In Israel, where sensitivity to possible risks inherent in the peace process is still high and where security concerns retain a priority, Yitzhak Rabin emphasized in an open letter to all personnel in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in June 1992:
‘We…shall no leave no stone upturned on the road to peace….As far as you are concerned, the possibility of peace can mean only one thing: the strengthening of the security framework….It is the task of statesmen to bring peace. Your task is to prepare for war. The peace talks must not be allowed to distract our attention.’ (1)
In assessing how much Rabin’s exhortation might have been taken to heart, analyses of ‘the military balance’ might be used to measure force ratios in terms of hardware (tanks, fighter planes, etc.). As strategic theory has long appreciated–and recent research emphasized–just as important a gauge of power is the quality and character of the individual troops.(2) This article concentrates on the human component of Israel’s force structure at a crucial watershed in the country’s strategic history.
There are other sources of change as well. Israel experienced massive waves of immigration from Ethiopia and the former USSR; successive parliamentary upheavals (in 1992 and 1996); and the traumas of both the intifadah (1987-1993) and Iraqi missile attacks of 1991. Equally profound, albeit hard to measure, have been cultural and economic shifts.
Elsewhere in the Western world, similar pressures have revolutionized the sociological profiles of armed forces. ‘Postmodern militaries’ are smaller than their mass-based predecessors of the Cold War era. They also attract a different type of personnel. Few of the men (and, increasingly, women) who now enlist do so out of a sense of patriotism or for symbolic rewards and societal status. Instead, most seek career satisfaction and material reimbursement.(3)
Such is not entirely the case in Israel, where conscription and reserve duty remain compulsory for females as well as males, and only a minority of military personnel are professionals. Even so, Israeli soldiers are far from impervious to societal change. If anything, precisely because they serve in what is still a militia force, they seem especially sensitive to the societal transformations occurring in the country over the past decade.
Three questions deserve immediate attention:
(i) To what extent has the occupational profile of the Israeli soldier altered over the past decade?
(ii) How much has the sociological composition of the Force changed, especially in terms of ethnic background, gender and religious affiliation?
(iii) In what ways have cultural norms espoused by servicemen been affected by modifications in the values to which non-military society attaches most importance?
1. Changes in Occupational Profile
Notwithstanding changes which have taken place since the early 1980s,(4) the IDF’s formal mission definitions have not been revised. The basic formula remains: ‘Protecting the borders of the State of Israel and preventing war activities taking place within Israel’s territory.'(5) What has changed, however, is the professional quality of the individual servicemen and servicewoman upon whom the fulfillment of those duties must ultimately depend. These can best be analyzed by examining various components in their ‘occupational’ profile.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR MILITARY SERVICE
In terms of education and health-care, Israel has always been an ‘advanced’ society. An impressively large proportion of the males and females summoned to recruitment centers at age 18 have consistently attained high scores on the IDF’s screening tests. That still remains the case. Nevertheless, only 64 percent of the most recent conscript cohort was assessed as physically fit for combat service–a decline from 76 percent just a decade previously. Over the same period, the proportion of new recruits categorized to be suffering from psychological problems likely to impede their adjustment to military service had more than tripled, to 10 percent. Much of the discrepancy can be attributed to the greater stringency of current IDF medical examinations. As a result, the IDF has been able to identify those most likely to suffer a mental or physical collapse and thereby reduce organizational costs associated with a high attrition rate during basic training.(6) But that vindication cannot entirely suffice. Indeed, it is to a large extent negated by the finding that, even of the male recruits eventually drafted, fully one-third thereafter exhibit physical and/or psychological difficulties likely to impair performance. One-fifth of the males drafted are discharged from service prior to the completion of their full three-year terms of compulsory duty.(7) Only in terms of educational qualifications does the profile of the current IDF soldier show a substantive improvement on previous standards. In 1981 60 percent of all conscripts had completed 12 years of formal schooling. By 1995, that figure had jumped to 85 percent. Moreover, a growing number of recruits now also bring to the IDF the benefit of prolonged, exposure to an expanding range of technological devices, such as computers.(8) The high standards thus set are often enhanced at successive stages of the individual soldier’s subsequent military career. In 1995 alone, over 6,500 conscripts enrolled for courses in Israel’s Open University during or immediately after their periods of active service (almost one-third of that institution’s total student complement).(9) In the regular complement, the thrust towards higher education is still more pronounced. As of 1994, 90 percent of the IDF’s battalion commanders were university graduates; a majority of personnel holding the rank of colonel and above also possessed a second degree.(10)
Rising educational qualifications reflect Israeli society–attendance at institutions of higher education jumped by almost 60 percent between 1990 and 1996 (11) –and the IDF General Staff’s effort to up-grade personnel. There have been a proliferation of pre-draft military courses to prepare for some tasks, as well as IDF programs offering soldiers fast-track promotions in return for staying in the army longer. These include chances to gain college degrees while serving. IDF policy is to make a university degree a condition for promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.(12)
The IDF seeks to revise many quasi-amateur attributes from its traditional posture as a ‘people’s army’ and tailor its structure to the more specialized requirements of contemporary warfare. Lt.-Gen. Dan Shomron, IDF Chief of Staff 1987-1991, called for creating a ‘smaller and smarter’ force. His successor, Ehud Barak (COS 1991-1995) was even more insistent on the need to adapt the IDF to what he called ‘the future battlefield.'(13)
The IDF from which Barak retired in 1995 differed markedly from the one he joined as a conscript in 1959, and even from that which he inherited in 1991. Israel’s battle platforms have been vastly upgraded; its entire logistic and communications infrastructure transformed with computerized command and control systems in every branch of service. Attempts have also been made to trim manpower, partly by more selectively choosing conscripts. More effective, however, was the progressive reduction in summonses to reserve duty, which declined from a total of 9.8 million man-days in 1988 to under 6 million in 1995.(14) Although both measures owed much to budgetary pressure, they also articulated a fundamental commitment to use the Israeli soldier’s technological literacy to exploit the ‘force multipliers’ in the IDF’s arsenal.(15)
Progress became especially marked after the conclusion of the Israel-PLO agreement in September 1993. Previously, much of the IDF’s attention since December 1987 had been distracted from preparations for the ‘future battlefield’ by the pressing need to meet the very different challenges presented by the Palestinian intifadah. Training exercises (already cut back due to budgetary pressures) were further reduced in length and quantity, and even then frequently interrupted.(16) By 1995, however, the State Comptroller’s report noted that much of the lost ground had been made up. New courses of instruction were organized and older ones revised in almost everyÝfield. More emphasis is being placed on the standards and status; officer and nco courses improved; and simulation exercises for senior officers entirely modernized.(17)
Another element in the historic portrait of the Israeli soldier was the image of a veteran experienced in combat.(18) Between 1948 and 1973, the IDF fought five campaigns against large Arab armies as well as many operations against guerrillas. Today, the vast majority of Israeli soldiers have relatively little personal experience of warfare.(19) Contrary to popular myth, except in wartime, reservists no longer constitute the bulk of Israeli soldiers in service. According to the Manpower Branch, in 1996 they accounted for just 2 percent of those on active duty.
