Touring IDF Bases with Israel Celebration Tours
In coordination with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, Israel Celebration Tours can schedule tours and meetings at IDF bases for groups visiting Israel. Groups are guided by military officers and can include lectures about the military and Israel’s geopolitical situation.
Three thousand years ago, according to the Bible, God sent Abraham and his family to the land that became known as Israel. By 1,400 B.C.E., Israel had grown into a sovereign nation with business relationships, many trading partners, a growing population, and a standing military to protect itself against threats from other competing nations in the region.
By about 200 B.C.E, the powerful Roman army was invading and conquering peoples in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The Jews of ancient Israel tried to resist Rome’s seizure of their lands and assaults on their holy places. By 132 C.E. the Romans had defeated the Jews, made them slaves, and evicted the majority from their land. They renamed the land Palestina. For the next two millennia, bereft of its people, the land lay largely uncultivated, a way station between the lands of Africa and growing Arab kingdoms.
The Return to Israel
Throughout the next nearly 2,000 years, facing oppression in every country in which they lived, the exiled Jews never gave up hope of returning to their spiritual home, praying daily for deliverance back to Israel. Slowly, century by century, new waves of Jews braved a return to Eretz Yisrael, the home of their ancestors, slowly reclaiming the land. During these times, the Jews were not sovereign, not able to govern themselves independently in their ancient land, so they could not have an army to defend them.
Jews faced particularly difficult persecutions over the next centuries in European lands, and were often banished by host countries such as England, Portugal and Spain.After each of these periods, Jewish families would make their way back to Israel and settle in ancient cities like Haifa, Tzfat, Jaffa, or Jerusalem.
After the Roman empire devolved, various other nations – such as Turkey and Egypt – ruled over Palestine. Caliph Omar permitted the Jews to re-establish their presence in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition regards Caliph Omar as a “friend of Israel.” In 1099, Jews helped the Arabs to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders.
By the 1800s, the Jewish population living in Palestine was returning what had become a desolate land into a desert that could bloom and cities that could succeed. The tipping point came with the world wars that devastated Europe and nearly crushed the Jewish people. Many of those who survived realized the key to their existence was living independently in a land that was once again their own. Israel was re-born.
Modern Israel and the Israel Defense Forces
David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948. His very next order was the formation of the Israel Defense Forces – the IDF. With an eye on Jewish history, the IDF’s guiding principle is formed by the country’s need to defend its people from numerically superior neighbours.
Israel is rather a small country, not much larger than the state of New Jersey. It is also a country with a small population. To overcome these disadvantages, Israel developed qualitative advantages with ever evolving technology, powerful responsiveness, an intense state of readiness, powerful defensive warning systems, superior intelligence services, and a keen sense of self-sufficiency. Grounded in knowledge of Jewish history, filled with the responsibility of being their nation’s guardians, nearly all Israelis – men and women – join her military and give several years of service. Even after their service is completed, Israelis continue to maintain their skills with annual training as reservists. This ongoing service is compulsory to age 50 for women and age 55 for men. By land, air, cyber and sea, Israelis are dedicated to protecting the people and the State of Israel.