Elie called me today during his lunch break. Now that he has finished his basic training, he is allowed to carry his cellular phone. He told me that he was out on a training operation with his unit. They’d driven into the desert and would remain there overnight.
“What are you doing now?” I ask him, and he began to explain that they were cooking a can of tuna.
“Why are you doing that?”
“To see how it tastes.” Ok, that seems simple enough. Then Elie explained that they aren’t allowed to create a fire within 30 meters of his armored vehicle. That makes sense too, I told him. But, what about your commanding officer, I asked. Elie had explained that he was out on the training operation with his commanding officer’s commanding officer – sort of like the army’s answer to the boss’ boss.
“What about him?” Elie asked.
Does he know what you are doing? Does he agree to have you doing this? Is it ok? These are all clearly “mother” questions, I quickly learned.
“Yes,” Elie answered. “It was his idea.”
It was then that I remembered something very basic about Israel’s army. Elie’s commanding officer is, at most, two years older than Elie.
Later, Elie told me that they hadn’t warmed up the tuna enough and would try again the next day.