‘Operation Peace for the Galilee’ in 1982 against PLO and Syrian units in southern Lebanon, constitutes the IDF’s only sizable land campaign since 1973, and even that hardly qualifies since it witnessed relatively few major clashes between mechanized formations. Otherwise, recent IDF ground operations have been confined to three more limited modes: counter-insurgency missions (in the Lebanon, and ‘the territories’); company-size border encounters with bands of infiltrators; and stand-off artillery strikes against Hizbollah concentrations in southern Lebanon (e.g. Operations ‘accountability’  and ‘grapes of wrath’ ).
Successive defense ministers and chiefs of staff insist that contemporary IDF troops are just as capable as ever. They point to the elite sayarot (reconnaissance units), specifically trained to carry out ‘surgical’ combat operations and high-quality intelligence missions. These elite all-volunteer units have high standards for entrance and training which, the General Staff says, ultimately permeate the entire IDF.(20) Critics respond that while the sayarot have had a big influence on the general staff itself–20 percent of whom were formerly in such units–they have little effect on the army in general. In fact, they may deprive regular units of their best individual role-models.(21)
The recent public list of IDF operational failures is almost as long as that of its successes. Since the early 1990s, even conscripts attached to the highly trained Golani and Givati infantry brigades have succumbed with embarrassing regularity to comparatively primitive ambushes in southern Lebanon. Reservists may be in worse shape. One small but telling example occurred in summer 1996, when a patrol of reservists, none of whom possessed any previous combat experience, was mauled in broad daylight by a handful of infiltrators along the Jordanian border, an encounter which cost the IDF three fatalities and the local division commander his job.(22) A survey carried out by the IDF parachute school uncovered an accident rate of 9.1 percent among reserve formations during training drops.(23)
Notwithstanding the General Staff’s nominal commitment to a much ‘leaner’ Force, the IDF in fact now evinces signs of flabbiness. Particularly unsuccessful have been efforts to trim the ratio between ‘teeth’ and ‘tail.'(24) Only in part does that development reflect a genuine need to expand the rear workshops and similar technical facilities upon which all modernizing armies necessarily depend. More often, it results from a proliferation of administrative and maintenance slots, to which increasing numbers of recruits are directed after basic training.
Senior IDF sources report that only 20 percent of the total complement currently serves in combat units. Most of the remainder fill formations devoted to combat-support (14 percent), technical (18 percent) and administrative (27 percent) duties. As a result, current Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak has pointed out the IDF suffers from a dearth of personnel in some fighting and combat-auxiliary units, while administrative posts are frequently over-staffed.(25) According to the outgoing commander of the Planning Unit in the Manpower Branch, ‘grey unemployment’ is particularly rife among female conscripts, only a small proportion of whom perform combat-related military functions. But the phenomenon is also marked among males, a reduction of whose conscript terms (he argues) would in many cases considerably benefit the Force, not least by improving its work ethic and reducing costs.(26) Precisely such a policy was indeed advocated late in 1993 by the ‘Shaffir commission’, specifically established at Barak’s initiative with a mandate to study future IDF force requirements.(27) However, since most of its recommendations still await government approval, the movement towards a more sedentary posture in the occupational profile of the average Israeli soldier continues apace. Only a minority are assigned to protracted field assignments. For the majority, military service principally involves reporting for assorted clerical duties from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and even then (since 1992) on just five days a week.(28) Changes in the Sociological Profile:
Israel’s original decision to base its force structure on conscripts and reservists rather than on long-service professionals reflected a variety of considerations.(29) Budgetary calculations played a prominent part. But the main stimulant was a profound belief in the societal advantages which militia systems were thought to bestow: as an instrument of nation-building and an institution to weld together Israel’s otherwise fractured society into a homogenous whole.(30)
While several of the older anomalies in the IDF’s sociological profile have certainly dissipated in recent years, none have been entirely eradicated and some have become further pronounced. What is more, all are now supplemented by new categories of distinctive service patterns among additional population groups.
Random reports suggest that the IDF is adopting an increasingly liberal attitude with regards to the military service of non-Jewish minorities. Although the overwhelming majority of Arab citizens, male and female, are still excused the draft, the proportion of Druze, Bedouin and Circassian troops steadily grows, especially in the professional segment. In 1995 alone, the IDF publicized the appointment of a Druze officer to command of a Division (with the rank of brigadier-general) and the graduation of the IDF’s first Arab Christian second lieutenant.(31)
But national affiliation remains the primary criterion for enlistment. As far as is known, no Druze or Arab troops are posted to computer units, to the Air Force or to the Intelligence Branch, entrance to all of which requires a high grade of security screening. Instead, they tend to be concentrated in two other branches of service. One is the ‘Border Guard’ (Mishmar ha-Gevul; nominally attached to the Police Force), which relies heavily on Arabic-speaking troops for the conduct of constabulary operations vis-a-vis the Palestinian population in ‘the territories’. The other is the regular combat formations on line-duty along Israel’s borders, in which several Druze professionals have earned distinction as forward scouts.
Discrepancies between troops from Ashkenazi and Sephardi extraction evince similar persistence. The proportion of Sephardi conscripts drafted into high-quality military formations has grown, as has their representation at senior levels of command. But Sephardim continue to outnumber Ashkenazim in the rosters of conscripts discharged from service because they do not meet basic educational requirements. Conversely, Ashkenazi servicemen continue to enjoy better chances of nt. (Although the National Security Law of 1988 formally imposes reserve duty on females until the age of 34, this requirement is virtually negated by the blanket exemptions which it grants to married women and expectant mothers). But the IDF’s predominantly male character also reflects the influence of a more specifically intra-institutional bias. Not only is the principle of gender segregation virtually enshrined in the continued maintenance of a distinctive Womens’ Corps (Chen), a formation long dismantled by other western forces. It is also buttressed by adherence to the standing General Staff regulation which forbids the assignment of females to active combat roles, principally on the grounds that they might be exposed to sexual assault should they ever be taken captive in battle.
