web analytics
August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Campus Activists to Army – Lone Soldiers Speak


IDF soldiers

Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.

The lone soldier.

Hundreds of pro-Israel campus activists graduated this year, and dozens of them plan to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Serving in the Israeli military before, during, or after college can be a logical extension of a student’s commitment to campus Israel efforts. They serve in various forums, including hesder, Garin Tzabar or directly enlisting independent of any organization.

The IDF defines a soldier whose immediate family does not reside in Israel as a lone soldier. Various benefits such as an increased salary, a choice of an adopted family or kibbutz, an allotment of cell phone minutes that can be used to call abroad, a free plane ticket to visit family outside Israel and an extra piece of luggage when making aliyah all are part of the lone soldier experience.

Today, 5,600 “lone soldiers” are enlisted in the IDF, and some of them worked tirelessly on behalf of Israel on U.S. campuses prior to donning IDF uniforms.

Brian Maissy is a past co-president of UC Berkeley’s Tikvah: Students for Israel, and soon he will become a lone soldier through the Garin Tzabar program. He noted a direct correlation between the challenges he faced as a campus Israel advocate and his decision to move to Israel and join the army.

“I saw injustice on campus,” he told ICB. “Students [were] spreading lies about Israel. I took it upon myself to counter the falsehoods and teach the truth about Israel and Zionism.

“I look at my army service the same way,” Maissy continued. “As a member of the Jewish people I have an obligation to help defend the Jewish state. My decision to enlist is an acceptance of that responsibility.”

Dov Lerner, 24 and former ZOA president at the University of Maryland, just signed on for two more years of service in the foreign affairs unit of the IDF. After four years of his active involvement in the Israel campus scene at UMD, including combating the BDS movement on campus, Lerner has a nuanced experience of what it means to be a lone soldier.

Speaking to ICB about the final night of a weeklong field maneuver exercise, Lerner shared a profound experience that he said he wants campus activists to understand.

“That night, we sat around a campfire and received food baskets from generous donors,” he said. “Everyone immediately tore apart the packages and began consuming the large quantities of chocolate, wafers and Bamba. I sat there staring at the package, which read: ‘To the heroes defending the land of Israel, stay safe and have a happy Purim, from the Brooklyn Chapter of the ZOA.”

When Lerner performs seemingly absurd tasks like running and shooting drills, or “washing a battalion’s worth of forks while on kitchen duty, or while mopping the library,” he must constantly remind himself of why he chooses to defend the country.

However, none of those absurd moments matched the feeling he got when he received those gift baskets from the ZOA. Six years earlier, Lerner had been packing those same packages for Israelis and now, in uniform, huddling around the fire to keep warm in the frigid desert night Lerner’s officer turned to him to ask, “How does it feel to be on the other side?”

“It is very different making the case for Israel on campuses than actually sitting on the border with a gun guarding the country,” Lerner said. “Having done both, I know that they are both extremely necessary.”

Another former campus activist who went on to serve as a lone soldier in the IDF’s elite Shaldag commando unit recalled that his attendance at an AIPAC conference 10 years ago, as a high school student, had a pivotal effect on him.

The former activist, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of his military duties, recalled that Benjamin Netanyahu had met with a crowd of college student attendees at the conference. The past and future Israeli Prime Minister recounted a scene soon after his arrival at MIT: Fresh out of three years of IDF service, the new freshman found himself handing out leaflets at a pro-Israel rally. At first glance, Netanyahu thought little of its significance, but soon thereafter, he said, he realized that campus activists abroad and IDF soldiers “fighting the same battle.”

About the Author: Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Campus Activists to Army – Lone Soldiers Speak”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Grafitti on the walls of the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in June 2015.
6 Months’ Jail Without Trial for Jewish Teen Linked to Church Arson
Latest News Stories
Grafitti on the walls of the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in June 2015.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon jails a Jewish teen under administrative detention in connection with a church arson in June.

US Vice President Joseph Biden, President Barack Obama.

US President Barack Obama warns Jewish leaders Israel “will bear the brunt” if Congress rejects nuclear deal with Iran.

Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility.

Yesterday’s count had four Congressional Democrats coming out against the Iran Nuclear Deal. But since yesterday, that number has nearly doubled. And, amazingly, the latest three are all Jewish members of Congress. That’s a surprise because in their effort to appear impartial, many Jews in public office bend over backwards to avoid the appearance that they are […]

Chuck Schumer

The Senator said he would discuss gun control, or anything else, really, just not how he would vote on the Iran nuclear deal.

“Keep or Cheat,” under this deal Iran will attain nuclear weapons, Bibi warned.

Arabs threw 2 firebombs at bus #160 in Gush Etzion on Tuesday evening. No injuries or damage were reported, but the road was temporarily blocked by a wall of fire. In the Shomron, Arabs threw a firebomb at an unmanned pillbox, from a passing car.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Inbar Azrak, 27 who was wounded in Monday night’s firebomb attack in Beit Hanina. Azrak is being treated at the Hadassah Ein Kerem medical center in Jerusalem.

The worst heat wave to hit the Middle East in more than a decade has claimed its second victim in Israel.

The non-Jewish tourist tried to wave an Israeli flag when he was set upon by the Islamic mob.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon says he’s ready to present the new state budget to the cabinet Wednesday.

Minister Yuval Steinitz says “if he were American he would oppose the deal with Iran” and explains why.

A German neo-Nazi politician is accepted to the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

The Obama administration may intervene in the NY federal district court judgment against the PA.

The Maccabi Games made it to Berlin but anti-Semitism was hardly left behind.

George Soros, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg have plopped down at least $1 million to Clinton’s super PAC.

The long-planned and long-delayed high-speed train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is getting closer Israel Railways has begun to lay tracks for the western section of the line in the Ayalon Valley, west of Jerusalem. The target date for launching passenger train on the new line is January 2018, 17 years after construction began. The […]

More Articles from Tamar Shmaryahu, Israel Campus Beat
Ask Herzl

In past years, students turned to the people they knew for advice or strived to build creative plans on their own. While these approaches can yield strong results, imagine what could be achieved with a nationally networked resource that provides the best of all worlds — tested, proven programming ideas and step-by-step details of best practices for impacting the campus environment.

IDF soldiers

Dov Lerner, former ZOA president at the University of Maryland and current Lone Soldier in the IDF: “It is very different making the case for Israel on campuses than actually sitting on the border with a gun guarding the country,” Lerner said. “Having done both, I know that they are both extremely necessary.”

About a dozen college campuses, including Brown University, Queens College, New York University, Columbia University, Yeshiva University and Cornell University, were represented by student delegations in the parade, which has been an annual fixture for the past 48 years.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/on-campus/lone-soldiers-from-the-campus-to-the-idf/2012/06/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: