Lone Sol­diers: Israel’s Defend­ers From Around The World

Herb Keinon
  • Review
By – September 16, 2011

Lone Sol­diers: Israel’s Defend­ers From Around the World explores the phe­nom­e­non of non-Israelis who come to Israel for the express pur­pose of enlist­ing in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The book pro­files 14 such sol­diers as well as Tzvi­ka Levy, the retired IDF offi­cer who looks after these lone sol­diers.” Lone sol­diers is the term used to describe sol­diers who have no fam­i­ly or friends in Israel to sup­port them dur­ing their IDF ser­vice. The lack of any kind of local sup­port sys­tem makes the mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence that much more difficult. 

The book is geared more to a younger audi­ence, which is unsur­pris­ing giv­en that its focus is on the lives of sol­diers who are them­selves teenagers. The moti­va­tion of these sol­diers and the unique chal­lenges faced by for­eign cit­i­zens join­ing what is essen­tial­ly a for­eign army occu­pies most of the book. The moti­va­tion ranged from a teenage desire for adven­ture to repay­ing an unstat­ed ances­tral debt. Some of the vol­un­teers were grand­chil­dren of Holo­caust sur­vivors and although no one in their fam­i­lies sug­gest­ed that these teens enlist in the IDF, the teens felt com­pelled to do some­thing to bal­ance their ances­tors’ help­less­ness in the face of the Holo­caust. All four grand­par­ents of one of the Lone Sol­diers, Ariel Lin­den­feld, suf­fered through the Holo­caust. Two were in con­cen­tra­tion camps and two spent the war in hid­ing. He stat­ed, The Holo­caust is one of the biggest things for me, think­ing about what would have been had the army, the state, been around then. How impos­si­ble it would have been for all that to hap­pen. And now that we can defend our­selves, I want to be a part of doing that.”

There are cer­tain minor his­tor­i­cal errors. For exam­ple, the author described the height of the sec­ond intifa­da as occur­ring in 2004. The height was in 2002. But for any non- Israeli teenag­er inter­est­ed in learn­ing what it would be like to join the IDF, the book is worthwhile.

Gil Ehrenkranz is a lawyer in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia spe­cial­iz­ing in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions law and inter­na­tion­al trans­ac­tions. He has been pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished in MID­STREAM Mag­a­zine includ­ing an arti­cle con­cern­ing Israeli mil­i­tary options regard­ing Iran’s nuclear weapons pro­gram., as well as in the Mid­dle East Review of Inter­na­tion­al Affairs

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