Israel’s Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy 9780814753354

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Israel’s Death Hierarchy

Warfare and Culture series General Editor: Wayne E. Lee A Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip’s War Kyle F. Zelner Empires and Indigenes: Intercultural Alliance, Imperial Expansion, and Warfare in the Early Modern World Edited by Wayne E. Lee Warfare and Culture in World History Edited by Wayne E. Lee Rustic Warriors: Warfare and the Provinicial Solider on the New England Frontier, 1689–1748 Steven C. Eames

Forging Napoleon’s Grand Armée: Motivation, Military Culture, and Masculinity in the French Army, 1800-1808 Michael J. Hughes Under the Shadow of Napoleon: French Influence on the American Way of Warfare from the War of 1812 to the Outbreak of WWII Michael A. Bonura Israel’s Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy Yagil Levy

Israel’s Death Hierarchy Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy

Yagil Levy


NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS New York and London © 2012 by New York University All rights reserved References to Internet websites (URLs) were accurate at the time of writing. Neither the author nor New York University Press is responsible for URLs that may have expired or changed since the manuscript was prepared. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Levy, Yagil, 1958Israel’s death hierarchy : casualty aversion in a militarized democracy / Yagil Levy. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8147-5334-7 (cl : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-8147-5335-4 (ebook) ISBN 978-0-8147-3833-7 (ebook) 1.  Casualty aversion (Military science)—Israel. 2.  Civil-military relations—Israel. 3.  Israel— Military policy. 4.  Israel. Tseva haganah le-Yisra’el—Regulations.  I. Title. U163.L487 2012 355’.03355694—dc23 2012018797 New York University Press books are printed on acid-free paper, and their binding materials are chosen for strength and durability. We strive to use environmentally responsible suppliers and materials to the greatest extent possible in publishing our books. Manufactured in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This research was supported by the Open University of Israel Research Fund.

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List of Figures and Tables Acknowledgments Preface from the Series Editor

ix xi xiii

Wayne E. Lee



1 The Right to Protect and the Right to Protection


1.1 The Essence of Rights


1.2 Balancing Strategies


1.3 Conclusions


2 Unbalancing and Balancing the Rights


2.1 Balanced Rights


2.2 Unbalanced Rights


2.3 Demands for Burden Reduction


2.4 The Subversive Bereavement Discourse


2.5 Balancing Strategies


2.6 Conclusions


3 Bereavement-Motivated Collective Actors


3.1 The South Lebanon Guerrilla War (1985–2000): The Impact of Four Mothers


3.2 Explaining Four Mothers’ Success


3.3 The Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000-2005)


3.4 The Second Lebanon War (2006) and Operation Cast Lead (2009)


3.5 Conclusions







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I am indebted to a large number of people and institutions for help with this book. I thank my colleagues who commented on various parts of the book: Aluf Benn, Jonathan Caverley, Stuart Cohen, Yinon Cohen, Tamar Hermann, Gur Huberman, Jef Huysmans, Engin Isin, Xavier Guillaume, Ronald Krebs, Zeev Lerer, Edna-Lomsky-Feder, Oded Löwenheim, Zeev Maoz, Gil Merom, Yoram Peri, Uri Ram, Zeev Rosenhek, Orna Sasson-Levy, Gabi Sheffer, Yehouda Shenhav, Sidney Tarrow, Erez Tzfadia, and especially Eyal Ben-Ari, Sara Helman, Paul Vasquez, and my late mentor, Asher Arian. Different parts of this book were presented at various workshops, seminars, and conferences. For their invitations and criticism, I am thankful to the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Workshop: Practices of Citizenship and the Politics of (In)security; the Department of Government at Georgetown Univeristy; the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the IDF Behavioral Sciences Center; the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies and the Department of Sociology at Columbia University; the Israel Democracy Institute; the Open University of Israel; Sapir College; the Shalom Hartman Institute; Tel Aviv-Jaffa College; and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. I would also like to thank these journal editors who offered detailed comments on early drafts of some parts of the book: Robbie Lieberman, Peter Nyers, Glenn Palmer, William R. Thompson, Douglas Van Belle, and Patricia M. Shields. I am particularly grateful to the Open University of Israel for its financial support and to the Israel Science Foundation for funding part of the research on which chapter 6 is based. Finally, I thank New York University Press and its editorial staff for publishing this book: Deborah Gershenowitz, my editor, for her strong support, Constance Grady, editorial assistant; Alexia Traganas, the editing and production assistant; and Jerilyn Famighetti, the copyeditor, whose committed work on this book has gone far beyond their editorial duties. Last but not least, thanks are also extended to the series editor, Wayne E. Lee, for having faith in this book. >>


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Preface from the Series Editor Wayne E. Lee

The Warfare and Culture series seeks the connections between a society’s beliefs and values and the ways in which its military forces express those in their operations. In short, how does culture affect operations, battle, strategy, planning, doctrine formation, and more? In the modern world, few aspects of a society are more significant to military planning and operations than its perception of the meaning of casualties—casualties inflicted and casualties suffered often define success or failure. Political scientists have explored this issued extensively under the rubric of “casualty sensitivity.” Yagil Levy’s Israel’s Death Hierarchy is rooted in that literature but also applies historical and cultural methodologies to explore how Israeli social and cultural fluctuations from the 1950s through the recent Gaza incursion of 2009 (Operation Cast Lead) have changed not only the composition of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) but also, consequently, the meaning of casualties within their society. This altered sensitivity has in turn changed the style and tempo of IDF operations. Israel’s Death Hierarchy provides a complex and nuanced reevaluation of how a democratic state balances its obligations to its citizens and its soldiers and makes an important interdisciplinary contribution to our understanding of the relationship between modern warfare and culture.



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In July 2006, Israel launched a full-scale war against Lebanon in response to the abduction of two soldiers by Hezbollah militiamen on the border between Israel and Lebanon. Initially, the government ruled out a ground operation, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deployed the Air Force. However, when aerial assaults failed to stop the rockets that Hezbollah began launching at Israel’s northern towns, the army was gradually dragged into a ground operation. Ultimately, this resulted in more than one hundred casualties but the operation was conducted so indecisively that it failed to achieve any of the war’s goals—getting the abducted soldiers back, disarming Hezbollah, or even stopping the rocket shelling. A similar scenario repeated itself two years later. In June 2008, the Israeli government decided not to launch a widespread military operation in Gaza, despite escalation by Hamas in the firing of Qassam rockets that targeted the Israeli civilian population. As an alternative, it chose to accept an Egyptianmediated truce between Israel and the Hamas government that controlled Gaza. Considerations of international legitimacy informed this decision, as >>





1990). In practice, sensitivity to military losses has increased in democratic societies since the 1960s, playing a key role in limiting the state’s freedom of operation in deploying the armed forces for military missions. Sensitivity can be expressed in activities such as antiwar protests, best exemplified by the resistance to the war in Vietnam (Everts 2002). Nevertheless, while casualties reduce support for the use of force, other factors can compensate for such effects, at least temporarily. In their comprehensive analysis, Gelpi, Feaver, and Reifler (2009) argue that tolerance for casualties is determined by the public’s cost-benefit approach: what matters most in determining supporting an ongoing military mission is the public’s expectation about whether that mission will be successful. This argument raises several problems. First, while the authors extensively map and explain shifts in public opinion, they say almost nothing about the social changes that generated the new sensitivity. Sociologists relate to these changes; however, the main contribution of scholars of international relations and political science (IR/PS) like Gelpi and his associates is their analysis of how different military missions are differentially accepted in terms of causality tolerance and how the state can mitigate previously instilled sensitivity. This suggests a lack of communication between sociological and IR/PS studies, because of which the linkage between the social sources that have reduced casualty tolerance and the political variables that affect public opinion is not explicitly articulated. Second, success and failure are not objective constructs. They are subject to political-cultural interpretations, with variations across ethnic-class lines. At the least, the case of Israel will show how similar missions with similar results have been depicted as successes or failures in different periods, with the log of casualties (as argued by Mueller 2005) not necessarily functioning as the main cause of fluctuations in public support. Third, while the interplay between casualty sensitivity and politics has been discussed in the IR/PS literature in general and by Gelpi and his associates in particular, the role of collective action has not been adequately analyzed. After all, changes in military policies related to risk avoidance and mission aversion that entail recurring force redeployment often occur when antiwar movements garner mass support (as demonstrated by the Vietnam War and by Israel’s First Lebanon War, in 1982). Wars that are perceived as failures or whose costs increase (and here casualty sensitivity is relevant) create a political opportunity that changes coalitions and causes shifts in the political environment. These changes may be read by savvy activist entrepreneurs as an invitation to mobilize (Marullo and




