Dirty, hot and exhausted Israeli soldiers waiting for their bus home from the army base tend, understandably, to be in a hurry to get on board.
But when I was living in Israel during the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, soldiers didn’t jostle to be first in line. Rather, the most coveted position was second.
That’s because the bus driver had the right – under rules issued by the army and made clear to each armed soldier before she or he left the base – to order any soldier to sit in the front seat and remain alert. And the first one to get on board was the obvious choice.