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Youtube & The IDF

For those who don’t know, the IDF has a youtube channel as part of their very necessary PR mission. There’s an e-mail going around that says that youtube wants to remove the channel “using the excuse that not enough people are logging in.”

True or not true, the IDF needs all of the positive press that it can get. Please click on the link below to check it out.

IDF YouTube Channel

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Well, it’s official. I am now property of the Israeli army. The first week flew by and now I’m about to make my way off to the next one! The first two weeks in the army are called ‘Trom Tironut.’ Trom is a sort of pre-basic training get-used-to-the-army period; It’s basic training lite. We stand in formation a lot and everything we do is timed; six minutes to shave, two minutes to go to the bathroom, thirty seconds to get in formation, and so on and so on. We get one free hour a day during which time we can organize our stuff, shower, call family and friends (and girlfriends), and so forth.

While it has been a massive change from being a civilian, it’s still not quite what it will be when basic training actually starts. At the moment, I am not yet in my unit, but in a random assortment of people who have just started at the same base. Since it is the two weeks before basic training actually starts (and is with different commanders than the ones we will have), everybody takes it pretty easy. There’s a lot of joking and messing around which the commanders try and stop but, since there are a lot of rules during Trom, they can’t do much about it.

The second day on base, we were woken up at six in the morning and told we had 15 minutes to be dressed, shaved, and downstairs in formation. Most people managed to get there within the allotted time. Two young Israelis, however, decided that this was not so important and stayed in bed for just a little bit longer – about two hours longer. We march around base in formation all chanting together ‘Left, Right, Left. Left, Right, Left.’ Everybody says this in perfect time, but continues to walk however they want. On one of the funnier marches, two kids were talking to each other and one of them who wasn’t paying attention walked face first into a lamp pole and wiped out, taking about half of the group down with him.

The base I am on is beautiful. It was built for Israel by America as part of an incentive package for pulling out of the Gaza Strip and ending Operation Cast Lead. While Adam sleeps in a tent, much to his dismay, I sleep in an air-conditioned room. The whole place feels more like a college campus than a military base. The days are very long and very regimented. We wake up at six, go to sleep at midnight, and eat three meals at exactly the same time every day. The actual activities during these weeks have been largely administrative. We have had seminars on everything from elite units to how to see the doctor on base and everybody has had immunizations, teeth photographs, fingerprints taken, and so forth.

Basically (I have to wrap up and get ready to go back!), these first two weeks are very different – being constantly yelled at and timed, but they are also funny and relatively relaxed. I’ve met some really nice people and have had a good time, but am excited for the serious work to start. To wrap up before I run out, I leave you with some pictures. Click on them for the full size version and descriptions:

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In response to Yon’s poem from last week (good luck buddy):

Yon Dotan, the story’s told,
Paced around out in the cold.
“Klaz, Klaz, it’s time
To take my turn up on the line”

Waking up, I saw his face,
Knowing the thoughts he must erase.
“It’s all a game,” to him, I said,
“Of the army, you’ve nothing to dread.”

“Fear and anxiety, all of us felt.
A few days in, those feelings will melt.
Stop worrying, enjoy your last days.
Soon basics will just seem like a haze.”

Turning away, I tried hiding my smile.
For this moment, I’d been waiting a while.
Four months now, we’ve been the most green,
Always scolded by the sergeants of nineteen.

Now out of basics, we’re allowed self-esteem.
Now a new group, the sergeants will demean.
Turning back, to the new soldier I shout,
“You’ll enjoy the experience; there’s absolutely no doubt.”
So, now, I exclaim, ‘fore I turn off the lights,
“To Yon a happy basics, and to all a good night.”

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Ok, so first – I realize I haven’t posted anything for a while. I’ve been you know… busy and stuff. Glad we’re over that. Moving on.

Though I am tempted, for the sake of my mom’s mental health, I won’t include any pictures with this post. A few weeks ago I went home (USA home) for a few weeks, but you don’t care about that. This is a blog about Israel, so my story starts when I got back. After a very enjoyable few weeks abroad, I came back to our apartment. I knew the apartment was a mess, but I was not ready for what happened when I got back. I opened the door, threw down my suitcase, and then – I saw them. Fruit flies. Flying, eating, and generally merry-making, and they were EVERYWHERE.

I was in shock, after only a few weeks of emptiness (Adam didn’t have leave for a while), our apartment had been all but completely taken over by the winged invaders. I collected my thoughts and considered my options. After a short Shawarma break and a contemplative coffee, I knew what I had to do. This was war. War is brutal, and I knew there would be many casualties – I could only hope they would be one sided.

I picked up the fly swatter, hooked in our bug zapper, crouched in position behind the couch, and waited. At just the right moment, I charged – swatting left and right I ran straight to the source of their power – the kitchen. The zapper zapped and the swatter swatted. After many minutes, sweating and defeated, I slumped back down on the couch. I had fought valiantly, but the enemy was still around. My surprise attack had barely made a dent.

This was no child’s war I was fighting. I reminded myself that this was the Middle East and half-measures could never achieve results. The most effective way to combat an invader is to attack their supply lines. It would be difficult, but it was time to clean. NO LONGER would the rotten oranges of Fruit-Fly glory tarnish the once magnificent tiles of our kitchen floor, NO MORE would the left over pasta sauce – taunting the household – stain our kitchen sink, and SO HELP ME GOD I was going to clean out the trash.

After the dramatic decision, in an 80’s style montage set to terrifyingly inspirational music, the cleaning began. (Feel free to play the video as you read to set the mood)

You need to watch this music video regardless of the connection to the blog.

I threw out, I swept, I mopped, I swatted. I rearranged, I cleaned, I folded, and I put away. And all the while, the bug zapper zapped. The cursed flies dropped like… well… like flies, and finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It had been nearly a week since I got back and the cleaning was finally coming to the end. As the last of the fruit flies were removed from the field of the battle, I swore never to let the apartment reach this state again. Oh, and to write a real blog post next week.

Over and Out.

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The Cost of Stupidity

Yesterday’s goal was very simple: move into the new apartment. We had lined everything up on Tuesday so it should have been relatively easy. The plan was to take over all of our furniture in the morning with the help of Shimon (post to come) and move all of our clothing via bus/taxi in the afternoon and evening. Sounds easy enough…

After getting back from Givatayim (the town where our new apartment is located), I stuffed my large backpack full of clothing and got ready to meet Yon. Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Phone Charger? Check. Passport? Check. I had the essentials in my pockets and my clothes on my back. I jumped on my bike and made my way to where Yon was staying. I locked my bike, went in to say hi and the two of us were on our way. We were finally going to be staying in our new apartment. Before heading out, we each checked our pockets. Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Phone Charger? Check. Passport? FUCK!

Upon seeing the panicked look on my face, Yon calmly asked, “What’s up?” Still in complete shock and somewhat confused I responded, “I don’t have my passport.” “What do you mean you don’t have it?” With reality setting in, I barked, “I don’t have my fucking passport!” Trying to calm me, Yon added, “Well it’s not like you need it anytime soon. Just get a new one.” “Actually, I have to go to the recruitment depot tomorrow. The only way for me to get in is with my passport.”

Now with an extreme sense of urgency, the two of us began retracing my steps, scouring the kilometer and a half that separated us. With every step closer to my old apartment, my heart sank further. How could I be so damn stupid? We got back to my apartment with absolutely no sign of my passport. I sprinted up the stairs and ran to my computer. The US Embassy has to be able to help. I called the emergency number and got patched through to the Embassy Duty Officer. There was nothing that they could do until morning. We then grabbed some flashlights and retraced my steps again. No luck. Our last hope for the night was to check at the police station. Again, nothing.

This morning, I woke up at 7AM, jumped on my bike and rode down to the embassy. After going through security, I approached the American Citizen Services window with a sense of urgency, quickly explaining my predicament. The woman behind the counter, who claimed to be both American and Israeli but didn’t seem quite proficient in either language, could not have cared less and was in absolutely in no rush to help. I was simply another irresponsible American who came to Israel and lost my passport. I was then told to wait and that the consul would be with me in just a minute. Several hours later, I’m called to the window to answer the exact same questions I had answered earlier and was told that I can come pick-up my new passport in ten to fourteen days.

Finally free of bureaucracy, I go outside, turn on my cell phone and see that I have a text. “Stop! Tried calling. A woman found your passport and called to return it.” Crap. I rush through security and run back to the counter. The same unhelpful American/Israeli woman is there. The following twenty-five minutes can be summarized in one quote from my favorite embassy employee; “Unfortunately, your old passport has already been canceled and there’s no way to reverse it in the system. We’ll see you in a couple weeks when you’re here to get your new passport.”

So what’s the cost of stupidity?

  • $135 for a new passport
  • $13 for new passport photos
  • A night full of headaches
  • Feeling like a complete dumbass

Hopefully moving to Givatayim tonight will go somewhat more smoothly.

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Who We Are

Adam and Yon

We are Adam and Yon. We met four years ago as freshmen at Babson College and have just recently become proud alumni. In what was possibly the most logical move following four strenuous years acquiring a degree at one of the world’s best and toughest business schools, we both decided to join the army… in Israel.

So What Are We Doing Here?

This is a hard question for both of us to answer. Either of us could give a million reasons as to why we should be and why we are here; be it Jewish pride, a sense of nationalism, the need to do something more meaningful than work a nine to five, or simply running away from what we know. Really, it’s just because we both like good Falafel. Just kidding… In reality, we are here for all those reasons, but none of them at the same time. We are here because we feel a sense of obligation, not just to Israel, but to ourselves. As corny as it sounds, we have a desire to grow, a desire to see things from a new perspective and a desire to push ourselves to where we never thought we would or could be.

Our Current Goals

Adam: As I’m writing this, I am 38 days away from my enlistment. At this point, it is relatively certain that I will be assigned to the Nahal Infantry Brigade. I, like all other soldiers in the brigade, will be given the opportunity to try out for the reconnaissance unit, Palsar Nahal. With additional training requirements, this is one of the premier units of the Nahal Brigade.

Yon: I will be enlisting in late February and it is not yet certain where I will be assigned. In less than twenty days, I have the first of two intensive try-outs to get into Unit 669, Israel’s Elite Combat Search & Rescue Unit. Adam and I are both currently training for our respective try-outs and will keep everyone posted on the results.

Why blog?

  • Keep people informed about what’s going on with us.
  • Keep a log so that we know what the hell is going on with us.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Help others who are thinking of enlisting.
  • Stroke our writing egos.

So with this blog, we hope to keep everyone posted on our lives, share stories, expound insightful lessons, discuss politics in Israel and whatever else we want. Without a doubt, there will be some posts that are far less serious than others. Check out our section on Israeli culture as well  Just as a heads up, we apologize for some of our language (more Adam than Yon) ahead of time.

לחיים| L’Chaim

Yon and Adam

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