British-born IDF soldier speaks to 300 London students about his experience

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

British-born IDF soldier speaks to 300 London students about his experience

Emanuel Miller, 30, gave talks at Hasmonean and JFS about his military service after making aliyah in 2005

Emanuel Miller addressing Hasmonean pupils
Emanuel Miller addressing Hasmonean pupils

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”.

Emanuel Miller addressing Hasmonean pupils

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.”

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more: