Monday, July 27, 2009

Wild boys and the women who command them:

IDF program turns troubled youth into proud troops

By Stephanie Rubenstein
27 July 09

(For anyone with strong religious or ideological issues with this arrangement ....)

"I won't put on the uniform - it's my father's grave," one soldier exclaimed. Others swore, fought and disobeyed orders.

These soldiers appeared in the documentary Yes, Miss Commander, which shows IDF soldiers at the Havat Hashomer military base near Afula. The base houses disadvantaged youth who come from difficult backgrounds and often have criminal pasts It is frequently their last chance for a future in society.

The documentary first aired on Channel 8 in three parts, and then as a combined piece at the Jerusalem Film Festival on July 15.

After the cameras stopped rolling, day-to-day activities continued on the base.

Havat Hashomer enlists these tough young men and offers them a three-month basic training course. The base has four companies, each with more than 100 men led by a female commander. Each year, the base goes through three cycles of recruits.

Former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Rafael Eitan founded the program 30 years ago. His mission was to bring young soldiers - sometimes referred to as "Raful's boys" - who lack the ability to survive in society into the army. Through their service, the recruits would work toward integrating into society and living functional, law-abiding lives.

Many of the soldiers either do not have parents, or have mothers or fathers in prison. The young men themselves dropped out of school at an early age and got into crime, and their lives deteriorated from that point onward, base commander Lt.-Col. Raz Karny told The Jerusalem Post last week.

"I hear stories from these soldiers, where I sometimes have to pinch myself to recognize they are real," he said. "I do not believe that there are bad people. There are people who do bad things. You cannot blame a boy who is hit by his father from the age of five, or a boy who searches for food in the garbage."

The training program offers these young men an opportunity to reform and change the way they lead their lives - as reflected in Havat Hashomer's slogan, "In mankind we believe."
(For full article)

No comments:

Post a Comment