Military service in Israel and Colombia: different perspectives
Military Service: Fear or Pride?
Oscar from Colombia and Bar from Israel share some similarities: they both are young, wear a uniform to serve their country and they know how to use a shotgun: they are soldiers. Feeling fear or pride is something normal while on duty. Whether it is because you want to serve your homeland or because you are obligated to do so by your country’s legislation, being in the army is an occupation different from any other. Military services are controversially discussed. Some might see it as a privilege, others as a heavy weight.
“Yes, I’m scared of getting killed while on duty. It’s something normal. It’s just our human instinct, but if it was my choice then I wouldn’t be in the military”, tells Oscar a 19 year old soldier from Medellin who is currently fulfilling his mandatory military service. Oscar has to get up early in the morning to carry out his basic training. Sometimes he works night shifts as a guard.
“Most of my assignments don’t include any kind of dangerous risk, it’s actually like a routine", explains Oscar. "But at any moment I could be sent to the jungle to fight drug cartels or the terrorists of Las FARC”, he adds. This is a fact that constantly scares Oscar.
Unlike Oscar, 20 year old Bar from Rishon LeZion in Israel was aware and preparing for the military service for a long time. "Ever since I was a little boy, I knew I would be the best solider ever. I wanted to be like my father”, said Bar. “I am really honored and was so happy the first time I wore the uniform."
There are some differences between the military service in Colombia and in Israel: in the latter every 18-year-old man and woman must serve in the army (IDF – Israel Defense Force) for two and three years respectively. In Colombia, on the other hand, the military service is only for men and for a period of time of 12 to 22 months, depending on the profile. However not every male has to serve, with exemption being permitted on medical grounds, for example.
Despite Bar’s pride and enthusiasm for his job, he still appreciates the dangerous situations in which he may find himself. "I think no one can be on duty like me and not be scared”, tells Bar. "But I don't have time for that. I spend most of the day with guys like myself and we’re doing almost the same task. I may be afraid, but I know that I am doing an important thing that makes me feel good", he adds.
The current drug and terrorist problems in Colombia and the delicate security situation in Israel make the activities of our two interview partners unique and uncertain. Nothing can be taken for granted and one can never know what the next day will bring. When asked about how the army changed their lives, both Oscar and Bar agree: it makes you grow up extremely quickly.