in disadvantaged communities, where the residents possess fewer of the resources needed to engage in politics. Hence, this decreases the pressures brought to bear on policymakers to change policies. So, like Vasquez, Kriner and Shen link social power to the capacity to act politically but ignore the mediating link of collective action between public opinion and policy outcomes. Another problem arising from the literature is the issue of civilian control. Policies of casualty aversion affect the balance of power between generals and policymakers and, as such, affect civilian control over the armed forces. In the end, the willingness to pay the costs of war is one of the central mechanisms by which public opinion and collective action affect foreign policy choices. This willingness has an impact on the elites’ desire to undertake overseas military missions while at the same time minimizing losses (Mandel 2004). Casualty sensitivity is thus germane to the study of civilian control. Nevertheless, the impact of casualty sensitivity on civilian control is not central to the literature on civilian-military relations. For example, Feaver and Kohn (2001), who studied the casualty-aversion syndrome, point out that this issue is part of the civil-military gap in American politics. While they note how this gap generally affects civilian control, they refrain from analyzing how the cultural construct of casualty sensitivity is, specifically and operatively, reflected in civilian control. In a specific reference (p. 467), they recognize that the casualty-aversion approach is not merely an expression of the military’s self-preservation but may well be grounded in the military’s lack of confidence in the political leadership, leading to self-restraint. Yet, Feaver and Kohn do not develop this argument. In sum, the literature lacks an integrative approach that links casualty sensitivity to its social origins and that acknowledges its reflection in bereavement discourse and bereavement-motivated collective antiwar protests, as well as the influence of these discourses and actions on actual policies of casualty aversion, which in turn may have an impact on civilmilitary relations. This gap directs us to look at the broader picture—the unresolved problem of how the state manages its citizens’ lives and deaths by encouraging individuals to be willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. This problem has always troubled social scientists. The updated literature on casualty sensitivity makes a limited contribution to this issue as it focuses on the existing profile of willingness to sacrifice but does not trace its origins. According to Max Weber’s (1958) seminal definition, the modern state is an entity with a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. That monopoly




golden age of the draft, it may have been fair but not necessarily equal. Third, Levi argued that ideological and historical changes have altered the standard of what constitutes a fair and just policy of recruitment but did not specify the conditions that lay the groundwork for such changes. Fourth, she argued that democratization had a positive impact on the population’s willingness to comply with universal conscription (1997, 81). Nonetheless, this argument falls short of explaining the legitimation crisis of the draft system in most Western societies since the 1970s when democratization reached its peak. What ensues from all this is that we may consider the option that an unequal burden that also guarantees rewards to those who bear the burden is less likely to give rise to disobedience, resistance, or avoidance of military service than is a situation in which the bearers of an equally imposed burden lose their trust in the state’s capacity to reward them appropriately (see Tilly 2004). Rewards breed a sense of fairness as much as encourage the transformation of compliance into sacrifice. Thus, we should also focus on the differential return for sacrifice, rather than only on the equal distribution of that sacrifice, and thereby examine the mechanisms that create a sense of fairness. The asymmetry between burden and rewards may alter the standard of what constitutes a fair and just policy despite, or perhaps owing to, democratization. Looking at the state of balance between sacrifice and rewards may thus serve as a key to explaining the dynamics between willingness to sacrifice and the surfacing of resistance to sacrifice. This book aims to deal with this challenge by relying on the Israeli experience. In terms of theory, the book develops the theme of the interplay between two sets of rights—the right to protect and the right to protection. A high level of social readiness for military sacrifice is attained when the right to protect is meaningful and provides an avenue to other rights, adjusted to the level of burden that the state demands from the bearers of this right, as military sacrifice is not necessarily equally imposed. A fulfilled right to protect advances the right to protection, by motivating the bearers of the right to protect to protect others. Imbalanced rights may risk the state’s capacity to provide protection because devaluation of the right to protect discourages sacrifice and encourages patterns of resistance. Hence, an imbalance motivates the state to rebalance the rights by employing balancing strategies, matching the values of the two sets of rights. This can be done mainly by accruing rights to the protectors or by diminishing the protectors’ level of sacrifice, thus modulating the level of protection or the level of sacrifice. This theme suggests an exchange between unequal military burden and unequal access to the right to protect, through which the right to protection is facilitated. Thus, a possible solution to the unsolved problematic embedded in the




Outline of the Book Chapter 1 provides the theoretical background to this book as sketched earlier. Chapter 2 presents the dynamics of matching the rights to protect and to protection in Israel. It shows how, until the 1980s, rights were balanced for the secular middle class; in exchange for upholding its right to protect, which was convertible into political and social rights, the secular middle class advanced the community’s right to protection. However, the legitimacy to sacrifice declined after the 1970s and especially during the 1980s, following the drop in the motivation of the secular middle class occasioned by the First Lebanon War (1982). As with their Western counterparts, for Israeli secular middle-class groups, the right to protect lost much of its role as a way to gain access to other rights when their gains in the military during the 1970s and 1980s were socially devalued relative to the subjective level of sacrifice. Devaluated gains originated in a drop in the military’s prestige, in changing allocation of social benefits in a market society, and in a perceived decrease in the value of protecting a country facing a declining level of external threats. As a dominant group that had exhausted its ability to reap additional significant benefits from military service, it was natural that this group would focus on the other side of the equation—on reducing the military burden. Thus, the devalued right to protect impacted the group’s readiness to promote others’ right to protection. Declining motivation and an increase in casualty sensitivity were evident when this group initiated a series of collective actions, including personal exemption patterns and evasion of combat service, and shaped bereavement discourse as subversive discourse, all of which created pressure to limit the autonomy of the army to sacrifice lives. Reductions in the military burden and a readiness to risk the level of protection provided by the state constituted the balancing strategy at work in the short term. It took the shape of military restraint, with the 1985 withdrawal from Lebanon and the signing of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians (1993–1995). Gradually, however, and in an effort to restore part of its autonomy, the state employed another balancing strategy: redistribution of the burden from the secular middle class to less privileged groups. This involved greater reliance on the part of the combat units (under the limitations of the draft system to which the IDF adhered) on socially and culturally peripheral groups, such as religious Jews, Jewish settlers from the occupied territories, Mizrahi recruits from the periphery, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, and others, at the expense of the less motivated secular middle class. Yet, this strategy dovetailed with another balancing strategy: rights




hierarchy of risk, that is, the death hierarchy, through which the state positions its citizens and soldiers. This hierarchy results from the encounter between two variables and as such reflects and affects the underlying rights: the degree of choice, informed by motivation, that is available to those whom the state designates for potential death and the political cost that results from their choice, especially when the state fails to justify their death beyond question. The higher the group’s ranking in the death hierarchy, the more protected it is; that is, the less it is exposed to risk. Thus, the structure of the death hierarchy largely reflects the hierarchy of bereavement. Hence, for secular uppermiddle-class groups, which show a high level of sensitivity to losses that is translatable into subversive bereavement discourse, the state values the lives of soldiers over those of civilians. For example, reservists are the most protected group as long as middle-class members are represented in the reserves in greater proportion than in the compulsory army, while citizens in peripheral areas are at the bottom of the hierarchy but still rank higher than enemy civilians, who are placed on the lowest rung of the hierarchy. Chapter 6 presents the situation that may arise when the state fails to mitigate the tensions inherent between its duties toward groups on the highest rungs of the death hierarchy—such as middle-class reserve soldiers versus middle-class citizens. Under these conditions, it cannot place civilians under a prolonged threat and is constrained to use force, unless more peaceful solutions are at its disposal. At the same time, the state is limited in its ability to put soldiers at risk. Therefore, the state will reduce soldiers’ exposure to risk by using excessive lethality that claims more civilian casualties from its enemy, the group located at the bottom of the death hierarchy (reliance on technology represents a way to redistribute the military burden, forming one of the balancing strategies). This argument is demonstrated by comparing Operation Cast Lead of 2009 in Gaza with hostilities that took place in this arena since the first Intifada of 1987 (the first round of a significant Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip). Like other democracies fighting “small wars,” Israel created a force-casualty tradeoff by becoming more sensitive to its own military losses at the expense of the enemy’s noncombatant losses, reflected in an increasing use of lethality. This tradeoff is evident in the ratio of fatalities between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian citizens, which increased from one Israeli soldier for six civilians killed in the first Intifada (1987–1993) to one Israeli soldier for eighty-four Palestinian civilians killed in the 2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip. With this tradeoff, the state apparently rebalanced the rights by