Equally insidious effects result from the sense that females, because unlikely to perform reserve duty, might also give the IDF a far shorter return on investments in training. Only the most talented of girl conscripts are accepted to the units for which their educational qualifications and psychometric ratings make them qualified. A large proportion continue to be employed in basic clerical functions.(37) Even formally, female conscripts serve shorter terms than do males (24 months as opposed to 36). In practice, divergences are still greater. Only 15 percent of the female conscript complement complete even 24 months; the remainder receive early discharges. By contrast, the overwhelming majority (80 percent) of male recruits serve their full three years.(38)
The consequences of this situation reverberate throughout the life-span of the servicewoman’s career. Exclusion from combat assignments, for instance, necessarily restricts the range of roles to which females might be posted. Equally significantly, it furthermore constitutes a barrier to advancement to the most senior of command postings, for which extensive combat experience is considered necessary. This explains the persistence female under-representation in IDF command posts and why none has ever risen above the rank of brigadier-general. Indeed, a tally taken by the CO of the Manpower Branch in April 1995 revealed that the entire complement of female at lieutenant-colonel and above amounted to just seven (less than two per cent of the total).(39) Figures released to the author by the IDF Spokesman’s Unit (relating to 1994) further revealed that, on average, females officers also have to wait progressively longer than their male equivalents for promotion. At the rank of colonel, the discrepancy amounted to 13.4 months.
Since the late 1980s, almost 750,000 immigrant Jews have been granted Israeli citizenship under the terms of the Law of Return. Of these, some 50,000 arrived from Ethiopia and over 600,000 from the former USSR. Since roughly ten percent of the new immigrants are males formally eligible for conscript or reserve service, the military-organizational consequences of this sudden and unforseen influx promise to be profound.
On average, new immigrants (olim) score even higher on IDF physical and psychometric tests than do native-born Israelis (vatikim) in every category of evaluation. 89 percent of new immigrant conscripts possessed the requisite physical qualifications for combat duty (as opposed to 64 percent of vatikim); proportionately more were graded as future officer material (65 vis-a-vis 53 percent). Particularly marked was the ratio of olim (46 percent, as opposed to a national average of 8.5 percent) who turned up to induction centers after completing some form of post-high school education. However, the IDF can exploit relatively little of the talent thus made available. In many cases, they lack command of the Hebrew language. A large minority (24 percent, vis-a-vis just 2.4 percent among vatikim) are the sole offspring of their parents, and hence excused assignment to combat functions. One IDF response to this situation has been simply to forego the full enlistment of all new immigrants – and thereby cut back on the extra financial costs which accommodation to the special needs of so large a group would otherwise entail.
Many such phenomena are undoubtedly temporary, and must be expected to disappear with the passage of time. In the interim, the IDF itself attempts to moderate their impact – most notably by the conduct of especially-tailored pre-conscription ‘preparatory’ courses for new immigrants and the maintenance of an extensive (and expensive) staff, specifically charged with responsibility for responding to the immigrant soldier’s special requirements.
An analysis of the figures supplied by the deputy commander of the IDF Manpower Branch in 1995 shows that the proportion of new immigrants assigned to combat units (over 20 percent) slightly exceeds that of vatikim (under 19 percent). But this divergence seems likely to increase. As we shall see below, ‘motivation to service’ in many combat units is declining among many segments of the native sector; in the case of immigrants, it is reported to be rising (by some accounts by as much as 100 percent per annum).(40) The proportional concentration of many of these troops in particular service segments amplifies their collective impact on the contemporary IDF’s overall sociological profile.
‘National religious’ troops
Fissures between ‘secular’ and religious’ Jews have always constituted an integral feature of Israel’s society. That divide has during the past decade become still more salient and has influenced the IDF.
The military service pattern of religious Israeli Jews displays a striking dichotomy which generally parallels their affiliation to, respectively, the ‘ultra-orthodox’ (haredi) and ‘national-religious’ communities. Haredim tend to exercise their right to avoid the draft in increasingly higher numbers. Males apply for lengthy deferments by adducing evidence that they have registered for full-time study in a religious seminary (yeshiva). Haredim are estimated to comprise some 8 percent of the total population. Their proportion in the IDF is very much lower and declining. They now account for almost one third of all Jewish male non-enlistees.(41)
Whilst haredi religious Jews are thus under-represented in the IDF, ‘national religious’ citizens (a category which encompasses both Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and which altogether now accounts for some 15 percent of the overall population) are becoming an increasingly prominent part of the Force, and indeed often a distinctive segment within it. One reason lies in the proliferation of company-sized fighting formations composed almost entirely of conscripts who combine a shortened period of military service with a five-year program of study in national-religious seminaries.(42) Another is the growing tendency of ‘national religious’ recruits to enlist in combat services, where they now assume the role previously assumed by members of kibbutzim (whose representation in fighting units has dramatically declined).(43)
The possible implications of that transformation arouse conflicting emotions. The affirmative attitude toward military service displayed by so many national religious troops is welcomed, since it provides the IDF with high-quality and highly-motivated manpower. At the same time, however, their concentration in combat units also gives rise to some anxiety on grounds that it might foster insubordination for religious and ideological reasons.
