Magen David Adom receives life lessons from a hero
Amos Levitov, former Israeli Air Force pilot and Prisoner of War in Egypt, shared lessons of courage and experiences of captivity at a Magen David Adom UK Benefactors and Patrons Reception on Monday night. The exclusive intimate reception was part of his 3 day speaking tour of the UK.
Guests gathered to hear Levitov recount his extremely personal and touching story, which started in 1970 during the War of Attrition when he served as a navigator in one of the two F4 Phantom squadrons of the IAF. His plane was shot down in the course of an operational mission over Egyptian territory. Whilst held in captivity for three and a half years he was subjected to interrogation, torture and kept in solitary confinement, before being reunited with his 9 other comrades in the Egyptian jail. Levitov and his ‘brothers in arms’ soon decided democratically on the rules and values that would govern their lives.
Finally after three and a half years in captivity in November 1973, after the Yom Kippur war, a deal was struck to release Levitov along with 253 other Israeli prisoners of war in a prisoner exchange. Amazingly after his release, Levtitov reenlisted in the IAF and continued to take part in combat flights.
Levitov spoke about how his faith became extremely important to him during his time in captivity, and how his optimism helped him to stay strong. He described the weekly secret meetings to establish rules of how they would lead their lives in prison, in order to retain behavioural norms whilst being held in this extremely closed group.
Levitov’s experience as a PoW led him to understand that proper mental preparation is the key to overcoming even the most extreme pressures. In Israel, he is working with Magen David Adom paramedics and volunteers who constantly operate in stressful, traumatic and what can seem to be impossible circumstances to help them prepare for these inevitable challenging situations.
Henry Ejdelbaum, incoming Chair of MDA UK, said: “Amos’s story symbolises the human dimension of Israel’s conflicts. We were taken aback to realise how many Israeli PoW there were and what they endured – it was truly inspirational and I am not exaggerating but many of us had to hold back the tears in our eyes. We were honoured to listen to his story and gain further insight into how he has taken his experience and turned it into something positive that others can learn from.”
Levitov was joined on Monday night by Britain’s Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould. At the reception, Matthew Gould made a presentation of thanks to outgoing Chair of MDA UK, Stuart Glyn, for his many years of hard work and dedicated service to the charity. Stuart Glyn, said: “I was moved by Matthew Gould’s very kind words. It has been an honour to serve such an organisation that plays so central a role in the lives of all Israeli’s irrespective of their ethnicity or religion saving lives every single day. I look forward to continuing to support the wonderful work of Magen David Adom as a member of the Board.”
To view the gallery from this event, click here.