“If you would have told me two years ago that I’d be serving in the Israeli army today, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was studying finance in Rutgers university, and my connection to Israel was non-existent.
My family is Jewish, of course, but other than that, all I knew about Israel was that it was a country somewhere in the Middle East. You might find this ironic, but it’s thanks to the BDS that I’m a soldier in the IDF. They showed up one day on my campus, called themselves “Students For Justice in Palestine”, or something of the sort. They would lie on the ground and pretend to shoot each other and yell things in a language I didn’t understand. All I could pick up from their shenanigans was that Zionism is evil, so I Googled it.
“Turns out, I’m a Zionist! My parents came from Latvia, and I never really felt like I had roots in the USA. I decided to join the Birthright program and visit Israel. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I knew I was staying. When the day of our return flight arrived, I refused to go. They told me that if I stay, I’d have to draft. “Exactly”, I said.
“My parents made me come back anyway, but I wasn’t giving up that quickly. I returned home to continue my third year, then decided not to show up for finals, ultimately dropping out to make Aliya to Israel. To be honest, I’ve lived in the US all my life, but in the year that I’ve been here, I’ve felt more of a sense of belonging that I ever felt back home”.