Academic journal article Parameters

Psychological Warfare in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Academic journal article Parameters

Psychological Warfare in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Article excerpt

Psychological Warfare in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

By Ron Schleifer

New York, New York.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

228 pages



The conduct of war is a collision of material and will between rival communities. Most studies of war focus on the strategy and tactics: force ratios, maneuvers, projection of fire power and logistics. However, given that most wars, especially, but not exclusively, low intensity wars, are decided long before one side runs out of material capability, many would argue that the psychological aspects are in fact much more important than the material ones. Psychological Warfare is a specific effort to influence the result of a war via the psychological aspects. It has three separate but complementary branches: strengthening the resolve of one's own people to stay the course despite the pain inflicted on them; weakening the resolve of the enemy's leaders, people and combatants; and convincing outside spectators to support one's own side in the conflict whether by playing to their cultural preferences or to the benefit they would accrue from this support or both.

Dr. Ron Shleifer is one of the few academics who studies Psychological Warfare in general and is certainly the leading expert on psychological warfare in the Arab-lsraeli conflict. His previous books and articles, describing and analyzing specific events or periods, have successfully piqued the interest of professional readers. His purpose is not merely to describe what happened but also to learn lessons and to suggest principles on how to conduct psychological warfare in the future. His previous books and articles each focused on a specific chapter of the Israeli-Arab conflict--especially prominent were a very successful book focused on psychological warfare in the 1987--1993 Intifada, an article on psychological warfare during the fighting in Lebanon from 1985 to 2000 and another on the 2006 war in Lebanon.

As its title suggests, this book purports to cover the entire Arab-Israeli conflict. It provides abbreviated chapters from his previous books and articles and adds new ones covering the period from approximately 1945 till 1982, the misnamed Second Intifada (2000--2006, branding of the name itself being a psychological warfare success for the Palestinians), Operation 'Cast Lead' (2008--2009) and the Mavi Marmara affair (2010). Alongside the historical description of psychological warfare methods employed by the rivals, Schleifer deduces lessons useful for psychological warfare operators in other conflicts. …

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