An Israeli man born and raised in Hendon has been telling Jewish schoolchildren in London what life is like in the IDF and asking them what they would do if they were confronted by a potential terrorist.
Emanuel Miller, 30, addressed 300 pupils at Jewish secondary schools last week, including Hasmonean, where he spoke to boys in Years 8 to 10 and lower-sixth girls, and JFS where he spoke to a mixed group in Year 13.
Miller, who made aliyah in 2005 and describes his Israeli Army service as “standing at a checkpoint day after day checking cars for weapons and waving people through”.
The London native was a founding member of My Truth, an Israeli non-governmental organisation documenting the experiences of Israeli soldiers, and says that whereas up to 15 percent of his year-UK group went on to serve in the IDF, he and many others had no idea what it would actually be like.
“I wish I’d had such an opportunity myself before I was drafted,” Miller said. “Teenagers imagine going out there, guns blazing, to defend Israel from terrorism. In reality, my service was drudgerous.”
He said that “for the most part, army service is boring and repetitive,” but occasionally “soldiers are confronted with horrendous situations in which there is no ‘right’ course of action, but many wrong ones”.
As the London youngsters were asked how to apprehend someone who looks suspicious, discussion got lively, says Miller.
“Undoubtedly, this was the part they found most engaging,” he says. “In all the sessions I ran, a lively debate ensued with responses ranging from calls to immediately shoot, to others suggesting that soldiers should approach the suspect and try to open a friendly conversation with them.”
He added: “We debated what the proper protocol should be, and watched videos which show that in reality Israeli soldiers don’t have the luxury of unlimited time to make decisions.”
Afterwards, Miller said: “Numerous pupils approached me to say that they hope to serve one day themselves. It was important to call on the pupils to remember that if they end up in the IDF in the future, they must always act in a way that befits a representative of the Jewish people – no matter the provocation.”