As many Americans scramble to get out of Israel, navigating flight cancellations and travel warnings in the aftermath of a deadly Hamas attack, one courageous Upper West Side man has made the decision to head in.
‘A.G.,’ who asked that his name be withheld to protect his identity, is a 26-year-old veteran of the IDF and new resident to the neighborhood. Now he’s heading back to Israel to rejoin the troops, motivated by Hamas’ terror attack, which has already led to the deaths of at least 1,200 Israelis and 22 Americans.
After growing up in Seattle, A.G. moved to Israel at age 21, serving for nearly three years as a paratrooper in the IDF.
“I knew these borders and how everything worked. Not even in my wildest dreams could this happen. It was completely shocking,” A.G. told the NY Daily News, which was first to report this story.
After finishing his time in the service, A.G. moved to New York to study business. He was in his apartment making breakfast when his roommate told him about the attack.
“I was going crazy sitting in my apartment in New York City, just feeling like you’re kind of just useless.” he told the Daily News.
So A.G. turned that feeling into action, heading to Israel to volunteer, despite the fact that he had a student exemption from the IDF’s draft of 300,000 reservists.
The Daily News got in touch with A.G.’s mother, Rachel Green, who still lives in Seattle. She told them she was overwhelmed when her son first told her about his decision.
“I would love to tell you, please don’t go,” Rachel said to her son “I respect what you’re doing, but no, it’s too dangerous.” “I asked him, ‘How do you feel about the possibility that you go and in a few days there could be a ground invasion? Have you thought about the fact that in a few days you could be dead?’”
Green told the Daily News that she is a strong supporter of Israel.
“It’s asking a lot of me for my son to do this. But I don’t have any other choice. We can’t let the world walk all over us,” she added. “You know the whole thing, ‘never again?’ We’re not victims, we have to be victors. We have to have the right to live. But it’s killing me.”
As A.G. prepared for takeoff at JFK airport on Tuesday, he spoke to the Daily News one more time, with thoughts of his childhood on his mind.
“Every week growing up, my father would do Jewish history for five to 10 minutes,” A.G. recounted. “A lot of it was Holocaust-related, a lot of it was about the founding of Israel.
“I just thought growing up that we are so lucky to have the state of Israel. We are so lucky to put on the uniform that protects the Jewish people,” he added. “To me, it means contributing to something far more important than yourself. It’s community.”
“Lots are afraid, but you have to learn how to deal with it,” he said. “Not to say that that’s an easy thing to do, but I’m doing my best.”