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Soldier Stories: Lital Defies Gender Stereotypes
Soldier Stories: Lital Defies Gender Stereotypes

By Jspace Staff
March 6, 2013

This is the fourth in a series of stories told by former IDF soldiers about their time in service and life in Israel, brought to you by StandWithUs and Lital was one of the 12 soldiers on StandWithUsí 5th annual "Israeli Soldiers Stories" tour, which reached 150 venues from February 17-March 2, 2013. Read more Soldier Stories on Jspace.

Lital, now a 29-year-old Tel Aviv resident, was faced with the same choice as many Israeli teens. Enlisting in the IDF was a given, but where to serve provided a dilemma. Many women become instructors, officers or intelligence gatherers. Not Litalóshe volunteered for a combat unit so that she could fight for her country alongside her male peers. This is her story.

Jspace: How did you end up where you ended up in the IDF?

Lital: Most of the women are doing all kinds of different positions, like intelligence units, educational positions, sometimes training other soldiers. But in order to be a combat soldier, you need to volunteer and to ask for it.

I really wanted to do a meaningful service. I didnít want to serve coffee; I wanted to serve my country. So I volunteered to be a combat soldier and I served in the border guard for three years, same as the guys. And Iím still doing my reserve service.

More specifically, what motivated you to volunteer for that?

When youíre living in Israel, which is a very small country, smaller than Lake Michigan, you realize things. I realized when Iím driving from my house in Tel Aviv, Iím only 40 minutes from Hamas-controlled Gaza to the south and only one hour and a half from the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon to the north. So when Iím joining the army, Iím basically guarding my home, my friends, my family. The army is not a choice, it is a duty but itís a duty that we are very proud of.

Do you have any anecdotes about what your active duty was like?

When I was going through my training course, it was physically very hardcore. Afterwards I was integrated in a combat unit serving mostly in the area of Hevron and the West Bank. In my unit we were five girls and 100 guys and we were doing the exact same thing as the guys: arrest operations, controlling and handling security check points between Israel and Palestinians. The army recognized the importance of placing women in this role in order to let them examine Palestinian women to let them cross into Israel for work or medical reasons.

What happens when youíre on a US tour and you get confronted with pushback from Pro-Palestinian activists?

I explain that we want to live in peace. We really wish that we wouldnít have to go through the army but the army is something that is a necessity because the army is something that is saving lives. We donít live in Switzerland; we are living in a pretty rough neighborhood.

So I explain how I face dilemmas, like standing at a checkpoint dealing with ambulances carrying explosive devices and how we are playing by different rules than the terrorists and itís very hard.

Itís also important for us to explain how the Palestinians are not our enemy. How the Hamas and the terrorists are our enemies and we are fighting Hamas, not the Palestinian civilians. We are trying to do our best to not harm innocent civilians.

What is the core message you want people to take away from your story?

I want to give people the opportunity to talk to someone who is Israeli and served in the IDF so that they can see the real faces behind the headlines of the media. Because as a journalist, I know how the media works. I know how a lot of the time people donít get the full story, so it was important to me to get the message out, get the moral values of the IDF and the dilemmas we are facing everyday and the security missions we are handling in the IDF.

Itís difficult to grow up in Israel with all these complicated situations, where my parents are under fire from rockets from Gaza, where we have wars every two years. Itís a pretty crazy situation and itís important for to me to get the message through to people, to speak for the troops and speak for the facts. Thereís a lot misinformation regarding Israel, so itís important for me to give those people the real facts, the real information, and the tools to really search for the truth.

.ORG-Connection: StandWithUs is dedicated to informing the public about Israel and to combating the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues.

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