The Israeli's Tradition of Army Service

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For many Israeli’s, the most influential period in their life starts in the Army. It is all Israeli’s rite of passage. The majority of Israeli’s see this as a privilege and do so under very harsh conditions, “I don't know of any army that does more than an Israeli army does to avoid civilian casualties”, a quote from Benjamin Netanyahu showing the commitment of the IDF. At one time a person not serving in the IDF was ostracised from society and would find it very hard to find employment and life could even become unbearable. This was a result of the pride the Israeli people have in serving their country. So much so that a new venture was under taken to integrate disabled people into the army, it is called Great in Uniform. It allows them to serve in the army with dignity while making a meaningful contribution. Men have to serve 30 months and women have to serve 18 months in the army. To be exempted from the IDF you will have to be a mother, married, pregnant, or anyone who is certified as mentally or physically unfit and lastly men who are ultra-religious and study full time at a Yeshiva[1]. At the age of 18 you finish high school known as Bagrut in hebrew and either go off to study at university or you go for your First Order with the army known as Tsaz Hitatsvut in Hebrew known as ‘Basic assessment day’. Then you will receive Second Order – referred to as Tzav Shni in Hebrew and Third Order know as Tzav Rishon - At these assessments, you will undergo medical, psychological, Hebrew language and IQ testing. These results will determine where in the army you will best be suited based on numerous outcomes and taking into account your preference. You may be invited to try out for the Elite Unit where you will undergo further physical and mental testing On Yom Hagiyus.

In many aspects, the Israeli army is seen as an essential need for Israel as a country and would simply not be the country we have today without it. If you look at the economic growth of Israel, you will notice that it has grown faster than most developed countries since 1995. Many believe this is due to the Israel Army being Mandatory! The IDF teaches young people to problem solve, interact and work with people from all walks of life building networks that last a life time. The skills learnt have been imperative in the creating of entrepreneurial businesses. Israel is known as the “Start-up Nation” and Israel has more Nasdaq listed companies than any other barring the US and China. It has more venture capital per capita and more start-ups than any other country in the world. The IDF is the most important source of Israeli innovation. It selects the most brilliant young people with high intellect and analytical abilities and train and educate them to achieve greatness. They create an environment that stimulates innovation and success. This is the backbone of the Israeli Economy and is an ongoing project to find and train these young people for greatness. These youngsters are involved and get hands on experience in projects worth billions of pounds from an early age. They are taught and experience team building skills, confrontation, problem solving all helping them build a foundation for their future. Israeli’s are taught hard work and discipline from the age of 18 in the IDF. This is evident in their work ethic, which is seen in most businesses working 6 days a week. The Israeli week starts on a Sunday; this includes school, government office, and general businesses.

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Even though Israel has a lot of benefits from the army and it being mandatory, there are a few down sides. The IDF is the largest expense to Israel costing upwards of £15 billion pounds per year. Imagine if Israel did not need an army, the country would be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It however continues to serve as the starting point for the growth of the Israeli economy educating soldiers in engineering, technology and the sciences. Adding to their development in these formative years. This has resulted in the export of innovative technology to the rest of the world and has enhanced Israel’s economy. Going through the daily demands and hardship of army life in a total equality forges common bonds. Most senior officers are made in the army, starting on equal footing as everyone else. Working their way to commanders. The IDF do not give ranks for academic achievements rather through hard work and commitment. This system allows the youth to grow and maximise their potential while forging bonds between fellow soldiers.

The IDF being mandatory (like said before) shows a real sense of pride from Israeli’s as millions of youngsters are willing to go into something very new and abnormal from their everyday lives. Rather than the army being someone that is dreaded by millions of people in Israel, its rather something that a lot of people look forward to in order to express their passion for their home country. The IDF is an example of how to turn a terrible necessity of having to continually protect oneself in our homeland to exist by aiding all through education, preparing all individuals for a meaningful life letting each and everyone know that with rights come huge obligations. The Israeli defence Force is a force to be reckoned with in terms of national pride, skill and gender equality.

To many Israeli’s and even people from other countries its very important to them that the Israeli army is mandatory, not only for the protection of Israeli, but for the benefit for Israeli’s as individuals in later life. A famous quote from Golda Meri – Israel’s Prime Minister “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” A famous quote which truly shows that if an army wasn’t needed, Israeli simply wouldn’t have one and that its simply for the safety of its people. Another famous quote from Benjamin Netanyahu, “The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel, If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war.” which once again signifies the point that’s it’s crucial that Israel have a mandatory army due to violence caused by other countries.

With the Mandatory military defence force, a much stronger, more outgoing person is taught the basic necessities that a lot of youngsters from other countries with non-mandatory armies will not get. With the army being mandatory, it creates a much more stronger country as a whole with millions of young men and women getting on with their lives after the army with life long lessons and experiences knowing that they paid their dues to society. Unlike how many people are taught in school, being educating is not the only requirement you need in order to become a successful more reliable and responsible person, but instead it’s the way you interact with others and the experiences you face through rough work which is found in the army. Comparing a teenager/young man who has spent around four years of college following high school graduation and receiving a bachelor’s degree, to someone who has finished military service and is an overall better, stronger person ready for later life and tough challenges ahead.

Many parents within Israel will of course be scared for their children to be leaving them and facing a new chapter in their life fighting for their country. This frightening sense of letting go of your child is comforted by the way in which the Israeli army values each and every one of its members, no matter how old, what race, what religion or ethnicity. A very famous example of the way that Israel showed its value for even one solider was through a young brave solider named Gilad Shalit who was held in captivity in Gaza for several years. In exchange for Gilad, Israel released thousands of prisoners back to Gaza just for one Israeli Solider, this simply shows how much Israel care for every one of its soldiers and the extreme extents people within the army will go to just for a single person’s life. Many people say that there would be little, or even no difference whether the Israeli army is mandatory or not, this is due to the passion that millions of Israelis have for their country and proving that even if they weren’t forced into the army, they would still carry out their service.

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