ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES
Benny Shabtai consoles Mary Dan Gor who lost a son in Gaza
Jean and Eugen Gluck with Ricci Platt
A pretty foursome of the 11-member IDF orchestra
Lt. Col. Eyal Bar-Or and Rita Lerner
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of Presidents
Capt. Adi Gigi and Brig. Gen. Avi
Arthur Stark, FIDF national chairman, with
(Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, IDF national director, and wife
In Israel When You Turn 18
Say Goodbye To Childhood
By Tim Boxer
O have a mother rise before 1200
strangers, and expose raw nerves as she relates the death of a son
in battle, is a piercing highlight of the annual dinner of Friends
of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Mary Dan Gor is an Israeli mother of three boys.
Eran, her oldest, went into service like everyone else at 18.
"Ronnie could be a commander," she said, "but he
preferred to be on the front line with his comrades in Givati, the
fighters of the purple beret."
She was not surprised by his choice as she remembers
him as an absolutely responsible person, "the perfect child every
mother prays for."
Heíd come home for Shabbat, tired and dusty, and
brag that his "imah [mother] makes the best schnitzel in the world."
In a raid in March 2008 to stop Qassam rockets in
Gaza, 1st Sgt. Eran got trapped in an ambush and cut down
instantly. He was only 20 and never got a chance to taste another of
his momís schnitzels.
Benny Shabtai, president of Raymond Weil and
dinner chairman, observed that in Israel, when the children turn 18,
they say goodbye to their childhood.
Now itís time for Gorís middle child
also join the army.
"Our lives revolve around funerals, cemeteries and
memorials," Gor sighed with a broken heart.
Shabtai tried to console the grieving mother: "Kids
like Eran belong on Facebook, not memorial blogs."
Oren Balitzblau of IDF Intelligence was
also at the dinner, which raised $15 million for the welfare of
He told how he tried to arrest a terrorist suspect
four years ago at a border crossing in Gaza. The man blew himself up
and severely injured Balitzblau, destroying most of his eyesight.
"The best way to win over terror," he said, "is to
continue with your life. I continue to train our intelligence
officers even if I have to do it in the dark."
Through a satellite link from a military base at
Yahalom, three lieutenants discussed their experiences in last
yearís Gaza war. Naama said she chose the most challenging
thing, flight school. Today she is only one of two female combat
pilots of the F-16. "My mother thought it was a good place to find a
boy friend ó which I did."
Avner, of the engineers special forces,
described using robots to locate bombs and find concealed terrorists
during the Gaza campaign.
Erez, the platoon commander in a paratrooper
battalion, told of walking into Gaza on their toes, like ballet
dancers. They found mannequins dressed like terrorists in booby
trapped buildings, and hidden bombs in Coke bottles on the ground.
"Thatís an amazing story," said radio host
Crowley, who served as emcee at the dinner.
"Thatís not an amazing story; thatís a good story,"
Erez countered. "An amazing story is me and my girlfriend in Rome