Where men are men and women are men

At that moment, her husband came to the door, took one look at us in our IDF uniforms, and began screaming at his wife. Maybe he was upset that we weren't delivering pizza.

ben goldfarb 88 (photo credit: )
ben goldfarb 88
(photo credit: )
Sometimes we learn fascinating things about ourselves during moments of truth. There is a wealth of self-knowledge that surfaces in situations when we react on instinct alone. Of course, we sometimes make poor decisions when there's plenty of time to weigh the facts, but that's the subject of another column. ----------------------- I had one of those instinctual moments a few years back while I was in the IDF. Our reserve unit was asked to find a terror suspect in a certain Arab village near Jerusalem. It had been a long and tough day for me. That morning, I had purchased a tub of Ben and Jerry's® cookies and cream ice cream, and to my dismay, there wasn't even one chunk of dough in the whole container. I'm not making excuses for my behavior, but I think anyone would take this fact into consideration before judging my soldiering that day. Several of us showed up at the alleged door of the alleged home of the alleged terrorist. First the mother was asked to fill out a 10 page disclaimer form, swearing that she had no relatives in the IDF and thereby invalidating her from winning any of our door prizes. We then presented the mother of the house with a picture of the suspect. There was a hint of recognition in her eyes that she was trying to hide from us. It was a fair assumption that the man in question was her son. At that moment, her husband came to the door, took one look at us in our IDF uniforms, and began screaming at his wife. Maybe he was upset that we weren't delivering pizza. She screamed right back at him. While my understanding of Mandarin Arabic is perfect, they must have been speaking a different Semitic dialect, because I had no clue what they were saying. However, the husband's angry body language left no room for interpretation. Even someone with a low social intelligence could understand that the wife was in for trouble. What the man did at this point caused me to enter into a surreal, almost slow motion state of being. I've read that emergency room physicians experience similar feelings during a crisis. They perceive time as progressing slowly and this allows them to function quickly and efficiently during a highly pressured shift. The man slugged his wife and her limp body went crashing against the door frame. Two soldiers supported her and prevented her from falling to the floor, and two other soldiers held me back from attacking the man. At that moment in time and space, my instincts had transcended all national, cultural and religious affiliations. I was lashing out against a brutal attack against a defenseless female. Where I come from, men are taught not to hit women under any circumstances. This is a challenging rule at times, because at some Texan hangouts, such as rodeos and truck stops, it's not always easy to tell the genders apart. However, once a Texan gentleman is sure he is dealing with a female, he knows that brutality is not an option. I wanted to teach this man a lesson. I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. "Let's take this outside, homeboy," I shouted at him in English. "I'll put down my gun and let's settle this with our fists. Just you and me." Who was I trying to kid? Was I trying to be Bruce Willis? Rambo? Davido Rodriquez? (He was a bully in my grade school who became the object of my wrath after he stripped the gears on my brother's bicycle.) I was naive and overly idealistic. What was I trying to prove with my counter attack? Was I going to teach this guy how to be nice to his wife? Was I going to force him to sign up for a men's group and get back in touch with his feelings? It's a good thing my army buddies held me back. Had I gone ballistic, I could have spent the rest of my reserve duty in the stockade at best, or started an international incident at worse. Perhaps I just would have made a fool of myself. While I'm liberal on issues such as ecology, women's rights, and social causes, no one would say that I'm left wing on issues such as Jewish nationalism and settlement, or the Greater Land of Israel ideology. My reaction was not fueled by politics. So where was I coming from exactly? What could I learn about myself and my instinctual response? I think I was reacting to the pain the woman must have felt when she was assaulted. I was fighting against ubiquitous injustice. I probably would have reacted the same way in any other setting with other players, in or out of uniform. Our medic determined that the woman didn't sustain a concussion, and he suggested that the husband take her to the emergency room to run some tests. Something tells me he didn't follow through on this piece of advice. I was still fuming back in the jeep while my cohorts were finishing the assignment. I occasionally tried to make another run to the house for a little heart-to-heart talk with the "man" of the house. Luckily, I was restrained each time. With the exception of smoking cigarettes as an 8th grader to look cool, I never adopted the smoking habit. At this moment, however, I really wanted to take a long drag on a Marlboro. We went back to the base, and after hitting the showers and going back to my barracks, I started to relax. As I was reviewing the events of the abuse I just witnessed and my reaction to it, the medic came into the room with a new tub of Ben and Jerry's ®. Maybe I would be luckier this time. Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. He has given seminars and training sessions at Israel Aircraft Industry and Philips Medical Systems. His book, "Double Feature: A Nostalgic Peek into the Future" will be published in the summer. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to ben@pdshiftcoaching.com © Copyright 2008 by Ben Goldfarb