The rate of national religious recruits to the sayarot now far exceeds their proportion in the conscript population (perhaps by a ratio of 3:1). At a rough estimate,(44) some 30 percent of all IDF fighting servicemen now wear a kippah serugah; as many as 60 percent of those in the first class of NCO infantry courses between 1994 and 1995 graduated from the national religious high-school system; the relevant figure in the infantry officers’ training school was 100 percent. Similarly, between 1995 and 1996 alone, the percentage of national religious graduates of the pilot training program almost doubled (from 6 to 10 percent; whereas the proportion of kibbutz members dropped from 19 to 12 percent).(45)
Thus far, more senior ranks in the IDF hierarchy have remained largely immune to this development. Beneath the rank of rav-aluf (lieutenant-general, reserved exclusively for the Chief of Staff), the most senior notches in the IDF hierarchy are aluf (major-general, of which there are usually about 20) and tat-aluf (brigadier-general, of which there are currently 35). With the exception of IDF Chief Rabbis, no national religious Jew has ever been appointed aluf; and only four are currently listed as tat aluf (of whom two hold field commands). C: Changes in the Cultural Profile
Although critical of the shortcomings exposed during the Lebanon campaign, most previous observers of the IDF have been nevertheless confident that the traditional ‘fighting spirit’ of the Force remained largely unimpaired. So too did its character as a ‘people’s army’, in which the narrowly-defined career interests of the minority of salaried troops were subsumed within an ambience which projected military service as an essential rite of citizenship. Survey data showed that in the mid-1980’s the vast majority of conscripts still showed themselves remarkably eager to enlist for duty (and to volunteer for placement in front-line fighting units). Once in uniform, moreover, their morale remained similarly high. In part this was thanks to their officers, all of whom are schooled to inspire confidence by ‘leading from the front’ and setting an example of tactical initiative. Even more important, however, was the existence of a remarkably tight ‘buddy syndrome’ within the ranks, itself sustained by the experience of regular and equitable conscript and reserve duty. The bonds of affinity thus forged, it was argued, not only contributed to the IDF’s operational effectiveness. They also eased the transmission into the military domain of humanistic and democratic values basic to Israeli civilian life.(46)
In many essentials, the portrait of an essentially liberal and idealistic Israeli civilian-soldier thus projected remains valid. For most troops, military service remains (as it has always been) a civic right as well as a public obligation. Moreover, civil-military boundaries in Israel continue to be exceptionally permeable, and thus to permit a high degree of lateral interaction between the two domains of national life at all levels.(47) This situation helps to preserve the societal esteem of men in uniform and largely explains why the IDF retains its status as the most widely respected of all Israeli institutions.(48)
Beneath that surface of overall continuity, however, relations between Israeli society and the IDF have undergone substantial change during the past decade. So too, more specifically, has the cultural profile of a growing number of Israeli soldiers. Although many continue to display the cultural attributes listed by Rolbant and Gal, a growing number do not. As much is now candidly admitted by virtually all articulate members of the General Staff. One indication of their sensitivity to the shift is provided by The Spirit of the IDF: Values and Basic Rules, which was unveiled in June 1995 by the IDF Education Corps. Compiled on the basis of extensive consultations with both the academic community and senior military personnel, this document sets out to provide servicemen and women with what its authors term a ‘code’ of military ethics.
No single circumstance accounts for the General Staff’s decision to commission the IDF’s ‘code of ethics’. In immediate terms, the process owes its origins to revelations of deviant and/or criminal Israeli troop conduct vis-a-vis Palestinian civilians during the course of the intifadah, which resulted in the instigation of over 200 judicial proceedings against individual soldiers and their immediate superiors.(49) Probably just as important a stimulant, however, was a less tangible (but even more profound) sense that instances of IDF misconduct during the intifadah might constitute just an extreme expression of a fundamental change in values which had begun to affect numerous other areas of army life. Why such changes might be taking place remains a matter for considerable debate. Do they reflect the morally destructive influence of over a quarter of a century of military rule over the ‘territories’ and their Palestinian inhabitants, as left-wing critics of Israel’s security policies since 1967 frequently claim? Are they the consequence, rather, of wider cultural changes in Israeli society, whose overall ambience seems to have lost much of the ideological purity (and innocence) by which it was once supposedly motivated, and to have become altogether more cynical and hedonistic? (50)
Three indicators of current modifications in the Israeli soldier’s cultural profile warrant particular attention:
(i) IDF troops of the late 1990s appear to be far more susceptible than were their predecessors to the pressure of extra-military influences on operational conduct.
(ii) They are also more prone to permit politically motivated considerations to intrude upon their behavior in uniform.
(iii) Finally, and perhaps most important of all, many are also displaying attitudes towards military service which differ in several significant respects from the altruistic enthusiasm once considered so predominant.
EXTRA-MILITARY INFLUENCES ON MILITARY CONDUCT
The conditions which once enveloped the Force in an aura no longer hold. Its claim to constitute an incorruptible custodian of national Israeli virtues has been dented by sporadic exposes of both lapses in discipline and financial mismanagement in high places. More generally, its virtually totemistic status as the embodiment of new Jewish statism has been undermined by a protracted erosion in many of the civic values and symbols once considered axiomatic features of Israel’s political culture. Largely as a result of both processes, senior military personnel, who in the immediate aftermath of the Six Days’ War (especially) were considered virtually infallible, have since 1973 become progressively ‘de-mythologized’, and hence gradually dispossessed of the virtual immunity to censure which their rank once almost automatically ensured.
Relationships between the IDF and the families of its servicemen provides one index of the sort of extra-military pressures to which the new climate of opinion gives rise. Increasingly, commanders at all levels are finding it necessary to make special provisions to accommodate parental demands for a say in determining the conditions under which their children serve and even the units in which they do so. Almost as a matter of course, parents of new recruits now receive the personal telephone numbers of their childrens’ commanding officers. They are also invited to periodic ‘parents’ days’, at which they enjoy an opportunity to air whatever grievances they might have. Many go much further. In recent years, formally constituted parental ‘lobbies’ have voiced public opposition to individual military appointments (on the grounds that the candidate concerned had been disciplined for offenses committed in a previous command).(51) Equally indicative of the trend is the finding that one in every five of the complaints now addressed to the IDF Ombudsman emanate from parents and contain allegations of the mistreatment of their offspring.(52)
In terms frequently employed by senior IDF officers, the current generation of parents has clearly crossed the line demarcating ‘involvement’ from ‘interference’. In so doing, the same sources claim, they have (unwittingly) embarked on a path which seriously undermines the IDF’s efforts to socialize new recruits into the realities of their new environment and thereby transform ‘children’ into ‘soldiers’.(53) Other observers are still more critical.(54)
Israel’s courts, once extremely compliant to the IDF’s broad interpretation of ‘state security,’ now also exercise their prerogative to review and pass judgement on military behavior in numerous spheres. One prominent instance is provided by the controversy which erupted during the intifadah over the legality of the IDF’s rules of engagement vis-a-vis Palestinian civilians.
Some observers feel judicial encroachment might prove intimidating by creating a widespread feeling that every officer requires an attorney with whom he must consult before commanding. Confronted with the specter of highly-publicized investigation by a civilian court, some (it is claimed) fear to exercise the sort of independent initiatives for which middle-rank officers in the IDF were once famed. Their self-confidence can hardly be increased by evidence that senior staff, when subject to similar pressures, often prefer to pass culpability downward to the lowest feasible level of command, rather than accept responsibility for outcomes which their own orders were perhaps not comprehensive enough to cover.(55)
Other than in the case of orthodox women who claim exemption on the grounds that military service might contradict their religious life-styles, Israeli law makes no allowances whatsoever for conscientious objection. Only within the past decade, a phenomenon best termed as ‘selective conscientious objection’ has become increasingly prevalent. This articulates opposition to a precise type of military duty or to service in a specified place at a specific time, constituting a protest against the government’s use of the armed forces on particular missions.
