Only Available for California Residents-18 Years or Older
Donate Shop Register Volunteer


Soldiers talk about service in Israel
Soldiers talk about service in Israel


    Patrick Barron/Daily
    Ari, a former Israeli soldier, recounts personal experiences from his time with the Israeli Defense Forces in front of a crowd in Hillel on Thursday.


By Cassandra Balfour
Michigan Daily
February 22, 2013


On Thursday night, a group of about twenty students gathered at Hillel to hear the stories of two former soldiers who served in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Business junior Barak Kaufman, president of I-LEAD a group that advocates for Israeli policy stances collaborated with StandWithUS, a non-profit educational and advocacy group that promotes Israeli interests, to bring the two former Israeli soldiers, Ari and Lital, to campus in order to put a human face on the IDF.

We have meetings and we talk about all this stuff and we hold events but youre thousands of miles away from the conflict, Kaufman said. But to put a face to them, to be able to interact with actual Israelis that live and breathe that kind of life and provide an open forum to see what life is like.

Talking in mixed English and Hebrew, both soldiers only used their first names during the conference for unspecified reasons. During their presentation, they emphasized that they want a two-state solution but said that Hamas, the group that governs Gaza and is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, wouldnt grant any concessions. For the bulk of the talk, both soldiers fielded questions from the audience about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

They also told personal stories about their time in combat. Ari, now a software engineer, recalled a time when a paramedic in his unit, Jonathan, was killed during a mission to arrest a suspected terrorist in the West Bank. He claimed his friend was killed because Israeli rules of engagement dictate that soldiers cannot shoot until they are directly threatened.

On the one hand you want to stop the terrorists, on the other hand you want to avoid as much as possible hurting innocent civilians, Ari said. But sometimes you put your own life at risk. Maybe if things went differently Jonathon might be alive today.

Both served in combat positions and frequently noted the difficulty of living under constant threat of rocket fire. They claimed that nearly everyone in Israel knew at least one person who had been a touched by terrorism.

I cant really describe to you what it means to be an 18-year-old girl who goes out to a nightclub and cannot think what to wear, just about is it safe her mother is at home worried sick for when shell be back, if shell be back, Lital said. That was the situation then and were still facing terror attacks and rocket attacks from Gaza.

During the question-and-answer portion, one student brought up a scandal the IDF faced earlier this week that involved an IDF soldier purportedly posting an Instagram photo of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of his sniper rifle. Both Ari and Lital condemned the picture and assured the crowd that the IDF doesnt view all Palestinians as the enemy.

If a soldier is doing something inappropriate in the West Bank, its not something that is common or acceptable and usually that solider will be punished by his commanders and be judged by his peers, Lital said.

Nick Lieber, a StandWithUs campus coordinator, said the talks with soldiers were started in order to humanize IDF soldiers because the media presented a skewed portrait of them. The groups hosting of IDF soldiers last year was met with protests by groups that advocate for Palestine.

It was response to disinformation about Israel in the media during the Second Intifada, so our mission is to educate about Israel and about the conflict, Lieber said. The whole point is to put a human face to the IDF because people hear stories about the Israeli army, and you never meet the people and hear their actual stories.

LSA junior Samia Ayyash said she was disappointed with the event and claimed that the former soldiers presented a biased view of the complex conflict and that they dehumanized the Palestinian side.

Read article here
Other stories
4/17/2014
In the mailboxes of the average American 17-year-old, one might find birthday cards from r...
4/17/2014
This is the eighth in a series of stories told by former IDF soldiers about their time in ...
4/14/2014
The Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement against Israel is often seen as progressive — ...
4/14/2014
Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz c...
4/14/2014
Yishai and Ilana are students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but they weren`t visi...
4/14/2014
Cornell University`s Student Assembly on Thursday voted 15-8 (with one abstention) to inde...
4/14/2014
Pro-Palestinian activists have scheduled a splash of anti-Israel events on campuses around...
4/14/2014
Palestinian Authority security forces used force to disperse and arrest Palestinian activi...
4/10/2014
StandWithUs condemns Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for planning an anti-Israel &...
4/10/2014
For the third time, StandWithUs (SWU) is countering anti-Israel messages on Washington D.C...
4/9/2014
StandWithUs welcomes two Israeli soldiers to San Diego this week as part of their “I...
4/9/2014
This is the sixth in a series of stories told by former IDF soldiers about their time in s...
4/9/2014
This is the seventh in a series of stories told by former IDF soldiers about their time in...
4/9/2014
After experiencing the terror of war in the Middle East from the frontlines of a battle zo...
4/9/2014
These days, social media is everywhere. That`s why StandWithUs has used the opportunity to...
4/8/2014
A new study shows them to be among the most contented in the Western world. What gives?...
4/8/2014
The anti-Israel movement on campus would like you to think that divestment is a form of pu...
4/7/2014
A first-hand account of how one of America`s elite schools became the latest flash point o...
4/7/2014
The pro-Israel community at DePaul University applauds Loyola University United Student Go...
4/3/2014
On March 31, I attended a disturbing lecture at Washington University in St. Louis. It was...

 

About Us
Get Involved
Resources
Shop For Israel
Social Media
StandWithUs Websites