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Countdown to Draft Day

June 5, 2011 – 3:23 pm8 Comments

By Kovi Rose

The process has begun, the cogs are in motion, the clock is ticking and I have less than 100 days until my first draft or tzav rishon for the Israeli Army. During this I will be poked, prodded, questioned and tested so that the army can determine my fitness and eligibility for different positions in the military. Most men who are healthy, fit and can speak good Hebrew will receive a good Kaba – an overall evaluation score determining which army units will be available to you. Being all of those things, I am almost certain to receive a perfect medical profile and will be subsequently able to serve in combat units.

The question that I ask myself now, however, is whether I am truly ready to be assigned to such a job. Needless to say this is something which most Israeli teenagers go through for years before their first draft, and I can imagine that they and their families spend countless hours debating the dangers and pitfalls of being a Lochem (fighter). Over the past 20 years, the number of male candidates who forgo enlisting has risen from 8% to almost 30%; clearly demonstrating the hesitancy of Israel’s youth to serve.

Besides the obvious risks of injury or even death, many Israeli’s – some merely 16 years of age – see the potential of being captured by terrorists, tortured, and held for ransom for an extended period of time. Gilad Shalit, as an example, has been held hostage since June 2006; something which has been terrible and scary for both him and his family. Hundreds of thousands world-wide have petitioned and protested for his  release, as opposed to Ron Arad who has been all but forgotten; yet I doubt that that encourages those joining  Israel’s military in any way.  Personally, Nachshon Wachsman, who was killed in 1994 as part of an IDF rescue attempt, makes me feel as if the army would do its best to protect each of its soldiers.

The fact that many people forget when they talk about Israel’s soldiers, Israel’s actions, and Israeli’s occupation, is that the majority of these fighters’s are less than 20 years old. I put this question to those who measure these young men against standards that are both biased and unfair – were you and your actions perfect when you were under pressure at such an age? Would you even have the capacity to cope with the hardships that they do?

A country that is openly opposed to negotiations with terrorists, should not engage in negotiations with terrorists. And although many would say that the saving of a life is equivalent to saving a nation, I would contend that the cost of trading captured terrorists with blood on their hands is far too great; and would eventually result in more bloodshed and anguish.

Ultimately, almost anybody serving in the army puts their life at risk, and I acquiesce to the serious reality of this danger. However, the knowledge that men like Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and the new Ramat Kal (IDF Chief of Staff) Benny Gantz, would actively attempt to save me, makes me feel much more comfortable with the whole idea.

Kovi Rose is a Mount Scopus graduate who made aliyah in March 2011. This is an entry for his aliyah journal that he is writing for Galus Australis.

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8 Comments »

  • The Doc says:

    Kovi, an interesting piece, please keep posting your insights into the experiences and hardships faced by an oleh. I have one query.

    You commented that. “Over the past 20 years, the number of male candidates who forgo enlisting has risen from 8% to almost 30%; clearly demonstrating the hesitancy of Israel’s youth to serve.

    You put this hesitancy down to

    “The obvious risks of injury or even death, many Israeli’s – some merely 16 years of age – see the potential of being captured by terrorists, tortured, and held for ransom for an extended period of time”

    Besides these factors, the hesitancy of some of these youth could surly could be put down to opposition to the occupation and the armies role in upholding it?

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Hi Kovi,
    Your position is a little unclear – on one hand you say that Israel should not negotiate with terrorists; on the other hand you say that you feel much more comfortable knowing that efforts are made to save captured soldiers. These efforts may well involve negotiating. Or are you only referring to a Nachshon Wachsman style rescue attempt?
    In any case, best of luck for your giyus!

  • Kovi Rose - Shira says:

    Hi Shira,
    You are correct in saying that i was only referring to the case of Nachshon Wachsman.
    Thanks

  • Kovi Rose - The Doc says:

    Yes Doc, there are many other factors that could be related to the hesitancy of modern Israeli youth. And yes opposition to the occupation of the territories may be among those factors. However to base such a substantial drop on this issue alone would be incorrect.
    Note that i said that this drop began roughly 20 years ago, before any mention of Olso, territories and intifadas.
    Thanks

  • The Doc says:

    The first Intifada against Israeli occupation was well underway 20 years ago.

    Thanks for your reply Kovi.

  • Ron says:

    The drop is simply because Israeli youth is not more exposed to the way of life of young people of the same age in the Western world (e.g. Australia) and want to live as they do.

    Israeli society became much more individualist and much less commited to Zionism, or to any other ideology. The religious-national youth (modern orthodox) are an exception. As a result, service dodging became legitimate, mainly after more and more celebrities (e.g. the musician Aviv Gefen) started doing so.

    I agree with Kovi that the control over the West Bank etc. are marginal as a reason to the increase in service dodging. The significant drop in dodging took place during the optimistic days of the Oslo accords in the mid 1990s.

  • Kovi Rose - The Doc says:

    Yes Doc, i know that the 1st intifada began in 1987, but i did say roughly, and i was referring to it offhandedly as a contributing factor. In either case, in terms of impact upon Israeli youth, i feel like that still would have been too early a stage for it.

  • Ron says:

    Oops… typos. I meant “Israeli youth is now more exposed” “The significant increase in service dodging started in the mid-1990s”.

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