readiness for military sacrifice and its articulation, inter alia, through collective action, rather than focusing exclusively on the military mission and its political environment; (3) adding the dynamic dimension by analyzing the strategies the state enacts to rebalance citizens’ rights and thereby modify its course of action.

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1 The Right to Protect and the Right to Protection

As argued in the Introduction, an unequal burden that also guarantees rewards to those bearing the burden establishes the state’s capacity to provide protection to its citizens by sacrificing its young people. Thus, the implementation of the Hobbesian contract is anchored in a social hierarchy that creates a balanced affinity between two sets of rights—the right to protect and the right to protection. Imbalance between the rights may risk the state’s capacity to provide protection and encourages it to rebalance the rights. This chapter presents the theoretical framework that underlies the empirical study. 1.1 The Essence of Rights The interplay between rights can be deduced from the school of state formation. At the heart of the state formation tradition lies the mutually generating mechanism between war and state formation, as put forth in Tilly’s (1992) “war makes state” argument. Historically, the extensive introduction of artillery and gunpowder into sixteenth- and seventeenth-century warfare >>





improve their social standing by serving in the military (Burk 1995; Janowitz 1976). Over time, working-class groups, ethnic minorities, and, gradually, women and homosexuals all strove to utilize military service as a mechanism for (expected) social mobility. Unlike the middle-class groups whose right to serve had been established, for these groups, access to arms entailed breaking down barriers that had hitherto prevented their military participation. The more the discourse was predicated on republican underpinnings, the more instrumental it was in providing opportunities for groups to convert their military sacrifice into rights (Krebs 2006). This may explain the mechanism of claim making: it can take the form of groups claiming unrestricted recruitment as a means to lift barriers to improvements in their social position (such as African Americans’ “right to fight”) or struggles to convert past sacrifice in war into access to rights (which typified this group, as well), or it can be a demand by majority groups to enlist minority groups to match their duties to already attained rights (such as the application of military service to second-generation foreign immigrants in France in the 1880s; see Brubaker 1992, 104–105). That is why the right to protect applies to social networks more than to the enlistees alone. By differentially classifying social groups, moreover, military service not only determines uniform eligibility for citizenship but also establishes its hierarchical status (see Soysal 1994). The degree of legitimacy conferred on groups’ access to power in the military determines whether the conversion of military status into social status will proceed in an orderly fashion or will trigger intergroup tensions. When seemingly universalist criteria for recruitment and promotion are coupled with the conferral of existential meanings regarding the application and consequences of these criteria, privileged groups are able to invoke their military status to legitimate their social status—the rights, positions, wealth, and power that they possess relative to or at the expense of their subordinated counterparts, a process that does not occur smoothly in a class-based military (Levy 1998). It follows that, even with the introduction of universal conscription, groups varied in the level of sacrifice they bore and the level of benefits they acquired by this sacrifice, thus molding social hierarchies. Examples of hierarchy making include (1) the male-dominated system of war that influences intergender power relations in society (Goldstein 2001); (2) the privileged social position of dominant groups in the military, such as the Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent) in Israel, who converted their preeminence in the military into social dominance, or the American military’s historical role in entrenching the inferior position of African Americans (Levy 1998); (3) the role of the French levée en masse of 1793, which




Teachman 2004). Furthermore, soldiers assigned to labor-intensive jobs are in practice being prepared for blue-collar jobs in civilian life—low-status work in advanced capitalist societies. On the other hand, officers and soldiers who serve in technology-intensive posts are better prepared for whitecollar jobs after their discharge (Weede 1992). Containment of the militaries and their subordination to civilian control, in the sense that more areas of their activity were monitored by a widening circle of political and social groups, were part of the allocation of rights, in this case political rights. The citizen-soldier embodied the republican model that transferred the sovereignty from the ruler to the community of citizens that staffed and politically controlled the military. Republicanism extended to the democratic value of civilian restraint of the military. At first, the establishment of representative institutions helped to monitor the military organizations, as parliaments allocated money from the citizenry to the modernized armies (Downing 1992). Another aspect of control was what Giddens (1985) termed “internal pacification” of the state; military violence was distanced from the immediate relations of production and from civil society in general and shifted to the international sphere. As part of this process, the military was distanced from domestic policing (Mann 1993, 403–443). As a result, the democratic system was perfected as it institutionalized greater equality in political competition and protection against arbitrary action by the state (see Tilly 1997, 193–215). As Kier (1997) showed, in France in the first decades of the twentieth century, civilian choices regarding the model of conscription often reflected concerns about the distribution of power within the state and its implications for the deployment of the military for domestic policing. Ultimately, as Kohn (1997, 141) noted, “civilian control allows a nation to base its values, institutions, and practices on the popular will rather than on the choices of military leaders.” Civilian control thus became part of the package of political rights.1 Less relevant to the notion of the right to protect are situations in which military resources, human or material, do not stem from state-group bargaining (Tilly 1992). In some cases, including many in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, military buildups were funded by an external power or, in the Latin American case, when the mode of organization of the major social classes in society impeded the state’s extraction ability (Centeno 2002). In these countries, strategies for controlling coercion and capital had more to do with bargaining with strong local groups, privatization, and decentralization than with the monopolization of state control (Leander 2004). In other cases, state rulers (e.g., colonial Spain and Portugal) were able to bypass bargaining with their subjects by obtaining revenues from commodity exports or, as in




demonstrating that “contingent consent” can be maintained despite unequal sharing of the defense burden. Furthermore, the theme of exchange may demonstrate how the bargaining inherent in the exchange of sacrifice for rights furnishes both the state and the citizenry with tools aimed at increasing or decreasing each of the values that the republican exchange equates—rights and sacrifice. Hence, the dynamics of the fluctuation of societal levels of sacrifice versus state military policies can be better explained. As long as the rights are balanced, the state is able to enjoy autonomy in administering its military policies, with the sacrifice that these policies entail. Indeed, balanced rights formed the situation from the state-making phase until the 1960s. Nevertheless, the citizens’ right to protection may clash with the right to protect when the state fails to sustain this “right to other rights.” This occurs when the gains achieved by (or thanks to) the military are socially devalued relative to the level of sacrifice. Among the conditions for this are (1) a decrease in the level of security provided (such as military failures, particularly those that occur despite high social investment in the military) that may breach the right to protection, that in turn devalues the right to protect inasmuch as security is among the rights accrued to the citizens in exchange for their sacrifice; (2) an increase in the social and political costs that providing protection entails in a manner disproportionate with the level of security provided; (3) a decline in the level of perceived external threat that devalues the security provided and thus proportionally increases its costs; and (4) a decline in the social rights and other benefits accruing to sacrificing groups. To be sure, devaluation implies a social and cultural construct, rather than objective calculations. Devaluation of the right to protect may thwart the right to protection, unless the impact of devaluation is minor and does not affect the willingness to sacrifice. Historically, since the 1970s, middle-class groups in Western democracies have expressed sentiments that suggest that the right to protect has lost its worth. Several factors generated this trend. First, the cost of security became relatively heavier as the Cold War began to draw to a close during the 1970s, and therefore economic and physical security continued to be valued positively but their relative priorities declined over time (Inglehart 1990). In the 1990s, global conflicts simply did not threaten the interests of the United States and of European NATO members enough to justify putting large numbers of soldiers at risk. Concurrently, cultural trends further increased relative security costs from the perspective of those bearing the costs. With the end of the Cold




citizen-consumer, both of whom favored “purchasing” low-cost security as part of the neoliberal ethos of small government. In this spirit, economists have often debated whether military expenditure plays a crucial role in maintaining low levels of unemployment and contributing to growth or whether it is a burden to growth. The intensification of this debate since the 1970s signals the new ethos of endeavoring to rein in defense budgets (Davoodi, Clements, Schiff, and Debaere 2001; Pivetti 1992), as much as it signaled the devaluation of physical security relative to economic wellness. With this debate, small wonder that, during the late 1960s, economists strongly argued that a volunteer force would be more economically efficient than a draft force and as such influenced policy making, first in the United States (Warner, Miller, and Asch 2009). With the erosion of the right to protect, individual or collective action may be undertaken to repair it. The perception that the structure of rewards measured against sacrifice is asymmetrical—especially that gains and resources previously possessed by a group have lost some of their value—opens the space for claim making by social actors who want to modify the terms of the equation. Such efforts may entail either reducing the burden (the approach taken by antiwar groups that challenge the draft system or other voices that highlight casualty sensitivity) or increasing the return for service (in the form of claims for rights or for monetary rewards). This is the infrastructure from which collective action such as antiwar movements, draft resistance, and other patterns of dissent and protest emerge. Sensitivity to military losses is a major pattern of resistance to sacrifice. Casualty sensitivity has increased in democratic societies since the 1960s, playing a key role in limiting the state’s freedom of operation in deploying the armed forces for military missions. Sensitivity can be expressed in activities such as antiwar protests, as resistance to the war in Vietnam best exemplifies (Everts 2002). In the extreme, “casualty phobia” develops; that is, support for the use of force evaporates rapidly at the sight of body bags (Gelpi et al. 2009, 8). This sensitivity may be real or may arise from the leadership’s doubts about the readiness of the public to sacrifice (Mandel 2004). Consequently, democracies have encountered difficulties when fighting nonexistential or “small” wars, in which the war’s goals and cost are highly debated. Society’s reduced readiness to sacrifice in terms of casualties (and also of military spending) does not correspond to the level of sacrifice the state requires in order to provide security, particularly through missions of intervention and peacekeeping. While casualty sensitivity reduces support for using force that may lead to casualties and thereby open the space for claim making, other factors




ideologically motivated or pragmatic actors protest for their own reasons, the social climate that devalues military sacrifice legitimates their voice or at least removes barriers to their actions. Conversely, when a strong republican discourse is articulated, the probability that war or draft resistance will be delegitimized is high (see Lainer-Vos 2006). A valued or devalued right to protect is a construct that originates in the involved groups’ subjective perception of the extent of the symmetrical or asymmetrical structure of rewards versus sacrifice. Subjective perception matters, and a distinction should be made between the objective social condition and the subjective perception of the social actors involved. What motivates actors is the subjective meaning they attach to their objective social conditions (McAdam 1985, 33–34). As Blau (1992, 6, 93–94) argued, unlike economic commodities, the benefits involved in a social exchange do not have an exact price in terms of a single quantitative medium of exchange. In this situation, the obligations are not precisely specified. Furthermore, actions are contingent on rewarding reactions from others, rather than dealing with the market (as economic exchange suggests). In this broadened view, exchange is not limited to selfinterests but may embrace other values, such as sacrifice, duty, and belonging (Shields 1993). It follows that even a very unequal exchange may be balanced as long as the sides see it as balanced. The power possessed by the holders of the devalued rights is crucial in determining the translatability of attitudes into collective action. Provided that, as noted earlier, the right to protect is convertible to other rights only with the creation of a critical mass, the mode of recruitment largely determines collective actors’ ability to leverage their attitudes to challenge the dominant discourse and influence war policy. Conscription touches the more powerful actors more directly than voluntary service, and this, along with other variables, creates the infrastructure for collective action (see Vasquez 2005). Erosion of the right to protect impairs the state’s power to sacrifice those who feel affected by this erosion. The challenge of granting legitimacy to military death is especially significant in the face of a reduction in the willingness to die for one’s country. And, even if the state can mobilize its young people, it endeavors to do so at the lowest possible cost and to avoid political protests that limit its autonomy to manage its military policies. Here the distinction between compliance and sacrifice matters. In sum, the citizens’ right to protection is undermined as the protectors question their rights-generated duty to protect. At this point, the state may engage in a balancing effort.




As noted earlier with regard to the politics of war, the greater the perceived threat and the greater the role of military force in eliminating it, the greater the legitimacy of sacrificing human life. While this assertion relates to the given political-cultural condition prior to the initiation of military action, the state can work to amplify the threat either by convincing its citizens of its existence or by manipulating the threat. Furthermore, the first strategy suggests a structural change in the political climate in terms of general militarization that goes beyond efforts to aggrandize specific threats. Three major results are expected from employing this strategy. The first is the justification of the military burden (in terms of money and blood), thereby curtailing pressures to reduce costs or to increase rewards in exchange. Second is the manipulation of the external threat so that military sacrifice is regarded as worthy of greater social recognition, thus revalidating the right to protect embodied in bearing arms. Sacrifice can be augmented as a reward in and of itself, encouraging claims such as “the right to fight.” A third result may be an increase in the legitimacy of using force. Increasing the legitimacy of using force may not necessarily boost a willingness to sacrifice, but it may compensate for a low level of readiness to sacrifice by exhausting technological means of staving off the threat. Technological warfare may reduce the level of burden and the risk faced by the soldiers at the expense of inflicting more damage and loss of life on the enemy and even on its civilians, as the description of the fourth strategy below elaborates. Efforts reflecting this strategy may fail for a variety of reasons, among them (1) a failure to oversell the threat to the citizenry; (2) a failure of military missions that this strategy may yield (and it is in this context that one should read Gelpi et al.’s [2009] argument about the importance of success); (3) the possibility that, even though this strategy may encourage citizens to accept a higher level of military burden, overburdening them might be counterproductive and stimulate pressures to reduce the burden. Balancing strategy #2: Increasing the compensation for sacrifice. Through the second strategy, states increase compensation for military sacrifice in line with the traditional republican ethos, especially if the first strategy proves ineffective. Granting soldiers and their social networks political rights is optional. Political rights may be reflected in increased access to mechanisms that control the state’s security agencies, such as expanding the role of parliamentary institutions and liberalizing the media’s access to the military. Democratization following military defeats—an expression of a devalued right to protect—exemplifies this trend. Allocating social rights to serving groups is another option that characterized postwar social reforms as Andreski (1954) has shown. First and foremost, this mechanism helps to




its security interests by accommodating its partners’ interests. Alternately, if the international strategy fails or is insufficient to overcome domestic constraints, the state can reduce the military burden by deescalating the military conflicts in which it is actually or potentially involved. Such an approach is evident in the steps taken by all parties that led to the cooling down of the Cold War or in Israel’s moves toward deescalation in the 1980s and 1990s. At best, the state provides the same level of security but by less lethal means. Yet, given that the pursuit of these means emerged following the imbalanced rights-incited failure to extract human resources at the required level of readiness to sacrifice, it is likely that the state takes risks that it may have refrained from taking under other conditions. Indeed, this strategy may extend to the provision of lower levels of security. Spending cuts during the 1990s that downsized western European forces (Dandeker 1994) played a major role in increasing Europe’s reliance on the United States in campaigns outside Europe and even in contingencies for war within Europe (Hillen 2002, 33–36). More significant are casualty-averse policies, that is, policies that strive to limit risk by avoiding missions that might result in fatalities. Casualty aversion means that the state upgrades the value of soldiers’ lives. This can be done by improving armaments, despite the financial costs involved; indeed, (American) voters tend to support a capital-intensive doctrine in conflicts in order to save lives. Yet, often, a capital- and firepower-intensive military doctrine is poorly suited to combating the insurgencies typical of modern small wars, so the likelihood of winning the war decreases (Caverley 2009/10). It follows that, in such cases, the state may relax its commitment to protect its citizens (assuming that that is the reason for using force) and add more value to its soldiers’ lives. Military missions designed to protect national security become subject to limitations imposed by the primary need to protect the soldiers. The soldier’s right to life weakens the concept that, in joining the armed forces, soldiers take on a contract of unlimited liability (McCartney 2010, 418–419). At the extreme, the state may favor the lives of its soldiers over those of its citizens, which is the inverse of the Hobbesian norm that governs the state. Hierarchies of protectors versus protectees and of access to protection are thus created. In sum, this third strategy matches the right to protection to the right to protect by decreasing the former by either taking risks or providing lesser security. However, if this restricts state autonomy or contradicts its internal commitments, the provision of reduced security may be only a temporary step, leading to the fourth strategy.




