Civil-Military Relations in Israel
Sheffer, Gabriel, The Middle East Journal
Civil-Military Relations in Israel
Defense and Diplomacy in Israel's National security Experience: Tactics, Partnership and Motives, by David Rodman. Brighton, UK and Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2005. ix + 122 pages. Notes to p. 144. Bibl. to p. 151. Index to p. 160. $52.50.
The Israeli Military and the Origins of the 1967 War: Government, Armed Forces and Defense Policy 1963-1967, by Ami Gluska. London, UK and New York: Routledge, 2007. xvii + 261 pages, Appendix top. 268. Bio. notes to p. 271. Notes to p. 312. Bibl. to p. 316. Index to p. 324. $125.
1967: Israel, The War, and the Year that Transformed The Middle East, by Tom Segev. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007. 585 pages. Notes to p. 642. Acknowledgments to p. 645. Index to p. 673. $35.
Generals in the Cabinet Room: How the Military Shapes Israeli Policy, by Yoram Peri. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2006. xiii + 264 pages. Appends, to p. 272. Notes to p. 296. Works cited to p. 305. Index to p. 327. $50.
The emotional, ideological, and practical issues concerning the various roles of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and other powerful security organizations, such as Mossad and Shabak, their tense relations with the Israeli social and political systems, and their contributions to the formulation of policies and their implementation in various spheres, have always been on the agendas of Israeli politicians, generals, and journalists. To a lesser degree, until recently, these relations have been on the Israeli general public agenda. However, especially after the devastating 2006 "second war in Lebanon," more and more Israelis have become interested in and have shown growing concern about these matters. For similar reasons, Israeli civil-military relations have always been a popular topic for research and multiple publications mainly by Israeli academic analysts and writers, but also by foreign observers and analysts.
There are several interrelated reasons for the longstanding interest in civil-military relations in Israel. First, the fact that during the pre-state period, and especially after independence in 1948, Israel has always been involved in full-scale wars as well as in lowintensity conflict and warfare in which the IDF was involved. second, because Israel has always suffered from real and imagined existential threats and, therefore, the IDF and the other security services were regarded as essential for the protection, indeed for the very survival, of Israel these organizations have enjoyed a special position. Third, what degree of autonomy the IDF and the other security organizations had in making strategic and tactical policies and decisions prior to, during, and between wars and low-intensity conflicts remains an open question. Fourth is the widespread belief that Israeli society has been a "mobilized" entity. Fifth is the blurred and confusing relationship between the social and political systems, on the one hand, and the IDF and the other security services, on the other hand. Apparently, all these factors also motivated the four authors to study and publish the books reviewed here.
In order to put the discussion of these four books in proper analytical and theoretical perspectives, let me begin by presenting a categorization of the Israeli academic literature in this field of study.1 Accordingly, one can distinguish between three established approaches to the study of Israeli civil-military relations: the "traditional," the "critical," and the "new critical."
The "traditional" approach, which dates back to the late 1950s and was influenced by the then-popular functional-structural approach, focuses on the formal structural and functional features of the purportedly very clearly distinctive civilian and military subsystems of the Israeli state. Their overall thesis has been that traditionally the civilian political system was dominant, thus ensuring the democratic nature of the Israeli state. Yet, this school has overlooked many features of the Israeli case, especially after the 1967 War, during and as a result of which the position of the security sector was strengthened. Moreover, the adherents to this approach disregarded the more informal aspects of civil-military relations. Generally speaking, "traditionalists" have written favorably of the Israeli system. Though some adherents to this approach are critical of the actual conduct of affairs, they argue that Israeli democracy has been fundamentally sound to a great extent because of the predominant position of the civilian political system.
In contrast, the "critical" approach reflects the general inclination of Israeli social scientists since the 1980s to examine critically the history of the State of Israel, including the societal and political arrangements that, among other things, affected the relationship between the civilian and military sectors and their roles in strategy and policy-making. Accordingly, adherents to this approach have focused, for example, on the continuous attempts of the Israeli political parties to influence the ideas and behavior of the IDF, the military's various ideological positions and growing intervention in politics since 1967, and the ways in which Israel's political society has attracted retired generals and security officials. Yet, adherents to this approach nonetheless have treated the civilian and military sectors as two discrete entities, while having paid insufficient attention to the significant informal aspects of all the relevant processes.
The "new critical" approach has been influenced by the postmodernist tradition in the social sciences, which percolated into the Israeli social sciences beginning in the 1990s. The "new critics," unlike adherents to the "traditional" and "critical" approaches, emphasize the cultural aspects of Israeli politics and society, and especially their "militaristic" tendencies. They criticize the almost non-existence of a vigorous civil society in Israel, a situation that allows the military and other security organizations to play a major role in policy-making.
To sum up, the traditional and critical studies, which apply Western theories of civilmilitary relations to the Israeli case, suggest at most a "partnership" between its clearly distinguishable civil and military subsystems, whereas the new critical studies anchored in postmodern ideas posit that the Israeli society is inherently "militaristic," a fact that accounts for the predominance of the security sphere and the inherent weakness (or nonexistence) of a truly civilian sphere.
Few works have offered an appraisal of the Israeli case that emphasizes its dynamic and informal aspects, for example, by identifying something resembling a "military-industrial complex." Moreover, no attempt has been made to broaden this latter characterization to deal with the intricate informal ties and relationships that emerged among various actors operating within Israel's security system and other actors within the country's political, social, economic, and discursive realms, and to explore their cumulative impact on policymaking and major actual policies in Israel.
In this vein Barak and I have suggested in the two articles mentioned above a new approach that we have termed "Israel's security Network." We argue that this particular type of policy network consists of a cluster of actors, each of which has an interest, or stake, in a given policy sphere, and the capacity to determine policy success or failure. Such networks involve the institutionalization of beliefs, values, cultural aspects, and particular forms of behavior. These are entities that shape attitudes and behavior. They both reflect past power distributions and conflicts, and they shape political outcomes. Our concept of Israel's Security Network, thus, connotes a complex and fluid type of relationship between acting and retired individuals and groups of security officials and civilian actors, one that is ultimately capable of shaping policy-making in general and determining concrete policies and their implementation. Like other similar networks, actors from both types of realms have shared values, interests, and goals. In contrast to traditional and critical approaches, which speak of "fragmented boundaries" between purportedly autonomous security and civil spheres, or of a "partnership" between them, we argue that the Network operates against systemic differentiation of the security system from the political society and the civil society, as well as against more efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the agencies that comprise it. Below I will categorize the four books in relation to these four approaches to the study of military-civil relations in Israel.
More than the other three books that are reviewed here, Rodman's short volume fits the "traditional" category. The author's purpose is to prove that Israel's successes in the sphere of security have been due to "a pragmatic and effective, though essentially [formally] unarticulated, national [and as he argues later in the book, rational] security doctrine" (p. vi). For this purpose, Rodman has organized the book into eight chapters, though he admits that each of these chapters is intended to stand alone. In actuality, most of the book is a collection of articles published in various journals, rather than a coherent volume (p. vii). Furthermore, only the first part of the book (the introduction and chapters 1-3) focuses narrowly on the conduct of security and military affairs from a variety of viewpoints. The second part deals with various aspects of Israeli foreign relations and connections. Since this review focuses on civil-military relations, it examines mainly that first part of the book.
In the introduction, Rodman briefly discusses the basic elements and policies of Israeli national security. He starts by mentioning that although Israel has not articulated a very clearly defined official security doctrine, its answers to Israeli needs in this sphere were never haphazard. According to Rodman, Israeli politicians and security persons have adopted a series of principles that they use in view of changing circumstances in the international, regional, and internal arenas. These principles include what Rodman regards as the rational concept of deterrence. In this respect, he problematically maintains that Israel always preferred to protect itself and its national security interests through peaceful means and to deter its Arab enemies by drawing very clear "red lines" that, if and when crossed, would trigger an intensive use of Israeli military forces. According to his positive view of Israeli positions, Rodman argues that while it may seem that Israel could not deter its neighbors, in fact after the 1973 War and the peace with Egypt and Jordan, full-scale wars were averted (though low-intensity conflict and warfare have not been). The second element of the Israeli defense position is that fighting must be transferred to its enemies' territory. The third and fourth elements are the profound reliance on compulsory service and a reserve system. In this connection, Rodman emphasizes the quality of manpower and military equipment. The next element is connected to Israeli reactions to conventional and non-conventional warfare and conflict - the argument that while Israel is well prepared for non-conventional wars (i.e., due to its nuclear and missile capabilities), it has experienced many difficulties in responding to conventional tactical clashes, especially with the Palestinians. The issues of self-reliance and superpower patronage are very briefly discussed next. (The author elaborates on these aspects in the second part of the volume, which is not reviewed in depth here.) In this respect, his argument is that while Israel has accentuated self-reliance in almost all aspects, including the production of weapons, such as missiles and tanks, it cannot avoid the need for superpower patronage - since the mid-1960s, the patronage of the United States. Finally, Rodman mentions the lesser known elements of Israel's search for regional and extra-regional partners, such as Turkey and India (one can add South Africa and, more recently, China).
Following the general discussion in the introduction, chapter one deals with the operations and tactics of the Israeli Defense Force. In this and in the following chapters, Rodman surveys the various wars in which Israel was involved, including the first and second Palestinian Intifadas. However, because this book was published in 2005, he and Yoram Peri, whose book is reviewed below, could not discuss what has become known as the devastating "second war in Lebanon" and its impacts on civil-military relations.
In any case, unlike what he mentions in his introduction to the book, in this chapter Rodman maintains that since the eve of the 1956 Sinai War the IDF has developed a coherent military doctrine that was based on the principles of an offensive war that should be conducted according to what he calls in many places in the book "a combined arms warfare" (i.e., the air force and tanks corps). He argues that this grand strategy was successfully implemented in all the wars Israel has conducted.
An interesting original aspect that Rodman discusses in chapters 6 and 7 is to what extent the security strategy and policies that Israel has adopted are Jewish or Realist. His conclusion is that "even though the motives behind Israeli foreign and defense policies cannot be called Jewish in any meaningful sense, the ends of that foreign [and security] policy has powerfully served Jewish national interests" (p. 100).
Since this book is not based on archival materials but rather on selective secondary sources, it is difficult to accept fully Rodman's argument about the formulation of a totally detailed Realist doctrine. And as noted above, his prediction that in the future this doctrine would be maintained and successfully implemented was not totally accurate - in the first stage of the second war in Lebanon, the IDF mistakenly relied totally on the air force. Yet at the end of his chapter on the role of the air force, Rodman very rightly warned against counting too heavily on the air force in future wars.
Rodman's general conclusions (pp. 121-22) are that Israel's success in its wars was due to the simultaneous continuity and needed adjustments in the vital defense doctrine. Although Rodman is basically optimistic about the future, he admits that Israel was in a "post-heroic" phase in its existence, including in its security sphere, and argues that there is a need to find new adjustments and changes in the doctrine. He is confident that Israel will find the right solutions. Many Israelis, including the members of the Winograd Committee of Enquiry of the way in which Israel dealt with the second war in Lebanon, are highly skeptical about this.
Though, as noted, Rodman does not deal at length with the problematic civil-military relations in Israel, he very firmly concludes that despite all difficulties, Israel's democratic nature has remained intact. This conclusion, which fits the position of the political rightist camp in Israel, to which the author clearly belongs, is a highly debatable issue both among Israelis and foreign observers. Indeed, the other three books reviewed here raise some fundamental questions in this respect.
Ami Gluska's book, originally a doctoral thesis, also fits well into the traditional approach, but relatively speaking, its conclusions are critical of the IDF's behavior and influence and their impact on the democratic nature of the Israeli system.
Covering the years 1963-1967 and focusing on the role of the IDF in determining Israel's policies and actions before the 1967 War, this is a very systematic and detailed historical survey of the processes that led to that war. As mentioned above, at present, 40 years after that war and one year after the second war in Lebanon, this issue is pertinent and highly controversial in Israel and elsewhere. It is important to note that unlike Rodman's and Peri's books reviewed here, but like Segev's book, this book relies not on secondary sources but on original archival files and documents. Apparently, since the author is a former general and probably belongs to the security Network, he had access to the files of the IDF's History Department and General Staff protocols. The other two scholars did not have such access.
The author's declared intention was to study in depth the processes leading to the 1967 war, which had a tremendous impact on everything that has happened to Israel and its neighbors - the other three books agree on this point. Thus, Gluska focuses on the relations between the military and the leading Israeli politicians. And unlike Peri's book, Gluska's concentrates on civilian political-military rather than on social-military relations. The author's main purpose is to critically examine "the army's influence on Israel's security policy and its contributions to the downhill slide into [the 1967] war" (p. xiii). Unlike Dorman's book, this study does not deal with factors such as the inter-Arab and international situations, but concentrates on political-military relations. The critical question leading to his main thesis is "how did it happen that the state of Israel suddenly found itself at war, in total contradiction to the intention of the government?" (p. xiii). It seems that Gluska was intrigued by what he regards as a fact, namely, that the Israeli government had neither the desire nor the intention to launch the 1967 War.
The book starts with a relatively short and superficial discussion of the distinction between Israel's security doctrine and its actual policies. This outline serves as the framework for Gluska's entire historical discussion and the conclusions that he draws from his developmental description and analysis. Like almost everybody else, Gluska attributes extreme importance to the fact that Israel was facing "existential dread," that this dread drove policy, and that the policy was determined by the military, which enjoyed the public's faith and esteem (p. 6). According to Gluska, this factor as well as the age and views of all actors created the profound differences between the politicians and the generals. He suggests that this was one of the contributing factors to the rift between them that eventually led to Israel's decision to launch the 1967 War.
Gluska argues that partly as a result of these personal changes, partly as a result of the successful 1956 War, and partly due to economic development, the military and the politicians adopted the following grand strategy: only if Israeli deterrence of the Arab countries were to fail would the IDF launch a preemptive strike. To ensure its deterrence capacity, Israel developed a nuclear capability, began to develop missiles, and participated in a regional conventional arms race. Gluska's core argument is that then-current security problems, not the aforementioned reasons, spurred the continuous escalation that eventually led to the 1967 War.
Gluska then surveys the various stages of the escalation - the first and second stages started in 1964 with severe clashes on the Syrian border against the background of Israel's water diversion projects in the northern part of the country. However, according to Gluska, the clashes with the Syrians and the tension with Egypt were not the main causes of the 1967 War. From an historical perspective, the fact that the government trusted the IDF to make the right tactical decisions concerning Israel's reactions was the chief internal background factor leading to the war.
According to the author, if there had been one external reason that served as the principal catalyst for the escalation that eventually led to the war it was the guerrilla activities against Israel launched by Palestinian organizations, especially Fatah, whose main bases were in Jordan and Syria. These attacks created a clash between the relatively dovish politicians and the more hawkish generals - the politicians wished for preventive and defensive operations and the generals emphasized offensive solutions (pp. 66-67). Consequently, already in the summer of 1966, the IDF had reached the decision that the only way to deal with the increasing guerrilla warfare was to launch a preemptive war against Syria and later on Jordan as well. Because of the predominance of the IDF and the ineffective political control over the IDF, and despite most of the politicians' objections, in the spring of 1967 Israel was on the brink of a preventive war.
What Gluska calls the "start of the war" (p. 121) he identifies as having occurred in May 1967 when Egyptian President Gamal 'Abd al-Nasir moved his army to the Sinai Peninsula. While the politicians did not perceive any major danger, the IDF became highly awakened and fully active. The author thoroughly discusses the generally known cycle of events that followed as a result of the politicians' insistence on the use of diplomacy rather than military force, including attempts to involve the United States, the large-scale temporary mobilization and demobilization, the offensive planning, the IDF's pressures on the Israeli government, the remobilization, the deployment of the IDF, the "waiting," the establishment of a first national unity government including the rightist main party Likud, and the turning point as a result of the Jordanian-Egyptian defense pact.
