Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Israeli Military

           The Israeli military encompasses a number of interesting concepts. In practice it functions just like an average military force- there's a navy, an air force, ground forces, a code of conduct, etc. Yet the Israeli military is one of the most controversial armed forces in the known world, despite the fact that they don't commit horrible atrocities on civilians and aren't known for random bouts of brutality. This likely stems from the controversial (and highly contested) control of Israel by the Israelis, since most (if not all) of its neighbors want control of the land. Gaza (in particular the even more controversially contested West Bank) is a major source of stress for the army, as they are dealing with displaced civilians setting up homes along the border. Any use of force is therefore seen in an extremely poor light, no matter what the politics of the situation may be.

Soldiers in the West Bank with displaced civilian
            Israeli military, in addition to being one of the most controversial forces, is also one of the most highly trained. In a country that has historically been threatened by all sides at any moment, the training for Israeli soldiers is extremely intensive. It is not uncommon for individual soldiers to outclass foreign units of the same rank with relative ease. Thanks to laws related to dual citizenship and gays in the military, they also have a very cosmopolitan fighting force. Any citizen of Israeli or Jewish descent is possesses "the right of return," which allows the individual to enter Israel at any time as well as join the military, giving them de facto dual citizenship. Proactive laws concerning Gays in the Military also allow homosexuals to serve, which has been in effect since 1993. As a result, the general population is more accepting of homosexuality as well. All in all, a very proactive move on the part of the army.

            It should be noted that the Israeli military is known as the Israeli Defense Force, or IDF. It serves as the military arm of the overlaping Israeli Security Forces, which includes police and security personnel. The military force has often seen conflict, owing to the region, but after a treaty between other countries such as Egypt and Jordan they have since focused on Lebanon and aiding in US operations such as the Iraq war. Various service branches include the airforce and navy, both of which have taken part in operations in various military clashes, with the airforce taking an especially critical role in conflicts with Egypt and Syria. In the 1970's, it would become incredibly apparent just how critical they were, when Egypt, whose own airforce had been utterly destroyed in a bait & switch tactic by Israeli high command, used Israel's air superiority in order to gain territory on the Sinai and simultaneously weaken Syria.

            It's also not uncommon to see armed Israeli soldiers standing guard outside of buildings that house Israeli diplomats (even when other countries do not), as Israel itself has many enemies. This quality makes them an ever present feature of global diplomacy hubs such as Switzerland and Washington D.C., where many Israeli attaches attend political conferences with other world leaders. By and large, the Israeli military is just a national defense force. But underneath it has many unique facets that make it a powerful symbol of the nation of Israel.

One of many examples of military clashes in the west bank.

Israel Defense Force on Wikipedia:

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