by Benjamin Kerstein
A 19-year-old Iranian-born woman who moved to Israel with her family at the age of seven has succeeded in becoming a combat soldier in the Border Police force and just completed a commander’s course.
According to Israeli news website Mako, the officer, referred to only as “N.”, fled persecution in Iran and was inspired to seek a combat position during a visit to Jerusalem shortly after her family’s arrival in Israel.
“I remember as a girl my parents took me to Jerusalem,” she said. “In Jerusalem, I saw police officers and Border Police guarding the city and the safety of the citizens, and I decided I wanted to be like them.”
“I’m glad I made this dream come true,” she added. “My whole family is Zionist, and I wanted to serve where I could contribute to the security of the state and protect its citizens.”
N., who now lives in the southern city of Ashdod, was born in the Iranian city of Kermanshah. When she was a young child, her father was imprisoned as a result of the persecution faced by Jews in the country.
“To this day, dad prefers not to share with us about his time in prison,” she said. “It’s very hard for him to do that.”
After deciding to move to Israel, her father tried to sell his business, but the only offers he received were deliberately low. In the end, the family was driven to leave without compensation by the constant persecution.
“Dad realized we had nothing more to look for there,” said N.
Despite everything, N. still misses Iran, saying, “I remember our parents would take us for walks in the mountains, fruit plantations, nature sites. To this day, I miss that time and the landscapes.”
While the adjustment to Israel was difficult, N. and her family were helped by the fact that they could speak Hebrew, which they had learned in Iran.
However, N.’s parents were opposed to her joining a combat unit, and “Mom still lives with anxiety. Its very difficult for her that I’m a combat soldier. She’s afraid something will happen to me, sometimes she doesn’t sleep at night because of the worry.”
Still, N. said, “I love my job very much and I see it as a great privilege. … It’s a great feeling of satisfaction.”
N. is now stationed at the Cave of the Patriarchs site in Hebron, known as a flashpoint for conflict.
“It’s an explosive place, not like Jerusalem,” she said. “But the populations — both Jews and Arabs — have learned to respect our presence and the fact that we are here to maintain order and security.”
Along with military service, N. volunteers with the Magen David Adom paramedic service and wants to be a surgeon someday.
“Mom insists I finish my service and study medicine,” she said. “I would like to be a doctor, but to combine it with a career as a Border Guard officer. We’ll see how it works out. Mom trusts me. I believe it will be fine.”