Monday, March 24, 2003

"You don't see happy PoW's. What did you expect?"
Said Major General (reserves) Gidon Shefer on Reshet Bet radio station this morning. He's been there so he knows. A pilot, he was taken prisoner by the Egyptians just after the end of the Yom Kippur War during a reconnaissance mission. He pointed out that it looks awful for us at home, but actually, for the PoW him or herself, being seen on TV is a good thing, a much-desired goal. It is a relief for them that their capture is made public and they know that their situation is far better than that of others whose whereabouts are not known. Also, this is some sort of insurance for their physical and mental state. The Iraqis can be held responsible for any deterioration from now on.

I really liked listening to him. All morning they were interviewing all these prophets of doom, and he came on, optimistic, resilient, living proof that there can be a life, even a successful military career, after the horrors of being a prisoner of war in an Arab country.

The pilots who were taken as prisoners of war in Egypt in 1973 are remembered warmly in Israel even today because of their group translation in captivity of Tolkiens "The Hobbit". I don't know if Major General Shefer was involved in that project, although I think I have their translation lying around somewhere. There’s a newer translation now, which we've also got, but you can still buy their version.

The Frog reminds us to put the losses of this war, awful as they may be, into perspective.