We Were Soldiers Once

We were soldiers, once. Today, we desire nothing more than to be soldiers again. We are the League of Lone Soldiers. I served in the IDF as a lone soldier – a soldier with no family in Israel. My service is the thing that I am most proud of in my life. It is for this reason that I am distraught to have fallen through the army’s bureaucracy system. When I finished my mandatory service, I was led to believe I was assigned to a reserve unit, so I could continue serving in the army. It turns out that I was not. Ever since I have been trying to rectify this. That task has proven to be more difficult than I expected. As my comrades fight in Gaza, in a brutal battle, I can no longer remain silent. I cannot allow my friends to fight and die while I am not by their side. My only desire is to serve the country I hold so dear. It turns out that I am not alone – there are dozens of other lonely soldiers who, like me, have fallen through the cracks. They had already started lobbying as a group when I discovered the League of Lone Soldiers, and I quicky joined them. Finding strength in numbers, we have banded together to all say in unison: ENOUGH! We too, deserve to serve our country in its time of need. We, the League of Lone Soldiers, demand what we believe to be the right of all Jews – the right to defend our homeland. We have released an open letter hoping for any support that we can garner in the army or in the public. Following is the original letter:

To whom this may concern,
I write this letter on behalf of my group, The League of Lone Soldiers. We are a group of around 30 released Lone Soldiers who all came to Israel over the last years as part of the Machal program, coming from countries across the world such as the US, UK, France and others. This is a track in the army available to anyone who isn’t an Israeli citizen, it means serving 18 months in the IDF standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers from Israel. Most of us served in combat units including all Infantry units such as Tzanchanim, Golani, Nachal, Givati and Kfir.
We are writing this letter to serve a purpose. When we heard the news of the IDF beginning Operation ‘Protective Edge’ we opened a WhatsApp group with the aim of discussing how we can re-join the IDF and defend our country. We were all in unison that we didn’t join the IDF in order to serve 18 months and go back to our normal lives. Many of our units are still in active duty. We found it impossible to be in a situation where our “brothers” are fighting and defending our country and we are not there with them. Many of us called in every favour possible in order to try and re-join, however we were met with rejections across the board.
We sit at home helpless, reading the news about each soldier who has been injured or killed and each one is like a bullet piercing our hearts. Most of the soldiers who have been killed have been known personally by at least one of us.
A few of us decided enough was enough and we were going to push our way back. We went to the Tel Hashomer base and stood outside for hours on end waiting to be let in. The soldiers at the Main Gate of the base kept asking us what we were doing there. Our answer remained the same each time. We are here from all over the world to go back to the army and defend our country. The reaction from each soldier who asked us was the same, are you crazy? they asked us, so many Israeli’s want to get away from the army and you crazy people not only volunteered to join in the first place, you want to go back now? After many long hours under the burning Tel Aviv sun, we managed to get a high ranking officer who happened to pass by us to listen to our story and he bought us into the base. However our happiness was short lived. We were told unequivocally by the Reserve Office that there was no way we could go back.
Morale unbroken we decided to take a few days and see what we could come up with to get our wish. Yesterday we, as well as most of the world read a Ynet article on 50 soldiers who refused to answer the call of the country they were born and lived in to go back for reserves after disobeying the Tzav 8 order. We were in shock, the immediate reaction of everyone on the group was why waste the Tzav 8 on them? Here we are waiting and ready, bags ready to go back to the army. We decided to write this open letter and send it to whoever will listen.
We, the Lone Soldier family of the IDF, while we mourn the loss of all our brothers throughout the IDF, especially the heart-breaking losses of our friends, Max Steinberg z”l, Shawn Carmeli z”l and Jordan Bensimol z”l. 3 lone soldiers, heroes, who fell while defending this land, this safe zone for Jews across the world.
We will not back down, we will not sit quietly in the corner. We want to go back to our boys in the field.
Please share this letter on your Facebook so it reaches as many people as possible and opens the ears of those who need to hear about it.
Always yours,
The League of Lone Soldiers

About the Author
Neil was born in New York City and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. After a brief stint volunteering with Sar El (Volunteers for Israel) during the 2nd Lebanon War, he decided to make Aliyah and draft to the IDF.