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Alternative Issue: Growing up on an Israeli Military Base and Fighting for Peace

Submitted by on June 24, 2013 – 1:17 pmNo Comment

 

A military airbase in Israel.

In Israel, everyone goes to the military service at the age of 18. But living in military bases before reaching 18 might be quite odd for some people. Nitzan Regev-Sanders, 25, an International Politics and Sociology student at City University, London talks about her extraordinary experience of growing up in army bases in Israel.

Nitzan was born and raised in Israeli army bases as her father was an Air Navigator on different fighter aircrafts. “In a sense I was drafted to the Israeli Army the day I was born,” she said.

Growing up in this environment allowed Nitzan to be a “very independent child”. She said: “In times of relative peace, our parents were less concerned about us being unsupervised, as the bases were guarded and surrounded by fences.”

But despite this pro, there were some obvious disadvantages of growing up. “Every few years we had to move to a different base, which meant adjusting to different schools and different friends. But most significantly, I was living with a constant, overwhelming fear that my father, like the fathers of some other children in the base, would be killed,” she said.

This fear made Nitzan think about the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a different way. She said: “I would watch out the window, terrified that an officer would arrive at my doorway and give us the news we didn’t want to hear; luckily that knock on the door never came. Therefore I calculated, in an innocent child-like way, that the only thing that could save my dad would be peace.”

But like all other young Israelis, Nitzan had to wear uniform and carry a gun. “My community consisted mostly of high-positioned army commanders and their families, the atmosphere within the community was very military-oriented. It was the destiny of teenagers to join highly-regarded units in the Israeli army and go through pre-army courses and preparations. I was very antagonistic towards this mentality as I could not understand why I was expected to surrender my teenage years to the army,” she said.

Nitzan is studying at City University London on the Olive Tree scholarship programme that supports Palestinian and Israeli students. She has also been involved in programmes that bring young Palestinians and Israelis together in the United States. When asked why she is involved in such programmes, she said: “I feel like I should fight to secure a peaceful future for my children, grandchildren and all human beings living in the region in a different way.

“I am a fighter from a different kind. I am fighting now so that my future children will not have to go to the army when they reach the age of 18, I am fighting now so that my future children will be able to play on the playground together with my Palestinian friends children, without passing any checkpoints, I am fighting now for a better future for both the Israeli and Palestinian communities.”

After graduating from City University this summer, Nitzan is intending to do a masters in human rights studies.

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