Why my son was driven to desertion

Facing court-martial: Adam Caplin

Facing court-martial: Adam Caplin

A British woman whose son faces a court-martial for desertion from the Israeli Defence Force is set to cause controversy by claiming rules on olim serving in the military should be changed.

Emma Caplin made aliyah from Oakwood, London, in 2005 and settled in Kfar Saba, near Ra'anana, with her son Adam and daughter Nicol.

Adam, 18, was drafted into the Israeli Defence Force in February 2010 to do his compulsory military service.

After running away "once or twice" during his 10 weeks of basic training, Adam, who suffers from dyspraxia
(difficulty with motor skills) and depression, was given a job maintaining aircraft.

But the former King Solomon High School pupil deserted, running away for 45 days before giving himself up last week.
He is now awaiting
court-martial.

Ms Caplin said: "Adam's dyspraxia means he cannot set boundaries. He has been to 10 schools and couldn't settle and did not really finish school.

"I knew the kids would have to do military service, but I did not really think about it when we moved.
I didn't know how long we would be staying here." Ms Caplin said she was not allowed to visit her son for the first eight days of his detention. She expected him to be held for another fortnight before his court-martial.

Nicol, 20, returned to England six months after arriving in Israel and now cannot return to visit her family for fear of being arrested for avoiding her own military service.

Ms Caplin said: "I do not think the law is clear enough about it and it needs revising, but I understand Adam has to be punished.

"I feel like it is not Adam's fault. I brought him here and he wants to go back to England. Perhaps when his case comes to court he will be let off for medical reasons."

Ms Caplin said she plans to go back to England next January, but is worried Adam will not be free to join her.

Rafi Nassi, director of the Jewish Agency in the UK, said: "I'm not familiar with the details of the Caplins' case, but we give our olim all the necessary information about aliyah including about their rights, benefits
and obligations.

"Olim serve in the military for different periods depending on their personal situation and age. Sometimes people do have difficulties but every oleh gets additional support from the army."

Mr Nassi added that military service was "one of the best ways to integrate" into Israeli society.

    Last updated: 12:50pm, July 15 2010