Inicio NOTICIAS In wake of suicide, IDF opens army prep course for Hebrew-speaking immigrants

In wake of suicide, IDF opens army prep course for Hebrew-speaking immigrants

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Itongadol.- This past week saw the opening of the first Israel Defense Forces preparatory course designed mainly for children of emigrants who have decided to enlist. The course, called Moledet (Homeland), is meant for soldiers who don’t have to improve their knowledge of Hebrew, but have spent only a few years in Israel before their conscription. For the most part these are the children of emigrants who left Israel at an early age, or Jews who studied Hebrew in their home country and are fluent in the language.

Only after the suicide last summer of a soldier who immigrated to Israel shortly before his conscription did the IDF consider the need for such a course. The internal investigative committee appointed after the incident discovered that the army authorities lacked sufficient information about the soldier, and there was no emphasis on his process of integration, only because he had a good knowledge of Hebrew.
The army reached the conclusion that knowledge of the language is not enough, and these soldiers may suffer from a gap in their understanding and perception of Israeli society – from issues related to Hebrew culture to the military mentality.
“There are some who come straight from the plane to the Golani Brigade base without any process of socialization. Some of them have a strong tie to the Zionist idea, but little idea of the meaning of being part of Israeli society,” explains a female officer.
“The course is meant to help them wake up from the dream of Israel that they have constructed for themselves or were allowed to dream. The disparity between the dream and the reality is great, and the army wants to create a positive experience for these soldiers.”
The main emphasis in the course is on Israeli culture and society, areas with which the army believes the conscripts are not sufficiently familiar. In the context of the course the soldiers are prepared for basic training, but mainly receive lessons on Israeli geography and history, Zionism and adapting to Israeli society. For example, every week the soldiers are shown a famous Israeli film, and are also taught Israeli slang, “in an attempt to socialize them in Israeli society,” explains the officer.
“These are kids who come with a big dream, and the reality isn’t easy for them: Both being a combat soldier and a lone soldier [without parents in the country], which some of them are, is not easy, and their situation is more complicated. The objective is to make the transition into the army smoother for them, and we try to do that in this course,” according to the officer in the Education and Youth Corps who is in charge of the course.
The present intake includes dozens of male and female soldiers from 17 countries, who are designated for combat and combat-support roles. During the five weeks of the course they will also be reevaluated by their commanders so that they can be placed in positions that are more suited to their abilities and personality. According to army figures, 76 percent of the participants arrived in Israel in the four years preceding their conscription, and of these, over 50 percent arrived in Israel at the age of 16 or older.

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