Photography of Israeli Defense Force Women Soldiers

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.

  1. 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. []

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.


  1. duu­u­u­u­u­u­u­u­ude those girls are all like mod­els. there’s some­thing hot about chick with guns. I think I’m gonna go add the Bil­ly Jack and Clint East­wood “Dirty” Har­ry Calla­han films to my Net­flix now…

    on a more seri­ous note, hav­ing spent some time in the mil­i­tary myself, I’m kin­da behind the typ­i­cal­ly Euro­pean mil­i­tary ser­vice require­ments for kids, although my rea­son­ing is based on my own peace­time ser­vice. I sim­ply mean to say that that time was a great rite of pas­sage for me, and look­ing back, I real­ly could­n’t see myself mak­ing that tran­si­tion at uni. I see all these kids com­ing out­ta school at 25, 26 with lit­tle to no real world under­stand­ing, many of them sim­ply igno­rant of cul­ture and world events, many with­out any real appre­ci­ate of what it means to strug­gle and work for some­thing, and giv­en our oppor­tu­ni­ties for priv­i­leged lifestyles here in the US, it’s easy for many of them to remain igno­rant and con­tent in sim­ply chas­ing the lat­est fash­ions, tech gad­gets, or enter­tain­ment gossip.

    how­ev­er, I can hon­est­ly say that I don’t think I’d want my own teenage kids going off and fight­ing in some of the ridicu­lous­ly polit­i­cal games we’re all involved in now with our cur­rent gov­ern­ment. most of them have no idea what they’re fight­ing for, only what they’re told they’re fight­ing for. I’d also like to add that it dis­gusts me that very few of our gov­ern­ment offi­cials’ own chil­dren are or have been in mean­ing­ful mil­i­tary ser­vice, which I think allows them all to make deci­sions on war much more eas­i­ly than they would were they to con­sid­er how these deci­sions might affect their own families.

    any­way, nice pho­tos in that set. I’m always envious/inspired by nice pho­to jour­nal­is­tic work.

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