”60+ years in this country – and a history of over 3000 years – and people still don’t think we deserve to be here”

Hey, I am Gil, 25 years old from Israel.
For a long time I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about, so I decided just to talk about my daily life in Israel.

Well, for a long time (24 years) I lived in a town called Nazareth Illit. A nice Jewish town side by side with Nazareth – yes the town from the Bible.
I grew up there, school and stuff, used to play football with friends and I even had a nice Arab friend I used to play with.

When I turned eighteen I joined the army. Almost every Jewish boy and girl goes to the army after they finish high school. Unlike many countries in the world we have to serve in the army to protect our country.
I had a nice three-year-service in a computer unit – it passed quickly. For many of us who served in the army we feel and say that the army kinda forced us to grow up.

Anyway, after that period of time in my life I worked for a year in a mall between the two towns, many Arabs and Jews work there. A nice and friendly place.
I then moved to Tel Aviv to study computer science and work.
I can’t stop thinking about what I would have done with the three years I ”spent” when I served in the army, I could have finished college, travelled the world and so on…
But Israel is a special little place and I still wonder what is wrong with this world: after World War 2 not a lot of stuff has changed – people and countries still want the Jews to be eliminated from the world, and yes after 60+ years in this country and a history of over 3000 years they still don’t think we deserve to be here.
So yea, this is how I realize and accept that these three years in the army weren’t a waste.

I truly believe and hope that in twenty years my kids won’t have to serve in the army, but live side by side with the Arabs just like when I was little.
But if it will be needed I’ll send my kids to serve in the army, just like my father sent me, the same way he served thirty years ago.


”I had a pretty normal childhood, apart from the fact that I spent my last year in kindergarten carrying a gas mask”


If you are reading this, first of all thank you! It means you care, and it means you show interest in what I have to say.
I’m thanking you because it’s so hard to find people willing to listen. Today everyone thinks they know everything, and then they don’t want to listen, or even worse, they don’t want to talk.

I will not mention my name for privacy reasons but I will tell my story. I am an Israeli, I love Israel, it is my home, I was born here and so were my parents. My grandparents however were born in Poland, running away from the horrors of the holocaust. They made it to Israel to rebuild their ancestors’ home again (yes! Israelis are originally from Israel!!!). When I was young my mom told me: ”I hope that by the time you’ll be 18 there will be peace and you won’t need to go to the army”, she told that to my brothers as well and my grandparents told it to my parents, and we are still hoping.
Hoping for peace.

I had a pretty normal childhood, apart from the fact that I spent my last year in kindergarten carrying a gas mask and running for shelter from missiles shot at my city (Iraq bombarding Israel in the Gulf War) needless to say this still occurs in many cities in Israel, only this time the missiles are coming from Gaza and Lebanon.
As a teenager I was afraid to take the bus because so many people have lost their lives in terror attacks on buses. In high school our class trips have been secured by security men and sometimes even canceled due to terror threats.

When I was recruited to the army I first encountered the conflict, from the first moment we were taught what it means to be a solider, to protect, to serve and and to be responsible for the safety of the people around you: soldiers and civilians, Israelis and Palestinians, I never shot or hurt anyone, but I was shot at, bombs left on my way and terrorist have tried passing our posts only to attack or explode innocents in Israel. I hated every moment of it, I mean, who would like it? But I did it, because I had to protect my family and loved ones.

I, like many others in Israel, want peace, I don’t want to fear taking the bus, or run to shelters every time I hear a siren, I want to be able to visit Arab countries and live next to an Arab family without being afraid for my safety.

De senaste 4 år bor jag med min flickvän som är svenska, på den här tiden jag besökt Sverige massa gånger. Och jag älskar Sverige, men varje gång när jag försöker prata med en svensk om Israel känner jag att han/hon vill inte prata eller tror att Israel är en fruktansvärt plats. Jag bara ber er, försök lyssna till israeler också, läs nyheter på israelska websidor, inte bara på Aftonbladet och DN. Och om ni träffar någon från Israel, bli inte rädd – vi är ganska snälla. Och om du vill ha en semester, kom till Israel ni kommer inte ångra det.

[The past four years I have been living with my Swedish girlfriend and during this time I have visited Sweden many times. And I love Sweden, but every time I try to talk to a Swede about Israel, I feel that he/she doesn’t want to talk, or believes that Israel is a horrible place. I beg of you, try to listen also to the Israelis and read news on Israeli news sites, not just Aftonbladet and DN. And if you meet someone from Israel, don’t be afraid – we are pretty friendly. And if you need a vacation – come to Israel. You won’t regret it.]

An Israeli

Teenage girl about the army

Letter from Israel: ABOUT THE ARMY.

So, I’m a 17 year old Israeli. I’m a regular teenager. I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and I came to Israel when I was 8.

In a year and a half I’ll go to the army. After finishing high school, EVERYONE, every young man and woman in Israel that turn 18 must go to the army. Only if you have a medical problem you don’t have to go… While young people all over the world goes to college and start a career, we need to defende our country, for 2 years (girls) and 3 years (boys). So for those who think that we are having fun in this Arabs-going-to-kill-us situation, it’s not like that. I will go to the army, of course. I want to go, but nobody asked me if I really like to.

I just wanted to say that. After all most of the soldiers in Israel are teenagers. KIDS, who just graduated from high school.

Want to write a ’letter’ about your army experiences? 
Send it to lettersfromisraeltosweden@gmail.com.