American University students have a certain image of Israeli "occupation" soldiers. Our soldiers probably rank in popularity somewhere between Goualds and the Tottenkopf SS. Some American University students at CSUF (California State at Fullerton) got to hear two young Israeli soldiers tell about their experiences. Those expecting baby-eating war criminal religious fanatic monsters were probably disappointed:
Orit and Jonathan, who did not wish to disclose their last names, answered questions from the audience and stressed the moral code [see Ethical Code of the IDF] IDF soldiers must abide by.
Jonathan, who served as an infantry officer for five years, did not talk about his experiences in combat. Rather, he focused on the moral code of conduct,,,
Orit, who was required to join the army when she turned eighteen, put her passion for photography, painting and flute playing on hold when she joined the IDF.
"No soldier wants to be in the war, you risk your life, and you risk the life of others to save the life of another," Orit said.
Orit served in the army as a combat medic and believes that she was at least given the opportunity to save a life at a time rather than taking one.
On Oct. 1 2003, a 29 year-old Palestinian woman named Hanadi Jaradat woman crossed the border illegally into Israel and entered a local Israeli restaurant in Haifa.
Orit looked around at the audience and described the scene.
"She sits down, enjoys a delightful meal and when she finished, pushes a button and blew her self up. Twenty-one people killed, including three generations of two families were killed in cold blood," Orit said.
Hanadi Jaradat was sent by her brother Halel Jaradat to perform the terrorist attack; the Israeli army believed that he was in hiding, but they were not successful in capturing him.
Two weeks later, Orit was called in when she was off duty at 2 a.m. to give medical attention to a prisoner. She approached him and asked his name, Halel Jaradat he said.
"I immediately froze, I knew who he was," Orit said. "And there he was, the person responsible for killing the 21 innocent people."
As she approached him, Orit said, she put her emotions aside, took a deep breath and treated him. When she finished, he said 'shrukran,' which means 'thank you' in Arabic.
"It wasn't an easy moment," Orit said. "I felt like I betrayed the 21 victims for his actions, because he was there thanking me for treating him while they were dead."
At only eighteen years old, Orit was required to treat a major terrorist.
"I was trained not to discriminate against race, nationality or moral standards," Orit said. "I was trying to give him medical aid merely according to the wounds and medical needs, nothing else, I knew I had to treat him."
Dozens of combat medics are faced with these challenges day in and day out, said Orit, who also said she is proud of being part of an army that follows ethical treatment and human rights
"Dialogue leads to negotiation, and negotiation leads to peace," Orit said. "And peace will get there soon."
For video click here: IDF soldiers talk to American students