Upon completion of the IDF commanders’ course, Corporal A had only one thing to say: “I did it!”
“I stood at the graduation ceremony wanting to cry like a baby — I was overcome by the feeling of success.”
But it wasn’t an easy makeover for Corporal A. In his teenage years, before drafting into the army, he seemed destined for a life of crime. At the age of 14, he was already a well-known juvenile delinquent with an extensive criminal record.
“I have to tell my story so that other people in a similar situation will understand that despite the difficulty, anything is possible.” (Photo: Shay Levy)
Like many teens, he was drawn to crime because of the highly glamorized and romanticized lifestyle shown on many popular television shows, from Boardwalk Empire to The Sopranos. He began stealing motorcycles for joyrides. From there, he started stealing cars and soon gained the interest of some of the biggest crime lords in Israel. “I was like a king among my friends,” he recalled.
“After a few run-ins with the police and fighting at school, I became afraid of going to jail, and so I decided that I must get out of this world,” explained Corporal A. He realized he lacked discipline and self-restraint, so he enlisted into the IDF.
For someone like Cpl. A with a criminal record, enlisting into the army was very difficult. “The IDF did not want me, and so I started sending letters to everyone to beg for help.” After a long struggle, he was drafted into combat service.
“Basic training was very hard for me, and I nearly lost sight of my dream, but thanks to my commander, I got back on track.” Corporal A (Illustration Photo: Oded Karni)
“I know now that I could not have survived without the IDF and now as an IDF Commander, I can be a role model for others.”
Now that Cpl. A has become a successful soldier in the IDF, he has more goals on his mind.
“My goal is to go to officers’ school, and I will do it! I also want to attend college and study Criminology — and of course raise a family.”
The IDF plays a key role in the culture and mentality of Israel as well as the mentality of the civilian population. Army service provides a degree of prestige: some use their rank or position to enhance their professional and personal status. Service in the IDF can often provide a much-needed clean slate for soldiers who enlist with problematic records.