Over the last two weeks of war, IDF soldiers have been defending Israel with the utmost courage and heroism. But while many troops fight to protect Israel directly from the battlefield, most soldiers actually serve the State of Israel in a plethora of other integral ways: within the IDF, an entire world exists beyond the front lines…
For nearly two weeks now, Israel has been in turmoil. The horrors of these past few days have been unimaginable, and for so many people in Israel these weeks have truly been lifechanging in the most awful of ways.
But Israel is a country of strength and resilience, and never has this been more exemplified than in the heroic and outstanding displays of courage demonstrated by our troops.
It is not only active-duty soldiers who are fighting for the safety of our country, but also many reservists who have been called to protect Israel and her people.
While the IDF is no doubt part of the life of every Israeli, during both peacetime and war, it is times like this when we can fully appreciate their phenomenal force. It is fair to say that Israel simply would not and could not exist without the brave soldiers of the IDF.
Their courage, sacrifice and heroism have shone through during this time of distress.
But if we cast our minds back, really not so long ago, life for most of our troops was quite different. While many IDF soldiers do constantly serve in the field and engage in combat on a regular basis, most of our troops serve the State of Israel in other ways.
While it is easy, especially now, to think of soldiers crouching in fields painted in camouflage while fighting for their land and people, the IDF actually does so much more than this. Perhaps that is why Israel’s army is so strong and enduring.
Within the IDF, an entire world exists, comprising almost as many types of jobs as the regular workforce outside of the army!
For example, the IDF employs teams of army accountants, lawyers, social media managers, animal trainers, and cooks in order to aid the bureaucracy of the army, the public image of the troops, and the day-to-day services of the soldiers.
There’s even an education unit within the IDF! Despite being one of the only armed forces in the world to have such an extensive education sector pro rata, the Israeli forces continue to invest in their internal education services. The reasons for this are manifold.
Firstly, it is integral for all Israeli soldiers to understand exactly what they are fighting for and why their efforts are so essential. Without good knowledge of Israel’s geopolitics and history, these goals would, arguably, not be possible. Thus, the theory is that each soldier needs an educational training alongside their physical training.
But this education is also directed outwards. For example, youngsters from around the world can learn from IDF soldiers, on seminars and courses provided by the army. When these young people return to their home countries, they are more accurately able to represent Israel, which is really an invaluable skill in a polarized and sometimes uninformed world.
A source of pride for the IDF, therefore, is the fact that the Israeli army actually has one of the highest rates of foreign-born soldiers – immigrants (olim) from all over the globe who choose to fight alongside their brethren. Each of these enlistees is entitled to a course of ulpan, a Hebrew language school, as part of their army service, also conducted by the IDF’s education corps, before they join their Israeli peers in the fight to protect Israel.
Some sectors of the army are seemingly more commonplace. Doctors and medics, for example, are a vital necessity in any army. In Israel, the IDF actually funds the university degrees of many medical professions who wish to work for the defense forces after their graduate studies.
Similarly, the degrees of many engineers and technologists are paid for by the IDF, provided that these skilled workers spend some time putting their knowledge to use on army bases once they have completed their degrees. Often times, these post-graduate soldiers work during the day time and return home each evening, quite like a regular job, despite being technically enlisted for duty.
Computer engineering, software development, and various research and development jobs abound in the army, with many of these soldiers serving in the IDF’s extensive intelligence units.
But contributing to the Israeli army can come in even more varied ways than these. For qualifying individuals, the IDF has some of the most highly trained and erudite diplomacy and foreign affairs units of any army in the world. For a small country who values the allyship of various oversees nations, it is important for the defense forces to cooperate with government officials, foreign ministries and even other armies across the world.
In addition to this, the IDF also makes their name known globally through their extensive volunteer efforts both at home and abroad. When natural disasters strike internationally, Israeli troops are often amongst the first to arrive on the front lines to offer aid and assistance in countries near and far. As some of our international friends support us through our difficult times, so too do we support them when hardships arise.
Truthfully, there is no end to the phenomenal work carried out by the IDF both during these trying times and also during periods of calm. While many armies demonstrate great military prowess, it takes a very special country to decide that valuable resources and time should also be spent on ensuring that their forces are contributing to the wider society around them.
We often praise the soldiers who engage in active combat, and for good reason. But it’s important to also remember that each one is backed up by an entire system, a world of its own, that exists within the structures of the IDF.
During these difficult days, our hearts are with all of the Israeli troops. We wish them strength and success, and owe them unlimited appreciation for their tireless service in protecting our people and our land.
We pray for a swift end to this dark period, and a return to normal life as soon as possible.