Last year, the IDF spokesman announced enlistment rates of 69% among men and 55% among women. These figures speak for themselves - low recruitment could result in a serious blow to Israeli society, loss of essential life skills and gnawing at the glue that holds society together.
Service in the IDF is multi-disciplinary and does not end with combat training or even homeland defense. It is vital to acknowledge that the IDF also provides its soldiers with skills, values and professional abilities that are not only the pillars of its success, but also those of Israeli society at large: leadership and decision-making, personal relationships and loyalty, pursuit of goals, perseverance, creativity, reliability trust-building and more.
To increase motivation and expose the many advantages one receives in the IDF, a recently launched social project presents the IDF legacy through interviews with men and women across generations, each of whom tells of a defining event from their service, with a focus on the educational insights that accompany them to this day.
In high schools throughout the country, students are trained to interview family and friends who served in the IDF. Through this, they learn about significant events, preserve their own family heritage, and learn about the values of the IDF and life skills practiced by IDF soldiers.
This month, to mark the 75th Independence Day and ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, high schools across the country invited Yom Kippur War veterans to speak at their schools. These included Major General Amram Mitzna and Major General Gideon Shafer, who talked about the significant experiences they underwent during the war.
Among the varied examples that can be viewed on the project's digital platform:
- S., Commander of Basic Training for soldiers with criminal backgrounds, who explains how she fought for each and every one of them because she understood that their failure in training would mean expulsion from the army and a return to a life of crime.
- D., the first female Vehicle Officer in the Air Force, talks about the difficulty in accepting a position that had, until her arrival, been filled only by male officers. She presents an inspirational story of female empowerment and self-empowerment, as well as setting a personal example for future female officers.
- MK Matan Kahana, who served as a fighter jet Squadron Commander, tells about the effort of preserving the "purity of arms," the honor code calling upon IDF soldiers to "do all in their power to prevent harming the lives, bodies, dignity and property" of enemy civilians, values that develop moral judgment in individual commanders facing difficult moral dilemmas in ambiguous and dangerous field conditions.
- Lieutenant Colonel A., who served as a logistics officer in the Golani Unit during the Second Lebanon War, tells of the challenges in managing logistics for soldiers who fought on the front lines and the innovation and creativity he used to work around the difficulties.
The project is launching in several cities in the US, in which teenagers in Jewish Youth Organizations will interview Israelis within their community who served in the IDF. The initiative connects youth in the Diaspora with the values of the IDF, of being Israeli and the relationship between them. Many of these youth are exposed to events in Israel mainly through social networks and miss the complete picture of who IDF soldiers are and their role. The project provides them with a broader and more objective perspective.
The project works in cooperation with the various IDF units, the IDF Disabled Soldiers Organization, the Acharei! Organization, associations of graduates of IDF units, academia, schools, youth groups, and the broader Israeli community. More than 50 volunteers participate in the project, and the advisory committee includes senior military personnel as well as senior members of the business community.
The author of the article is the Chairman of Nekudat Zion, the IDF Heritage Association and a reserve officer in the Israeli Air Force.