According to Gluska, between May 15 and June 4, 1967 there occurred a severe crisis between the moderate politicians on the one hand, and the hawkish members of the Cabinet and the generals on the other, concerning the launching of a preemptive war. The IDF could have seized the initiative to launch the war, but Gluska's conclusion is that "The crucial fact is that this did not occur [italics in the text]. The army was confronted with a supreme test of its loyalty to the laws and constraints of the democratic framework, and that framework was preserved and did not crumble" (p. 230).
Yet in summing up all the facts presented in the book, Gluska argues that during the four years leading to the 1967 War, the activism of the IDF had a decisive impact on Israeli behavior. While the IDF was subordinated to the political echelon (an observation that casts Gluska's in the mold of the "traditional" approach described earlier), it was not subjected to effective control and often exceeded the bounds of the government's intentions. Moreover, probably in accordance with his military background, Gluska concludes that "the military leadership, to a large extent, 'entangled' the State of Israel in escalation which culminated in an unpremeditated war, a war which from the outset was unwanted and non-essential. But from the moment the crisis erupted and the threat emerged, the military's advocacy of offensive was correct" (p. 260).
Tom Segev's acclaimed book about the road to the 1967 War, the War itself, and its critical consequences also belongs to the "traditional" category of analyses of civil-military relations. Yet, as will be suggested below, there are some hints in this book of the existence of a security Network.
Segev is a well-known Israeli journalist who has written a number of historical accounts of various aspects of life, society, and politics in Israel. Therefore, like Gluska's book, Segev's volume is essentially a descriptive account of the events that led to the 1967 War and its consequences. It does not propose very deep analytical or theoretical perspectives on the main issue discussed here. Rather, the book offers a quite broad view of the situation in Israel, the region, and the United States (including the actions and views of Israeli individuals) in order to provide a lively picture of the mood at the time. This explains why political-military relations per se are not the main concern of this book. Here it should be added that like his previous books, this well-documented book relies on archival materials, secondary resources, and the Israeli press.
Generally speaking, this comprehensive and detailed book yields no major discoveries or revelations concerning the path to the War, the War itself, or its consequences. Segev admits that these have been widely researched and analyzed, but he argues that in order to understand the developments what is needed is deep knowledge of the Israelis themselves, which he intends to provide (p. 14).
Though there are certain differences in emphasis and interpretation, there is considerable agreement between Segev and Gluska concerning issues like the significance of the nuclear issue, major events, processes, and the roles of the various political and military figures and organizations that led Israel at that time.
In his attempt to broaden the scope of the discussion to include the moods and attitudes of individual Israelis and the society at large, Segev is successful. In this respect, it is relevant to our main interest in this review that the problematic positions and bad mood of the Israeli public and individuals significantly strengthened the position of the IDF vis-a-vis the hesitant politicians (e.g., p. 159).
Like Gluska, Segev argues that, "the Six-Day War was a culmination of events that had begun several years earlier... Despite the Israelis' disregard of the Palestinians as an enemy force, the war that broke out in June 1967 was, in fact, another round in the conflict between the two people" (p. 13). In this vein, he discusses some of the clashes that occurred with the Palestinians, Syria, and Jordan in 1965 and early 1967, and describes the behindthe-scenes struggles between Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, his government, and the generals. That relatively dovish government supported deterrence and protective measures, and opposed the spectacular military operations suggested and carried out by the IDF, which was led at the time by then-Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin.