The Lebanon campaign of 1982-1985 had already generated deep fissures in the Israeli public’s traditional consensus on security affairs. As a result, signs of political dissent began to permeate the ranks. In 1982-1983 alone, eighty-six reservists registered their conscientious objection to what they castigated as an ‘unnecessary’ (and hence unjust) campaign by refusing orders to report for active service in the Lebanon; as many as five times that number gave formal or informal notice of their intention to do so, thereby reportedly compelling the IDF to withdraw their call-up papers. One brigade commander went as far as to resign his commission in the midst of battle. Altogether, it appeared, the posture of non-partisan neutrality previously nurtured by personnel in IDF uniform (conscripts, reservists and regulars alike) was beginning to give way to forthright expressions of political opinion.
Against a background of increasingly intense public controversy over IDF operations during the Palestinian uprising, the incidence of conscientious objection steadily rose. According to official IDF statistics, 181 conscripts and reservists were placed on trial prior to 1993 for refusing orders to serve in ‘the territories’; many more opted to express ‘grey’ disobedience, usually by requesting transfers.(56) Hence, although conscientious objection undoubtedly remained a marginal phenomenon in Israeli military life, it had clearly emerged. Soon after the Likud’s return to power in May 1996, thirty reservists attached to elite combat units re-iterated these themes, proclaiming their intention to refuse orders to undertake duties which they considered incompatible with the cause of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.(57)
Meanwhile, the phenomenon of conscientious objection among IDF troops had taken an entirely new turn. Until the early 1990s, almost all IDF citizen-soldiers who refused call-ups professed left-wing political views. Between 1993 and the summer of 1996, however, the main locus of conscientious objection shifted to the right of the ideological spectrum after the September 1993 Israel-PLO accord. The prospect that the Palestinian Authority would eventually gain control over much or all of Judea and Samaria became the definitive fault-line in Israeli life. Feelings ran particularly high in the national-religious community, much of which regards those areas as an inalienable portion of the Holy Land. Thus, refusal to participate in military activities designed to relinquish this land was fulfilling a Divine command.(58)
The wave of remorse which followed Rabin’s assassination in November 1995 (not incidentally, the crime was committed by a religious reservist who claimed to follow the dictates of ‘Greater Israel’ teachings) has undoubtedly ameliorated the aggressive tone of public debate which such announcements fueled. Nevertheless, right-wing advocacy of these sentiments remains pronounced. This situation does not imply that the IDF stands on the verge of possible disintegration. It does, however, show an erosion. Once symbol and embodiment of the integrative ethos of ‘Statism’, the IDF is now regarded by many troops as the executive arm of a partisan point of view.
CHANGING ATTITUDES TOWARDS MILITARY SERVICE
As recently as the mid-1980s, it was still expected that the overwhelming majority of Israeli soldiers (conscripts, reservists and regulars alike) undertook military service from a sense of national duty, not because of compulsion or material rewards. Toward the end of the decade, Gal did indicate portents of change. Some professionals, he wrote, were exhibiting some signs of what Moskos had termed an ‘occupational’ rather than ‘institutional’ relationship to the Force, by viewing their military careers as a stepping stone to subsequent advancement in other spheres of work.(59) But these instances, he hastened to add, were untypical, and vastly outnumbered by those for whom military service provided a symbolic – even ritualistic – way of communicating their citizenship and asserting their commitment to the nation’s well-being. Where available, statistics seemed to confirm that perception. Notwithstanding the vagaries of public mood apparent during the Lebanon war and the intifadah, ‘motivation’ to service seemed to remain consistently high. Surveys which Gal himself conducted in 1980, 1984 and 1988 indicated that some 90 percent of Jewish Israeli 18-year-olds looked forward to their enlistment, and expressed a willingness to serve even were conscription voluntary.(60) Reservists and regulars seemed equally enthusiastic. By most accounts, the former were reporting for duty with their accustomed regularity and good cheer and the latter contracting for additional terms of service in unprecedentedly high numbers.(61)
For some years now, observers have suspected the validity of this rose-tinted picture. Random media reports indicating an erosion in the ‘stigma’ once attached to non-enlistment among some segments of youth sounded one warning bell; another could be heard in the complaints voiced by reservists (and their wives) of inequalities in the distribution of reserve duty.(62) Nevertheless, not until the mid-1990s did the IDF itself show any inclination to grasp these particular nettles. By then, however, matters had assumed a momentum of their own. A further survey revealed that expressions of an affirmative attitude to military service among high-school students had dipped to under 75 percent.(63) After considerable pressure, senior sources in the Manpower Branch confirmed, in November 1996, that ‘motivation to service’ (measured by willingness to serve in combat units) had declined at an annual rate of 2 percent since 1992. In a series of public announcements, the new Chief of Staff (Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak) resorted to more colorful language. ‘We are witnessing a preference for the individual over the collective’, he claimed. As a result, ‘droves’ of conscripts now resist enlistment in combat units. The situation was still worse in reserve formations, where applications for exemption from service had assumed ‘epidemic’ proportions.(64)
The decline in motivation does not affect all units in equal proportions. Elite fighting formations, for instance, suffer no dearth of volunteers. Indeed, applications for recruitment into the various sayarot still exceeds available places by a ratio of 8 to 1. In the Air Force Pilot Training Course, the figures are 20:1.(65) A similar situation prevails in specialized technical branches associated with electronic warfare and computer systems, where recruits can expect to acquire the skills and experience most sought by subsequent civilian employers. Where the decline in motivation makes itself felt, however, is in the less ‘glamorous’ (and much more labor-intensive) combat and support postings, such as field engineers, drivers and some infantry and artillery sections. A dwindling ratio of recruits express a preference for such units in the questionnaire which (since August 1994) they receive prior to enlistment; once assigned to them, many now claim to suffer from a medical disability, and apply for transfer to clerical duties. Roughly 4 percent prefer to go to prison rather than to their allotted postings; another 10 percent have to be physically man-handled on to the transports waiting to take them to their courses of basic combat training.(66) Colloquially known as the ‘sayeret or nayeret [paper]’ syndrome, such tendencies do not necessarily express a mass aversion to all military duty. Rather, they reflect a more subtle shift in priorities. For a growing number of contemporary Israeli recruits, considerations of personal satisfaction (assessed in terms of either future job prospects or immediate ego gratification) now take precedence over a sense of patriotic pride.
