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We see, therefore, a democracy that is happy, and wants to have lots of kids, despite harsh experiences of terrorism and war. But there is still more.
The Israel Defense Forces is currently conducting one of its triannual drafts, and of the recruits who were approved for combat duty, the proportion requesting it – 73.3 percent – is an all-time Israeli record. The rate has been climbing since the perceived success of the Gaza War (or Operation Cast Lead), and some believe that worldwide criticism of Israel’s self-defense against terror is prompting a patriotic counterreaction.
Whatever the explanation, this datum, too, is striking considering that decades ago Israel was seemingly a much more “ideological” country, with much greater percentages of its youth taking part in socialist-Zionist, nationalist-Zionist, religious-Zionist, or just patriotic-Zionist youth movements. Since then the landscape of Israeli youth culture has – superficially at least – become much more “normal,” with a high infusion of Western pop. But from that landscape emerge young people more motivated than ever for difficult, dangerous combat training and service.
A long time ago, for approximately its first two decades, Israel was perceived and portrayed as a small, brave, admirable country, an inspiring phenomenon. Subsequently it became identified with disproportionate violence and oppression of the Palestinians. Anyone who cares to look through the media miasma will see a country no less inspiring, perhaps even more so, than back then, confronted more starkly than others with life and death and making its choice.
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