A group of IDF veterans has set up a new website aimed at debunking accusations
against Israel and its military in the most direct way – questions and
Called “Friend-a-Soldier,” the site was established by IDF
veterans Daniel Nisman, Yagil Beinglass and Joshua Mintz, American and British
immigrants in their early 20s who were distraught over the way IDF soldiers were
being vilified in news stories, blogs, and online chat rooms.
enables people around the world to ask IDF soldiers personal questions about
their army service and life in Israel, and receive a transparent, truthful
answer in return.
“Establishing these personal connections is the only
way to break the misconceptions about us,” explained Nisman, 24, who studies
government at the IDC in Herziliya and served in the Nahal Brigade after moving
to Israel from Cleveland, Ohio. “The existence of this website shows that we
have nothing to hide. We would never see a website like this of Hamas
Since the launch of the site, Friend-a-Soldier
has had visits from over 3,000 unique users from over 50 countries, including
Kuwait, Yemen, and Turkey.
“The most interesting e-mails have come from
Arabs,” said Beinglass.
“Some want our opinion on the peace process,
others ask if we kill babies. Many seem skeptical about their own government’s
portrayal of Israel and Jews.”
The site works on a system of volunteers,
who represent a wider array of civilian and military backgrounds. Yuval
Zimerman, for example, made aliya from Mexico and is currently studying history
at the Hebrew University.
He served as an officer in the Paratroopers
Corps during the second intifada and has fielded some of the questions regarding
IDF operations in the West Bank.
Another soldier is 24-year-old Liran
Suhareanu, who was a commander at the IDF Induction Center in Tel Hashomer. She
answers questions regarding the social role the military plays in Israeli
“For me, it’s important for people to understand that since its
inception, the IDF has had women serving alongside men, and that Arabs and gays
serve openly,” she said.
The project’s founders have high hopes for the
“We aim to reach a point where we have IDF veterans from all
parts of Israeli society volunteering to answer questions in many languages to
personally influence hundreds of people a month,” Nisman said.