The decline in motivation to service seems most pronounced among native-born youth from a secular, middle-class background who supply the majority of the IDF’s annual intake (among whom Kibbutz youngsters constitute a specific sub-category, numerically small but symbolically prominent). (67) To a lesser extent, it can be discerned in some new immigrant circles.(68) By comparison, the ‘national religious’ community has been affected to a much smaller extent. According to survey published in 1996, the decline in intention to enlist for a full three years of service among secular high school students was 14 percent over the period 1986-1995 (from 82 to 68 percent); in religious high schools, by comparison, the relevant figure was much lower (from 86 to 81 percent). In 1995, 34 percent of the secular respondents announced an intention to volunteer for combat units (down from 48 percent in 1986) and 22 percent to do so as officers (down from 31 percent in 1986). Among religious respondents, comparable figures were 49 and 35 percent respectively in 1995, and 55 and 36 percent in 1985.(69)
Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain that discrepancy.(70) One view focuses on different levels of parental encouragement given to secular and ‘national religious’ groups. Another directs attention to more ‘patriotic’ values inculcated in national-religious high schools, youth movements and pre-draft colleges (which specifically educate toward service in combat units and where enrollment has quadrupled in the past decade). A third notes peer pressure. Probably more instructive than the variations in such analyses is their common denominator. All suggest that, as a group, national-religious conscripts constitute almost the last vestige of the traditional type of Israeli soldier. Many of their secular counterparts – who together make up the majority of the IDF’s overall force complement – now project an entirely different cultural profile. Raised in a progressively iconoclastic (‘post-Zionist’) atmosphere, they have begun to substitute a cluster of inner-directed values for the ethos of collective compliance, thereby imparting a novel meaning to the notion of military service and its purposes.
The IDF has been compelled to adjust to that change. For the most part, it does so by seeking to improve the material compensation which troops can now expect to receive in return for their investment of time and energy. That approach marks a radical departure from the traditional view of military duty as a civic obligation, for which no pecuniary return was either sought or given. Not surprisingly, it therefore encounters considerable resistance in some quarters. Nevertheless, the process now extends throughout the Force. Conscripts attached to combat units, for instance, have since 1995 received almost double the pocket-money paid to rear echelons. Intermittently, successive Chiefs of Staff have suggested that similar differentials be applied to reservists, with those summoned for especially lengthy tours of duty being entitled to tax rebates.(71) Most noteworthy of all, however (and far more radical) has been the IDF’s insistence that its professional cadres receive material recompense commensurate with the priority of the national service which they perform.
Claims that IDF professionals are entitled to a preferential salary scale, although not entirely novel, have certainly gained increasing momentum over the past decade. As recently as 1984, the then Chief of Staff (Refael Eitan) had sufficient confidence in the altruism of his personnel to announce that they would voluntarily forego the 6.9 percent pay rise granted to all government employees. The climate presently pervading the Force discourages any such flourish. In the interval, IDF professionals have been granted considerable wage increments, which have accustomed them to an entirely different standard and have enabled them to leap-frog their equivalents in other public-service sectors, often by a margin of 20 percent. That gap becomes even wider when calculations are extended to include their various fringe benefits – prominent among which are housing, car and recreation allowances, tax rebates, retirement bonuses and, above all, a particularly generous pension scheme.(72)
Treasury officials calculate that the proportion of domestic defense expenditure devoted to these various entitlements has almost doubled over the past decade (from 27 to 48 percent), a statistic whose import is magnified by the finding that expenditure on acquisitions and services has dropped by roughly the same amount and that the overall proportion of the domestic GNP devoted to defense been halved, to roughly 11 percent.(73) This intolerable burden on the national budget, they insist, must be cut. But spokesmen for IDF interests vigorously – and publicly – reject that suggestion, principally on the grounds that its implementation would be bound to exert a dangerously adverse influence on long-term professional recruitment. Appearing before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in July 1996, the Chief of Staff advised that the professional servicemen whom the IDF most requires (especially in areas of ‘hi-tech’ specialization) could only be attracted to service by the promise of salaries similar to those offered in the civilian sector. At the same time, the Commander of the Manpower Branch warned that even the hint of wage-cuts had already led ‘numerous’ officers to submit their resignations.(74) Subsequent protestations of devotion to duty (even at reduced incomes) by several commanders did little to alter the impression thus created. The ‘cultural’ profile of many IDF professional soldiers has begun to change in parallel with that of a growing number of conscripts and reservists – and largely for the same reasons. Influenced by the mores pervading the society of which they feel a part, few now express a willingness to subordinate personal considerations, as measured in terms dictated by the market-place, to the collective good. Instead, unprecedented numbers insist (sometimes vehemently so) on as much financial compensation for their military services as society can afford to pay. In the words of the commander of the IDF Staff and Command College:
‘The plague of careerism has begun to spread among us. Fewer of us ask themselves what we might give to the army and country. Instead, we check to see what we have received, and what more we might get.'(75) By the standards of all previous portraits of the IDF soldier, that constitutes a shift of seismic proportions.
How the IDF might respond to the changes thus taking place in the occupational, sociological and cultural profile of its complement now constitutes a topic of major public concern. The polarity of the principal solutions currently being advocated itself testifies to the complexity of the task. Arguing that Israel still requires a ‘people’s army’, one school of thought advocates investment in a series of educational programs which might restore society’s faith in the viability of a militia-based force, with all that is thereby implied in the concept of military service as an essential rite of passage to full citizenship. An alternative view, however, rejects all such attempts to turn the clock back. Instead, it suggests that the IDF follow the lead taken elsewhere in the western world, principally by accommodating itself to current alterations in the received portrait of the Israeli soldier and therefore re-constituting the entire force on more explicitly ‘professional’ lines. Given the place which the IDF continues to occupy in the national consciousness, debates over the respective rights and wrongs of these two proposals (and various intermediate variants) promise to be both emotionally-charged and protracted. Their ultimate resolution must be expected to affect not only the structure of Israel’s military but – perhaps even more so – the very fabric of Israeli society at large.
1. Reprinted in Davar (Hebrew daily, Tel-Aviv), 27 September 1992.
2. C. Downes, ‘Military Manpower: Strategic Asset, Liability, or non-Entity, Defense Economics, 2 (1991), pp. 353-363 and S. Biddel, ‘Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us about the Future of Conflict’, International Security, 21 (1996), pp. 139-179.
3. J. Burk, ‘The Decline of Mass Armed Forces and Compulsory Conscription’, Defense Analysis, 8 (1992), pp. 45-59; C. Dandeker, ‘New times for the military: some sociological remarks on the changing role and structure of the armed forces of the advanced societies’, British Journal of Sociology, 45 (1994): 637-654; C.C. Moskos and J. Burk, ‘The Postmodern Military’, in The Military in New Times: Adapting Armed Forces to a Turbulent World (ed. J. Burk; Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 141-162; G. Daniker, The Guardian Soldier: On the Nature and Use of Future Armed Forces (Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, 1995), esp. pp. 75-83.
