The IDF: Economic, Political, and Cultural Sociological Effects
It is necessary for all countries to have an army in order to defend it. Israel is no exception. However, the unique character of the Israeli army shapes the culture and personality of Israel and its people. The army has influenced every aspect of Israeli society, from its economy to politics to its culture.
Before one can comprehend the affect of the army on Israel, a brief history is necessary. Israel's armed forces, known as the Tsva Ha-Haganah Le-Yisrael, often abbreviated Tsahal, and known in English as the Israeli Defense Force, or IDF, includes the Israel army, Israel air force and Israel navy. Ever since it was formed following the founding of Israel in 1948, Israel has been under constant attack. There has been a war in Israel approximately every ten years, which has created an atmosphere of anxiety among Israelis because they relentlessly fear for their lives. The most well known of these wars, which have transformed Israel into the society it is today, include the War of Independence in 1948, the Six-Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the current al-Aqsa Intifada. Each war was on the defensive and as victorious for the Israelis as the one that preceded it. In 1947, after the United Nations partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, both Jews and Arabs criticized aspects of the plan. The Jewish population for the most part welcomed the plan, but the Arab leadership and others who opposed the Jews having their own state rejected it. The Arab leadership organized Palestinian volunteers to wage guerilla warfare against the Jewish cause, and thus the war began. After the War of Independence, Israel got 50% more land than they were originally allocated by the United Nations. This was the first of many conflicts between Israel and its neighbors. Security today is at an all time high. Although the Intifada is by no means a normal war, Israel is still being attacked. The thought on everyone's mind is defense. This is the precise reason for the vigor and strength of the Israeli army. The army needs to have the power to be ready for combat at a moments notice. These are examples of why there is such a strong dependence on the army in Israel. Because of the knowledge that at any moment they can, and probably will, be attacked, there is a sense in the army that they are actually physically protecting the country, as opposed to just representing it. A constant sense of dread they live with attributes to the Israeli collective mentality. In fact, polls consistently show that the majority of Israelis would volunteer for the army, even if it were not mandatory. In a country that has never had permanent borders, and because Israel has always been in a state of war, or semiwar, they have learned to always be prepared. "Israel has only' about 140,000 full-time troops, as significant portion of its population, but its real military strength lies in the 400,000 reserve soldiers who serve four to six weeks a year" (Rosenthal 49). Israelis have a deep devotion towards their country as well as a strong connection with their fellow citizen due to their direct and constant involvement in the army. In other words, because an overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens have been and are currently active in the army, it creates a sense of ownership over the land, as well as a collective and shared experience with soldiers both past and present. The Israeli army has a major impact on the financial success of its citizens. Since they are drafted as soon as they turn 18, they are missing out on what would be (in other countries) perceived as "vital time in the formulation of [his/her] personality and career" (Kimmerling 157). The army has a big part of their development as people because of the major role it plays in their life in their critical developmental years. This is shown in their colloquial expressions,...
Cited: Ben-Dor, Gabriel, and Ami Pedahzur. "Civil-Military Relations in Israel at the Outset of the Twenty-First Century." Jews in Israel: Contemporary Social and Cultural Patterns. Ed. Chaim I. Waxman. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2000. 331-344.
Kimmerling, Baruch. The Interrupted System: Israeli Civilians in War and Routine Times. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, Inc., 1985.
Rosenthal, Donna. The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land. New York City: Free Press, 2003.
"Sabra (Person)." Wikipedia. 2 Apr. 2005. Wikipedia.org. 20 Apr. 2005
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