There is no entity within Israeli society more important than the Israel Defense Force (IDF); yet, while its value to the existence of our nation is legendary, did you know that the lowly soldier actually needs your help? We didn’t know this either until about two years ago when we were invited to observe a training exercise of a Special Forces Unit. It was a newly formed unit designed specifically to rescue kidnapped soldiers. An active duty commander conceived the concept and was given the approval to form and train the unit but without a budget for extra personal equipment for the soldiers beyond that which is contained in the IDF standard issue. With typical determination that so embodies the IDF commanders, he ably chose and organized his men and women and started training them at an outback post where a mock Arab village already existed. Once his team reached proficiency, we were invited to observe a mock rescue of a kidnapped soldier.
After the demonstration, the commander told us what they were lacking: jumpsuits for the undercover members who would be living among the Arabs. They would keep the jumpsuits hidden but handy so that, when a rescue action occurred, they could don the jumpsuits quickly and so avoid being shot by the rescue team. The commander also asked for holsters that would hold the pistol on the thigh instead of in the small of the back. We were asked to say a few words to the soldiers afterwards and my wife, Gabrielah, said what was in both our hearts, “Whatever you want from us, you can have. If you want our car, our house, anything we have; we will give it to you!”
We thought this was a one-time event and, while we rightfully felt we had done a good thing, we also thought that that was all that we’d ever do. About two weeks later, however, a commander from Golani 12 called us. ‘Someone told me that you help soldiers. I have 120 new recruits who will be graduating from basic training and I would really like to get fleece jackets for them. Can you help me?’ Alone that phrase, ‘Can you help me?’ goes straight to the heart! So began what has become the best job in the world as one company after another has contacted us.
We quickly outgrew our personal ability to make the needed purchases and have since been able to make connections with, believe it or not, Swiss Christians who are more than enthusiastic to help us. They see the IDF as their protectors as well and know that only the IDF has the ability to deal with Jihadism, the militant threat to all non-Muslim belief systems, also those in Switzerland. They understand that, while God could eliminate the enemies of Israel by speaking a single word, he has instead chosen to fight the enemies of Israel through the IDF. In this perspective, the soldiers occupy holy positions as God’s instruments of choice. In helping the IDF, the Swiss believe they are choosing what God has chosen and are participating directly in the defense of Israel while making a clear and loud statement that they stand with Israel, a very unpopular stance these days among the nations. Appropriately, the Swiss organization is named Hatikva.
Since we started two years ago, we have made deliveries of fleece jackets, face masks, gloves, neck warmers, schluckers (synthetic canteens with flex tube for sucking water), back packs, equipment packs, bed sheets, rifle straps, watch covers, dry-fit T-shirts for inter/intra-unit competitions, baseball caps, and ID tag covers to Golani 12, Golani 13, Givati Rotem, Givati Zavar, Nahal, Nahal Nitze Yehuda, Lotar Anti-Terror, Oketz K-9, Paratroopers 202, Gidud 9, Shiryon 74, Golani Orev, and others. In short, WOW!
Besides providing important equipment which not only fulfills a need and improves troop morale exponentially, when we make the deliveries, which we always try to do personally, we get to see a lot of Israel that we would not have seen otherwise. We’ve been to bases within meters of Gaza, Egypt and Syria, have been invited to get inside a Merkava 4 tank, watch training exercises, go on top of Mt Ebal, eat in the chow halls, plus hear the soldiers share what their work entails, the dangers and harsh conditions and personal experiences, even to include the pain of having lost a girl friend due to demands of duty. We have yet to meet a soldier who isn’t proud to be in the IDF.
If you’re not already helping the IDF, please consider doing what we are doing. There are 170,000 standing soldiers in a constant state of readiness who need our help.
From my heart to yours,