StandWithUs Israeli Soldiers Tour

Come hear the stories of two extraordinary Israelis – their struggles, successes, military service and their hopes and dreams. Shai and Nir will share stories from the front lines that have never been heard before. They will put a “human face” on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uniform. Ask the tough questions and learn what its really like to live in a country that is the subject of so much discussion. Their last names are withheld for security purposes.

Shai, 24, is from Kibbutz Tzora, a traditional collective community. She studies communications at Sapir Academic College, and completed the StandWithUs Israel Fellowship. She lives in Sderot, located in Southern Israel near the Gaza border. She served in the Israeli Air Force’s Pilot Cadet Course. Her parents are Australian and Indian.

Nir grew up on an Israeli Air Force base, due to his father’s service in the IDF. Nir was active in the Israeli scouts movement. He served in the elite Paratroopers Brigade as an officer and a deputy company commander. After service, he volunteered to assist families with financial difficulties. Nir is the Alumni Network Manager for StandWithUs’ Israel Fellowship Program, where he is responsible for over 1,300 alumni.

Israeli Soldiers’ Stories At Swarthmore College

— by Ronit Treatman

Swarthmore student Nathaniel Frum invited former Israeli soldiers Hen Mazzig and Sharon to come to campus and share their experiences serving in the IDF. These former soldiers have not received the most cordial welcome at some other universities and I had never been to Swarthmore, so I was not sure what to expect.

More after the jump.
About twenty-five students attended this session. They reflected very well on Swarthmore. They were polite, listened attentively, and spoke when it was their turn. Their questions were very intelligent. They were collegial even when I could tell that they disagreed with the presenters.

Sharon and Hen described their childhoods during the first and second Intifadas, their military service, and their hopes for the future.  The Swarthmore students were invited to ask whatever they liked. All the people in the room were engaged in a conversation about how to achieve peace in the Middle East.

This interaction achieved its goal: The Israelis got to connect with American and international students at Swarthmore. They all learned a little bit about each other. It made me feel very hopeful that conversations and connections such as these will one day lead to a better situation for everyone in the Middle East.