The Gender Perspective of Civil-Military Relations in Israeli Society

TitleThe Gender Perspective of Civil-Military Relations in Israeli Society
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsKlein, Uta
JournalCurrent Sociology
Date Published09/2002

The exceptional centrality of security to the national existence of Israel has led scholars to investigate the impact of the military on the political and civil system. Nevertheless, this research had been limited in scope. It has been claimed that the army is a "citizen army," that Israel is a "nation in arms," and that therefore the army does not reflect a specific group in society. The newer "generation" of scholars emphasizes the effect of armed conflict on the larger society, on its attitudes and values. One subject, however, which has been neglected so far is the gender perspective. This is astonishing because Israel is unique in the sense that Jewish Israeli women have been conscripted since the foundation of the state of Israel. Thus - from the perspective of sheer numbers - Israel serves as a very interesting case study of the impact of an advanced integration of female citizens in the defense forces on society and on the defense forces themselves. The article examines whether, although (Jewish) women are conscripted, the military in Israel is the main force in shaping male identity and whether military service can be understood as a rite of passage to male adulthood. It also analyzes whether the dominance of security and of the military discourse leads to gender inequality in society at large.

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