Mishelet Lev is the is the Israeli affiliate of the international Make-A-Wish Foundation, whose sole mission is to grant wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses between the ages of 3-18.
On Tuesday, the foundation held its large annual fundraiser, whose proceeds are geared towards financing the foundation’s various activities, in Haifa. Tickets for the fundraiser sold at NIS 100 ($28.5), and numerous artists, including Nurit Galron, Hanna Laslo, Hani Nahmias, and Ben Artzi—son of renowned singer Shlomo Artzi—volunteered to perform at the event free of charge.
An anonymous benefactor purchased 100 tickets for the fundraiser and asked to donate them to IDF soldiers so that they could enjoy the ample entertainment. The tickets were to be distributed to troops stationed at a Navy base in Haifa. However, the IDF barred the soldiers from attending the event seeing as one of the performers, Ben Artzi, had dodged the draft.
Many IDF officials decried this decision, deeming it “insensitive” and “callous” towards the gravely ill children aided by the foundation. “We are shooting ourselves in the foot,” said an IDF official, “this event aids seriously ill children, and even if one of the performers is a draft dodger we can ignore this infraction in order to support both the foundation and the children which it champions.”
The IDF stated in response that “official IDF protocol indicates that soldiers on active or reserve duty can only take part in events involving artists and performers who have completed both their active and reserve military service.”
Singer Ben Artzi’s personal manager also responded to the IDF’s actions and stated that “Ben was found unfit for service by the IDF, and in lieu of active duty has served the community by supporting, among others, the AKIM foundation and other organization which aid sick children. He will be more than happy to perform at such events in the future.”
Roee Bahrir contributed to the report