October 17, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
I've wanted to tell you about my military service for a while now, but I never knew exactly what I want to say. However, since foreign media take a very negative, false approach towards the IDF, and more and more false accusations pop up every day, I feel I can't wait any longer and will tell you what the IDF is really like through my personal story.
I think I'll begin at the end: a couple of months after my release from the IDF (after a two years long service), I went to a summer camp in Georgia, US, as an Israeli delegate of the Jewish Agency. While mostly having fun and telling exciting stories about Israel to the young campers, my fellow Israelis and I had to also deal with some tough questions asked by our American co-counselors. Most of their questions involved the IDF and its actions, and were based on information they got from the media. Some stood behind what they heard and read, and accused us with some terrible accusations, involving murder and intentions of killing innocent people for kicks. Those people were mostly adamant in their beliefs. They believed they already knew everything about the IDF, even better than we, and were positive of every part-truth they heard over the news. They had no intention of hearing us out, and mainly wanted to give us a piece of their minds for all the evil we've done.
As hard as dealing with this was, the other type of questions was much harder to deal with. Those questions were asked by Israel fans who heard all those things over the news, and weren't sure how to handle it. They were torn between their support of Israel and the horror stories the news handed them on a daily basis. Their questions weren't easy to deal with, because unlike the former group, this one was eager to hear what we had to say, and waited for a straight forward, decisive answer. My replies to them started with the sentence: "what you hear on the news is not entirely incorrect, but the world is not black and white." Then, I started explaining how the IDF's purpose is strictly defending Israel and its people, and never attacking or conquering. I told them that when they read a story of a school in Gaza being attacked by the IDF, it is usually what really happened, and then I explained how our enemies do a very good job in making us look bad by hiding wanted terrorists inside schools and hospitals and by doing that, making the IDF attack those places, which later does not look god in the eyes on the media. Questions like that are very hard to answer, especially when the person asking those questions expects a somewhat different answer. Later in the day, things got much easier when I would sit with my eight-year-old campers and tell them, decisively, how heroic the IDF soldiers are. No complications and in a black and white perspective.
Things are never simple, and there is always far more than the eye can see. Nothing and nobody is perfect and people always make mistakes, but there is no question in whether the foreign media supports the IDF. I am not going to try and explain to you every single move the IDF makes, but I can say that throughout my military service, I never questioned my commander, not once, and neither did my friends, some of them in Combat units. What I do want to tell you, that is if you belong to the second group and are open to hear what I have to say, is that besides special missions and heroic battles, there is so much more in the Israeli military service.
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