3 May

POPSICLE (Photo credit: roboppy)

Israeli soldiers are generally beloved by the public, whether they are in the midst of their regular service, or on reserve duty. The rest of the population, most of whom have also been soldiers at some point, often go out of their way to make the burden of service slightly more tolerable. In this particular case, a reserve unit arrived in Gush Etzion this week, to perform routine patrols and guard the areas where civilians congregate, which have the potential to be flash points. After having rain two weeks ago, this week was particularly hot, which meant that the soldiers on duty were the grateful recipients of popsicles. Although I have not yet served in the Army, I can imagine that having a cold sugary treat must be extremely refreshing during a four or six hour shift.

On the afternoon in question, a large crowd had gathered to wait for the bus, as well as to attempt to find an appropriate driver with whom to hitchhike. Two families were waiting, one with two children, the other with a young son. The soldiers on duty had just received and consumed several popsicles, but had a few left over, so they began offering the frozen delights to the travelers who had assembled. All declined. One of the soldiers spotted the children, and immediately instructed his comrade to give the popsicles to the kids, so he gave one to the family with two children, and one to the family with a son. Not surprisingly, arguments ensued.

The first: A parent whose kids were not present, began chastising the mother for allowing her child to eat so close to dinner time. While also telling the soldier that he should not be giving children sweets without asking their parents first.

The second: The children themselves began arguing about why one received, and one did not. Meanwhile the solo child in the other family looked with an expression of satisfaction as he alternated between consuming his popsicle and smearing it on his face.

The third: The soldiers themselves begin arguing over the wisdom of stirring up a previously calm situation, with one soldier suggesting that they should have just eaten them instead of being generous. Another soldier jumped in to say that they should have just left enough for all three kids.

Nothing like a little generosity to ignite the perpetual Israeli desire to engage in a disagreement.

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