Sgt. Benjamin Anthony of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spoke at Miami University Thursday night in Shriver’s Heritage Room not about the politics of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, but instead about the realities of war.
“There is no glory in war, and anyone who thinks so is mistaken,” Anthony said.
The audience sat in chilled silence when Anthony talked about the harsh realities of war.
“Raise your hands, really, this is not a rhetorical request … if you would enjoy having to raise up the limb of a comrade, carry it in your wrap sack until such time as a medic you would feverishly try and reattach it,” Anthony said.
Utter silence echoed in the room.
“Raise your hand if you would enjoy having to bring the news of somebody’s passing to their parents,” Anthony said.
Again, silence filled the room.
Anthony, an Orthodox Jew who grew up in the United Kingdom volunteered for service in the IDF.
Someone who is born in Israel has to serve in the IDF for about a month every year until they are 45. Even though Anthony wasn’t born in Israel, he refers to it as his “home.” And because he has signed up to serve in the IDF, he too is to serve until he is 45.
He talked about the anti-Semitism he faced in Europe and how he wanted to go to a place “where a Jew is based solely upon his merits.”
Anthony held the audience captive as he put what young Israeli soldiers live with into perspective.
“(The soldiers) made the decision between life and death the same time you were deciding which college to attend,” Anthony said.
Anthony described how the soldiers he has served with feel about their choice.
“I have never been with a soldier who wantonly killed,” Anthony said.
Anthony had his own answer for anyone who sees a soldier as being someone who looks for blood.
“If I could put down my gun tomorrow if I thought there would be peace, I would,” Anthony said.
Part of Anthony’s speech was about a time he was called into a conflict. He talked about how he and his comrades were told that in 10 minutes, they would have to cross into enemy territory.
“There was no passport required, just a hole in the fence and a mine field (he and his comrades) must negotiate with,” Anthony said.
Anthony also called the Israeli soldiers he served with the “real heroes.”
“They really are just boys … charged with this incredible responsibility they never asked for,” Anthony said.
Later on, Anthony talked about his response to people who ask him about the death he sees.
“Every single day in my mind’s eye … I can still clearly see the image of the dead Israeli soldiers that were lying there by the sides of those roads. And someone said to me, ‘How many did you see?’ I can assure you, one really is enough.”
He continued his description, saying, “And don’t believe what people tell you about the dead. The dead do wear an expression. It’s the expression of innocence lost.”
This can leave someone wondering what he or she can do to help.
“I ask you to take 10 minutes to research and educate yourself and find the truth … To speak up when you hear something that is not the truth,” Anthony said.
Sophomore Tasha Likens, an Air Force ROTC student, attended the speech.
“From a military perspective, it was so real … to hear his story, describing the soldiers as people, not statistics,” Likens said.