Thursday, June 12, 2014

Attacked and Threatened, Meet Israel and Its IDF

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                       

An Israeli age 18 enters the IDF after a physical. Above are IDF soldiers of the Nahal unit, Pioneering Fighting Youth units who combine soldiering with pioneering.  They are given a few months of intensive military training and then are assigned for nearly a year to live in village communities.  There they get  job training in agriculture.  They are made up of men and women and more likely want to live in Judea and Samaria.  After their farm training they continue with advanced military courses including artillery.  

Because of a continual conflict, kept up by the Arab States, Israel must maintain a highly trained defense system with modern equipment.  They must be an alert group of soldiers in order to protect life and property and meet any possible aggression.
There is no other state like Israel in the world that has faced such conditions that have gone on for 66 years without let up.   It sits on the crossroads of the world for starters, with a history that created the Bible, written by its own people.  It set down the ethics and rules of living with the Ten Commandments and has survived long enough to see much of the world turn against them nevertheless, either for reason involving religion,  power or jealousy.  The Judeo-Christian ethics stem from the Ten Commandments.
Ever since before 1948, they have had groups of their own defending the rest of their people in their Jewish Homeland.  Their army is called the IDF, Israel Defense Force,  who were established in 1948 during the War of Independence, when the 600,000 Jews were attacked from all their neighbors minutes after announcing their admittance to the family of nations through the UN as Israel.
   Here is the IDF in Jerusalem at the Wall in 1967, the first time since 1948 that they could stand here.  

The IDF was an outgrowth of the Haganah of other voluntary underground organizations that operated during the mandatory period, for nobody else was protecting them.    My 3rd cousin, Stanley Goldfoot, was the Chief of Intelligence of the Stern Group, one of them.  He was from South Africa and landed in Haifa after getting there on a ship who flew the swastika flag in 1933.  Coming from South Africa with a strong British accent, he found fellow Brits who held the mandate and were not protecting the Jews from attacks by the Arabs.  He became a defender.   Included into the IDF were also the veterans of the Jewish Brigade and other units  who fought with the Allies during World War II.

Men under 29 and women under 26 were called up for regular service of up to 36 months for men and 20 months for women. Doctors who are either men or women might be called up until the age of 34.   This was the rule in 1973.  Married women, mothers and pregnant women were exempted.  Women were also exempted on grounds of religious conviction after approval.  There are other citizens who are not Jewish such as the Druze and Circassians.  They are also drafted for service because of their declared decision desiring be be called like the other Jews.  Quite a few Muslims and Christian citizens also volunteer for service.  Within the  IDF one volunteers only to be a part of like becoming airmen, paratroopers and sea-commandos.  There are always more volunteers than are needed.

In Safed in 1981, I experienced having an IDF female assigned to getting the bomb shelter cleaned up and ready for use in our building.  It had become a playground area for some of the children of the building.  Animals were not allowed to enter at time of attack, so I wasn't going to find safety in there, being my German shepherd female, Blintz, had also made aliyah with me and would freak out if left alone with the sounds of sirens and rockets falling.  She accompanied me during my time of serving in the Civil Guard, and was more valuable to the group than I was.  I served once a month for about 3 hours, being driven in a van with others on duty.  Usually we had a real soldier with us who volunteered his time to do this.  My time of service was from 10pm to 2:00am.  I quivered when we had to stop and investigate anything, but I did hold a rifle and had some training with one.  How I was going to handle it flew out of my mind, so I had to depend on my dog who didn't like violence of any sort, even arguing with my husband.  My husband and I  were broken up in this service and were not to ride together.  I was the lucky one who got to take our dog.

When their period of serving in the IDF is up, they all are in the Reserves, which differs at least from the USA. In 1973 they were in the Reserves till age 55.  Today the age limit is 49.   This enables Israel to deploy at short notice a force large enough to meet aggression yet avoid the necessity for a large standing army.

 I experienced this in 1982 when I lived in Safed.  It's when our forces had to go into Lebanon to finally stop the Palestinian PLO terrorists from attacking the Galilee.  Suddenly all the men were called up and disappeared from the school I was teaching in and from the streets.  I was called and asked to bake cakes for the soldiers who would be on foot getting to their destinations and would need coffee and cake doled out by volunteers as they met little stands set up with this food.  I envisioned 18 year olds getting a sugar high and thought, "This isn't very healthy for them."  Kids, who might be meeting their deaths, and I was worried about nutrition.  The job of baking kept me from shaking, an American, who had made aliyah in 1980 and had never experienced the tensions of  Israel and could barely speak any Hebrew.  One lady teacher took over the principal's job and we women kept teaching while the helicopters delivered wounded Israeli soldiers and the enemy to the hospital's roof across the street.  I witnessed a unit of old soldiers, all with white beards and in uniform, marching up the street in their job of protecting the city.  I cried in relief and wonderment.  Men were to serve in the Reserve until age 55, but these men had to be even older.  They didn't give up.  Women were in until age 34..  They did their milueem every year until age 40.  This was an annual training for 31 days, like the American Reservists that also do this.  Then they continued to do milueem until they were 55 which lasted for 14 days.  If one was a commissioned or non commissioned officer, they serve 7 extra days a year.