Though Segev discusses the roles of many politicians, according to him Eshkol and Rabin were the two most central figures who fundamentally disagreed about the strategy that Israel should adopt, but together shaped Israeli movements during that period. While "Eshkol did not rule out an 'eye for an eye' policy in principle... The IDF [whose generals were much younger and more aggressive than the politicians because they were raised on the idea of the use of force], however, was designed not for response and defense, but for initiative and offense" (p. 155). Thus, already in 1963, the IDF had a plan to occupy the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (then held by Jordan), and later plans for attacks on Syria and Egypt. Eshkol, who opposed these plans, succeeded in canceling them at the time, but not later on the very eve of and during the War. Segev argues that Eshkol generally trusted Rabin, but felt that the latter actually served as the Minister of Defense and was stealing the spotlight and the love of the people. This added to the general confrontation between the dovish members of the government and the hawkish IDF generals.
The conflict between the politicians and the IDF intensified three weeks before the War, when in addition to the tensions on the Syrian and Jordanian borders and the attacks by the Palestinians, Nasir deployed his units in the Sinai. One of the major new threats was the possibility that the Egyptians would bomb or attack Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona. Then there were exchanges concerning the failure of Israel's deterrence and, therefore, the need for an outright war. When Rabin, feeling ill, stayed at home, General Ezer Weitzman led the IDF's campaign. Weitzman threatened Eshkol, saying that, "your hesitation will cost us thousands of lives" (p. 293). Despite this threat and growing pressures, Eshkol and his government were successful in postponing the beginning of the War. He and the newly extended government made the final decision on June 2, three days before the Israeli attack on the Egyptian forces in the Sinai.
Segev's conclusion is that despite his hesitations and the pressures that the IDF and some of his cabinet members had put on him, "Eshkol emerges as a statesman with nerves of steel who withstood all pressures until he could achieve coordination with the US. It is doubtful whether he believed Israel's existence was truly in danger,... [in fact,] he wanted to be remembered as a patriot, and at this point the public equated patriotism with war. He also agreed with Dayan [who a few days before the War became Minister of Defense instead of Eshkol] and the military that a war might improve Israel's situation" (p. 334).
The similar main conclusion of Segev's and Gluska's books posit that although before the 1967 War the IDF did apply pressure and influenced decisions (mainly tactical, not strategic, the political system was the dominant among the two separated military and political sectors. It means that both authors affirm the basic fact that until that War the democratic patterns were more or less maintained.
The last 13 chapters of Segev's book (pp. 338-585) deal with the War itself and with its consequences. The upshot of this part of the book is that during and after the War "the generals were feted as celebrities" (p. 440). This meant that the generals did almost whatever they wanted during the War and afterwards. Thus, the 1967 War was a turning point from the point of view of political-military relations and of the role of the IDF in developments that are discussed in Yoram Peri's book (reviewed next).
As mentioned above, Segev hints at the existence of a Policy Network. He writes that, "as members of the same establishment and even of the same families, the generals were in close contact with the cabinet ministers and Knesset members" (p. 308). In fact, then, even before the 1967 War, there were not two separate formal sectors with porous borders struggling to gain the predominant position in Israel. Indeed, it seems that an informal and dynamic network had existed since the establishment of Israel, which gradually gained a great deal of power in the Israeli system and could determine policies not only concerning "pure" defense matters, but also in other spheres.
Generals in the Cabinet Room by Yoram Peri, like Segev's book, has received high praise. Peri's study, which primarily focuses on the situation in the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century, fits well into the "critical" category of publications in the field. In a way, Generals in the Cabinet Room is a continuation of Peri's previous works, which focused on earlier periods. Despite some confusion concerning the discussion of civil-military and of political-military relations, the book also demonstrates certain signs of a tendency toward accepting some of the views of the Policy Network.
In this volume, Peri discusses the relationships between the IDF and the governments in the 1990s and early 21sl century, the division of labor between these two sectors, the extent to which the IDF has influenced foreign and defense policies, and in a more general manner, how the position of the IDF shaped its relations with civilian society.
