David Patrick Shoval immigrated to Israel from Belgium six months ago, at age 37, and has joined the IDF. In order to do so he gave up his career as a lawyer and environmental engineer at the prime minister's office in Brussels.
David is to be one of 300 boot camp trainees from more than 35 different countries to finish the IDF's Hebrew course on Wednesday.
"I love Israel very much, and for me, to be Israeli means first of all serving in the IDF," Shoval told Ynet.
The Belgian immigrant is to be employed as the army's chief of environmental protection, in addition to his doctorate studies at Tel Aviv University.
Shoval, a lone soldier, tells of his parents' approval. "They love Israel," he said, adding that he wouldn't be doing anything combative because of his age.
Shoval's commander, Lieutenant Dafna Barhad, is a little more than half his age. "Of course it was strange commanding him at first because of the age difference, but the bottom line is that he is a soldier like the others," she said.
"Certainly it was obvious he had special qualities because of his age, but he was motivated and wanted to serve in the IDF."
Other immigrants, from the US, Russia, Britain, Paraguay, Peru, Georgia, Canada, South Africa, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other countries, will stand beside Shoval at Mahva-Alon base in the Galilee, where they will ceremoniously complete their Hebrew studies.
It will be one of the largest ceremonies in IDF history. The graduates studied reading and writing for three months, as preparation for their inclusion in Israeli society.
In addition to Hebrew, the course cadets learn about Israel and its history. They tour Jerusalem and its sites as well as army bases. "It's true Zionism," says Major Karen Kamerinsky, who commands the olim at the base.
"True Zionism is that they leave their parents, enlist in the IDF, and make significant changes in their lives just to serve the state." The major says around half of the young men enlist in combat units.
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