before launching the ground campaign, a massive flanking ground operation that would maximize Iraqi casualties, and a swift end to the war itself (Reiter and Stam 2002, 176–178). The 1999 airstrikes in Kosovo are another example of RMA. In contrast, criticism of the Pentagon during the Iraq War that began in 2003 focused on the accusation that the United States had failed to send enough troops to Iraq to get the job done (Eichenberg 2005). The implied lesson here is that a more forceful strike should have been employed to avoid the crisis in legitimacy that the lengthy war of attrition brought about. The legitimacy crisis may be exacerbated by the public’s changed expectations of how many casualties are realistically needed to achieve victory, in light of advances in technology, thus increasing further sensitivity to casualties (Gelpi 2006). To a large extent, the concept of “overwhelming force from the outset” has replaced the doctrine of “graduated escalation” that was seen to fail in Vietnam (Freedman 1998, 767–768). Graduated escalation was deemed instrumental in mobilizing domestic support in cases where a military policy would be publicly rejected if it was introduced all at once (George 1965, 19). Nonetheless, the more intolerant the social climate is of high war costs, the more likely it is that gradualism will lose its grip because it prolongs the war and hence expands the political space for debates that weigh the costs against the potential gains of warfare. In such cases, decisive force that ends wars quickly becomes preferable for the sake of domestic legitimation. 4. States can supplement the use of technology with “risk-transfer wars,” in which they achieve their aim of suffering relatively low casualties by transferring risks away from their own militaries. This goal is achieved primarily by having local allies assume the risks of war; an example is the Northern Alliance-United Front in Afghanistan or the South Lebanon Army activated by Israel mainly from 1982 to 2000 (Shaw 2002). 5. States can privatize military missions, with private companies replacing soldiers on risky ancillary missions (Avant 2005).

The conclusion that emerges from the last three mechanisms of the fourth strategy is that democracies create a tradeoff between force and casualties. The increasingly insistent domestic demand to limit casualties has led democracies to use excessive force. By employing methods informed by RMA, the state reduces the risk to which its own soldiers are exposed, at the expense of inflicting greater losses on enemy noncombatants, losses that could have been averted had soldiers been exposed to greater risk. The “no body bag” policy that the United States adopted during the 1990s and that Britain and




How do these balancing moves affect the balance of power between officers and civilians? Balancing strategies #1 and #4 reinforce the military by restoring its autonomy. This impact of strategy #4 is particularly interesting as it is deployed under conditions that encourage and are encouraged by demilitarization. In both strategies, the military may be called on to improve its performance (part of strategy #1) or to reform its organizational format (#4). In a different way, strategies #2 and #3 may weaken the military, at least temporarily, because its resources, symbols, and space of operation may be threatened by the efforts needed to rebalance the rights, either by increasing civilians’ footing in monitoring the military or by decreasing the supply of security. It is therefore likely that the military will challenge the costs demanded for rebalancing the rights, resulting in tensions between generals and politicians. As a means to compensate for this, the military can leverage the politicians’ fears of the political costs incurred by the deployment of military forces to improve its bargaining power. That is done by utilizing RMA-informed options for rapid decision making (Starr 2010); developing rigid contingency plans that weaken effective civilian authority (Levy 1986); controlling the discussions on the cost of military missions (Dauber 1998); and leveraging politicians’ tendency to set ambitious war goals, thereby controlling the terms of the exit strategy for the war (Echevarria 2004). Part of this package involves the deployment of the fourth strategy. Common to the four balancing strategies is the formulation of a “death hierarchy.” Under the circumstances of the historical republican era, the state risked the lives of soldiers drawn more from privileged groups than from the lower classes, as it trusted them more and compensated them accordingly. Typical of the era of republicanism-informed mass citizen armies were exclusionary practices because of which the unequal burden was translated into and thereby compensated for by privileged social position. Under the conditions of an undermined right to protect, when there are shortfalls in the rewards to be accorded to privileged groups and when balancing strategy #1 (leveraging external threats) is ineffective, the state may favor the lives of soldiers drawn from privileged groups (when these are less willing to unreservedly sacrifice) over the lives of soldiers from the lower classes. This has been the trend since the 1980s and entails balancing strategies #2 (rights allocation to lower-class groups) and #4 (redistribution of the burden). When reluctance to sacrifice is overwhelming (before or after the second strategy has run its course), the state may favor the lives of its soldiers over




process of preparation for war and with the extraction of societal resources involved—particularly with regard to Israel, where the wars are short but mobilization for them is protracted—this study focuses on war mobilization, rather than on the management of threat or warfare itself (for this differentiation, see Kier and Krebs 2010, 6–10).

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2 Unbalancing and Balancing the Rights

This chapter presents the dynamics of rights matching in Israel. Until the 1980s, rights were balanced: in exchange for upholding the right to protect, which was convertible to political and social rights, the secular middle class advanced the community’s right to protection. The legitimation of sacrifice, however, declined after the 1980s, following a drop in the motivation of the secular middle class to engage in such sacrifice, a drop that was exacerbated by the First Lebanon War (1982). For Israeli secular middle-class groups, the right to protect lost much of its role as a way to gain access to other rights when their gains in the military during the 1970s and 1980s—in terms of prestige, social benefits in a market society, and the perceived value of protecting a country facing a declining level of external threat—were socially devalued relative to the level of sacrifice demanded. As a dominant group that had exhausted its ability to reap additional significant benefits from military service, it was natural that this social stratum would focus on the other side of the equation— reducing the military burden. Thus, a devalued right to protect impacted the group’s readiness to promote others’ right to protection. Declining motivation >>





cities, where they lived in overcrowded conditions and in substandard housing, employed as cheap labor and receiving a second-rate package of social services. For the most part, they replaced Ashkenazi workers, who steadily improved their lot by exploiting the Mizrahim as cheap labor (Bernstein and Swirski 1982). Gradually, however, the secular Ashkenazi middle class was joined and reinforced by the mobile, mostly secular Mizrahim, who enjoyed upward mobility into the middle class, mainly as a result of the economic growth created by the Six-Day War, in 1967. This social hierarchy was mirrored within the military. Ashkenazi, secular, middle-class male Jews formed the core of the military, as the group that founded the army, staffed its upper echelons and the prestigious combat units, and was identified with its achievements. Given its form as a modern Western army, the IDF valued the education, values, and skills that Ashkenazim brought with them, attributes that were less associated with the background of Mizrahi recruits. Unlike their Ashkenazi peers, Mizrahim were relegated to the margins of the army, holding the less prestigious combatant and blue-collar positions (Smooha 1984). Most important was the role that the IDF played in legitimizing social inequalities. Because of the republican ethos that defined Israeli society’s devotion to the military effort as a supreme social value under the guise of the statist ideology—mamlachtiyut (statism)—military service became a decisive standard by which rights were awarded to individuals and groups that were portrayed as acting in the service of the state (Shafir and Peled 2002). Accordingly, male Ashkenazi warriors, identified with the glorification of the military and associated with the symbol of the Israeli warrior that arose during Israel’s first years, succeeded in translating their dominance in the military into what was regarded as legitimate social dominance. They were thus granted preferential social status vis-à-vis the groups relegated to peripheral status in the military, primarily the Mizrahim (Levy 2003, 33–81). As part of this, warrior-based symbols wrapped in the republican ethos of mamlachtiyut and the military’s egalitarian ethos imbued the Mizrahim with the idea that their social position depended solely on their contribution to the state. Accordingly, they were expected to enter society through “contributory” social activity. However, until Mizrahim could affirm their contribution, they had to accept their inferiority vis-à-vis the Ashkenazim, whose contribution (certainly in historical terms) was portrayed as greater than that of Mizrahim. Thus, in general, the more a group is portrayed as shouldering the glamorous burden of national salvation, the less other groups are able to accuse it of having achieved social dominance, especially when the former group’s achievements become the criterion for determining




