Released IDF soldiers volunteer in poverty-stricken countries
Three veteran IDF officers decided to combat the boycott against Israel by showing the world the true face of its soldiers; their organization, Fighters for Life, encourages young Israelis going on their post-army trip to do volunteer work abroad.
Efforts to delegitimize Israel continue unhindered all over the world every day. In an attempt to improve Israel's bad image in the world, three IDF veterans from the elite Duvdevan Unit, who dedicated years of their lives to fighting terrorism, have decided to move the battle to the hasbara front.
The three former military commanders established a non-profit organization called Fighters For Life, which encourages freed soldiers who are about to embark on their post-army trip to do volunteer work in poverty-stricken areas worldwide.
Young Israelis happily embraced the idea, and so far some 7,000 of them have signed up to volunteer.
Even before leaving to go on their trip, the young Israelis volunteer with at-risk youth in Israel. Then, during the first two weeks of their trip, they volunteer in aid missions abroad. After that, they each go on their way on the trip of their dreams.
The first delegation left on its mission this week, with its 30 members sent to a shelter for street kids in Mumbai. The delegation was named after Golani soldier First Sergeant Daniel Pomerantz, who was killed during Operation Protective Edge. Its members will teach the Indian boys English, and the girls Krav Maga, as the rate of sexual assaults and rape in India is one of the highest in the world.
"This is an enterprise that has the potential to turn Israel into an empire of humanitarian aid, without spending a shekel," says Captain (res.) Gili, who served as a deputy company commander in Duvdevan, and is one of the three officers that founded Fighters for Life.
"We give the country a good name. I served in the IDF for eight years and saw that our soldiers are the most moral soldiers in the world. I want to take these young people and show the world their true face. These guys that are volunteering at an orphanage in India are the same fighters condemned in the world. This is our best answer to the boycott movement."
"This is an important initiative, both to us as Jews and as IDF veterans. It's time the world sees our true face," said his friend, Captain (res.) Yair Attiya, 26 years old from Tel Aviv.
And what do the Israeli volunteers think?
"If I could give these kids a little bit of the happiness they're missing, I've done my part," said Yael Bronstein, 21 years old from Ramat Ef'al, who served in the Air Force.
"It's heartwarming to make the children here smile," said Einat Mirovsky, 21 years old from Holon, who also served in the Air Force.
Nimrod Asulin, the deputy to the Israeli consul in Mumbai, said that "The foundation's activity aids us in building a diplomatic bridge to the people of this important country."
The Fighters for Life project is supported by the Atid Plus foundation, which promotes education in Israel and supports youth villages.