in England (where it turns out killing DeMenezes was a mistake). But it was a mistake based on the experience that if he had been carrying explosives on his body, he could have hurt many people. Here? The guards thought they could overpower an explode-a-dope. (Just like in Iraq, Americans are finding that the IED's are getting more sophisticated.) It's the nature of wars that your enemies will adjust to your advantages, for if not, they lose.

We don't have to lose this ability to see the difference. I think it's a shame, now, that politically, Bibi and Landau, and a few within the Likud, have decided to show more hatred towards the goals a majority of Israelis respect.

Yet, it's no reason to counter this with anger. There is an enormous amount of pain now, afoot. Pain, certainly, for the family of the guards. Pain, I'm sure, within Shin Bet, for a bomber to get this close;

Everything is part of the learning curve. All of these things, when looked at with a bit of perspective should, and must, bring pride to the hearts of those who are burdened with the jobs of holding society together, safe and sound. Teachers. Police. Soldiers. Rabbis. And, even politicians.

Ahead, perhaps, the best examples will be set by disseminating the lessons of love a bit better. Polarization may be a tool of the media, but it doesn't have to be adopted. There's the Internet. There's a chance to see that many, many people comment about what is going on. And, to tell the truth while there is pain there really is no hatred. Lessons are usually learned over time, anyway. And, we're all in this thing, together.

You know, I'd even guess that a majority of arabs, living both within your borders, and without; have just undergone an earthquake, too. I'm not ready to trust the parades put on by the terrorists. Just as I don't even believe every single German was guilty of loving Hitler. Many of them, then, lived in fear. Fear does that. It prevents the normal discourse of information to flow between people. Today? Hitler destroyed German culture. And, all his "paper" gains; all those things he lied about, and then broke, do you know what happened to the captured lands? All LOST to Germany!

Leave it to the Internet to give me the most memorable image of all. General Patton peeing into the Rhine. He announced he was going to do it! And, he did it before Hitler shot his brains out. Don't kid yourself. We, Jews are smart enough to know the costs of the Holocaust. But some idiots never learned. Some Germans still tattoo symbols on themselves. Where free speech lives, you can't make me mad. Jerks don't know a thing about love. About the magic of doing the right thing, as painful as it is; without hate in your heart.

For gaza, my images remain around the tears. The love. The dancing. And, the embracing that really, really took place. The smallest number, even less than marginal, refused orders. Doesn't that tell you a lot about Jewish hearts? It reasonates in mine. Now? Only need to learn how to do this, myself. Proud to be a Jew. Proud, again and again.

Posted by: Carol Herman | Aug 29, 2005 9:06:16 PM

Where I live (New York), security inspections are a topic du jour. As a response to the London Bombings, we've instituted a policy of random bag checks in the subway and the public response against this measure has been phonomenal, all things considered. I'm not sure whether more people are for it or against it, but I was truthfully surprised to see so many argue for minimizing inspections at this point.

Posted by: Irina | Aug 30, 2005 12:32:13 AM

I really appreciated reading this post - thank you.

Posted by: Bonita | Aug 30, 2005 1:49:38 AM

People can't be placed into two boxes like computer language based on 10 to the base two.
National conflicts affect peoples relationships.
Most people are nice(good) on a one-to one basis. Try talking to the arab fruit store owner as a father or son or husband. If you sense rejection move away and don't go back again because politics is affecting your exchange.

Posted by: Gil Brenner | Aug 30, 2005 3:23:57 PM

I've very glad you wrote this! Not enough of us do take the time to do as you suggest. I do sometimes (most notably after being stuck in traffic for 3 hours after seder this year; I'm sure the cop thought I was going to curse at him when I rolled down my window) stop and thank the security personnel, but I could certainly remember to do it more often.

Posted by: AmyS | Aug 30, 2005 10:58:45 PM

I apologise for not responding to some of your thoughtful comments... but a troll has temporarily sapped my will to live.

Posted by: David | Aug 31, 2005 1:00:47 AM

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