Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We are ready to obey all commands

IDF Mission:
To defend the existence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the State of Israel; to protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms of terrorism which threaten the daily life of its citizens.

We are ready to obey all commands.
The Song of the Palmach


The summer induction of new soldiers into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began this week. Hundreds of young men and women are being drafted in the various brigades and units in the IDF. This week, those joining the Infantry Units are being called up, starting with the Golani Brigade, followed by Givati, Kfir, and Paratroopers (tzanchanim). Next week, the Air Force draftees are being called, followed by the Home Front Command, and finally the Armor and Artillery Corps (tanks and cannons).

According to the Israeli papers, despite the bad international press the IDF continually receives, approximately 72% of the draftees volunteer for ‘kravi’ or combat units – as opposed to asking to be a ‘jobnik’, i.e., having a non-cobat job (technical or service jobs). I suppose the draftees, like most Israelis, know that the bad press is 99% lies, and 1% non-truth.  

It’s hard to decide which brigade to volunteer for because each one has a different colored beret (koomta in Hebrew). My daughters and I have spent time deciding which the prettiest color is. I like the blue of the armored brigade, but others prefer the purple of Givati, or the scarlet of the paratroopers. Nachal has a cool green, and the Combat Engineers is silver. Very fashionable. (For a list of the units koomta colors and other insignia see this surprisingly important element of the army.)

Approximately 65% of eligible women and almost 73% of eligible men serve in the IDF. The largest group not drafted are religious women, however many of them volunteer instead for two years of ‘Sherut Leumi’, or national service. Almost the same number of men receive exceptions on medical grounds as religious. 

The IDF is, without doubt, the most moral and liberal army in the world.
While Israel is the only country that has a mandatory draft for women, it treats those women equally under the law, and they serve in all capacities; whether in combat or support units.
Hard-of-hearing citizens are drafted into non-combat units, gays are given equal rights and serve in all capacities, and other handicapped people can volunteer for certain positions within the IDF.

I can’t claim there is no crime within the IDF ranks. All armies have crime, and the IDF is no exception. However, there is almost no violent crime within the IDF and, despite the lies one hears, there is virtually no violent crime at all against the ‘enemy’. Because rape is completely non-existent within the IDF against Arab women, an extreme-leftist university ‘research’ paper came up with the theory that IDF soldiers don’t rape ‘because they are racist’. (Does this mean that armies who send their soldier to rape are really liberals at heart?) When IDF soldiers had been caught looting in Gaza during the 2009 Cast Lead war, they were prosecuted and sent to prison (a credit card was stolen). More common than looting, are soldiers who leave money on the table when they eat the food in a captured house in Lebanon or Gaza.

Millions of words have probably been written about the IDF, positive, negative, and neutral. I can’t compete with that.
But I can tell you that when my two sons took the oath of loyalty (one as a soldier in the Givati Brigade at Latrun, and the other as a soldier in the Nachal Brigade at the Kotel), I felt simultaneously prouder of my boys than at any other moment in their lives, and sicker to my stomach than any other time ever. That’s one of the weirder emotion combinations. Pride overcomes nausea however, and anytime I see either of them in uniform (which is really quite rare, as both tend(ed) to rip off the uniform as soon as they walk(ed) in the doorway – apparently it’s hot and itches) I have to stop myself from grabbing the camera and capturing a ‘Kodak moment’.

War is not glorious. It is not exciting, or adventurous, or inspiring. It is frightening, and heartbreaking, and tragic. There is nothing good. But the men and women of the IDF are inspiring, and since we have no choice but to defend our country and our people, I’m glad it’s our boys and girls doing it.

Please pray for the safety and security of our soldiers, wherever they are.

The IDF Oath of Loyalty (translated)
I swear and commit to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel, its laws, and authorities, to accept upon myself unconditionally the authority of the Israel Defense Force, obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders, devote all my energies, and even sacrifice my life for the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel.







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