(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Liatte Dotan decided last August to move here, she wound up following closely in her father’s footsteps.
While Liatte was born in Omaha, Nebraska, her father, Amnon, had served a long career in the IDF, the highlight of which was the establishment in 1974 of the Paratrooper Brigade’s elite antitank unit, known as Orev. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
It was shortly after the Yom Kippur War of 1973, during which the IDF suffered heavy losses to Syria’s and Egypt’s armor, and the army was looking for a way to provide its infantry with the ability to counter the tanks. Dotan was instrumental in developing the capability in the form of the Orev missile and the establishment of a special unit in the Paratrooper Brigade to operate it.
With such a father, Liatte’s decision to make aliya and serve in the IDF seems natural, and it did come easily for the red-haired 20-year-old.
After high school, she decided to come here for the traditional “gap year” as part of a program called Kivunim, which takes students to Jewish communities around the world. During her year, Liatte visited Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Morocco and India.
“I was very torn since the American experience is to go straight to college, but I had a dual identity since I was partially Israeli,” she says. “My feeling was that if my friends in Israel are serving in the army, then how can I not.”
What helped her make the decision was the decision by Brown University – the only college she really wanted to attend to study anthropology and art history – not to accept her.
“Not getting into Brown was possibly the best thing that could have happened to me,” Liatte says.
Her main consultant in her dilemma was her father, who said that while their house was “Israeli and Zionist” in character, he rarely spoke about his army experiences and did not try to influence her decision one way or the other.
“My first response was that this is your decision, but that you need to understand that there are responsibilities and that this is a big deal,” he recalls telling Liatte.
“My father sympathized with my decision and my feeling that I need to fulfill an obligation,” Liatte said.
After arriving, she began interviewing for different positions in the IDF but was set on serving in the Strategic Liaison Department, which is responsible for coordination with international organizations and foreign militaries.
Currently, she is located in a base on the Golan Heights where she is responsible for setting up educational programs for soldiers from UNDOF, the UN force which maintains the peace along the Israeli-Syrian border.
Recently, for example, she took some of the foreign soldiers to the Dead
Sea and Masada. Ahead of Jewish holidays, she holds educational
programs for the soldiers to teach them about Israeli and Jewish
She enjoys her job and feels like her interest in foreign affairs and
international relations help her.
“I feel like I am helping to do important work,” she says. “I collect
experiences in my life and am thankful for the opportunity to be able to
meet different people and talk to UN soldiers who have been to the
Sahara, Sudan and Sarajevo. Its pretty cool.”