from the primary labor market in the state’s first years entrenched the group’s low social status in Israeli society. Exclusion from military service reinforced the marginalization of Israeli Palestinians because individuals classified as ex-soldiers were offered preferential access to various civilian jobs and state allowances. In sum, the rights were balanced. The right to protection was advanced because of the secular middle class’s ability to convert its right to protect, fulfilled through the ultimate sacrifice as warriors, into valuable rewards to which other groups had less access. As long as the rights were balanced, the strong motivation for sacrifice among the secular middle-class groups was in force. More important, this group supported the militaristic ideology of the time (Levy 2003, 33–82). Not coincidentally, militarism was entwined with political apathy. Since the founding of the Jewish colonial project in Palestine, the Ashkenazi groups effectively managed elitist politics, in the sense that the major decisions were made by the upper echelons of the political level and were subject to bargaining on the interparty level. The media and interest groups, not to mention the citizenry at large, played a minor role in shaping policies. The Ashkenazi-based Labor Party established itself as the dominant party and held this position for close to fifty years. Militarized socialization contributed to this type of political apathy, especially among the younger generation, which would be expected to serve as an agent of change (Shapiro 1984). The provision of security outweighed the importance of other rights. Consequently, the legitimacy to sacrifice in Israeli society was unlimited, at least among the dominant groups. The hegemonic bereavement model (in Udi Lebel’s [2007] term), dominated public discourse. This model developed after the 1948 War, which Israel waged upon its founding and which claimed about six thousand lives, about 1 percent of the population. Several features typified this model. The state nationalized the sites of bereavement, which turned military cemeteries and the conduct of the bereaved into public spheres. Death in war was presented as the norm; there were no doubts or misgivings about the objectives of the fighting. Casualties were presented as heroes—in their lives and in their deaths—and bereaved parents refrained from publicly voicing any concerns or demands for investigations into disasters or accidents that had resulted in their sons’ deaths. Neither the political nor the military leadership was held responsible for the deaths of their sons. Parents even repressed their pain so as not to undermine the troops’ morale. In turn, they became symbolic public figures lauded by the establishment. After the 1973 War (the Yom Kippur War or October War), bereaved families even criticized the protest movement that condemned the government’s




Lebanon for three additional years. This war marked the turning point, central to which was the erosion of the legitimacy to sacrifice, in Israel’s political culture. Several social factors that developed beginning in the 1970s engendered this trend. Two crucial factors were the cultural-economic globalization of Israeli society after the mid-1980s and the structural changes wrought in the economy in the spirit of the neoliberal doctrines that transformed Israeli society into a market society. Globalization strengthened the ethos of the market economy with its characteristic liberal discourse and challenged the previous collectivist commitments and symbols that by their nature reflected the strong ties between republicanism and military service. In this framework, moreover, the violent Arab-Israeli conflict was portrayed as an obstacle that impeded Israel’s integration into the global economy (Shafir and Peled 2002). Naturally, market society discourse also laid the foundations for an increasingly strident critique of the proportion of the nation’s resources that were dedicated to the military, whose budget was the largest single element in government spending. All in all, the status of those bearing the military burden and symbols clashed with the new market-based values and hence declined. Furthermore, unlike previous wars, which had led to an expansion of the Israeli economy, the 1973 War brought financial crisis, thus reducing the material rewards that the secular middle class received for bearing the burdens of war. Furthermore, the real cost of security actually increased. The need to rehabilitate the army after the war added to the public’s fiscal burden by increasing external and internal government debt and elevated the investment in security to a peak of about 30 percent of the gross domestic product between 1973 and 1975 from around 20 percent in the years prior to the war. Unlike in the pre-1973 period, however, this burden was not offset by economic growth. Similarly, the burden of military service was made even more onerous because the human resources (both regular and reserve soldiers) were utilized more frequently and more heavily (Barnett 1992, 185–209). An increasing burden breeds criticism. For example, in 1986, 48 percent of Israelis agreed in a survey to an increase in taxes in return for added security; in 1993, the percentage that accepted this tradeoff had declined to 42 percent (Arian 1995, 65). In addition, after the 1980s, military service lost more of its value as the army became a less relevant source for acquiring the professional skills useful in a contracting, technology-based, and capital-intensive labor market. The army’s vertical hierarchy offered less professional socialization than it had in the past for an economy characterized by hi-tech organizations with




thus deflected the ridicule heaped on the Mizrahim during the campaign by a popular entertainer working for the Labor Party, who charged that Labor (Ashkenazi) supporters had served in front-line combat units, while the Mizrahim had been posted to rear-guard service units. This trend most affected the kibbutzim, the Ashkenazi-dominated veteran cooperative farming communities, which were symbolically identified with having made a vital military contribution to the establishment of the state and its sustainability and which were overrepresented in the higher echelons of the army. A mélange of ethno-national and market-oriented discourse discredited the historic role of the kibbutz, which combined a national contribution in republican terms and a collectivist alternative to the market. The result was an increase in the alienation of kibbutz youngsters that affected their motivation to serve in the military. To a large extent, the 1977 upheaval created a sense among members of the secular middle class that the state had been “stolen” from them—that is, from Ashkenazi-based Labor—and given to the Mizrahi-based Likud. With the IDF losing much of its role in defining the social hierarchy, groups that did not serve in the army or that had made a lesser contribution—such as the less mobile Mizrahim, Haredim,2 Israeli Palestinians, and women—were now able to collect some rewards based not on the test of military service but rather on their own political power, wrapped in the liberal discourse of citizenship (Levy 2007a, 48–56). Symbolic of this trend was the decision made by Yitzhak Rabin’s government (in the early 1990s) to drop the requirement for military service as a basic condition for employment in the public sector and to make the payment of child benefits no longer exclusive to ex-service members (see Aronoff 1999, 44). In short, powerful forces worked to undo the strong link between soldiering and citizenship. Complementing and reinforcing these factors, from the mid-1980s on, the general public perception was that the external threat to the country had receded. Public opinions polls showed a decrease by more than 10 percent between 1986 and 2006 in the composite measure of threat, which combined perceived threats by Arab countries against Israel, the perceived threat of a “land for peace” swap as a means to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the perceived threat of a Palestinian state (Arian 2006). This measure decreased by about 13 percent between 1986 and 1994 alone (Arian 1995, 32). The idea that Israel was in danger of being wiped out was replaced by the theme of “security borders.” This was a concept that dismissed existential danger and aggrandized Israel’s military might, if only it was allowed to preserve part of its post-1967 borders. Even recurrent military failures—such as the 1973 War, the First Lebanon War (1982–1985) and the first Intifada (1987–1993,




