We never met, but yesterday, you saved my life, and the lives of so many others who live in Jerusalem. You save our lives, and gave your own young life with all its promise and all the joys of life still ahead of you, all 101 years of potential. You sacrificed that.
You were only 19. In America, you’d be in your sophomore year in some happy, academic playground.
Instead, you were in Jerusalem, in the IDF, on patrol in the Border Guard unit that stands between terrorists and the residents of the holy city of Jerusalem. You had only been in training for two months when yesterday, together with your fellow trainee Ravit, and your experienced unit head, you saw three Arabs sitting suspiciously near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. As required, you three walked over and asked them to identify themselves. Instead, they got up. You pushed them back down and then one took out a gun and fired, while the other used a blade to cut Ravit’s head.
You were shot. You fell. But you got up and killed the terrorist attacking Ravit, who is alive today and recovering. Because of you. Coolly, as if you had been doing this all your life, you aimed, shot, and killed him, protecting your friend from certain death, and protecting all of us from the guns, knives and pipe bombs these three Islamic fascist, Nazi murderers had brought to Jerusalem. Busy protecting all of us, you couldn’t see that behind your back the third Palestinian had a submachine gun aimed at your head. He fired point blank until he was taken out by another border guard.
I never met you, Hadar. I never met your parents, or your brother and sister. But I know you. I know that you were determined to be in a combat unit despite your parents’ fears for you, and that you achieved your wish. I know that you were extremely brave, and smart, and skilled, and even though you had so little on-the-job training, you behaved exactly the way an experienced veteran would have behaved. I am so proud of you, so heartbroken that you had to give your years to save others their years.
I am so heartbroken that you had to save us, that you are living in a country surrounded by Islamic murderers who target Jews for the oldest of reasons. I am heartbroken we older people can’t somehow protect our Hadars, that you have to protect us. If I could, I would wave a magic wand and all the haters, the inciters, the potential murderers of our people, would fall into one of the tunnels in Gaza and die a slow, painful death.
My wand would also make sure that the journalists who were supposed to report on your heroism- CBS, Reuters- who used “Three Palestinians Killed” as their headlines, instead of “Young Hadar Cohen Defeats Terrorists, Saves Untold Lives,” would one day – in a bar, or rock concert – face their very own jihadi, and that the headlines after their deaths would read: “Innocent Muslim Killed in Attack on Wicked Journalist.”
I wish I could give you back your years, give your parents back their lovely daughter, your siblings their precious sister, our country its talented, loyal citizen, the Jewish people its amazing member. I can only sit here with tears hoping that you will be the last one, the very last one who is called to sacrifice your years to give us ours.