web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 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.”

He was so moved by the encounter with Netanyahu that the young man organized an event featuring the letters of Alex Singer, a former Cornell undergraduate who was killed in combat as a paratrooper in 1986. He listed other organizations, such as The Avi Schaefer Fund, which seek to draft former IDF soldiers into campus leadership positions.

During his military service, the young man recalled, his platoon encountered a group of American high school students who were part of the Write On for Israel education and advocacy training program. “Seeing the two different crowds really brought home the road I have traveled,” he said. “A few years earlier, I would have found myself on the other bus. Student activism, pro-Israel advocacy, free trips to Israel… all are themes I know well from my years in high school and university. And yet I stood there in my dirty green uniform, unwashed after four days in the woods, watching the slickly dressed students pour back onto their bus. Was I really living in a world so foreign to the one they know? Or does my own biography not imply that the path from their bus to my own is far less distant than our dress and concerns may suggest?”

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
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D)
Bad Day for Nuclear Iran Deal Opponents
Latest News Stories
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D)

Three Reps and two Senators announced their support for the Nuclear Iran Deal.

Lunchbox Restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Bringing your own sandwich to a restaurant would appear as the height of chutzpah, but not any more—at least not at Lunchbox…

President Obama in the fog.

State Dept, seems surprised when being told how many Americans live in Judea and Samaria.

Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin.

He says he still has not made up his mind but that Obama will win the magic number of 34 to override a veto.

President Ruby Rivlin opened the new school year with new first grade students at the Mamad Shilat school in the Jewish town of Paduel in the Shomron, on September 1, 2015.

When Minister Erdan introduced Brig. Gen. (Res.) Gal Hirsch as his pick for the next Israeli police commissioner, his decision provoked angry reactions from several segments of the Israeli public.

The Greek Coast Guard may have prevented massive terrorist attacks in Libya Tuesday with the seizure of a vessel carrying explosives and weapons suspected of being linked with the Islamic State (ISIS). Greek media reported. Authorities said more information would be released later. Initial suspicions are the that the cargo was being shipped to Libya […]

The victims were burned alive while hanging upside down. ISIS said it was in revenge for Shi’ite executions

Opposition MK Avigdor Liberman strongly criticized Netanyahu for making the agreement.

On Tuesday, September 8, participants in this historic event will unite to pray for the safety and well-being of the Jewish nation.

Any SanDisk employee who can successfully headhunt and bring another worker to the company will receive a bonus of nearly $2,000 (20,000 shekels), the flash memory developer’s Israeli division said. The demand for high-techs employees in Israel far outstrips the supply, and SanDisk is looking for 90 new engineers and R & D departments in […]

The university claims there was a mix-up between “Obama” and the “Obama Foundation” retaining a presence on campus.

Showers installed in front of Auschwitz are simply a ‘public safety measure’ to ward off the summer heat, says the museum.

Turkish officials helped return the 21-year-old man, the Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.

White supremacist Frazier Glen Miller Jr, gave the Nazi salute to jurors who ruled him guilty of killing three in Kansas City.

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: