Photo illustration by Alex Cook
There are plenty of spring break packages available for kids who want to get drunk, break out in gross blisters from spending too many hours in the sun, and dry-hump each other in exotic foreign locales. There are very few, however, that offer you the chance to train with Israeli Defense Force soldiers in between club hopping. But a company called Israel Under 30 has quickly filled this void in the market: For as little as $110 per day, you can forget your worries about Hamas and Hezbollah coming to get you and live it up with, as IU30’s website says, “2,000 smoking hot Israeli girls partying on the shores of the magestic [sic] Red Sea.” You can also receive gun training on a private range and get schooled by “Israel’s most elite soldiers.” Intrigued, I called the company’s cofounder Eugene Gershman to ask him about his weird business.
VICE: Hey, Eugene. What was the impetus for founding IU30?
Eugene Gershman: I’m a New Yorker, and I saw 9/11 with my own eyes, so it was very important for me to go and do counterterrorism in the place that does it best, which is Israel. After college I served in an IDF counterterrorism unit from 2006 to 2009. When I finished, my partner and I came up with this really cool idea of showing kids from all over the world that Israel wasn’t just about the war and the politics—that it was a really cool country.
What kinds of people go on these trips, and do they have to apply?
The screening process is actually fairly simple. The applicant submits three paragraphs that explain who they are, what they’re about, what they enjoy in life. After that, we do a very intensive Facebook search on who these people are, and additionally, the guys who work with us all have intelligence backgrounds, so we get permission from applicants to do background searches on them. Then we have a phone or Skype interview.
Could you tell me a bit more about the Army Action Trip?
We basically take the entire process of forming a Special Forces soldier—from the hand-to-hand combat to the shooting to the navigation, all the cool stuff—and put it into three days and give them a tiny taste of what it would be like to be a soldier. Every group has a dedicated host and hostess. The hostesses are hot, super cool Israeli chicks, who actually have military backgrounds.
How do you deal with all the political turmoil that’s going on in the country?
We stay out of it. We very rarely get questions, unfortunately, from the kids who come here for spring break. They don’t care. Any questions they have about stuff they hear on the news are answered very simply: Look around you. Tell me if you think this is a war zone.
More from our Spring Break issue: