An army like no other

“The most frustrating thing about history, however, is that so much in it escapes language, escapes attention and memory altogether.” – Edward Said


A history of the IDF that argues that Israel is a nation formed by its army.

The Israeli army, officially named the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), was established in 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who believed that “the whole nation is the army.” In his mind, the IDF was to be an army like no other. It was the instrument that might transform a diverse population into a new people. Since the foundation of Israel, therefore, the IDF has been the largest, richest and most influential institution in Israel’s Jewish society and is the nursery of its social, economic and political ruling class.

In this fascinating history, Bresheeth-Zabner charts the evolution of the IDF from the Nakba to wars in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the continued assaults upon Gaza, and shows that the state of Israel has been formed out of its wars. He also gives an account of his own experiences as a young conscript during the 1967 war. He argues that the army is embedded in all aspects of daily life and identity. And that we should not merely see it as a fighting force enjoying an international reputation, but as the central ideological, political and financial institution of Israeli society. As a consequence, we have to reconsider our assumptions on what any kind of peace might look like.

“ In the following two incursions into Gaza, during November 2012 and July/August 2014, the already terrifying level of death and destruction was surpassed: the IDF killed 2,310 Gazans in the summer of 2014 and wounded 10,626. Entire swathes of Gaza neighborhoods disappeared overnight, with more than 120,000 people losing their homes. The infrastructure, partially repaired since the last attacks, lay in ruins.
The massive cruelty of the attack was directed at breaking the resistance organizations in Gaza. Yet they fought back, causing relatively heavy Israeli casualties: sixty-six soldiers dead, and 469 soldiers wounded. In other words, the IDF paid almost as heavy a price in Gaza as it did in Lebanon in 2006 (though their losses were dwarfed in comparison with Palestinian losses). ”

Excerpt From: Haim Bresheeth-Žabner. “An Army like No Other: How the Israel Defense Forces Made a Nation.” iBooks.

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