David Ben-Gurion

Lone soldiers in the Holy Land

While many around the world are shocked to witness increasing numbers of radicalized young people running off to join the brutal would-be caliphate of Islamic State, little attention is paid to their more pacific and principled counterparts who leave behind family and friends to pursue ennobled causes elsewhere.

Among the latter are a group of volunteers in the Israel Defense Forces who have no ties to the Holy Land other than a strong feeling of affinity for its fundamental values. Some of them are native Israelis — orphans with disadvantaged backgrounds — but most are immigrants recently arrived from around the world, the majority from Russia and the United...