a different side of Israel

New IDF Options for Young “Ex-pat” Israelis

New Israel Military recruiting options are being developed to reach out to more than 150,000 children of Israeli citizens who now reside outside of the country. The programs, being tailored for young people aged 18-24, including Jews who are interested in pursuing academic studies in Israel, are being designed to induce young people to not only enlist in these special IDF military programs, but stay on afterwards as either immigrants or returning residents.

New IDF OptionsThere are an estimated 700,000 Israelis living abroad, many of them in the USA and Canada. Those of university age have had a problem in attending universities and colleges in Israel due to having to either leave the country after 18 months or be inducted into the IDF. The new changes will allow students to complete their education in Israel without being pressured to make these two choices at the end of the 18 month period. The new service programs, involve three IDF service categories: ‘Schlav Bet” (an auxiliary IDF service unit composed of young people from foreign countries who serve for a period of 16 months in logistical capacities, including drivers and artillery units); Diaspora Talpiot (a special technical oriented division composed of soldier with high tech and related backgrounds to assist in developing advanced weapons systems); Mahal, a special unit made up of volunteers who are not Israeli citizens; and Garin Tzbar, made up exclusively of young people from abroad who hold Israeli nationality.

Many young people who enlisted or were inducted into the IDF, and subsequently placed in units like Schlav Bet, thought that their talents and educational backgrounds would be better utilized in the military. Many, however, spent their initial compulsory service period doing such mundane duties as driving garbage and other utility vehicles, or learning how to operate already obsolete heavy weapons systems. The new programs will make more effort to examine each new recruit’s background in order to give them more gratifying military duties to help instill in them a love for the country to induce them to remain in the country afterwards.

In units such as Diaspora Talpiot, the IDF wants those assigned to this special section to remain in the military and not pursue positions afterwards in the private sector (which pay more money).

Mahal, which transliterated is Mitnadevei Hutz La’Aretz, has a very special part in Israel’s history when nearly 4,000 Mahal volunteers, from 43 countries, fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948-49. Many of them remained in Israel afterwards and helped develop the country’s economy, as well as making outstanding contributions to Israeli cultural life. Just a few of these people include Murray Greenberg, Harold “Smoky” Simon, Eddy Kaplansky, Gene Tamari, and Harold Stutsen. Mahal is still a very important part of the IDF program to induce young men and women to volunteer to serve in the IDF; and many do stay on after their 14 month compulsory service period ends.

Garin Tzbar is very attractive to children of native born Israelis who come alone and do not have immediate families living in Israel. As their parents may have left Israel many years before, these kids may not speak Hebrew well enough to integrate easily into a regular IDF army unit. Garin Tzabar was originally created with and is still connected to the Israel Scouts organization (part of the International Scouting organization). This program is specially designed to attract kids with Israeli nationality to come to Israel and serve in the IDF.

While these programs are still being revamped, and are in the process of undergoing many restructuring changes, they will definitely help to add additional manpower to Israel’s military forces, as well as perhaps a badly need psychological uplift to a country that needs them now, more than ever.


  1. where do you find out more about these new options for children of ex-pats?

  2. where can i find someone that i can talk to in person with more information on these programmes to put me in the right direction

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