An Army Like No Other How the Israel Defense Force Made a Nation
By Haim Bresheeth-Zabner
“It is said that Israel is an army with a state. This book validates fully this assumption. With a clear and accessible style and with illuminating of many hidden chapters in Israel’s history, Bresheeth exposes fully the militarization of the Jewish State. The book unpacks successfully the military grip of the IDF on every aspect of life in Israel and Palestine, from crucial decisions of going to war to the formulation of the policies towards the Palestinians. Even if you are a knowledgeable reader on the topic, this book will be an essential contribution to your library.”
–Ilan Pappe, author of 10 Myths About Israel
“An original and a remarkable interpretation of the wide-ranging impact of the military on Israeli society and one of the most insightful and challenging works on Israeli society from 1948 to our days. His book traces the ways in which military power acquired legitimacy in civilian society and how the use of organized violence became an acceptable solution to all conflicts in Arab-Israeli history. Anyone interested in understanding the Middle East should read this book.”
–Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People
“Bresheeth—one of the most important anti-colonial intellectuals of our era—takes the Israeli army as an entry point to undertake a deep analysis of Jewish-Israeli society. The original contribution of the book lies in its ambitions and scope: Bresheeth brilliantly describes the way an army whose ethos is rooted in Jewish historical trauma, has grown to become the occupation arm of Zionism, the motor of its settler-colonial domination and the basis of its politics of separation.”
–Eyal Weizman, author of Hollow Land
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
Professor Haim Bresheeth-Zabner is a Filmmaker, Photographer and a Film Studies Scholar, and 2nd Researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He is the editor of The Gulf War and the New World Order (with Nira Yuval-Davis), and the author of The Holocaust for Beginners (with Stuart Hood). His films include the widely shown State of Danger (1989, BBC2)—a documentary on the first Palestinian Intifada—and London is Burning, after the 2011 riots. He has also written in the Israeli Ha’aretz and the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Weekly.