4. Stuart A. Cohen, ‘Israel’s Changing Military Commitments, 1981-1991: Causes and Consequences’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 15 (1992), pp. 330-350.
5. Y. Tal, ‘National and Collective Security’ (Hebrew), Ma’archot, 314 (1989), pp. 2-6
6. Report by: Dr. S. Koren (CO Mental Health Unit), Ma’ariv, 4 May 1994 and CO Combined Field Command Manpower Brigade, Ba-Machaneh (IDF Hebrew weekly), 11 May 1994.
7. CO Manpower Branch, press conference; Ha-Aretz, 24 October 1996.
8. On the importance of experience with computer games for the handling of modern tanks, for instance, see interview with the commander of a tank brigade in Davar, 12 May 1995. One significant exception to the rising education standards must be noted. The Intelligence Branch complains that decreasing numbers of recruits now possess Arabic language skills. Ba-Machaneh, 6 July 1994.
9. Ba-Machaneh, 17 May 1995.
10. Ba-Machaneh, 8 February 1995, compare Gal, Portrait, pp. 128,167 and the criticisms long ago expressed in M. Pa’il, ‘Israel Defense Forces: A Social Aspect’, New Outlook, 18 (January 1975), pp. 40-44.
11. Bulletin of the Council for Higher Education (Hebrew), 8 (August 1996), p. 1.
12. State Comptroller Report: Vol. 46 (1995) (Jerusalem, 1996), pp. 866-873.
13. On the evolution of these notions: S.A. Cohen, ‘The Peace Process and its Impact on the Development of a `Smaller and Smarter’ IDF’, Israel Affairs, 1 (1995), pp. 1-21.
14. State Comptroller Report, Vol. 46 (1995) (Jerusalem, 1996), pp. 845-856.
15. As is pointed out by, e.g., E. Wald., The Gordion Knot: Myths and Dilemmas of Israeli National Security (Hebrew: Tel-Aviv, Yediot Aharonot, 1992), pp. 167-71 and Col. (Res.) S. Gordon, ‘In Favour of Selective Conscription’, Ma’arachot, (Hebrew; IDF journal), 328 (Feb. 1993), pp. 32-37.
16. Jerusalem Post International Edition, 18 Feb. 1989; see also Z. Schiff, ‘What has happened to the IDF in the Intifada?’, Ha-Aretz, 16 June 1989.
17. State Comptroller Report, Vol. 46 (1995) (Jerusalem, 1996), pp. 859-864 and 894-911. Detailed Reports on such improvements regularly appear in Ba-Machaneh. See also the particularly revealing interviews with Generals Shalom Haggai (CO Ordnance Branch), idem., 18 May 1995 and Chen Yitzchaki (CO Staff College), Menahalim, July 1995.
18. Rolbant, p. 167; Gal, pp. 166-7.
19. Ha-Aretz, 9 September 1996.
20. Interviews with Col. (res.), Menachem Digli, a former commander of the GS sayeret; Ha-Aretz, 21 June 1996 and with Lt.-Gen. Lipkin-Shahak, ib., 13 September 1996.
21. These views are collated in Ofer Shelach and Avichai Beker, ‘An Unhappy Army’, pt. 1, Ma’ariv (Hebrew daily), 19 July 1996.
22. Ha-Aretz, 5 July 1996.
23. Ha-Aretz, 23 June 1996.
24. For a scathing indictment of this process during the period 1973-1982, see: E. E. Wald, The Curse of the Broken Vessels (Hebrew) (Tel-Aviv: Schoken, 1987), pp. 140-186. The author was former head of the long-range planning unit in the IDF General Staff.
25. Ha-Aretz 19 January 1996 and Ma’ariv, 16 February 1996.
26. Col. Yisrael Einhoren in Yedi’ot Aharonot, 25 January 1996.
27. For a summary of the Report, Ha-Aretz, 29 November 1993.
28. Gen. Uzi Dayan (CO Planning Branch), cited in Aluf Ben, ‘To Build the IDF Afresh’, Ha-Aretz, 4 April 1995.
29. M. Nativ, ‘IDF Manpower and Israeli Society’, Jerusalem Quarterly, 32 (1984), pp. 140-144.
30. A. Kadish, ‘A Professional or Popular Army? The IDF at the End of the 1948 War’ (Hebrew), Ma’archot, 349 (July 1996), pp. 52-55; updating Rolbant, Profile, p. 78.
31. Ma’ariv, 10 February 1995 and Ba-Machaneh, 22 March 1995.
32. Y. Erez, Y. Shavit, & D. Tsur, ‘Are there ethnic inequalities in promotion prospects in the IDF?’ (Hebrew), Megamot, 35 (1993), pp. 23-37.
33. M. Zonder, ‘White soldier beats black soldier’, Ma’ariv, 21 June 1996.Compare, Aviad Bar-Hayyim, ‘Patterns of Ethnic Integration Amongst Senior IDF Officers’ (Hebrew), Megamot, 30 (1987), pp. 276-286.
34. Interview with Col. Yisraeleh Oren (CO Womens’ Corps), Davar, 3 February 1995.
35. Supreme Court decision 4591/94; 8 November 1995; Alice Miller vs Minister of Defense, COS, CO Manpower Branch and CO Womens’ Corps.
36. The CO Manpower Branch estimates that 32 percent of potential female draftees claim exemption; two-thirds of them on religious grounds. Interview, November 1996.
37. Einhoren, above n. 33.
38. Interview, November 1996. For the effect on female motivation to service, see former head of research in IDF Unit of Sociological Analysis in: Ha-Aretz, 25 August 1996.
39. Ha-Aretz, 6 April 1995.
40. Gen. Yoram Yair (CO Manpower Branch), Ba-Machaneh, 6 Sept. 1995 and Ha-Aretz 6 Feb. 1996.
41. Manpower Branch interview; November 1996. For earlier estimates: Y. Cohen, Enlistment In Accordance with the Halakhah (Hebrew; Tel-Aviv: The Religious Kibbutz Movement, 1993), pp. 30-40.
42. The first such seminary was established in 1964. The number grew to 13 by 1980, and 24 by 1996. On this form of service: S.A. Cohen, ‘The Hesder Yeshivot in Israel: A Church-State Military Arrangement’, Journal of Church and State, 35 (1993), pp. 113-130.
