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The Pain Inside

After military service, many young Israelis travel abroad to distance themselves from distressing experiences.

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 09:24
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In Israel, military service is compulsory for most people over the age of 18, with men serving three years and women two.

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Exemption from military service is a hotly debated issue in Israeli society. Many feel that military service is a matter of family obligation and loyalty to their 'homeland'.

For some, joining the army is about the connections they make.

We live in the Middle East but we refuse to accept the fact that we are part of it. I think this pretty much indicates that there is an identity crisis in Israel.

Gabriel Moses, exempted from military service

Some employers also hesitate to recruit Israelis who refuse to serve in the army.

Following their army stint, tired and stressed, thousands of ex-soldiers travel to India to party and hang out with each other - it is a rite of passage for many.

As Israelis do not need a visa to enter Europe so many young Israelis also emigrate to cities in Europe, such as Berlin.

Nowadays, around 30,000 of them live in Germany's capital, many having chosen to leave all the restrictions and constraints of life in Israel behind.

Other Israelis become conscientious objectors, these are people who say they understand what the word 'occupation' really means, and therefore refuse to serve in the Israeli military.

For many, life in Israel - with its military conscription and occupation - is turning young people into what one Israeli interviewee describes as “monsters in a distorted reality”, revealing deep psychological issues which remain unaddressed.

There is a sense of a lost generation - of people who are deeply troubled and alienated from their own humanity.

People talk of living in a "bubble" in Tel Aviv and the future of Israel "hanging by a thread".

The film reveals this agitation in Israel, at times manifesting itself through exodus, which is the very opposite of the Zionist dream. 

This episode of Al Jazeera World can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.

Click here for more Al Jazeera World.

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