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December 22, 1989 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Join Us at the Edge...

Israeli soldiers in the territories get help from volunteers.

Duty In Intifada-Land
Brings Out All Ages

NECHEMIA MEYERS

Special to The Jewish News

W

hile the media have
been flooded with
reports about
Israelis who have gone to jail
rather than do military ser-
vice in the administered ter-
ritories over the last two
years, little has been heard
about others, no less
numerous, who have
volunteered for duty in
"intifada-land."
These volunteers are not
drawn from bloodthirsty
Arab-haters anxious for the
opportunity to take revenge
on the masked assassins of
the PLO.
On the contrary, a large
percentage of them are kib-
butzniks who favor a
negotiated withdrawal from
the territories, but — until
that day comes — feel that
they must share the burden of
policing them with the
youngsters stationed there.
The present volunteers are
following in the footsteps of
others who — 20 years ago, in
the midst of the War of Attri-
tion — joined the units under
bombardment along the
shores of the Suez Canal.
They did so in response to a
call from then Defense
Minister Moshe Dayan, who
said that experienced reserve
officers were urgently re-
quired to help front-line units
deal with the pressures
created by constant clashes
and constant casualties.
Now the army is faced with
another War of Attrition,
where casualties are much
lower but pressures, if
anything, are even more
severe. This situation hasn't
prompted a dramatic call for
volunteers from current
minister of defense, Yitzhak
Rabin, but several dozen
reserve officers have signed
up for an extended period of

service in the territories as
the result of a quiet
recruiting campaign.
One of these, Gideon, is a
35-year-old kibbutznik who
left behind a promising
career, a wife and three
youngsters to serve as a staff
officer in the Jenin area for a
year.

Gideon explained: "Officers
are in very short supply in the
territories, where a great
many are required to head
the relatively small units set
up to deal with the intifada.
Moreover, if people like
myself can stabilize the situa-
tion in the territories, more
units of the standing army
will be free to continue their
training and/or be available
for service on the Golan, in
the security zone of south
Lebanon, or wherever else
they are needed!'
There are also 50- and
60-year-olds — primarily but
not entirely kibbutzniks —
who volunteer for a week or
two. They don't give orders;
they just help out wherever
they are needed.
Kibbutznik Yoel Marshak
initiated the latter program,
he said, "to strengthen the
links between our soldiers
and the home front and to
make life a little easier for
them!'
His "old men," Marshak
goes on, "were initially
greeted with great suspicion
by the young soldiers, who
thought they had been sent to
report on 'improper behavior'
or just to sit around and give
advice. But when the 'kids'
discovered that this was not
the case, their attitude chang-
ed completely."
Tibi, a volunteer from Kib-
butz Afikim, believes that
Israelis of all political opi-
nions should follow his exam-
ple. "The doves should be here
to help the soldiers deal with
the moral problems."

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

13

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