The English writer, poet and philosopher, G.K. Chesterton, once said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him.” That very sentiment has become the essence of my future. It is what I live for and it is who I aspire to be; the true soldier. When I tell people that I will be joining the IDF after I graduate from college they always ask, “Why?” Specifically, they ask me why I want to be a soldier, a fighter. I think most people have the notion that a soldier’s life is dominated by death and by violence. They seem to think that only hateful people can be in combat units and fight on the battlefield. I challenge that belief. I tell them I am joining the IDF not because I hate or want to kill but because I love and want to protect.

The IDF is especially singled out for demonization around the world. It is often painted as an army of bloodthirsty brutes that kill women and children recklessly and senselessly. So many people around the world perceive IDF soldiers as hateful and violent. In fact, they look at me and think that I have some sort of death wish against Arabs. I can’t even count the amount of times I have heard the IDF being called “inhumane”, “barbaric” or various other variation of the word. It pains me deeply to see our men and women who fight so hard and sacrifice themselves to protect all life being castigated by ignorant individuals who look at one photoshopped “Pallywood” picture and make a judgment call based on that. They don’t want to see the true face of the IDF. They don’t want to see that if our enemies laid down their weapons and embraced us with hugs instead of suicide bombings our fighters would be the first ones to receive them.

I do not believe that any Israeli teenager is conscripted into the IDF with the mindset of engaging in a two to three year killing stint ahead of them. These young men and women enter the IDF because they are required to do so out of necessity. Their country needs them to prevent violence, not perpetrate it. These soldiers are the first and last lines of defense against the waves of hateful Palestinian youth in front of them. Against the teenage suicide bombers with such intense hate burning in their eyes determined to kill babies and the elderly, Against the indoctrinated 8-year olds proudly wearing Hamas and Hezbollah banners while oblivious to the fact that they are mere cannon fodder to their so called heroes. These people attack our home and our soldiers and our civilians not because they love Palestine or are “freedom fighters.” They attack us simply because they hate us and want to see us eradicated. How do we fight back against this type of pure and unfiltered hate? Not with more hate but with love. And that is precisely why Israel is still standing tall. Israel wouldn’t be here today if our soldiers fought because they hated what was in front of them. Our soldiers fight with the most intense love imaginable; they fight for a love of a home born out of ashes, a home for all Jews, a tiny home that will not go into the darkness without a fight.

So the next time someone asks me why I am joining the IDF and making Aliya to Israel I will answer very simply in a manner that a true soldier would respond; that pure hatred against my country and my people isn’t and will never be enough to overpower my love for peace in our one true home in this world.