The only difference is that he is not an Israeli citizen, or even Jewish. He is a 29-year-old Swedish Pentecostal Christian.
Fredrik came here for the first time nine years ago as a tourist. "It was love at first sight. I stepped out of the airplane, looked around and felt that this was a country I could die for." He returned to his small Swedish hometown, where his father serves as a pastor in the local Pentecostal church. "I always commit 100 percent to things that I do and I felt strongly that this is where God wanted me to be," he explains, so he wrapped up his own career as a youth pastor and moved here. The love he felt for the land was uncompromising.
Soon after his arrival, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up along with 21 young people in a discotheque in Tel Aviv. "Suddenly I realized that not everybody is nice," Fredrik says with a touch of irony. "When I was called up to do army service in Sweden, I had refused to carry a gun."
After having experienced terrorism up close, he stopped being a pacifist. "I realized that there are situations when one needs to use weapons to defend oneself."
That insight led him to an IDF conscription office in the summer of 2001, where he explained that he wanted to join the IDF. He received a resounding no for an answer, since he was not a citizen, nor Jewish. He was not even a legal resident, only a tourist.
"That was when I first heard of Sar-El, an IDF volunteer program. You essentially become a jobnik." Between 2002 and 2005 Fredrik spent a total of a year and a half as a Sar-El volunteer, mostly as a tank mechanic. The rest of the time he worked odd jobs in Sweden to support himself in Israel. "Finally, after endless petitions, I got temporary residency." He immediately went back to the conscription office, but was told that he needed permanent residency to be eligible for the IDF.
Fredrik worked odd jobs here for more than two years, doing everything in his power to make his dream come true. "When it was time to renew my residency, I felt that it was now or never. I wrote to everybody I knew and used all the contacts that I had made in Sar-El."
And finally, in the summer of 2007, he was granted permanent residency. "As soon as I had received my blue identity card, I walked straight from the Interior Ministry to the IDF conscription office."