Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, March 17, 2003

Foreign volunteers in Israel help the country to better use its military personnel.

But on an army base south of Tel Aviv, 42 friends of Israel from around the world are giving a few weeks' worth of elbow grease. The 20-year-old program helps Israel stretch its resources and share a friendlier side of its military. Last year, 8,471 volunteers lived side by side with soldiers, doing simple jobs so those with more expertise could do the complicated ones.

"It's very easy for Americans to write a check, but when you come here, you feel like you're doing something," said Robert Matuzsan of Robbinsville, N.J. "`Well done is better than well said,"' he said, quoting Benjamin Franklin.

Matuzsan and Harold Goldring of Fort Lee, N.J., signed up for the stint months ago. At the time, the conflict in Iraq was a vague but growing threat. Now they are prepared to be wartime helpers in a country bracing for the possibility of an attack by Iraq.

Neither one considered backing out as war became imminent, they said.

"When things get a little rough, don't avoid it," said Matuzsan, 54, a Vietnam veteran who owns a Trenton, N.J., hair salon. "You make a commitment."

The idea for the volunteer program was born during the Lebanon war in 1982. Called Sar-el, short for the Hebrew words meaning Service for Israel, the program has brought 88,000 volunteers from every continent. Of those, a few thousand have been Christians. But most, like Matuzsan and Goldring, are Jewish and fierce backers of Israel.

< email | 3/17/2003 03:13:00 PM | link

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