IDF goes to local pubs to pick up combat enlistees

A new army initiative will send combat soldiers to bars to meet youth and encourage them to go for a meaningful job in the army.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF’s newest initiative to encourage enlistment in combat units will kick off at the end of the month in the nation’s bars, Israel Hayom reported Monday.

As part of Project “Only Combat,” active officers and fighters will go to where youth spend a good amount of time during their summer vacation, the local pubs. There, they will entertain the potential enlistees with their own stories of what it’s like to serve in front-line units, all in an effort to increase the teenagers’ desire and motivation to serve their country in the most active way possible.

The unusual mission will be implemented not only by the lower ranks. Among those participating in the first event, set for July 23 in Tel Aviv, is Lt. Col. Dana Ben Ezra, commander of Battalion 869, said the report.

“For me, the importance of the campaign is mainly the exposure of the youth, who are about to enlist, to combat service,” she told the daily. “At the end, someone has to do this job, and we need the best, who will do it with a lot of spirit and motivation.”

She detailed some of the advantages that could attract the teens to such units.

“On a personal level, this service can contribute to [their] development and empowerment,” she said. “The kind of experiences you have on a personal level as a fighter – it’s pretty likely that you aren’t going to meet them in civilian life, and this is a one-time opportunity that you should not miss out on.”

Ben Ezra also emphasized the importance of talking to the potential soldiers as a woman.

“It’s important to me to contribute from my own experience and knowledge, and speak with them simply and directly. To act as an example for girls before their enlistment, so that they will tell themselves, ‘I can forge a great path on my own, no less than and equal to the boys’ combat service.’”

In December 2018, the IDF stated that only 50% of those eligible to enlist actually joined the army and that among those who did, only a quarter went to combat units. It graded the top contributing cities and regional councils, giving more weight to those who have a higher percentage of people serving in combat and going on to officers’ training school.

None of the largest urban centers were even close to the top of the list. Beeersheba topped Israel’s big cities, in 26th place. Haifa was in the 38th spot, Tel Aviv was 48th, and Jerusalem trailed behind in 61st place.

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Perhaps it’s no surprise that the IDF has decided to begin its pub crawl in Tel Aviv.