Israeli Soldiers Speak At Staples

Danny Cooper, Features Editor

On Friday, March 23 two speakers from the StandWithUs program visited Staples to talk about their experiences in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and correct misconceptions about the situation in Israel. The speakers, who were invited by the Israeli Culture Club, spoke in the Library Leaning Commons during all three lunch waves, where they shared personal stories and answered questions from the audience.

“I believe that the Staples community is eager to learn about the conflict in Israel, but may have been misinformed by the media which is only looking for an underdog story,” said Co-President of the Israeli Culture Club, Rusty Schindler ’13. “StandWithUs is important to bring to Staples because it allows students to see that the purpose of the IDF is not to wage war against Palestinians, but rather to wage a war for peace as this is their ultimate goal.”

Avi Posnick, the Regional Coordinator of the New York Chapter of StandWithUs, agrees that this program, known as Israeli Soldiers Stories, is essential because people need to be educated about the situation in Israel.

“We want to put a human face behind Israeli soldiers and show that they are not how the media portrays them,” he stated.

One of the speakers, Adam Avidan, a student at Tel Aviv University and former member of the IDF, agreed that a large goal of the program is to show that Israelis live normal lives.

“People think that we ride camels and that missiles are shooting over our heads in cities like Tel Aviv,” Avidan said. “This is not true, we are a very modern country and have everything you have in America; I’m addicted to Guitar Hero.”

Lital Shemesh, a speaker at the event who volunteered to serve at checkpoints (an unusual job for women) wanted to express what it means for Israelis to be part of the army.

“The military is part of our life, and is something we are very proud of,” she said. “People are very excited to join the army, you get to do what you want. For example if you were a photographer in high school, you could do that for the military.”

Avidan said that through this program he has talked to many people who do not have the full story of what is going on in Israel.

“People think that Palestinians are the only ones who suffer. This is not true, we are protecting ourselves against terrorists acts,” he said.

Schindler believes it is very important to inform students that Israelis are ultimately seeking peace and security.

“As Adam said, Israeli parents continually tell their children that they won’t have to join the army at 18 because peace will have already been attained,” Schindler said. “Israel wants more than anything to have successful, nonviolent peace talks with Palestinian officials,” Schindler said.

Avidan said that the notion that Israelis and Palestinians are enemies is incorrect.

“Arabs are not the enemy, the terrorist organization Hamas is,” he said