A Portrait of the Israeli Soldier

A Portrait of the Israeli Soldier

A Portrait of the Israeli Soldier

A Portrait of the Israeli Soldier

Synopsis

"No army in the Middle East has been as written about in English as has Israel's, yet this book actually says something new. Reuven Gal, former chief psychologist of the IDF, looks at the influences on the Israeli soldier and their impact on the IDF's performance. He is able to deal with issues such as motivation and camaraderie, leadership and heroism from a human viewpoint. . . . a detailed assembly of data such as this one is welcome, and the sociological-psychological jargon is kept at a minimum. This is neither hagiography nor psychobabble, and it contains a great deal of detail." Middle East Journal

Excerpt

This book is about the Israeli soldier--an entity that, in reality, does not exist. Obviously, there is no such figure, and proposing a portrait of the Israeli soldier is, granted, risking vast generalization. Not only are there universal differences among individuals, in the Israeli case there are enormous differences between the young generations and the not-so- young (though still serving) generations; between Sabras (Israeli natives) and non-Sabras; between Sepharadim (and the many ethnic groups among them) and the Ashkenazim (and their diversities); between kibbutznicks and city kids. Even within the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), one may easily note major differences among corps, branches and units. The Israeli Air Force, for example, has its own norms, character and esprit de corps; the Navy carries its own lore. And within the ground forces the Armor troops and their officers are distinctly different from the Infantry soldiers and their leaders. Even within the Infantry corps, the "Golani" brigade esprit is quite remote from that of the paratroopers, to mention only one example.

Yet, this book is about the Israeli soldier, because beyond all these distinct characteristics there are some common features shared by almost all of them. These common features pertain to the basic attitudes, norms, feelings and perceptions that the majority of Israeli soldiers--conscripts, reservists and regulars alike--all have with regard to the IDF. These features pertain to the basic motivation of the Israelis to serve in their military and to fight their wars. They pertain to the structure and nature of leadership within the IDF, which is so different from most other military organizations. And they also pertain to the essential ingredients of the fighting spirit which have made the Israeli soldier victorious throughout all the wars.

In an attempt to minimize overgeneralizations, this book focuses . . .

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