Funny thing, death. It brings out the best in most of us even when those causing it have committed the worst.
This strange incongruity was brought into sharp relief in Israel during the weekend with UK Remembrance Day services in Jerusalem and Ramle and the funerals today (Sunday) for the two 20-year-old IDF soldiers, not killed in battle but by the maniac truck driver at Acco bus station on Thursday.
Veterans of the British and Commonwealth Forces gathered for Remembrance Day services at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem and in Ramle while distraught family and friends were due to attend the funerals of Staff Sergeant Ayman Kayzal and Lieutenant Michal Zohar in the north.
Meanwhile, I felt most moved on reading the tribute Prince William, second in line to the British Throne made to his colleagues in the British Armed Forces. He said he felt “humbled” by the strength of feeling across the country in their support and he urged the nation to continue to remember the sacrifices they have made.
The Prince made his remarks in support of a campaign to improve facilities at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, home to the Armed Forces Memorial which commemorates those who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorism from all military campaigns since the Second World War.
I do hope that in the not-too-distant future the worlds of diplomacy and politics will allow William to make an official visit to Israel where he will see the young military at its shining best – not behaving in the squalid way so falsely portrayed too often in the British media.
Earlier this summer I visited Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, not only the final resting place of Theodore Herzl and many of modern Israel’s founding fathers but of countless, sometimes nameless desperately young men and women who died much younger than Prince William is now, often on duty in war or in terrorist attacks.
The difference of which our British Prince Charming should be made aware is that while duty in the British Armed Forces is voluntary, in Israel conscription is mandatory and all youngsters know that Army service is the first hurdle they meet in adult life after leaving school. So very sadly some of these precious young lives cease before they’ve half begun.