When I moved to Israel in September of 2007, even after having spent about a year here during college, I couldn't help but feel a certain amount of anxiety. Uprooting your life and leaving everything you've known behind isn't easy, especially for a sentimentalist like me. My medicine against this churning in my heart was writing, and Israeli by Day, American by Night was administered in heavy dosage from Day One.
This blog was the backstop for my life. Everything I went through, all the crazy stuff I saw, was painted in my mind on a canvas of how it would appear encapsulated in a post. My perspective was constantly refracted through the lens of my sole creative endeavor. Not one day passed that I didn't pray for the material to create that one blog that would send me into Internet kingship, the master of Web 2.0. Honestly, this blog was my saving grace. If I didn't have the warm embrace of the orange "Publish Post" button, that feeling of satisfaction, completion, and purity, I might have never accomplished half of what I have.
Two and a half years after its inception, with two hundred and seventy blog posts published, multiple interviews, army spokesman offers, dozens of links from other sites, countless emails, hundreds of article comments, and random Facebook friends I've never met, I feel like I can finally say that I really created something meaningful in my life. I have something that I can, essentially, hold in my hands and say proudly, "I made this!!!" The constant responsibility of creating those posts, trying to make each more interesting than the last, has really paid off. I wouldn't trade my experience for any other, no matter what. Even if the books I want to write never materialize, which are already written in my head anyway, I can confidently look to this collection and feel a modicum of self-regard, pride, and achievement. This blog is my most cherished possession.
"Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality, and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind." Catherine Drinker Bowen
But all that responsibility, all that continual striving for yet another post, yet another batch of positive feedback, which of course is a writer's goal (who isn't looking for praise?), ends up taking its toll. I suppose that I've written a few hundred pages already, a book. The strain and pressures add up. And I'm tired. I have slowly been moving on, naturally, which doesn't make me sad in the least. Yes, my heart is tender over the matter, I'll admit, but I'm happy to write "The End" and package it all up. Time for the next adventure.
The truth is, I was supposed to finish my army service this very month of April, 2010. For many reasons, none of which I want to go into for the hundredth time, I signed up for another six months. In the grand scheme of things, it's really not a big deal. By the end of my service, which will be two years in total (nothing in terms of army services), I hope to feel the same closure on this period of my life as I feel now writing this final blog post. That's been my goal all along: To have a pretty little package of life experiences with four corners and a roof. Something with all the loose ends tied up.
Regrettably, nothing is ever that perfect. This blog, and my army experience, are no different. There are many loose ends. Would you believe me if I told you that I never even wrote about the most harrowing, exciting, and intense times of the army? I never did get around to writing that West Bank arrest operations post. How about having my own personal IED discovered before I was discovered all across the road? Ridiculous patrols with your finger on the trigger, or even the most hilarious adventures at 3:00am deep in the casbah. And Gaza... forget about it. All that stuff was the real army. I wrote the pretty stuff. The real, gross, disgusting, 'I don't want to see this' kind of stuff has conveniently been omitted. I suppose I intend all that for a different audience, or at least in a different medium. This open blog is just not the place.
Despite feeling that there were posts that slipped by, great ones even, I am still comfortable saying adios. I'd like to thank all my fans, the most dedicated and loyal readers whose names always appeared in the comments section. I waited on edge for your feedback. And I'd like to thank all the haters who always made their way to the blog. I knew which posts were my best by how viciously I was attacked.
So how do you do it? What's the very last thing you can say? A meaningful quote? A pompous, prophetic reflection? Something vague and post-moderny? No, no... for the Israeli soldier, there's really only one way to say goodbye, only two words - but two words that say it all.
!!???? עד מתי
I've been following your blog for I don't even know how long anymore. It helped me make my decision to come to Israel and join the army, although I haven't actually made it into tzahal yet. You have been an immense inspiration to me, as a person, as a future soldier, and as a writer. I'm sad to see that you are wrapping it up with this blog, but at the same time, all good things must come to an end. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and hope to one day to pick up a copy of a book written by you at the local Steimatzky. I think that you have immense talent as a writer and that if you focus your efforts, you'll be able to create something truly amazing (and of course I think that this blog itself is also pretty incredible.) How will we be able to know if you plan to publish a new writing project, be it a blog or a book??
All the best from Tel Aviv,
I have been a very regular reader of your blog and have enjoyed every post. Thank you for sharing your life with me and your really grand adventure. I wish you all the best in the time that follows and I will miss reading your thoughts. Perhaps you might consider, instead of saying goodbye, just posting whenever you feel like it. Either way, thank you so much.
Nooooooo! Danny, I must say, I'm terribly sad to see that your blog is coming to an end. But I'm sure you're on your way to bigger things as we speak.
I (and my friends by forwarding) have been enjoying your blog for a long time. It has engendered serious debate, reflection, and most importantly, the greatest sense of pride (for someone we've never even met!)
Thank you so much for your service, and for sharing even the tiniest parts of it with us. I anxiously await the debut of your first of many, many books. And many amazing things to come for you. B'hatzlecha!- L
Thank you. But like Jeremy said, post when you can. No pressure.
See you around.
I've been following this blog for around a year now, and have always looked forward to reading what you have to say. You've been unfailingly well-written and intensely thought provoking.
Thanks for sharing everything you have, and I wish you the absolute best of whatever you go on to do.
I really enjoyed your blog Danny. Even if you didn't discuss your most intense experiences, your writing was sincere, honest and provocative. You really have a beautiful soul and I wish you the best!!
Danny although you may not have seen it representative in the comment section I have been an avid reader of your blog...although I haven't been there from the start you should know that I have read every one of your blogs and "What It Means To Be A Workaholic" your Saturday, December 12, 2009 post is quite simply one of the better pieces of writing I have ever read. It lifts my spirits those times where I'm down (especially the final University exam period I'm currently in) and really gives me a first hand look and feeling that I myself am going through what you are. Eloquently written and engrossing, I hope you achieve all that you aspire to...and as the others said...no pressure, post when you can haha. Take it easy out there.
Since I am not nearly as good a writer as you, I am unable to describe how I feel when I visit your site.
There is nothing I will miss reading more than your blog, Danny.
You are an exceptionally gifted writer and I have immensely enjoyed reading your posts.
My biggest regret in life being that I re-enlisted in the US Air Force instead of making Aliyah and doing what you have done when I was as old as you were when you did, I wish you nothing but the best in the future. You really are a true inspiration.
Thank you so much for sharing your stories with everyone.
You better have a darn awesome life Danny!
Listen, man, I have nothing but respect for you. Your lack of blog will leave a hole - it seems either creepy-stalker or vapid to qualify that either way, so, I will say "you will leave a hole." But I will really miss reading your stuff! Please figure out a way to let us all know when you get around to writing those books of yours.
And yeah, keep taking care of yourself.
It'd be cool if you posted at the end of your army service to say "hey I'm done" - consider doing that at least :)
Danny, firstly I want to say kol hakavod on such a brilliant blog, your thoughts and ideas that found their way (everytime you posted) onto your blog, were really thought-provoking, brilliant and truly inspiring.
I am similar to anonymous above in that I have read a lot of your blogs (and thoroughly enjoyed them) and that I am in a very similar period of my life, as I have my dissertation hand in and final uni exams all over the next month and I hope to make aliya at the end of may and subsequently join the army within the year. So all of this academic year and especially now, have been stressful (even now I feel stressed and guilty that I am not working!), but your blog was always from the heart and cheered me up no end, when I was feeling sad and down and always showed me that there are much more important (and crucial) issues and problems (quite often life-threatening) that have to be dealt with, day in and day out, by a golani (and generally israeli) soldiers, just like you.
You are an an excellent writer and are truly an inspiration, it is sad to see you go (well virtually anyway), but I suppose all good things must come to an end (but do generally keep up the writing!).
I wish you only the best things in life and I really hope and am sure that I will be buying an autobiographical (or account on life in the idf) book in the near future, by an author named Danny brothers. Shabbat shalom ve tishmor al atsmecha besof hasherut shelcha, mikol halev, Rafi
As a Jewish United States Marine this blog offered quite an interesting perspective. However at the end of the day, as much as I support Israel and the IDF... The Marine Corps is just so much more badass than anything you could possibly do in tzahal. :)
Danny bro, I read most of your blog I am keeping track of it for a long long time and enjoyed it and got educated from it alot.
also I was still waiting for your next post for over a month and Im sad its a farewell post, but in a way its symbolic it really is an end of an era..
I hope youll open yet another blog, or atleast publish your books.
I hope one day to hear the real disgusting stuff cuz I am sadly a jobnik.. and altough I was for a while near gaza and even met and talked with golanchikim its not the real deal..
anyway, shabat shalom, good luck and have fun bro :D
Like the others have said, I'm sorry to see your blog go. Yet, also like the others, I wish you luck in your future endeavors whether they be in Israel or back here in the States. You seem like a very talented guy, don't let that go to waste. Our democracies can always use people with such talent and dedication. Wherever life takes you after the military, I wish you the very best Danny! You have been an inspiration to the rest of us young budding Zionists, tishmor al hatzmecha!
As I read your last blog entry, I realized that it was a classic case of the other shoe dropping. I knew long ago that eventually you'd opt to be released from the constant responsibility of blogging in order to do other things. What I appreciated most about your blog was the chance to gain insights into aspects of Israeli life that only a first-person experience could provide. You told that story so well for so long...I can only say thank you and good luck in whatever you choose as your next chapter.
I have been following your blog for a year and a half. I haven't missed a single post and always read them as soon as I could.
I think that what finally got me to seriously plan on joining the IDF in the future was this blog. There is no where else on the internet to my knowledge that I can find stories of day to day life of an American oleh in the army. I consider it a great privilege to be able to see through your viewpoint of the army experience. Like Canman said I have been anticipating a blog post for a month. after the depth of the last one I was expecting another super post, possibly connecting with pesach.
I am very sad that you have chosen to end your blogging career (only temporarily, right) and hope that after your service you will opt to possibly write a few last entries. I'd definitely buy your book(s) if you choose to write them. However if you don't I understand. I can definitely see how the responsibility and time it takes for you to write these posts is very difficult while you are still in the army. When I join the IDF I think my weekend priority would be sleeping and eating donuts not blogging.
I haven't commented many times here on your blog, but I've enjoyed reading all of your entries. I'm sorry that you're not going to be writing anymore, you're such a good writer. Getting a glimpse into your life has always been something we here in the electronic world have been lucky to get. I hope that you'll pick up someday, perhaps when your six months are up. It would be interesting to see the transition to civvie, to hear about where you go from there. Stay in Israel? Go back to the States?
I wish you all the best in the future. Until later, take care of yourself, and stay safe.
Thanks for insight man into the IDF, this is probably the best info into the IDF out there on the internet. How you could sacrifice your rest time consistently to write is really a challenge, so mazal tov; like that one guy said, id probably rather sleep and eat donuts or something after getting beat up all month long and only having 2 days rest.
To the Jewish USMC kid, that was a stupid comment, not suprising though USMC is all muscle, no brain. But thanks for your service all the same.
Like others, I occasionally comment but have read every post you've written. I'm honored to have shared your journey with you- even if I'm only reading a blog post on a screen in America. Thank you for teaching me so much about my future home and the people I will live amongst. I am eternally grateful. As a writer myself, I know you can never turn off that switch- you'll keep writing and writing, even if it sits in a computer file or a notebook for months or years. Remember that first and foremost, your writing is for you. I wish you the best of luck in the army and happiness in your life.
My son is in 931 about six months behind you. Your posts served as a guidebook for him and his American friends. Thank you and kol hakavod.
I've been reading your blog for a while now and this was a great way to end off!
בהצלחה בצבא והכול!!!
I can't tell you how sorry I am that your blog's ending, and how much of an impact it's had on me this past year.
I would literally spend months agonizing over whether or not to join the army, whether or not to make Aliyah and forgo college for a few years, fears and doubts twisting in my mind. And then a new IsraelbyDay post would pop into my inbox, and the choice would suddenly become obvious. I can only pray to have as awesome an experience in the army as you've had. Maybe writing a blog will help.
That being said, I would wish you luck in the future, but I know you don't need it. You've got your "Danny Luck." You are a gifted writer, a talented soldier, a thoughtful human being. Whatever the next step for you will be, please consider blogging about it.
thanks and בהצלחה
I have been an avid reader of your blog for the past year and a half as I prepared my mind and body for my own service in the Israeli Army. The experiences you have shared with all of us on here will always serve as a kind of comfort, a candle in the dark - if you will, for my own future as a soldier. Although I have never met you, I feel like we are great friends and this blog has become an almost personal heirloom for me. As you move on with the next chapter in your life, I feel happy for you, and feel as though I am doing the same thing.
P.S Givati > Golani
I've been following your blog for a while and while I'm sad you're ending, it's great that it has served a great purpose for you, and you're moving on to bigger and better things.
kol hakavod and b'hatzlacha
Danny, on the one hand I'm surprised that you are ending this blog, but on the other, I understand. My son (in Yerushalayim) started a blog, twice--and decided that he wanted to live LIFE, really--and not virtually; there was no time for it, with his new family and high-level security job.
So although I will miss your blog, I wish you הצלחה רבה in all your endeavors, and כל טוב .
אני מאחלת לך שתלך מחיל אל חיל
I just found this blog not too long ago. I've enjoyed reading your posts. You have a wonderful gift for writing.
I wish you well in all you do. Be safe, young man.
Sad to see your blog go, I must say. With the exception of a few not-for-profit organizations, I have never followed any blog so intensely in my life. Your writing, and obviously subject matter, really captured me after I was first introduced to your blog by a friend while coming home from our Birthright trip. If you recall, I'm the ignorant jew from NY who asked if you were actually a Jew who attended William & Mary. Funny looking back. (at least I think so) I wish you the best of luck for all that's to come to you. Next year in Jerusalem, achi.
Take care man. Stay down, and keep moving
wow, i cant believe it but i also cannot believe how much i learned from your perspective. You really are a great writer and you never demonize the so called "enemy". I hope your safe and remember how much you touched people's lives with your post. I am really trying not be corny but I will really miss your blog.
-Avraham aka arkadiy
I've been reading your blog for a while now but I never left a comment to let you know how great it is. I'm sad to see you finish it up. I have always identified with you in a weird way because I grew up in Virginia (my girlfriend went to W&M) and I graduated in 2007. I admire you and all you have done to protect our homeland. Stay safe.
I came across your blog far too recently for you to be leaving already! Always makes my reading experience when a blog from you pops up. I will just need to go back to the beginning and read your history... or wait for your book. All the best and Kol Hakavod. Richard
i've posted 2 comments and you didn't display them...that's weird.....was the invitation to nazareth too much for you....very disappointing....i thought you were bigger than that.......
So, I only just found your blog recently when I searching the internet at school. That night I came home to read your post and I was hooked. I started reading with the entry you posted before this and it was amazing. I usually could care less what random people I don't know say, but you are such an amazing writer. You have courage that most people could only dream of having. You are a very talented writer. Where ever life takes you, I wish you well. Stay safe, and one day I hope to buy your books.
So this chapter of your young life is closing. I will miss your blogs. You've taught me so much about a part of the world I find so fascinating. Can't wait for the book(s)!
You will always be special to us, Danny!
Take care of yourself.
This was pretty sudden. But you've got your reasons, so I must only thank you for your insights on this blog. Keep on doing what you think is right, so far you're doing great, I can tell. Be safe and goodbye. I'll miss this blog.
Danny! Very best of luck with the things that come next.
Hey man, I'v been reading for some time now, when I miss awhile I always make an effort to catch up. I will be making aliyah in a couple of monthes and your posts have helped me in my path. Know that you have helped at least one person, myself. It is a Mitzva to teach, and you have done just that.
Thank you so much for all you have done for the Jewish people Danny!
May G-d protect you and may you be Matzliach in all your future endeavors!
DON'T GO!! We will miss you!!! We love you!!!
God bless you dear Danny!!!
BLOG!!! MAKE ANOTHER CHAPTER!! =D
Very sorry to see you go. I have enjoyed reading your adventures. I wish I had found this blog sooner, and commented more (this is only my second comment.) I hope that your life takes you to great places. Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with us. From one soldier to another, be well, Danny.
lol you guys are all silly. He's not really leaving, he's just joking!!! LOL!!!
but if he's serious and doesn't actually post here again, then I will shoot myself in the head!
-Danny if you don't continue posting, there will be blood on your hands!
(re Johnny's comment)Now, there's a way to keep Danny writing. (Don't do it Johnny; his writing's not that good!)
So long, Danny. You're a good man and an even better writer. You've been inspiring me for well over two years. I'll be watching for the name "Daniel Brothers" in the future, so I can say "I read you when..."
Thanks for the insight into a completely different world, Danny. All the best to you, and keep your head down for the next six months. And good luck with whatever comes after.
I like that Israeli IDF parting phrase. Ad Matiy?
Thank you all for your compliments, and to anyone not so complimentary... thanks for commenting anyway.
I can't respond to everyone here - just too many. But, Melissa, I did not delete any comments from you...
I give you one week to put up a new post, and if not I will blow my brains onto the wall.
If you want to be at peace with yourself when you go to bed at night I suggest you start making a post.
Hope you're still with us, Johnny
Johnny is probably long gone.
But it would be cool if you let us know what you thought,as a soldier, about the gaza aid ship fiasco. Did israel screw up big time on this one (shooting peace activists). This hole might be just too deep to get out of.
Bro i gotta tell ya I haven't read this blog till now on my iPod, and I gotta say this pure introspection on ur work touched me. It is written to cap a historic blog which will be read for centuries. A thousand years from now people will know you. It is a blessing to understand the ability to impact history. You have done it brother! Your writing reminds me so much of my own; you have never shown more introspection as this last post. I love you so much bro and I am so proud of you! Please be safe, and please succeed. Not enough in America understand what Israel faces.
Anonymous - Well, I don't have all the inside information, but from what I can gather... The captain of the Israeli ship flagged down the foreign flotilla, calling it properly and stating Israel's policy of boarding any ship bound for Gaza. They peacefully asked permission to board in order to inspect and guide the ship to the port city of Ashdod, where the aid would then be trucked into Gaza. That's standard Israeli policy (considering how many ships bound for Gaza are stuffed with military equipment).
The captain of the flotilla refused the inspection and headed for Gaza.
Israel's Navy commandos, who are ridiculous professionals (SEALs), boarded the ship armed with paintball guns. They were then attacked with everything from metal pipes to knives. One soldier was apparently thrown overboard. From there the situation escalated, as you can imagine, and deadly force was used.
Was this a fiasco? Sure. But was it Israel's fiasco? I don't think so. Could Israel have done it differently? Yeah, as in use a larger force.
There is some really convincing video footage out there showing Israel's strict use of peaceful protocol to guide this ship to port and follow Israel's policy of inspecting foreign aid for weapons and then shipping the aid through to Gaza. As a matter of fact, there is a CNN article right now informing that Hamas is REFUSING the aid. Israel has released all the foreign detainees, but they are holding two Israeli citizens who were onboard. My comment is that this shows really what Hamas cares about: their political agenda, and not the people of Gaza.
But as I told my mom, none of this matters. Those that hate Israel will hate, and the rest might just see the truth through the mist.
Jeff - I'm not sure anyone is going to be reading about this for a thousand years, but thanks!
I've finished reading through all your blog, but I can't believe you plan on leaving us hanging at this point! You have an awesome story that serves as inspiration to all Jews worldwide. I'm with Johnny, if you don't make a new post soon, I'm ending it all. In Yeshiva you must have learned that murder is a grave sin. Well this would constitute assisted suicide, which is just as bad.
I give you one week, like Johnny did. I hope you will be able to sleep at nights knowing all the people you are indirectly murdering!
hey danny, nice to see you're still writing something.
i completely agree about the flotilla: it makes no difference what happened aboard the ship. People will always find a way to discredit Israel; all they need is the trigger.
Hopefully history will see the truth.
anyway, how are things with you? what do you plan to do when your sherut's over?
About the Gaza bound ships, I never heard they were "peace activists." Who reported that?
Brothers, you may stop blogging, but you will never stop serving. You will sign on for six months and six months and six months again and again and again until you die, because now you are cast as a soldier and cannot possibly do anything else. Just hope your rank will enable you to dodge KP some day.
Thanks for your email. I'm glad I found your blog, albeit very recently. I read it all with great interest and hope to see more from you -- in any medium. I look forward to exchanging more messages.
Yaron (IDF -- 1978-81)
I'm coming in at the end, but I'd like to respond to your perception that this blog is your greatest accomplishment. Great as it may be, you made a tremendous contribution to Am Yisrael and civil society with your service in Golani. There is no nobler thing you could have done at this time of life. I, and many others, thank you for your service.
Samal Moti, Hovesh Kravi 09
Hahaha And I just found your blog like 2 days ago. :(
Oh well, good luck in all your new adventures!
I've enjoyed your blog immensely. And I do hope this is only a temporary break and you will keep us updated as to what is going on in your life. It would be interesting to read your view on re-entering civilian life. Regardless, good luck and remember you will always be in many people's prayers.
Your words are just gorgeous - please contemplate writing a book when you have time in the future. You are an inspiration to me and my kids (you have no idea) so take care and wish you all the very best - you have a wonderful, bright future ahead of you.
Happy Tu B'Av - hope you can share it with someone special - you deserve the BEST!
for some reason *ad matay* for me much more about shalit then about finishing army) good luck to you, i ope you will be back to blogging as you did a great work
Ariella -- ad matay is a general expression used throughout all the army for soldiers when they're close to their release date. The reason they say it for Gilad is because it's good irony. IE - he's long overdue for his army release.
dont be a pussy. make a new post.
let us know what you've been up to
Well, I've just found your great blog and you already finished writing it!? So good luck with the rest of your service and I hope you keep writing. I have really enjoyed reading your (relatively) recent posts and the (mostly) thoughtful comments you have inspired. I'm looking forward to reading through your backlog!
Amnon - just finishing the army, got about 15 days left. So, I'm done. Then... we'll see. I'm just gonna go to my parents' house and relax for a few days first. I've seen them twice in three years. Not cool. Not cool at all. That's pretty much all I've been up to: wrapping up this experience!
Zoe - I hope you enjoy. There are some good ones all throughout the history of this blog, even from the year before I was drafted and was just a citizen exploring a new country! I like some of those posts better even than any of the army ones!
Hey Danny, do you ever think about start posting again? Or just an idea, but you could post something about the whole thing, moving to Israel, joining the army, let us know what you think about the whole thing now that you're leaving, your insights...
Well, good luck anyway.
I don't want to post anymore on this blog, as I've kinda put my final touch on it, but I've definitely had the urge a few times. I'm not sure I have any ideas on the whole thing, any big larger theme on the whole idea of moving to Israel and joining the army.. well, other than following your dreams is really the only thing a young man should aspire to. I guess I kinda also want to save any of these ideas for a potential book. But you know, I don't think I have any original ideas on the matter, and that really keeps me from writing anything.
But if anything comes to mind, I'll send it to you. Thanks for the interest.
Ok, thats cool. My email is email@example.com
if you write something send it to me. Good luck
Danny: Hope you are enjoying your well earned vacation.
Hi, Danny. This is Lindsey's mom from home. For some reason I have been thinking about you lately and remembered that you were in Israel so I Googled you. I am very proud of you. You have already experienced more that most of us will in a lifetime. I am enjoying your blog and wish you all the best. I can't wait to hear about your next adventure. Take care.
Lindsey's mom - Hey, thanks for the comment and the good wishes. Sorry to ask, but which Lindsey? I know a couple from back home... Either way, thanks again!
I really think you should follow Rafael's advice.
I keep coming back to you blog every now and then hoping for one last post. And because you have said yourself that you feel the urge for another post you should just do it. No one likes a story with a pre-mature conclusion.
Maybe just post it in the comments section so you aren't really making a new post.
We all really want to hear how your army experience ended and any last thoughts you have.
What a great blog, I found it just some days before today, but Ive to say Im very impressed.
You took a challange and mastered it.
You are a good one. Israel can be proud to have such good people like you!
dude, no offense, but you come across as an arrogant prick in a lot of your posts. i hope you're not in real life.
What'd I say?
I probably am, though.
I'm a 25 year old veteran of the United States Marine Corps (currently serving in the reserve). I too am an American Jew and I truly support Israel in my heart, but I must ask you a question...
Why did you neglect your countries military? If you were going to die for a flag why not die for the one that gave you the opportunities to live such an extraordinary life, with such extraordirnary experiences? I really don’t mean this as a personal insult or affront, I am genuinely curious as to how you may answer this question.
I love the blog, and will await your response. (Hopefully you still stop by)
No, you don't come across as arrogant. Ignore the jerk comments. Hope 2011 treats you well and how about an update?
Dave USMC - I thought I responded to your question, but I remember that there was some kind of error message when I replied but it still showed up. I guess it didn't. I had a good response, when I was feeling passionate. Right now I'm distracted, but let me just recap why I went to the IDF. I was raised my entire life in a strong Zionist house, where we look at history and have seen the Wandering Jew being oppressed and abused in one country after another. Finally, the Jews have their own country, and yet they are still under attack.
Americans and Israelis are fighting the same global war on terror, specifically extreme Islamic terrorism (and no I don't think all Arabs or Muslims are terrorists, not by a long shot). The only real difference is that Israelis have to deal with that terrorism within their country, day after day. Americans have only felt what domestic terrorism feels like a handful of times, and now many years ago from the last big attack. In my opinion, Israel needs more help than America does. I mean, think about this: every single Israeli, at 18, goes into the army and goes to scary places and fights the war that only a small percentage of Americans fight. Israelis are deployed to their own cities to guard against terror. Americans are sent to countries that most people wouldn't be able to find on a map.
I just wanted to help in that desperate situation, rather than going to a country I don't necessarily care about to fight (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc).
Judith - Thanks for the reassurance. As far as updates goes, it's pretty depressing. I have been back in America since mid-October, which has been great being with my family this whole time. Lots of family time, lots of movies and little trips and bonding. That is something that I truly do feel grateful for. It's why I left the place that really gets my blood moving - to be closer to my family.
I have been on the job hunt. I have sent resumes to probably about 30 some jobs, and I've only heard back from one. It's really really depressing. I have applied for jobs in everything from protective services (security, VIP stuff, even defense companies, ie mercenaries) to public relations and affairs and marketing and writing/editing jobs. I'd love to do PR or editing, but I guess there is just such competition that no one is going to hire someone with something so volatile on his resume. I mean, I think I've spun my army service very well, and I was a senior editor on an NPR project for a year before the army, so I feel like I'm a good candidate...guess not. It's starting to really get me down to send out all these apps and not even hearing anything back. Not even a "sorry, we went with someone else" response.
But, I am still happy to be here, and I have hope that eventually I'll find my place. Got any job ideas?
Why not give the United States Marine Corps a shot, if your still looking for a job. :)
I understand your decision to serve in Israel, and as a student of history I too understand the importance of the state in regards to Jewish history. Indeed, while in Iraq (and I guess Afghanistan to a lesser extent) I always hoped our actions were, in some in some small way, helping Israel.
But, the world is more complicated than that. Israel did not educate me and Israel did not provide me with the freedoms I hold so dear. To serve under the Magen David would be an honor, but it isn't my honor to have. It's the honor of those who are truely indebted to the state. Those who truely need it (IE: Sabras, persecuted Jewish populations, not American Jews.)
Zionism never anticipated a country like the United States. As guilty as we may feel about, American Jews are saved.
Anyways, again just bouncing some thoughts at you. From one trooper to another, let me know what you think!
If you are looking for a job with a PMC, I know a few Israeli's and former Marines working with Triple Canopy in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Dave - sometimes I do consider the US military, but I've been through all the b.s. of being a grunt, and it is not that appealing to start at the bottom again. But honestly, if I could go to OCS, I would consider it. The only thing that makes it a definite no is my family. I put them through one army, I don't need to do it again.
I suppose, Dave, that we have different versions of history. For me, and for Zionists in the past 150 years or so, the Land of Israel is the Jewish homeland and is the birthright of every Jew, no matter where he or she may be, and no matter how religious they are, or how strongly they even may feel about it all. Zionism had no need to anticipate a state like the United States, one protected physically from threat, as well as one with a strong belief in religious tolerance. There was no need, and there still is no need, because Zionism is deeper than simple security of the Jewish people. The Jewish people is an ethnicity, and ethnicities have homelands. Israel is that place, and no country replaces that. I do not feel guilty that America is a safe country for Jews. Do you feel guilty that America has provided a relatively safe haven for the Jews? Do you feel like you owe this amorphous United States your life? I feel like a patriot, and I believe in the rights and liberties of the US and the Constitution and so on, I truly do, but I don't feel like I owe George Bush or any other president my life in Iraq. You think by dying in Iraq, or killing non-compliants in Iraq, that an American soldier is somehow fulfilling his debt to America? I don't see it that way. Contrary to what you said, I think it's much less complicated than that. Here's what's so simple:
Israel is constantly under attack, and I wanted to help.
And I did. I stopped terrorists from entering Israel, I stopped terrorists from acquiring weapons, and we stopped them when they had weapons from killing either us or ciivlians. I helped the security of Israel, maybe on the micro level only, but I kept some civilians and IDF soldiers from dying and I feel like that was an honor as a Jew that I deserve just as much as any other Jew living anywhere deserves. That's OUR honor.
Anyway, no biggie.
Your right, we just have different world views. Fortunately in both Israel and the U.S.A. we have the right to express them.
I have travelled to Israel multiple times (including with the military) and always felt as though I wasn't needed there. As important as Israel and Zionism are to me, I know it's not my home. Furthermore, the politicians in Israel dont do much to entice Jews like me to pack up and leave the U.S. (but that's another topic). If things were to change in the United States, or I could see that Israel truly needed me, I would be on the first El Al flight to Israel that I could find, but at this time that is an unrealistic thought.
As to the idea that defending the United States is somehow trivial compared to Israel, you must remember that Israel is just another nation. It is no more Jewish than certain neighborhoods in New York City. It was created by humans, not HaShem. Its foreign policy is not the expression of Judaism, it is the policy of a political entity that wishes to live unthreatened and secure. You use the word "amorphous" to describe the U.S. as if the national status of Israel is somehow unique compared to America. Your service in the IDF is no different than Americans who served in the Foreign Legion, or the Rhodesian army; you served in a national army to fight for something you believe in. It may seem like a higher calling, but at the end of the day you are serving under a flag that claims to represent something, but has no monopoly on the people it represents.
Anyways, OCS would be a breeze if you’re used to giving/taking orders, shaving every day, and not getting any sleep. You might be pleasantly surprised in the differences you would find serving in a volunteer force as opposed to a conscripted army.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Yeah, again, we have different views. As I said, Israel is under constant domestic attack and it does need good soldiers like you and me. After you finish with the Marines, you should check out Mahal for a short stint with the IDF.
I don't mean that defending the US is trivial - I just mean that Israel is under a greater need for defense than America, since the global war on terror is fought daily in their malls on buses, and not for America in faraway lands.
Shaving, taking orders, and not sleeping is pretty much every combat experience, isn't it? I think you'd also be surprised at the level of seriousness in the IDF.
Dave - sorry, misread your part about the OCS... I bet it'd be mighty tough, though.
malls *and* buses.
I went four years enlisted, went to college, and will finish the second half of OCS this summer. Officer training is difficult, but the enlisted route is far more demanding and requires much more sacrifice in terms of body and mind. Being prior enlisted (or in your case prior-service) really helped at OCS, as the Sgt. instructors are often sick of dealing with college kids with no military, let alone combat, experience.
How does a commision in the IDF work? Does it require anything beyond a certain amount of time in service?
I read about the Mahal program when my first enlistment was up, but I decided to to go to school instead. It sounds pretty interesting, plus the Chayal Boded program seems to ensure you are somewhat taken care of. Next time I go to Israel will be for a vacation, nothing more nothing less.
Well good luck with the officers' course. Have a good long safe career!
Officers in the IDF are chosen very differently than in the US military. At least for the army (opposed to Navy and Air Force, but there are similarities there too, but exceptions for fighter jet guys and special things like ship captains), every single person starts as an 18-year-old private. Everyone is together, there is no military college option, or college to officer course like the ROTC. Everybody goes in at 18, and through hard work and what not you can get selected to go to "commanders' course," so you become a squad or platoon sergeant (the earliest possible chance is after 8 months of training - but most go later to this). Then if you distinguish yourself even more at that point, then you can go to officers' course. They generally sign an extra year and a half, so they do 4.5 year services, or so. Make sense? It is so merit based that most of the officers I encountered, in infantry, were the BEST soldiers. I mean, they ran the best, they had the highest motivation, they were perpetually happy, they had the hardest work ethic, etc. The officer slogan in the IDF is something along the lines of being the first in battle, being the one to run ahead of the group, something like that. It's a different army where even colonels are on the very front lines, with their guns, shooting etc. Look at the history of the Yom Kippur War and the ranks of the guys lost in tank battles. Pretty inspiring to go into battle with a lieutenant colonel next to you.
I just found your blog and I've been reading - good stuff!
My brother's 13 and he's already talking about joining the IDF. I'll definitely get him to read your posts.
Again, thank you.
Also, I was wondering what the best way is to send letters to IDF soldiers - when my cousins, nieces & nephews found out we could send them online, they wrote & drew (we're o/s). I'd prefer an actual mailbox or something though.
G-d bless you all for the hard work. We appreciate it.
Thanks, Ruby. About mailing directly to IDF soldiers, I'm not sure how to do that from overseas. I tried to find some sources on that, and the only response I got was from the IDF Spokesperson Unit, and they only directed me to FIDF website. I think you guys could contact them - they seem to be a good organization, and we certainly appreciated them during our time in the army:
Dave I just had to say. You are fully entitled to your opinion. Many Jews probably feel the same way.
But let me say a few things. In Israel, Jews, at least for now, will determine, for good or bad, what happens to the country, and in turn Jews living there. A Jew from New York might live there, but he has no authority or power besides a vote. In fact, in WWII prior to entering the war lets just say the US wasn't exactly helpful in saving Jews overseas, even rejecting refugee vessels, Jews living in NY or not. After the war the US used SS agents as their own.
And than as someone of German heritage, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, Jews in Germany were considered as part of the fabric of society. They were German first, Jews second (if that), antisemitism was very rare. Then came the first world war, Jews such as scientist Fritz Haber almost single handily prolonged the war. Other Jews joined by the thousands wanting to help. They were fighting for their country, or so they believed, even killing other Jews fighting for other nations (France etc).
And than, a few years of German hardship later, suddenly they were enemies,their blood spilled for Germany not worthy apparently. You think the US is different? Maybe. But it doesn't take much to sense when the crisis hit the US rumblings of Jewish bankers/power surfaced. It wasn't much, but Imagine what will happen if something catastrophic happens, like the crisis that hit Germany. Jews had far more history in Germany, than Jews in the US have now, and still look what happened...
That's the difference, of being a Jew in Israel and a Jew somewhere else. Things might change, Israel might, but as a Jew in Israel, for now at least, you know you are protected, whatever happens. Also, It is important for Jews abroad, because it works to save Jews, like it did in Arab countries, and Ethiopia (let's not get into "real" Jews). Without Israel, Jews are at the mercy of the caprices of people who do not share their history, and in many cases are threatened. Loyalty was/is and always will be an issue, Israel or not. In the least, Israel is an insurance policy for Jews.
Good luck to you, I hope in the future, if a major crisis hits, those in the US will remememer your service. Those Jews serving Germany weren't so lucky, hope things have changed (history says different).
I got a lot of messages in the recent past about keeping up with the life and times of Danny. If you're so inclined, follow me on Twitter. I'm not a big fan of the service, but hey, I'm Generation I... I just made that up, by the way. Gen Internet. Gen I. Catchy, right?
@israelibyday is the name to follow.
I really enjoyed reading about your experience in the IDF. Be interested if you continue on in the IDF or get out and move on.
Best Regards - Brad
Thanks! I refuse to sign up for twitter but enjoy reading the feeds on the internet.
You're not going to tell us where you are moving to, are you? :)
Anonymous - I finished the army, but if the circumstances were different I would have loved to have a career in that army. It just doesn't work like that over there, though. Oh well..
Judith - I am moving to the Washington DC area. Not quite Jerusalem, but I'll make it.
Just in time for the cherry blossoms, which, makes me a bit sad thinking about what the Japanese are going through.
Anyway, good luck!
I miss your posts and wherever you are, I hope you are happy. I really do
just discovered your blog..I love it! I saw this article tonight, thought you might be interested :)
really great writing! and thank you for your service to Israel! Hope you start up again with the blog some time soon!
Just wanted to say thanks. I just recently found your blog, and have enjoyed (heckishly so!) reading about your experiences.
And this is coming from a young Scandinavian girl, who really hasn't got anything to do with Israel. I guess I'm just troubled about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Thanks for sharing all this.
Anonymous posts and Anna - thanks a lot for the compliments and I hope you enjoy reading. I miss the army and my friends immensely, but it's a really nice feeling to still have an audience for my old writings. Thanks again!
Great posts. Good luck in the ezrachut!
Outstanding!!! כל הכבוד לך My daughter just made aliyah and will be enlisting in the next few months. Tzav Rishon was today. I've been reading a lot of the entries and just can't shut off my computer! Thank you! I'm sure she will be reading with the same interest as mine. Your writing will help her as she also finds her way as a lone soldier. Wish I'd have done this when I could have, but גם אני ישן, יותר מדי
Ben - Thanks! Ezrachut is definitely way harder than the army.
Anonymous - Thanks for your post. Good luck to your daughter, and definitely know that she'll have the time of her life. Don't hesitate to shoot me an email if you have any questions (the email address is in my profile on here).
I miss this blog! It was a great read, especially when I was making my own way in Israel. I'm no longer there, but rereading your posts has brought on a wave of nostalgia. I hope your life post-blog has been nothing short of wonderful!
Sam - Thanks for the comment. I also get some nostalgia when I reread some of these posts. I'm going to catch up on your blog! Have fun over there in England.
Chag Kasher VeSameach
Still miss your blog immensely
Please, take care, Danny
Hi, Danny. After all these years I am still missing your blog. Vivianne Bakola, Greece.
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