We feel extremely privileged to have interviewed Jewish veterans and family members of veterans who have served or are currently serving in the British armed forces. Through AJEX, this opportunity provided us with valuable insight into the Jewish experience of the British armed forces, and we learned that antisemitism in the army is not as common as one may predict it to be. In fact, other soldiers often demonstrated increased respect and interest for their Jewish colleagues.
This was very interesting to learn, and perhaps a fact that should be shared as a means of encouragement – the veterans interviewed all felt that they represented the Jewish community in the military world. The experiences of those being interviewed were vast. We spoke to a surgeon who practised in the context of battle, and learnt that most wounds he treated were disease and sickness related, rather than injury related. Of course, it was particularly insightful to hear first-hand descriptions of the 6-day war in 1967, and another interviewee spoke of his experiences of living in London during the Blitz.
Many questions were addressed to Dan Fox, who is still serving in the military, and he answered questions regarding confidentiality. He taught us of a 30-year “mark” that should be passed before soldiers share details of their experiences, and described the various rankings of the army and ways in which ranking is prohibited from speaking of their experiences. Another interviewee described his time in submarines and gliders, and revealed that he would often return from missions unable to speak of them to his family. He said that this was difficult, but also very necessary.
Some questions surrounded the veterans’ feelings towards their experiences. A common denominator of all those interviewed was their warm feeling towards their former or current colleagues, who they referred to as their “brothers.” Each of them spoke fondly of their memories, and described the friendships that serving in the British military evoked. Overall, this was a rare and extremely interesting experience, which we found both intellectually stimulating and heart-warming.
Thank you to Mrs Yaros for rising to the challenge of Zoom and creating this event.
Written by Alyssa T, Year 13