Of course the IDF serves in 3 areas, land, air and sea.  Women are found in all 3 areas but they serve as non-combatant personnel and replace men who are then made available for duty in combat formations.  At least this was the rule in 1973.  I see that in the USA today, women are on the front lines.
                                                Ole from Ethiopia
New immigrants (Olim) are drafted into the army.  My husband was 42 when we made aliyah but was called in for physical at about the age of 44.  He had served in the USA Air Force when young.  This time he didn't pass the physical because he had a very serious lung condition, Sarcoid.  It's hard not to pass Israel's physical requirements though.  We had another friend living in Safed, also from Portland, who did pass.  He was older and had a heart  condition, but he served and lived through it all.  I guess the doctors knew best after all.  At least  Dan knew how to shoot a gun, but we couldn't enter Israel with one.   We joined the Civil Guard and were issued  a gun from the armory by a 16 year old girl in slippers and bathrobe.   We were told not to get onto students who fell asleep in class because they most likely were on Civil Guard duty the night before.  Israeli teenagers are so much different than Americans because of reality.

Israel's foreign policy is based upon fundamental concepts:

1. Safeguarding the independence and security of Israel and striving for a lasting peace between Israel and the neighboring states.
2.  Peace must be founded on treaties achieved by negotiation between the parties and contractually binding.
3. Agreed secure and recognized boundaries will therefore need to be laid down.
4. Cooperation and specific solutions of problems that might hinder peace envisaged and the avoidance of aggression, direct or indirect must be assured.
5. Israel will discuss the conclusion of a treaty without prior conditions on either side with any neighboring state.  The government is alert for any expression of their willingness for peace with Israel and will welcome and respond to it.
6. Cooperation among the states of the region for economic and social well-being of all people is a primary interest for all involved.
7 If there is no peace treaty with a state, Israel is entitled to maintain the situation established by the cease-fire of June 1967 so that vital requirements of its security and development may not be jeopardized.

Israel is vigilant of all manifestations of anti-Semitism or neo-Nazism anywhere in the world.  
Israel will perform its share in all efforts to secure recognition of the rights of every Jewish community in every land and regime to national, cultural and religious life without discrimination and the free exercise of the right of every Jew who so desires to leave to come to Israel.  This is because Jews were not allowed to get out of Russia and come to Israel and they weren't allow to practice their Judaism.  Synagogues were closed up by the government.  My Hebrew teacher in Haifa, Sarah who wrote our 2 textbooks, carried out teaching by mail to someone held in Russia's prison.  I learned about this in my class in 1980.

"After the ground forces’ failure during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, the army underwent an extensive process of training and preparedness. Its aim was to close most of the gaps exposed during the war, which were mostly a consequence of lack of training during the difficult years of the second intifada (from 2000 on).

In reality, though, this practice was stopped about a year ago. In 2014, the IDF is cutting training significantly and improvising solutions, in an attempt to prevent even more serious damage to the ground forces – both regular troops and reserves."
Wars Israel Has Had
War of Independence (1948–1949)
Reprisal operations (1951–1956)
Sinai War (1956)
Six-Day War (1967)
War of Attrition (1967–1970)
First Lebanon War (1982-1985)  This is the one I witnessed from Safed
First Intifada (1987–1993)
Second Intifada (2000–2005)
Gaza War (2008-2009)
Hillary Clinton wrote some nasty comments about Israel after a trip to Jericho in 1981 saying that Israel didn't allow the Palestinians to have the same feelings that  Americans enjoyed such as dignity, and that they hadn't allowed any self determination.   What did she expect?  She visited Israel in the midst of wartime.  The Palestinians were attacking Israelis.  In my opinion, she wasn't being realistic at all.  She should have seen the good that Israel had accomplished, and Jericho was a good example.  
 She has no idea of the affects people experience after being attacked  their whole lives.  I saw the affects on Israelis living north of us  during the 1982 Lebanon War who couldn't leave their bomb shelters for weeks.  Mostly former Americans living there, they really needed some psychologists to help them out.  A member of Hebrew Ulpan class was caught in a bomb shelter while on vacation and we didn't know what had happened to her.  This was in the days before cell phones.   
I saw my junior high students curl up in the corners of our classroom during the War and sob.   I saw unwanted behaviors before and after from previous fears and much anxiety  during this period.  War affects people.   As for my affect, I'm very defensive about Israel.  I've experienced  what they're up against and what their attitudes are towards life are which I admire so much.   If there's any state in the world that deserves to continue to exist, it's Israel. 

Update 9:44am after the 140th rocket was shot today from Gaza into southern Israel:  Netanyahu: ‘Those Who Rise Up to Kill Us Will be Killed’
Update: 10:44am

US: Despite Rocket Attacks, We Support PA Government.

   Why am I not surprised?  The USA is not defending it's main friend, Israel, or rather, Israel is no longer counted as its friend.  

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Resource:  Facts About Israel 1973: division of Information Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem.
Book:  Letters From Israel, by Nadene Goldfoot

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