43. M. Bar-Lev, ‘Let them Join’, Meimad (Hebrew), 1 (1994), pp. 3-5; and Yair Sheleg, ‘The New National Religious Character’, Yom Ha-Shishi (Hebrew weekly), 19 August 1994.
44. Avichai Beker, ‘The March of the Skullcap’, Ma’ariv, 8 March 1996; see also interview with Brig.-gen. Yair Naveh (Chief Infantry and Parachute Officer), Ha-Tzofeh (Hebrew daily), 13 September 1996.
45. Compare Bita’on Hail Ha-Avir (Hebrew; Israel Air Force journal), no. 103, June 1995, p. 8 and no. 109, June 1996, p. 12. More changes in 1997. Kibbutz 11%; dati-leumi 11%; see Ha’aretz 3.7.97
46. See also: D. Horowitz, ‘The IDF: A Civilianized Military in a Partially Military Society’, in: R. Kolkowicz & A. Korbanski (eds.),Soldiers, Peasants and Bureaucrats (London, 1982), pp. 77-107.
47. R. L. Schiff, ‘Israel as an ‘Uncivil’ State: A Reconsideration of Civil-Military Relations’,Security Studies 1 (1992), pp. 636-658.
48. A survey which I conducted in July 1996 shows that 82.4 percent of the population expressed either ‘confidence’ or ‘full confidence’ in the IDF. Next in order of preference were the State Comptroller (76.1 percent); the Supreme Court (73.4); the government (31); the knesset (30.1); and the media (24.9). These findings confirm the ‘indices’ periodically published by E. Yuchtman-Ya’ar and Peres in Israeli Democracy, 1987-1991.
49. IDF Spokesman in Ha-Aretz, 29 November 1994. Of the 300 troops charged (including 60 officers), three were exonerated.
50. See: B. Kimmerling, ‘Ethics Enlists in the IDF’, Ha-Aretz, 14 April 1995.
51. See, respectively, Ha-Aretz 28 August 1995 and 25 December 1995.
52. Ba-Machaneh, 12 July 1995. The total number of parental complaints in 1994 amounted to over 2,000.
53. Interviews with Barak and General Yoram Ya’ir (CO Manpower Branch), Ba-Machaneh, 28 December 1994 and 6 September 1995. For a sensitive study of this subject, see: A. Lieblich, Transition to Adulthood During Military Service: The Israeli Case (New York: SUNY Press, 1989).
54. Gen. (res.), Ran Goren, ‘Parents In Favour of Easy and Pleasant Service’, Ma’ariv, 23 December 1994.
55. Open letter to the Defense Minister from Col. (res.), Ben-Zion Weiss, Yedi’ot, 21 July 1996. Compare Gal’s references to the ‘small head’ phenomenon (Portrait, pp. 131-2.
56. These phenomena are fully explored in: Sara Helman, ‘Conscientious Objection to Military Service as an Attempt to Redefine the Contents of Citizenship’ (unpub. Ph.D.; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1993) and Ruth Linn, Conscience at War. The Israeli Soldier as a Moral Critic (Albany: SUNY Press, 1996).
57. See text in Ma’ariv, 23 August 1996.
58. For a review of the materials: A. Naor, ‘The National-Religious (`Credo’) Argument against the Israel-PLO Accord: A Worldview Tested by Reality’ (Hebrew), State and Religion Yearbook 1993, pp. 54-88.
59. R. Gal, ‘Israel’, in Charles Moskos and Frank Wood, eds., The Military: More Than Just a Job? (Washington: Pergamon-Brassey’s, (1988), pp. 266-77. For the original thesis: C.S. Moskos, ‘Institutional/Occupational Trends in Armed Forces: An Update’, Armed Forces & Society, 12 (1986), pp. 377-382.
60. O. Mayseless, R. Gal, Reuven & E. Fishof, General Perceptions and Attitudes of High-School Students Regarding Security and National Issues, 2 vols (Hebrew: The Israeli Institute for Military Studies; Zikhron Ya’akov, 1989).
61. Gen. Ilan Biran (CO Central Command), interview in Davar, 14 April 1995; and Gen. Yoram Yair (CO Manpower Branch), Yedi’ot, 1 September 1995.
62. E.g. M. Ashlag, ‘The Span of the Stigma’, Ha-Ir (Hebrew: tel-Aviv weekly), 18 November 1992, pp. 50-54.
63. Y. Ezrachi & R. Gal, General Perceptions and Attitudes of [Israeli] High-School Students Regarding the Peace Process, Security and Social Issues (The Carmel Institute for Social Studies; Zikhron Ya’akov, 1995).
64. Lipkin-Shahak in Ha’-Aretz, 29 March 1995, 6 February 1996 and 9 September 1996.
65. Interview, November 1996. However, these figures themselves register some decline.
66. Interview, Manpower Branch, November 1996.
67. The general secretary of the National Kibbutz Movement claims that kibbutz youngsters still enlist in combat formations at a higher rate than the national average. However, he concedes that the percentage of volunteers for the officers’ course has declined by some 18 percent. Ha-Aretz, 28 August 1996.
68. Thus, in February 1996, the CO Manpower Branch reported that the rate of immigrant applications to combat units had doubled over the previous year, and amounted to some 33 percent. Compare: Ba-Machaneh, 1 Feb. 1995 and Ha-Aretz, 6 Feb. 1996.
69. These results were kindly made available to the author by Dr. Ya’akov Katz of the Education Department at Bar-Ilan University.
70. For a fuller discussion: Cohen, The Scroll or the Sword? (above n. 69).
71. E.g., Lipkin-Shahak in Ha-Aretz, 2 September 1996.
72. Compare Gal, Portrait, p. 37 with the far more detailed analyses provided by interview with Mr. N. Gilad (deputy head of budgeting in the Israeli Treasury), Globus, 23 August 1996 and N. Ze’evi, ‘The IDF’s Best-Kept Secrets’, Ha-Aretz weekend supplement, 8 November 1996, pp. 18-25.
73. Although disputing the exact statistics, IDF sources do not deny the trend. Interview with Brig.-Gen. Michael Navon, head of General Staff Budgetary Branch, Yedi’ot, 23 February 1996.
74. Ha-Aretz, 7, 10 and 15 July 1996.
75. Brig.-General Yitzchaki Chen, speech to graduates; Yedi’ot, 31 August 1995.
* Research for this paper was funded by the Israel Science Foundation, administered by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The author also gratefully acknowledges the research assistance of Mr. Ya’akov Green.