The Israel Defense Forces is an army unlike any other in the world. A soldier in Israel is treated…well, differently than most soldiers in other armies. This is true for many reasons. Our soldiers train like any other army, wear uniforms, have roll call. They eat, sleep on base, do patrols. But what changes them from ordinary to extraordinary are the connections.
Here are two videos that I recently found on YouTube. The first was made by the IDF. It shares 24 hours in the lives of several platoons – from sunrise to sunrise. Watch it and see how the soldiers relate to each other, how they cheer each other on.
The second video is funny and cute. Mixed in with the jokes are some serious points. No, soldiers won’t knock people down nor will they walk over to someone and take their sandwich for their own. But there is a closeness to our society that comes through in both these videos. Soldiers do come home and want to eat…and eat…and eat. And yes, sometimes they exaggerate a bit what they do. If you put the two videos together, you probably have a fair picture of Israeli society and the army.
Connections with family become stronger but so do the connections between soldier and commanding officer, and those between one soldier and another. In addition, the army takes the soldiers around to visit major historical sites in the country and this helps strengthen the soldier’s connection to the land he or she now defends.
What makes Israel unique, though, is the informality of our society and how that impacts on every soldier. Really, it’s all there. For example, here, the soldier calls his commanding officer by his first name, and often when soldiers walk into a restaurant, the store will give them a discount (or even a free meal).