Peri starts by arguing that the various wars did not turn Israel into a "garrison state," but nonetheless did affect all systems and arrangements. The centrality of the security issue, not least the social and financial resources involved in maintaining security and the social and political arrangements, elevated the Israeli security forces and agencies. He also maintains that, basically, the political arrangements and actors, on the one hand, and the military, on the other hand, continue to subscribe to democratic patterns. Nevertheless, Israel is a "nation in arms" where, consequently, clear boundaries between the civil and military systems are not clear. Peri writes: "This has inevitably led to the militarization of certain societal spheres and to the politicization of the military in other spheres" (p. 29). Like many others, including Segev, Peri argues that the military success and the resulting occupation of the West Bank and other territories in 1967, greatly contributed to the politicization of the military and its involvement in the policy-making process and implementation.
Peri argues that, from an organizational point of view, the power of the IDF stems also from the special monopolistic position of the Military Intelligence Directorate and the Planning and Policy Directorate, as well as from the growing numbers of retired generals in politics. And of course, Peri attributes considerable importance to the political role of the IDF chiefs of staff (pp. 155-169).
Peri argues as well that as a result of the first Intifada (1987-1993), the IDF showed a strong inclination to support the peace process, including with the Palestinians. This position created major clashes with the rightist Israeli governments, a process that was critically intensified during the premiership of Binyamin Netanyahu (1996-1999). Because Peri is focusing on the period since the 1990s, he starts by arguing that the first Intifada was the turning point in the development of civil-military relations, leading to the intensification of the rift between these two sectors. These relations continued to be tense throughout the premierships of Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon (1999-2001 and 2001-2006, respectively). Again, like the arguments of Gluska and Segev regarding earlier periods, Peri attributes great significance to the role of the military in the low-intensity conflict with the Palestinians during the two Intifadas.
Summing up his study, Peri says that at certain junctures the IDF supported the peace process with the Arabs and clashed with the politicians. But, in a number of historical cases, like the 1957 decision to withdraw from the Sinai, the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, the signing of the Oslo agreement in 1993, the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the politicians overcame the opposition of the IDF's generals. But generally the IDF has proven to be very capable of pursuing its own views and goals. This, of course, has created tensions between the generals and the members of the Cabinet.
More or less like Rodman and Gluska, Peri attributes this situation to four main factors: the weakness of the Israeli civil-political system in determining policies; the weakness of the structural control mechanisms of the security sector; the nature of the "citizens' army" (which blurs the boundaries between the civilian population and the military); and the low intensity conflict with the Palestinians. According to Peri, "The combination of these factors deepened the IDF's involvement in the political process and in policymaking, both in matters related to the conduct of war and in diplomatic negotiations" (p. 256).
Despite the facts that the various relevant, very brief chapters of Rodman's book cover Israel's entire history and that Gluska's, Segev's, and Peri's studies cover two different historical periods, most of their conclusions about the role of the Israeli security system in Israeli society and politics are fairly similar. Thus, the four books attribute great importance to the prolonged conflicts in which Israel has been involved; to the nature of the IDF as a citizens' army; to the great prestige of the IDF; to the weakness of the political system in strategic formulation, policy-making, and control of the IDF; and to the role of the security system in the low-intensity conflict with the Palestinians.
From a more general theoretical perspective, despite some hints of the existence of a policy network, unlike the Policy Network approach, all four books share the view that, in the Israeli case, the civilian and military sectors are two separate systems whose borders are very porous.
Finally, it is interesting to note that in varying degrees the four books conclude that Israeli democracy, though somewhat flawed, has been maintained and is functioning reasonably well despite the IDF's and other security organizations' deep involvement in Israel's social and political affairs. In view of what is really happening now in Israel, and in line with the third and fourth categories of analysis and theory, their similar conclusions are both inaccurate and problematic.
1. Oren Barak and Gabriel Sheffer,"Israel's 'security Network' and its Impact on Policymaking: An Exploratory Essay," International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 38. No. 2 (2006), pp. 235-61; and Oren Barak and Gabriel Sheffer, "The Study of Civil-Military Relations in Israel: A New Perspective," Israel Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 1-27.
Dr. Gabriel (Gabi) Sheffer, Professor of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Civil-Military Relations in Israel. Contributors: Sheffer, Gabriel - Author. Journal title: The Middle East Journal. Volume: 61. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 2007. Page number: 709+. © Middle East Institute Winter 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.