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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Former Israeli soldiers share their experiences at A&M Hillel

Photo by Photo by Jenny Hollowell

Former Israeli soldiers, Eden and Ido, speak to a group of students about their time in the army.

Israeli soldiers recounted their personal experiences of growing up in Israel and serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Tuesday night at the A&M Hillel.
The Israeli Soldiers Tour was sponsored by StandWithUs, an international Israel education and advocacy organization. Israeli soldiers Eden and Ido whose last names are withheld for security purposes, discussed their backgrounds and lives in Israel, then opened up the floor for a question and answer session.
“There’s so much confusion about Israel and the reality of the situation on the ground, so I think it’s important to hear from people who are knowledgeable about Israel and to hear about the role that Israel plays in the Middle East,” said Rabbi Matt Rosenberg, Hillel director. “They’re human beings that can understand there are gray areas of the conflict and can explain it.”
Despite long-term peace negotiations, Israelis and Palestinians have yet to reach a peaceful agreement. While violence is still prominent in the region, IDF ensures that its soldiers maintain a strong code of ethics and practice precautions towards innocent civilians in war, according to Eden. Ido said these precautions include notifying Palestinian communities in the Gaza Strip when bombs are about to hit, through the dissemination of warning flyers, phone calls and text messages written in Arabic.
“There’s a code of conduct, this moral code … 10 values that each and every soldier has to work by them,” Eden said. “The fact that we are taught moral and values as a combat soldier — that’s promoting peace, because the way you live, the way you act — your values are the most important thing.”
In 1949, the IDF mandated that every 18-year-old Israeli must serve in the Israeli army — two years for females and three years for males. Both Eden and Ido joined the army at 18 years of age; Eden was responsible for soldiers’ welfare and Ido a combat soldier. Although the event was centered around their experiences in the Israeli army, the main message they portrayed Tuesday night was hope for peace.
“Despite everything, I’m an Israeli girl, meaning I have to be tough,” Eden said. “Israel is a strong country and was taught never to let my fears stop me from living life.”
Growing up in a country constantly under the threat of terrorist attacks, Eden said she was taught to hope for peace at a very young age. She shared a recurring dream she had as a young girl that was based around her yearning for peace.
“I dreamed that I would put speakers up all around the world and I would give a speech about how much I wanted there to be peace,” Eden said. “And I was convinced that world leaders would make there be peace because a little girl was so sick of all the wars. I truly believed it was as easy as that. As I grew up, I never gave up on peace. But I understood that for now, we need to defend our country otherwise it will cease to exist.”
Ido concluded the evening by calling upon the audience to educate themselves and those around them about the truth in the region, to combat the misinformation and accusations regarding Israel. Hunter Anne Stoner, TAMU Press business associate, said media in the United States presents citizens with a picture that is different from what is actually happening in Israel. Because of this, Rosenberg invited the soldiers for the purpose of increasing education and providing more information to the community and student body.
“I know the heart of the Israeli people is for peace and they’ve always asked for peace and we know that is something that they pray and hope for,” Stoner said. “I think it’s definitely encouraging to hear [the soldiers] reiterate that they do want to be a peaceful people.”

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