“At the core of service in the IDF (Zahal) stand the love of the homeland and the commitment and devotion to the State of Israel – a democratic state that serves as a national home for the Jewish People – its citizens and residents.”
Instilled in every soldier’s service in the IDF (Zahal) are three fundamental values, one of which is ‘Love of the Homeland and Loyalty to the Country’. This value, as relevant today as ever, asserts the Jewish people’s devotion to the State of Israel and to its defense.
One of the most prominent characteristics of the State of Israel is its diversity. This characteristic stands true in the IDF (Zahal) as well. Our homeland consists of a unique medley of citizens, including immigrants from the United States to Europe to Latin America to Asia, and native born Israelis of all stripes. Despite this diversity, one commonality continues to hold true: the Jewish people’s loyalty to defend the State of Israel by enlisting in the IDF (Zahal).
Loyalty to the Country: Israelis’ duty to serve
The majority of 18-year-old Israelis stand by the country through their desire to defend and protect their homeland. There are countless stories, from a 19-year old explosives expert to a female IDF (Zahal) combat commander who continued to serve while pregnant. Israelis proudly continue to put their lives on hold and, at age 18, go against the grain to enlist and defend their country.
Love of the Homeland: a value that breaks boundaries
Love of Israel is not limited to Jews. The dedication of non-Jewish soldiers in the IDF (Zahal) proves that the desire to defend is not a matter of religion. Meet Rene Elhozayel, the IDF (Zahal)’s first ever Swiss Bedouin medic, who hopes to use his experience in the IDF (Zahal) to become a doctor. Or Ibrahim, a Bedouin soldier who enlisted against his father’s wishes. Or brothers Milad and Muhammad Atrash, Arab Muslims from the Galilee who volunteered to serve in the IDF (Zahal).
Ibrahim, the Bedouin soldier who enlisted against his father’s wishes
The IDF (Zahal) continues to see a high level of voluntary enlistment on a yearly basis. There are 800-1,000 foreign lone soldiers entering the military every year. These new recruits, some with no familial ties to Israel and very little personal connection to the country itself, insist that they too feel the sense of purpose to defend Israel. They do not take their responsibility lightly, often specifically volunteering for the IDF (Zahal)’s toughest units.
This value remains a big reason that the IDF (Zahal) is one of the most diverse and tolerant militaries in the world – as Jews and non-Jews from all around the world come together in defense of the State of Israel. When it comes describing to the sense of loyalty that encourages people from around the world to put their lives on hold and volunteer for the IDF (Zahal), Lt. Nira Lee, lone soldier from Arizona, says it best: “My best friend in the army is Druze, and somehow he understands me better than anyone, and that’s the amazing thing about the army,” she said.
“We grew up on opposite sides of the world, celebrating different holidays, speaking different languages, and eating different foods. There are so many differences and yet when we’re together none of that stuff matters. It’s ironic, but it’s beautiful and it shows a lot about Israel and the IDF (Zahal).”
Staff Sergeant Ahmed Inaim, a Bedouin soldier protecting Gaza’s border: