Not satire: IDF as ‘light unto nations’ trains international commandos

by Yaniv Reich on January 27, 2010

This is a rather scintillating example of the paradox of modern Israeli nationalism. Published in a right-wing newspaper, Arutz Sheva, the article describes how commandos and mercenaries from around the world come to Israel in order to undergo training by the Israeli Defense Forces, which “exposes foreign soldiers to Israel [and] creates a better understanding of the Jewish State, its culture and security problems.”

“There is no better way to have soldiers bond than to have them eat from shared field rations,” according to the IDF. The international commandos also take IDF-hosted tours of Israel. “Whether we are talking about a visit to the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial or a tour of Sderot [which suffered years of rocket attacks], we try to bring them the story of Israel in the shortest amount of time and on the most personal level,” says IDF Maj. Limor Laon. “When they return to their countries, they definitely feel closer to us and understand the complex daily reality of our lives in Israel and the threats against us,” she adds.

Is the psychology clear? Warriors come to train in Israel because, ostensibly, we are “the most moral army in the world” and in the process we ensure they are provided with enough ideological tools that they depart Israel in the belief we are indeed the most moral army in the world.

But something is not quite right about this formulation.

If they come because we are a “light unto nations”, do they really need all the hasbara to identify with us?

More generally, is training commandos in urban warfare and other militaristic endeavors actually a point of pride, the manifestation in the modern world of our loftiest ideals?

The semi-fascist answer, of course, is clear from the article.

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