An annual salute for IDF soldiers organized by the US Friends of the IDF was held in New York. Some 1400 people attended the fund-raising evening, which is considered one of the larger fund-raising events in the US
Invitees and guests heard the words of the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, through a live satellite broadcast directly from the “Sword Shield” Unit as he spoke of the threats directed against Israel.
“The FIDF has been supporting the IDF for 30 years already and also affects the American public opinion, both politically and domestically”, said Lt. Gen. Gantz to the Air Force website. “Their love for the soldiers of the IDF is very high and I know it well from my tenure as an attaché to the United States. They care very much about the IDF, both those who donate millions of dollars and those who donate what they can or are partners in doing so. I think that this is something we have merited that has given us an opportunity to speak with them from here”.
“We have seized the opportunity that we are already here and we are conducting at moments like these a surprise audit at the base and are checking its functionality”, revealed the Chief of Staff. “So far everything looks good”.
Lt. Gen. Gantz also referred to the growing rocket activity from the Gaza Strip in recent days when asked if he expects a significant escalation in the southern region.
“There is a potential for an escalation in the south and indeed there is a greater pace of events. The IDF has responded to the rocket fire and unfortunately there are four dead who were uninvolved. We are investigating how it happened. We are careful to avoid harming innocent people”.
Immediately after the words of the Chief of Staff, Deputy Noam Dashti, an officer of the “Sword Shield” Unit, spoke.
He presented his unit to the Americans along with the ballistic threats that the unit deals with.
Deputy Dashti was born in Israel in 1983 and after two years, his family decided to move to the United States for one year for his father’s studies. That year ended up lasting 20 years when his family decided to settle in Southern California. Dashti went to a Jewish Day School and every summer visited his extended family in Israel.
“I kept in touch with the State, but I wasn’t connected to it through my heart”, he admits. After three years in college, he left for a year of study at the Tel Aviv University.
“Then I really fell in love. Its hard to describe in words what made me feel like that but you can’t argue with what the heart feels”.
After the school year he returned to the US. However, he then began feeling that something was missing.
“At that time, in 2003, there were many terrorist attacks and I thought to myself, ‘what am I doing in America?’ Then I decided to return to Israel”.
After finishing an additional degree, Dashti debated where to go next. Within a short time, the decision was made to volunteer for the IDF at the age of 26.
“I knew that I wanted to build a family here and you can’t do that with your chin up if you haven’t served in the army. My father served as anti-aircraft ‘Hawk’ man, so I decided I wanted to serve in the air defense system”.
“They told me, ‘good, now you are ‘poisoned’ but within six months you’ll get tired of it. You will have 18 year old commanders’. Even my friends in the army sometimes said I’m crazy. But I came with an open mind and I tried to be positive”.
After a period of being a full fledged “Patriot PAC-2” fighter, he decided to go to officer’s course.
“I wasn’t sure from the beginning that I wanted to go to officer’s course but it was an experience that I will never forget”, he says.
On a daily basis, when he is not giving speeches to fundraisers, Dashti lives in Tel Aviv and serves as a track commander for fighters in the “Sword Shield” unit. He is still yet to build a family but he has been in a relationship now for several months. When is the wedding? Still no answer.