Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Militarism and Israeli Society

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Militarism and Israeli Society

Article excerpt

Militarism and Israeli Society. Edited by Gabriel Sheffer and Oren Barak. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2010. 386 pp. $70 ($26.95, paper).

This volume is a perfect illustration of how far the tenured Left will go to suppress real diversity and balance in academic discourse while misrepresenting one-sided advocacy as scholarship. Militarism and Israeli Society is a collection of articles that were presented at a conference sponsored by Israel's semi-Marxist Van Leer Institute and edited by two Hebrew University professors, Sheffer and Barak, noted for their vocal attacks on the Jewish state.

Alongside these ideological biases is a sloppy use of terminology at the heart of the book. For the writers, the terms "militaristic" and "having a large army" are generally used interchangeably. Granted, Israel does have a sizable military, understandable in the face of the multiple threats it continually faces. But the absence of militarism (and the reality of civilian control over the Israeli military) was dramatically illustrated in recent months when Israeli civilian politicians repeatedly considered and then ruled out generals for the position of chief of staff.5

Israel's army interacts with other parts of society in interesting ways. Military officers retire and often become politicians. Social networking is often based on one's old army buddies. These would be interesting issues to analyze. But Militarism and Israeli Society has little interest in such things. With only a few exceptions, the writers in the volume simply bash Israel rather than examine it seriously. …

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