Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pvt. Binyamin. A proud Paratrooper

Pvt. Binyamin, 24, immigrated to Israel on his own from Iran and enlisted into the IDF, and today proudly wears the red beret of the paratroopers.

He was born in Shiraz in north west Iran. He was raised on stories about Israel a country where one could wear a kippa and tallis and walk freely he said, adding that from a tender age he knew that one day he would go to Israel.

Out of a population of millions it is estimated that 25,000 Jews live in Iran today. Binyamin who left his entire family behind said he was forced to study in a Moslem school where there were very few other Jews. There at school he learned English and computers but Judaism and Torah studies he learned at the synagogue.

Like so many other Jews in Iran, he was forced to keep his love for Israel and the Jewish people under wraps, confining discussions on the subject to his own home. His father who suffers from a long illness prevented the family from fleeing to Israel like many other Jewish families said Binyamin, adding that his uncle also fled from Iran to Israel by himself 28 years ago.

In Iran the government has imposed restrictions on certain internet sites and it is illegal to watch mainly foreign network sites that are related to Israel or the United States he said. However it was Binyamin’s computer skills that enabled him to bypass the government imposed filters and restrictions, the first internet site he ever saw was that of the IDF. Binyamin studied and learned about Israel, Jewish customs and the city of Jerusalem via the internet, and said he even watched Channel Two on the internet but was unable to understand the Hebrew. Only after he arrived in Israel and went to ulpan did he master the Hebrew language. In Iran the law requires everyone at the age of 18 to enlist in the army, the government also issues citizens with a passport and driving license in return he said. Fully aware that he would never serve in the Iranian army he paid a few high ranking officers to issue him a waiver from service on medical grounds.
After receiving his Israeli identity card two weeks after arriving in Israel, Binyamin began his attempts to enlist in the army. His initial request was rejected but with the help of a few people he wrote to the army asking to be permitted to serve and eventually received a positive reply.

Today he is in the preliminary basic training course, suffers from the effects of the sheer physical effort and is still getting used to army style jargon and way of life but has no regrets whatsoever.
While he misses his family and admits to the hardships of serving in the army as a lone soldier, Binyamin said äll I ever wanted was to live a free man in our country (Israel) just like in the Hatikva. Finally I can be proud of the flag, the religion and country without having to hide,” he said. (Infolive)

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