Israeli Defense Forces share stories with KSU students

Ari speaks at the Israeli Soldiers Stories event held at the Cohn Jewish Student Center organized by the The Golden Flashes for Israel and StandWithUs, February 22. Photo by CHELSAE KETCHUM

Ari speaks at the Israeli Soldiers Stories event held at the Cohn Jewish Student Center organized by the The Golden Flashes for Israel and StandWithUs, February 22. Photo by CHELSAE KETCHUM

Arielle Campanalie

Two Israeli soldiers who served in the Israeli Defense Forces shared their personal service experiences during StandWithUs’ “Israeli Soldier Stories” session on Friday at the Cohn Jewish Center.

In order to keep their identities safe, neither of the soldiers was allowed to share their last name.

Lital, a 28-year-old Israeli journalist, spoke about her mandatory service at age 18 in 2002. She said she later volunteered to be a combat soldier, which is not required by women in Israel.

“I didn’t want to serve coffee, I wanted to serve my country,” she said.

Lital served in the border police unit working at checkpoints, which is a position typically held by male soldiers. Lital now works as a journalist for various media outlets in Tel Aviv and still does reserve service, which requires her to go back in uniform to train once or twice a year.

Ari, a 28-year-old tech worker, said he joined the IDF in 2003 when he turned 18. He served in the West Bank of Israel with the Special Forces unit of paratroopers. Ari said he served during the peak of the Second Intifada after failed peace agreements at Camp David.

“I remember what I felt like living in those times in Tel Aviv,” he said. “Suicide bombers, exploded buses, restaurants and night clubs killing women and children, Jews and Arabs alike with no distinction. Close to 1,000 Israelis [were] killed in those attacks.”

Ari said most Israelis lived in constant fear while those attacks were happening.

“I would go on a bus in Tel Aviv and chose to sit on the bus according to where it was least likely to get hit by a terrorist attack,” he said.

Ari still lives in Tel Aviv and works for a high-tech company in Israel while also serving in the reserves. Both speakers said they look forward to compromising peace in Israel.

Katie Cookson, sophomore criminology and justice studies major and member of Golden Flashes for Israel, attended the event. She said she feels that the media has been biased against Israelis on this topic.

“As a political science major, I think it’s important to know what’s going on in the world,” Cookson said. “I feel like the Israelis have been under a lot of wrong judgment lately … it’s important to hear both sides of the story, and if there is a Palestinian speaker one day, I would definitely attend that event, as well.”

Arielle Campanalie is the transportation reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Arielle Campanalie at [email protected].