Two immigrants' struggle to join the IDF

Felipe Rodriguez and Navon Kaplan, two olim hadashim, refuse to give up on their dream of serving in the IDF.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Navon and Filipe with Minister Ben-Dahan
Navon and Filipe with Minister Ben-Dahan

Felipe Rodriguez and Navon Kaplan are two olim hadashim (recent immigrants) who have been struggling in their efforts to join the IDF. For the past week, they have been protesting outside of the main military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Felipe Rodriguez, originally from Sydney, Australia, arrived in Israel a year ago, after his entire family converted to Judaism.

Navon Kaplan came to Israel from Texas in 2011. His father is Israeli, while his mother grew up in the US. He previously enlisted in the IDF and served as a combat soldier with the Iron Dome system. After a year and a half in the military, though, he was released due to his weight.

Since becoming a civilian, Kaplan has lost 45 kilograms and is now trying to reenlist, preferably to his previous Iron Dome unit.

"We came here because this is our land," he said. "We came here to defend our land, this land belongs to us. We don't want any discounts, we don't want any easements, we don't want any relief. We want the benefits, and we want the responsibility as well to defend our country.

Recently, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) asked to hear Felipe and Navon's personal stories. "I am full of pride seeing you, your motivation and your great dedication to the People of Israel.

"You are a model for all Jews in the world and for the youth of the State of Israel. I hope that I will succeed in helping you achieve your dream of serving in the IDF," he promised.