Only In Israel

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Report 1

Exactly two weeks ago, I wrote the last post on this blog. I left on Sunday to join the IDF which turned out to be quite a meaningfull experience.
I began by taking a bus from my local draft center to the "Bakum". The reception base. There we got our uniforms, injections, DNA checks, and were fingerprinted. Practicly everyone who were drafted on that day were going to the Artillery units of the IDF. Units I was happy to join.
Let me explain.
I'm an only child. In Israel, the IDF usualy refuses to take people with no brothers or sisters to combat units. And you must have your parents signature to go to combat while being an only child. The chances my mom would sign on for me to go to the paratroopers or some commando units are slightly smaller than the chances I'll sprout wings and fly to Atlantis. After 3 years of fighting with my mom, we reached an agreement. I won't attempt to join the commando units I want to go to, and she'll sign on me going to the Artillery units (which are also considered combat units, and serve in the territories) in the IDF.
Anyhow, moving back to my story. Many of the people who reached the Bakum with me, didn't want to go to artillery. That part of the military isn't respected enough and generaly considered IDF's suckers, doing all the dirty work, noone else wants to do. Among the people who were with me in the Bakum, many tried to get out on medical reasons (suddenly everyone remembered they had Astma when they were kids, or the many broken ribs they had). Most of them didn't succeed, and so we moved on to our first night in the military. Wearing uniforms, we went to sleep in tents. Before we did, our temporary commanders gave us a speech about what people must do to defend their country. About how each and every one of us owe our freedom, the fun we have on weekends, the times we go out with our girlfriends to the people who stand, in the same time in the cold or heat of the outside defending our asses. I really didn't need that motivation speech, I knew that idea, but it sure as hell strengthened my beliefs. Other weren't as influenced. Some of them just wanted to get a "job". A military position close to home, working as a clerk or some other buerocratic position, basicly sitting on their asses all day and diong nothing.
Right before sleep, I had a big argument with a few folks in my tent. I managed to convert most of them. And I made myself some friends. One of them, Josh, was from the US. He went to Berkley U, and left his studies to join the IDF. He came to Israel alone, and lives in a kibbutz. As it happened, me and Josh were separated and he went on to some secret IDF commando unit.
On the second day, the military began screwing with me.
Everyone in our tents mounted on the buses to the Artillery basic training base in the south of Israel. Me and a small group of soldiers were sent to "Mashakit Tash", a military clerk, that takes care of social problems of the soldiers. When I reached her, it turned out, they lost the form my mom signed on to, allowing me to serve in combat units. After half an hour or so they found the form, and I was released, when the Mashakit tash, quickly tiped something into her computer. As we left her office, I was again separated from the rest of the group. They mounted a bus and went to the Artillery base. I was sent to wait on the other side of the camp with some group of crooks, criminals and basicly lazy slobs who have refused to leave the bakum for a month or so.
After a chat with the guys (in which one of them discussed how many people he stabbed in his life), I understood there clearly was a mistake. I went to my commander, who refused to speak to me, telling me, that atleast for the week, I'll be staying in the Bakum. I did what I do best. I started a giant scandal, in which every single commander got shouted at, and I gave them an ultimatum. Either they put me on the bus to the artillery base within 5 minutes, or they'll have to handcuff me and put me in military jail for wanting to serve in combat.
It worked.
Turned out the imbecile Mashakit tash, doesn't control her hebrew that well. Instead of writing "It was an error he was sent to me" she tiped "He was sent to his unit by an error".
Anyhow, I mounted the bus to my future.
The moment we arrived to Shivta, where we go through our basic training sessions, the commanders began getting us used to what we will go through the next few months. Screaming, Yelling and frightening the living hell out of us. After a few days in the military we got used to it. Basicly, that was what we call "Trom-Tironut". Pre-training. On that week we took tests for the military to decide to which branch of Artillery will we go to. I attempted to go through a test for a secret unit there which basicly serves in a secret position with secret weapons. Something you know nothing about, and nor do I.
The tests to that unit (which I'm forbidden to name) came in three phases. A physical test you had to pass, being bossed around and kicked around doing meaningless things, including lifting heavy weights fmo one spot to another adn brining them back for the commander for hours till about 2/3rds the group decided, from their own will to leave. I passed that phase. Then came the interview, and a few psychological tests.
Apparently I didn't pass those. Because when on Thursday, I got the data on where will I serve, I wasn't chosen for that unit. I was chosen to serve in the MLRS (Multi Launching Rocket System) units in the Artillery part of the IDF.
Since friday, our ass was getting kicked by our commanders. We have a female commander, which we like to refer to as "the satan". She keeps dropping us all to 40 push ups for "pissing her off". Anyhow, unusualy, I was stuck in the base during our first weekend. Which was a lot funner than I thought... All the friends together, sitting around, chatting... Doing absolutely nothing. And it all ended on Saturday night. The moment shabbath ended we've began running again. We spent the rest of the week learning about our weapon (the Galil assault rifle) and beggining to shoot. Personaly I scored better than average results. This went on for three days, during which all we ate was canned food.
Anyhow, on Friday we left home, and it looks like we're going to spend the entire next week training in shooting. I know this report is kinda short-written, that's because I'm leaving early tommorow morning and I still need to pack. See you all in two weeks. (Hopefully less).


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