Why One Japanese High School Graduate Joined the Israeli Army

Jerusalem: Tensions And Rituals In A Divided City
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TEL AVIV – A Japanese high school graduate has joined the Israeli army, Israel Hayom reported.

The grandson of Holocaust survivors, Daniel Tomohiro grew up in a pro-Israel home and says he always felt very connected to the country.

Following the Second World War, Tomohiro’s Hungarian grandparents immigrated to Israel and fought in the War of Independence before moving to Australia, where his mother met and married a Japanese businessman and moved with him to Iwata, Japan.

“My parents married and moved to Japan, but at home they kept talking about Israel,” Tomohiro said. “My family is very pro-Israel and loves the state, and I believe the Israel Defense Forces is the most moral military in the world.”

Tomohiro is serving in the Israel Defense Forces’ Nahal Brigade’s 50th Battalion. “I felt very connected to the state, but I arrived here for the first time only when I was 18, with my parents and younger brother,” he said. “My older brother had already made aliyah [immigration to Israel] and was in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. After I graduated high school in Japan, I returned to Israel, and four months ago I joined an IDF Hebrew course and later started basic training.”

“My 88-year-old grandfather Ivan lives in Sydney, Australia,” Tomohiro said. “He told me that he fought in the artillery during the War of Independence, in the Palmach [a pre-state Jewish paramilitary organization], and was an instructor in an officer training course. My grandmother died when I was a child and I still don’t know what she did in the Palmach.”

Tomohiro describes how his grandmother survived the Holocaust against all odds. “My grandmother was in Auschwitz. She survived only because a German nurse covered her with a blanket when Dr. Josef Mengele came to visit. He thought she was dead and this saved her life, because he didn’t perform experiments on her. I realized, after hearing such stories, that the Holocaust happened because there was no State of Israel. I am happy to contribute to the security of the state, to make the IDF and Israel strong, and to prevent another Holocaust.”

On Wednesday, Tomohiro will take part in a swearing-in ceremony for his unit at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.