Sunday, November 21, 2010

5 Kinds of Lone Soldiers

Is the IDF becoming the Diaspora's foreign legion? Has toting an M-16 and patrolling the back roads of the West Bank become more popular for Jewish teenagers than taking a year off before college to go and pick oranges on a kibbutz?
Haaretz, 2 March 2010

The arrival of Thanksgiving later this week means American volunteers in the IDF will be feted and fed at one of several celebratory feasts. These Thanksgiving meals are akin to the Seders organized for lone soldiers every Passover. While considering which of the Thanksgiving meals to attend, I stumbled across an article in Haaretz that depicts a Seder for lone soldiers in March. The article wastes little time describing the meal since the author is really interested in exploring why so many diaspora Jews want to join the IDF. Or at least that is the title of an article that is really about making snide comments and lambasting the militarization of Israeli society.

A bad answer is no reason to ignore a good questions. And so in honor of the many American IDF volunteers that will be gathering together this Thursday night, allow me to provide a brief description of the five typologies of the lone soldier. Few lone soldiers are pure examples of any given type, although an unusual number are far more like one of the following typologies than you may imagine.

1. Nikyim - the pure ones. Those who discovered G-d or Zionism in their teens, thanks to Birthright, Leon Uris or Bar Refaeli. Their return to the faith makes them true believers, granting them a simple purity that more seasoned Zionists can only grasp on Independence Day and visits to the military cemetery at Har Herzl.

2. Ba'ayatiyot - the troubled ones. Drugs, arrests, broken homes or broken hearts, enlisting allows them to escape their past. The Hebrew word for troubled ones nicely captures the way in which the army is designed to be the 'biotica' to heal their troubled past.

3. Fighterim - the Rambos. These guys and gals considered the Marines before deciding that the best way to be a 21st century Maccabee is in the army of the Jewish state. Israel has little attraction to them outside of the IDF, despite the debt they owe to the early Zionist theme of creating a new muscular militant Jew. Brotherhood of Warriors is their bible.

4. Bnei Yordim - the expat kids. The children of Israelis whose parents left the country yet grew up so awash in hummus, visits to Israel and stories of papa's exploits in Israel's wars that not putting on a uniform is almost unthinkable. The irony is that their Israeli cousins often have no intention of serving themselves.

5. Doh'sim - the religious Zionist. The lifers, who grew up in Zionist sleep-away camps and holiday visits to Israel. Learning in yeshiva in Israel is their stepping stone towards enlisting. May have starry eyed ideas of what their service means. Pretty boring. More or less me.

1 comment:

  1. I am finishing my service soon as a lone soldier, and I have to say you are right on. It's a rarity to see a lone soldier with the intelligence to so clearly categorize like this. Most lone soldiers have the self-reflective abilities of total retards...especially after a year or so of brainwashing via the army.

    I fall into the first category