Once upon a time in the winter of 1967-68, we were visited by some aunts and uncles from America. For whatever reason they were staying at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Mount of Olives, in East Jerusalem (these days it's called something else), where we went to visit them. I guess we joined them in the dining room. There must have been issues of kashrut, but I was a kid and don't remember how they were resolved. At one point an uncle asked the waiter to bring him a shrimp fork. The waiter, a respectable looking middle aged man, looked him in the eye and sincerely informed him that during the recent war the Israeli soldiers had stolen all the shrimp forks. The uncle found this amusing, and wondered how come they hadn't stolen any of the other utensils as well; if I'm not mistaken the answer had something to do with shrimp forks being a novelty for Israeli soldiers so they had stolen only them - but I can't swear to that part of the story.
The moral of the story: you don't have to believe everything folks tell you merely because they look you in the eye and seem sincere.
Late last year as I was reading the Goldstone Report I occasionally commented on its more outlandish tall tales. One of these was about the IDF troops who parachuted out of helicopters onto Palestinian roofs, the proof of which was the small parachutes left behind and presented to the Commission by the locals. I wrote about this here, and a few readers commented that contrary to what I thought, they had actually heard that such a technology does exist, even if its application in Gaza seemed far-fetched.
The other day I ran into an acquaintance who should know about such matters. He's in his early 40s, a career infantry officer, which means he has spent 25 years knowing everything possible about his profession. He is now a full colonel. It occurred to me to try the story on him.
His draw dropped. No, he'd never heard of such a thing, nor did he see the sense to it, since helicopters can fly low enough for troops to jump unaided; on the other hand, the idea of using parachutes next to helicopter rotors seemed insane to him.
I told him Goldstone must know better than he.