Anybody here speak English?


By way of marking the transition tonight from Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers) to Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day), there was a speaker at the synagogue I attend, recounting some of his experiences in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He told one story which stands out.

As you probably know, the USA sent over massive supplies of weapons to Israel to rearm it after the attack of the Arab armies. These weapons included a piece of brand new technology, namely the TOW anti-tank missile. (The Arab armies had made devastating use of the USSR equivalent, the Sagger.)

The speaker was a soldier in one unit which received the first batch of TOW missiles, and he was selected to be the lucky soldier to operate the weapon. Why was he selected? Was he a crack soldier? No. Was he known for being good with new weapons or technology? No. Was he randomly selected, or in the wrong place at the wrong time? No. He was selected because he was a mother tongue English speaker. And why was that significant? Nobody knew how to operate these new fangled weapons. They were not the type of weapon you could just work out what to do by trail and error. However, there was a manual. A manual in English… And so, he became a TOW operator!