Barak Hullman
Storyteller, Author and Podcaster. Every Question Deserves an Answer.

The IDF Has One Purpose: Win Wars

I made aliyah in 1995 and served in a combat unit. I came here as a committed Zionist and was enthusiatically drafted into the IDF. It was the “People’s Army.” There were Jews from all around the world including the former Soviet Union (most of my platoon), Ireland, England, Argentina and the United States. 

During basic training we had classes in Jewish history, learned about Israel’s wars and about our enemies. In retrospect, serving in the IDF contributed to my feeling more Israeli and part of the country.

However, that’s not the purpose of the IDF. The purpose of the IDF is to win wars. Period. If serving in the IDF helps Israelis to get to know one another better, that’s great, but that’s not what it’s for. 

Everyone knows that the only reason we survive in the jungle of the Middle East is because we have a superior military and a lot of miracles. Have you ever wondered how an intelligence unit like the IDF’s 8200 can compete with the United State’s NSA? The NSA has a great deal more funding and their staff is more mature and highly educated. Still Israel’s 8200 competes with the NSA in intelligence gathering. 

The reason is that the IDF can choose from anyone in the Israeli population that can be drafted whereas the United States has a limited pool of people to choose from. The IDF can pick and filter out the best of the best for any position it needs in the army.

It does not need any Charedim that do not want to be drafted. They are a burden on the IDF. The IDF does not need mixed gender units. There’s no way that heterosexual young men can focus on training better with attrtactive young women training next to them. Mixed units are a distraction to creating superior soldiers. 

As a citizen, with a family, I do not want the IDF to be used as the laboratory for social integration. If it happens on its own, mazal tov. But please, let’s remember the purpose of the IDF is to win wars, and we have not won a war in a long, long time.

The last time we really won a decisive victory was in 1973. The 1982 war in Lebanon was a disastrous war that divided the country and ended with soldiers leaving like thieves in the middle of the night in 2000. The Second Lebanon war in 2006 was a failure. The wars in Gaza have been failures (unless you consider postponing the next war by a few years a success).

We all have been warned by the IDF that the next war will be the worst Israel has ever experienced.

Leave politics out of the IDF. You can try to force Charedim into national service if you really want. Maybe instead of forcing them, give them a real reason to want to contribute to the country instead of making the state of Israel a convenient scapegoat for all of their problems.

Please, focus on the goal. Keep us safe. Win wars. Defeat our enemies. Defeat them so badly that they will be scared to ever try to attack Israel again for generations. That’s the goal of the IDF. Anything else is a distraction and we really don’t have that luxury.

About the Author
Barak Hullman studied for a PhD in Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (MA at Princeton). He made aliyah from South Florida in 1995. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife and their 7 children (all born in Jerusalem). Barak is the author of two books, Figure It Out When You Get There: A Memoir of Stories About Living Life First and Watching How Everything Else Falls Into Place and A Shtikel Sholom: A Student, His Mentor and Their Unconventional Conversations, available at He has two podcasts, Jewish People & Ideas: Conversations with Jewish Thought Leaders (guests have included Yossi Klein Halevi, Michael Oren, Natan Sharansky, Daniel Gordis and others) at and The Chassidic Story Project at   Learn more by going to
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