Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How Israelis View Their Army

Haim Watzman:

In Israel, an embattled country where the army is omnipresent and most citizens (still) serve or at least know many who serve, the army is not only seen as the shield of its populace-it’s also the place where most people grow up. We have a tendency to be nostalgic about the institutions in which we make the intense friendships of youth, where we experience self-discovery, face challenges, and first fall in love. Just look at homecoming weekend at any American university and imagine it in uniform.

So Israelis’ admiration of their army is only weakly connected to the army’s success or failure. The fact that it failed to take out Hezbollah in Lebanon two summers ago is not what most people here think of when a pollster asks them if they trust the army. They think about their son or daughter’s swearing-in ceremony or their buddies in the reserves.

Read the whole thing.