IDF: Yordim will return in time of war

Officers to Post: Israeli emigrants will be "a vital source of manpower."

reserve soldiers298 88aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
reserve soldiers298 88aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Tens of thousands of yordim - Israeli expatriates - would flock to Israel to defend the country during its next war, a senior IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post this week. While the army said it did not see a war on the horizon, plans have been drawn up for the possibility that masses of Israelis would return to Israel to serve in the army if Israel was attacked and at risk. According to the plans, soldiers and officers from the IDF's Behavioral Sciences Department would meet the former Israelis as they arrived in Israel and would divide them into military companies, brigades and divisions. "This is a vital source of manpower," a senior IDF officer said of the ex-patriots, adding jokingly, "we may have a problem with where to put them all." According to Immigration Absorption Ministry statistics, approximately 600,000 Israelis live abroad, mostly in the United States in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Other calculations put the number of expatriate Israelis at close to 1 million across the world. "We are confident that if the need arises tens of thousands will flock to Israel," said an officer intimately involved in the plans to absorb the expatriates at a time of war. "They will come even if we don't call them, since they are motivated by something like a conscientious emergency call-up." Upon arrival, the expatriates would be divided into companies and taken to IDF bases across the country. There, they would undergo two days of training to refamiliarize themselves with basic warfare skills. The idea, the officer said, was not to take people off a plane, hand them a gun and send them to the battlefield without any previous training, similar to what Israel did in the manpower-starved times of the 1948 War of Independence. "We are only interested in taking people who served in the army and already have the basic skills," the officer said. "We will pick them up, take them for a quick round of training, get them dressed in uniforms and then let them wash their faces and send them out to fight." Every year, senior officers in the IDF's Manpower Branch visit major concentrations of Israeli emigrants in the West to field questions about military service, as well as to encourage Israeli youth there to return to serve in the army. Top recruitment officers spend two to three weeks visiting London, New York, Toronto, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.