Posted by: Tony Carson | 3 October, 2007

Israel’s Toy Soldiers

If you are a young Muslim American and head off to the Middle East for a spell in a fundamentalist “madrassa,” or religious school, Homeland Security will probably greet you at the airport when you return. But if you are an American Jew and you join hundreds of teenagers from Europe and Mexico for an eight-week training course run by the Israel Defense Forces, you can post your picture wearing an Israeli army uniform and holding an automatic weapon on MySpace.

That’s Chris Hedges writing at Huffington Post: Israel’s Toy Soldiers

The Marva program, part summer camp part indoctrination, was launched in Israel in 1981. It allows participants, who must be Jewish and between the ages of 18 and 28, to fire weapons, live in military barracks in the Negev desert and saunter around in an Israeli military uniform saluting and taking long hikes with military packs. The Youth and Education Corps of the Israel Defense Forces run four 120-strong training sessions a year.

“Upon arrival, the participants experience an abrupt change into army life: wearing uniforms, accepting army discipline, and learning the programs and lessons integral to the program,” the Let Israelis Show You Israel Web site reads. “The program includes military content such as: navigation, field training, weapons training, shooting ranges, marches and more, as well as educational content such as: Zionism, Jewish Identity, history and knowledge of the land of Israel. All of this is taught in Hebrew in an intensive eight weeks.”

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