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2011 Cadet/Midshipmen Report Excerpts

Click here to read the complete set of excerpts directly from the participants

The JINSA Military Academies Program in Israel provides a positive, in-depth experience for American military cadets and midshipmen. This three-week, work and study program imparts the reality of Israel, its past and recent history, its security requirements and the capabilities it brings to meeting its defense needs and supporting Western interests in a crucial part of the world.

Emphasis is placed on having the participants meet and engage in discussion with young Israeli military officers, highlighting the role of the military in democratic countries, similarities and differences in officer schooling, and building bridges for future contact between their respective military establishments.

The success of the program is assessed through essays submitted by trip participants in response to three questions posed by JINSA:

  • What lessons will you take away that will have an impact on your future as an American military officer?

  • What was the most serious misconception you had about Israel?

  • What made the strongest impression on you? Alternatively, what was the high
    light of the program?

What becomes clear from the reports is their relative lack of knowledge about the region prior to the visit and the participants’ desire to know more. Their understanding of the complexity of the Middle East is dramatically enhanced, as nearly all participants comment on the differences between the Israel they have seen on television and the Israel they visited with JINSA. Some participants noted a changed sensitivity to how the news covers the IDF, or can now recognize that the media has manufactured Jerusalem to seem like an active war zone.

Many of the more affecting parts of their essays concern the lessons that the cadets and midship- men believe will make them more successful military officers. Two lessons appear to be the most universal among the participants. The first is that they have a greater appreciation of the sense of patriotism and service they share with their Israeli counterparts —from seeing the service of peers who have to fight for their very existence. The second lesson is a better understanding of the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. One midshipman recounted, “I expected Israel, as with any other nation, to be different, with a different sense of morality. However, from con- versations with IDF officers, I learned just how similar our values are. This realization truly spoke to me. It is this truth, that alliance and joint operations are based upon.”

Bill, an Air Force Cadet, wrote, “I slowly began to realize that what Israel fights for is, at its very core, a fight for survival. Israel’s enemies have launched numerous campaigns to delegitimize and undermine its existence as a sovereign state. When its way of life, the culture, the freedoms, and the dreams of the Israeli people were threatened, Israel prevailed. Before 9/11, most Americans would find it difficult to empathize with Israel’s struggle for survival. However, the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacks on the survival of the American ideals of freedom and democracy.”

The JINSA Military Academies Program in Israel makes a direct contribution to the security of Israel and the ongoing U.S.-Israel cooperative relationship. It also makes a direct contribution to the future of United States security by helping to educate a new generation of American military leadership.

This is often the first opportunity many cadets and midshipmen have to visit a foreign country and immerse themselves in a culture not their own. It is also an opportunity to see beyond the headlines of the daily papers and understand some of the complex strands of history and politics in the Middle East. And it is an opportunity to make personal contacts in a country whose security is intimately tied to that of the United States.

Click here to read the complete set of excerpts directly from the participants

Jewish Institute for National Security of America
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