“I was told I wouldn’t have to go to the military by the time I grew up"
Dates2021 - Ongoing
- Locations Israel, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
"I was told I wouldn't have to go to the military by the time I grew up," Yasmin, 22, an IDF objector who spent 74 days in a military jail, said to me in an interview. A phrase that many Israelis have grown upon and heard countless times in their childhood.
Since created in 1949, The Israeli Defense Service Law mandates every Israeli citizen to recruit to the IDF. However, teenagers across Israel have objected to the national draft for pacifist and political reasons for many years, resulting in imprisonment in a military prison. Furthermore, in recent years, the number of discharges due to mental health-related issues has significantly increased.
I propose a portrait series, followed by sound interviews and archival footage, of young Israelis who have objected to the mandatory national draft and former soldiers who had to be discharged due to mental health issues. In the project, I want to expose the marginalized subject in Israel, which is considered taboo, to question how the mandatory draft affects Israeli youth and whether it's still relevant?
In 2016, I was also discharged from the IDF after battling with depression and anxiety caused by my service. Six years after, I still deal with the consequences of my service. Therefore, I want to incorporate self-portraiture into the project.
I visioned this project to be a published photo essay and an exhibition, both in Israel and abroad. The photos will contain intimate portraits of each collaborator in their designated safe and private space. Furthermore, each session with a collaborator will be accompanied by a recorded interview, diving into their personal stories and the reasons for objecting to the draft and leaving the IDF. The visuals and the interviews work to humanize the Israeli youth publicly opposing the cultural norm and the difficulties of navigating the military mental health and political system.
These ongoing reports, hidden from the public eye and historically considered taboo, were part of the IDF's sanctification in Israeli society. These stories that many Israeli teens are going through are the sound of accountability to the culture, which normalized sending their youth to the military.