I’m not an old man, by really anyone’s account. Even Timothy Leary, were he still alive, could technically trust me as I’m not yet over thirty. However, the one thing that makes me feel my age perhaps more than any thing else is to see photos of soldiers serving at war. They go to join the armed services for any number of reasons. We ask of them many things, some terrible and most amazingly heroic. As with most heroic jobs, the vast majority of their service is mundane life spent in a uniform occasionally punctuated with moments of insanity.
The Israel Defense Force, or IDF, is no different than our own military save one modern difference: Most every able-bodied Jewish Israeli citizen, man or woman, is conscripted into service at the age of eighteen. Women serve for two years while men serve for three. Of course, these are really just girls and boys. The former being young enough that I would feel guilty glancing at twice were I to pass them on the street and the latter being young enough I’d feel any conversation with them would be more like advice than a discussion (well, that last bit goes for both, really).
Rachel Papo1 has a wonderful photo series of some young women who serve in the IDF. There is nothing graphic nor racy here; but rather simply photos of women serving in the life of a soldier. There is nothing here that will attempt to lead you to any conclusion about wrongness or rightness of war, the conflict that surrounds Israel, nor the service of women. The only struggle is the fact that hey are both remarkably young looking at yet have the maturity their country demands of their service. In this country, we no longer demand this of every person at eighteen, but it is an option that is encouraged. We do not allow them to drink and the will serve under leaders they were too young to have voted into office, and yet we entrust the defense (and offense) of this country to many persons that age. Should you not know anyone just out of high school that has served in the military, this wonderful photo set will make you feel as though you do.
- Papo served in the Israeli Air Force from the age of eighteen to the age of twenty, which inspired this photo set. These photos were take as part of her master’s thesis at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. [↩]