toward recognition of the existence of the state of Israel by the Arab world. This juncture was both a result and an accelerator of previous trends that further decreased Israelis’ willingness to sacrifice. Several forms of demands for burden reduction were significant. Contractualization of the Relations between the Soldier and the Military Members of the middle class turned to patterns of bargaining with the army. Bargaining embodied a retreat from “obligatory militarism,” which viewed compulsory military service as an unconditional contribution to the state. In its place came the adoption of “contractual militarism,” that is, making service conditional on the military’s meeting the values, ambitions, and interests of the soldier and of the social network from which the soldier came (Cohen 2008, 65–66; Levy, Lomsky-Feder, and Harel 2007). One way of bargaining with the military was individual bargaining, in person or through families or other networks, with the growing involvement of parents. Parents gained almost unlimited access to their sons’ and daughters’ commanders and routinely bargained about their preferences with regard to their children’s assignments and conditions of service. These negotiations could determine individuals’ roles in the army, the conditions under which they served, restrictions on their service, and even the very fact of their serving at all. The ability to shorten or cancel service due to apparent “mental health” issues was a major expression of this bargaining. Likewise, “sayeret or nayeret,” a common Israeli expression literally translated as “[high-status] elite unit or [low-status] paperwork,” was another part of the negotiation; if they were not to be admitted to the select elite combat units they wished to join, elite groups preferred a noncombat position, even if it lacked prestige. Middle-class youngsters thus made their decision about service on the basis of the package of incentives that the army offered them and after comparing their own expectations for self-fulfillment through the military and through civilian routes (mainly employment or studies). Only a reasonable match would be a sufficient incentive for such youngsters to agree to serve in a demanding position or at least to see out the entire period of service (GonGross 2003; Nevo and Shor 2002a, 9–35). Another form of bargaining was the political selection of missions in the form of selective or “grey” refusal3 and the appearance of civilian political movements that ideologically endorsed this type of negotiation (Helman 1999). Monetary bargaining formed another pattern of bargaining, with reservists’ organizations that emerged in the mid-1990s demanding




Seeking exemption for psychological and related physical health reasons prior to actual induction is mainly a middle-class tactic. Negotiation skills and medical opinions are required to receive this exemption from a conscript military. The tendency of high school students to evade obligatory military service or to semi-evade it (by opting for service in noncombat units) is associated with higher levels of individualism, consumerism and other indications of an embrace of globalist values (Adres 2010), most common among the upper middle class. Data disclosed by the IDF show that in upper-middle-class enclaves (Tel-Aviv, Herzliya, Raanana, and other big cities), the overall recruitment ratio is similar to that of cities with higher proportions of lower-class residents. Whereas exemptions in lower-class communities are based on criminal record, low educational level and high presence of Haredim, in the more affluent areas, exemptions on grounds of psychological incompatibility are more common.4 By leveraging their bargaining power, secular middle-class groups were successful in reducing their share of service in combat field units. Among the practices they employed were seeking assignment to noncombat units, particularly technological units, utilizing the psychological screening system, and employing the sayeret-or-nayeret rhetoric. Significantly, even during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which for most Israelis signified an existential battle against terror, youngsters from elite high schools relied on their power to be assigned to units that were less likely to engage in combat against the Palestinians, such as artillery, anti-aircraft units, and the navy (Makover-Blikov 2005). By so doing, they maintained the aura of combat service while avoiding the risk that it naturally entails. Collective Action Collective action informed another pattern of claims aimed at burden reduction. From the mid-1970s, the main expression of middle-class collective action was the Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) movement. Peace Now was established in 1978 as a peace movement composed mainly of secular upper-middle-class reservists, prominent among them reserve officers, who, against the background of the Egyptian-Israeli peace talks, advocated the exchange of occupied territories for peace and protested what its members saw as the reluctance of Menachem Begin’s government to make the appropriate compromises. Later, the movement acted against the settlement project in the West Bank and led the protest during the First Lebanon War.




2.4 The Subversive Bereavement Discourse Casualty sensitivity both reflected and originated in the three processes, analyzed earlier, that reduced the legitimation for sacrifice—the ascendancy of a market society, the decline of external threat, and the decoupling of soldiering from citizenship. This casualty sensitivity took several forms. Culturally, morbid humor became young people’s way of indirectly protesting the ethos of sacrifice. Symptomatic was the decline of the Tel-Hai myth. In 1920 (almost thirty years before the establishment of the State of Israel), a battle took place over the Jewish settlement of Tel-Hai in the northern Galilee, during which eight Jews died in their fight to defend TelHai against attacks by neighboring Lebanese rather than withdraw from it. The battle became a landmark in the history of Israeli society. It symbolized the theme of collective death and rebirth and the emergence of a new type of hero, no longer the weak Diaspora Jew. Most symbolic were the last words of Yoseph Trumpeldor, the settlement’s heroic commander: “Never mind, it is good to die for our country.” For years, the commemoration of Tel-Hai socialized youth to accept the value of unquestioned sacrifice for the country. As Yael Zerubavel showed, the myth of Tel-Hai (along with other similar myths) gradually declined during the 1970s and 1980s, becoming the target of the new antiheroic trend amid the rise of morbid humor among Israeli youth. As part of this, cynics claimed that Trumpeldor’s last words were merely a juicy Russian curse (Zerubavel 1991, 2006). Significantly, following the 1973 War, the distribution of military decorations increased, to symbolically compensate for the erosion in the military ethos (Gavriely-Nuri 2009). Politically, the First Lebanon War (1982) was the watershed event after which bereavement became politicized and Israel gradually distanced itself from the historical hegemonic model of bereavement that justified losses without question. It spurred parents of fallen soldiers to take collective action against the army’s operations. The catalytic event took place during the first week of the war, which claimed the lives of about 230 soldiers. Most noteworthy was the battle to conquer the Beaufort castle, in south Lebanon, which claimed the lives of six soldiers. Several bereaved families formed a group known as the Beaufort Family. The parents could have interpreted the mission as heroic, as bereaved parents had in previous wars, especially as the Beaufort castle symbolized the PLO’s stronghold in south Lebanon. Instead, they viewed it as a futile operation and blamed the government for the deaths of their sons. “Do not use spears and the bodies of our sons to try to dictate who shall rule in Lebanon,” wrote Yehoshua Zamir




For the first time, protest groups focused on the very goals of the war. Central to this discourse was the definition of the First Lebanon War as a “war of choice,” as opposed to what had previously been described as “wars of no choice,” thus positing the notion of an alternative to bellicosity (Helman 1999). Prime Minister Begin tried to counter the criticism leveled at his government by arguing that the war was “not a military operation resulting from the lack of an alternative” and that “there is no divine mandate to go to war only if there is no alternative.” Even in the past, he said, Israel fought “wars of choice: the Sinai Campaign and the Six-Day War” (Begin 1982). For the first time, then, the criteria for legitimizing the use of force were debated and had implications for the deployment of Israel’s armed forces on Lebanese soil, as well as for the conduct of future wars. As never before, antiwar groups demanded that a soldier’s ultimate sacrifice be made for a just cause, as when the state has no choice but to go to war. Although parents bereaved in the 1973 War had criticized the military’s failures—especially the government’s failure to deploy troops soon enough to curb or even prevent the Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack—the First Lebanon War triggered unique protests that targeted the war’s political goals, rather than simply the government’s performance in deploying the military. Sensitivity to losses was articulated in political discourse. Even though the First Lebanon War ended after six days, Israel was dragged into a war of attrition in south Lebanon for three additional years in an effort to protect the northern Israeli communities. This war culminated in about 430 additional fatalities (beyond the 231 in the first week), more than ten casualties per month on average. In response, reserve soldiers and leftist groups formed antiwar movements and reinforced existing ones. With the Beaufort castle becoming the symbol of opponents of the war, the unprecedented protest by parents legitimized reserve soldiers’ subversive voice. The group Soldiers against Silence (Hayalim neged Shtika) was established a month after the war by three officers and a pilot who had participated in the bombing of Beirut and who had decided that they were not willing to die for this war. Within a few weeks, the movement had attracted about fifteen thousand people (Linn 1996, 123); most of the leaders were kibbutz-born reservists (Weissbrod 1984). Like the Beaufort Family, this group made its willingness to sacrifice conditional on the war’s political goals; as one of its activists publicly proclaimed: “I am not willing to die for a strong government in Lebanon . . . for Israeli solidarity . . . for military discipline . . . for an insane government” (Weissbrod 1984, 58).




on their historical contribution, and to devalue their adversaries’ gains and the rights that might arise from them. Invocation of the republican discourse that linked military duties with rights has historically served the successful attempt of higher-status groups to legitimize their social status vis-à-vis other groups whose military contribution was perceived as less significant. This tactic became more relevant with the empowerment of the Likud Party, which drew on lower-middle-class Mizrahim and praised their military contribution vis-à-vis their Ashkenazi peers, as noted earlier. This framing of antiwar protests thereby gained credibility, at least in center-left circles. In May 1983, nearly a year after the war began and in the midst of the war of attrition on Lebanese soil, a new movement, Mothers against Silence (Imahot neged shtika), emerged (later identified as Parents against Silence). The group, composed mainly of highly educated Ashkenazi women, called upon parents concerned for their sons’ lives to end their silence, to take responsibility, and to protest against the war, which they called “accursed.” They linked their protest to the general need to pursue peace with the Palestinians. For the first time, women invoked the theme of republican motherhood, which linked women’s rights, in this case the right to voice their political opinions on military issues, to their contributions in the military realm as mothers (Helman 1999; Helman and Rapoport 1997). This was another form of the right to protect. Because of this format, for the first time, women gained a footprint in the male-dominated military realm, which had hitherto been closed to them. The demonstrations drew on, as much as triggered, a change in public opinion regarding the war that grew as the casualty toll increased. Consequently, in September 1983, the IDF redeployed its forces and withdrew from large areas of Lebanon, including the Beirut area, to positions south of the Awali River north of Sidon. Defense Minister Moshe Arens later maintained that “we withdrew from Lebanon because of the reservists” (Shelah and Limor 2007, 319). Gradually, antiwar protest affected the opposition Labor Party’s stance. While Labor initially supported the war, in the summer of 1983, the party adopted a new plan, calling for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon within three months and enlisting electoral support for this approach.5 Ultimately, in large measure because of the protests, which prompted the formation of a relatively moderate, broad-based coalition government following the general elections of 1984, the IDF unilaterally withdrew from parts of Lebanon in 1985 (Maoz 2006, 206–229). Yet, the government also approved the creation of a security zone in south Lebanon with the deployment of about 1,000




funerals, which had a profound effect on public opinion (Rosental 2001, 53–54). In 1985, Israeli television showed soldiers in Lebanon facing the cameras and admitting that they were afraid.6 After 1993, television stations started to send teams to the homes of bereaved families to interview them about their loss (Harel and Issacharoff 2008a, 23). To recall, when casualty levels are low, the media can present the soldiers to the public and to decision makers as individuals with names and faces (Ben-Ari 2005; Dauber 2001). As part of this, soldiers began to be viewed not as responsible adults but as children, whom their parents had to protect. Similarly, society was now expected to concern itself with safeguarding the emotional strength of the soldiers so that they could carry out their missions (Lomsky-Feder and Ben-Ari 2008, 119–121). These changes were in accordance with the new-found importance attached to children, in the wake of the diminishing size of the family in the Western world (H. Smith 2005). Third, until the 1990s, the military cemeteries had imposed a standard, impersonal epitaph on all soldiers’ gravestones. This policy was challenged, and, in 1995, the Supreme Court determined that families should be allowed some personal leeway in choosing tombstone inscriptions, thus returning “ownership” of the fallen from the state back to the family (Bilu and Witztum 2000). Fourth, while the military had traditionally refused to recognize combat stress reaction (CSR), the war in Lebanon marked a change in its readiness to acknowledge the existence of psychological breakdown in battle. This was related to the “deglorification process” that had evolved since the 1970s, amplified by controversies about the war’s necessity (Bilu and Witztum 2000). Similar processes had occurred in the United States after Vietnam. Finally, from the early 1990s, parents began to be involved in matters such as training accidents, operational accidents, and the political justification for missions (Lebel 2006). This generated an increase in the number of internal investigations of accidents that resulted in bringing commanders to trial. In deciding on their mode of action, parents did not restrict themselves to expressions of anger or pain but rather issued criticisms that directly or indirectly struck at the root of the army’s professional practices. The criticism combined a lack of faith in the military, particularly since the First Lebanon War, with a culture of consumerist privatization, in which parents could be perceived as customers who had paid society with the lives of their sons and now in turn demanded payment in the form of compensation, an explanation, or a change in patterns of behavior. This ensured that parents, acting as social-political entrepreneurs, attracted the attention of the public (Doron and Lebel 2004).




changing attitudes toward army service. He realized that not all reserve soldiers would enlist wholeheartedly in a war that was not founded on a nationwide consensus (Peri 1999, 394). The decreasing legitimacy of sacrifice was crucial, then, in the lead-up to the accords. In short, the right to protect, which had never stood alone, had now lost much of its significance for the dominant secular middle class and extended to the right to protection, as limitations were imposed on the state’s freedom of action in the military realm. Furthermore, the clash between the right to protect and the right to protection is even more complex than we have seen thus far. Not only when the right to protect is depleted of its merit as a corridor to other rights will it impair the right to protection of the entire community; this result can also come about when the right to protect is promoted and translated into legitimate political voice, in this case represented by the protest against the First Lebanon War. Leveraging political voice into condition setting that restricts the exposure of the protectors to risk may also result in depriving others of the right to protection. This situation opened the door for the state’s balancing intervention. 2.5 Balancing Strategies When the rights to protection and to protect are out of balance, as when the right to protect cannot match the level of the burden required to facilitate the right to protection or when it is translated into political action thwarting others’ right to protection, as expressed in various forms of resistance to war or efforts to curb its costs, the state’s favorable balancing strategy may take the form of increasing the demand for protection, that is, balancing strategy #1. In that way, the state, like any institutionalized mechanism of protection (Tilly 1985), can rejustify the military burden and revalue the sacrifice as a means of reducing pressures to provide more services and rights and to reward the bearers of the security burden as much as to contain pressures to reduce the burden. However, the effectiveness of such a strategy is largely determined by its success in preventing the creation of too great a burden in an environment where there is already erosion in motivation. Indeed, failure in this area typified Israeli conduct. The failures of the 1973 War paved the way for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. In light of the beginnings of the unbalancing of rights that appeared following the 1973 War, the First Lebanon War could have restored some of the centrality and prestige the army had lost. A rapid operation to conquer south




antiwar groups, with Peace Now at the center, gained some degree of government recognition of their standing as legitimate participants in the political dialogue, which previously had been managed exclusively by the established parties (see Rochon and Mazmanian 1993 for the theoretical level). Nonetheless, this is not a form of allocation that rebalances rights and encourages sacrifice; on the contrary, it reflects the state’s weakness and may encourage further challenges to state policies. As part of the second strategy, the state can motivate sacrifice by increasing the monetary rewards directly allocated to service members. Nonetheless, the draft system limits, at least symbolically and financially, the state’s ability to reward service members generously. As a midway solution, informed by the drop in the social willingness to sacrifice, the government increased monetary rewards for reservists and their employers by improving compensation, mainly for those serving for long periods of time (IDF reserves portal). Material compensation to conscripts improved, as well. In 1994, a law was passed that defined a package of financial assistance to be given to conscript soldiers upon their release. In 2000, this law was amended to allow for different payouts to be given to combat and to noncombat soldiers. Though empirical evidence is not available, it is safe to assume that such packages had only limited impact. Yet, rights allocation to other groups could, and indeed did, work. This reallocation entailed a realignment of the military’s social composition at the expense of the secular middle class, as detailed later. At the same time, the fourth strategy, which focuses on burden redistribution, requires a long-term structural change in the armed forces. As a result, strategy #3, burden reduction by means of reduced military protection, became the most available option in the short term. The partial withdrawal from Lebanon in 1985 under the pressure of protest activity and the military’s restraint during the first Intifada represented this strategy, through which the government opted to moderate its military policies and thereby reduced the military burden, rather than adopt more bellicose options. In the end, these deescalating moves did not necessarily result in the provision of less security, but the state certainly made compromises it had been reluctant to make in the past. In fact, it actually increased security risks by retreating from the previously dominant concept of “total security.” In other words, the state provided less security as measured through the military paradigm that had traditionally guided Israel’s polices. On the Lebanese scene, there was concern that a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon without an agreement with that country’s government (an agreement was signed in 1983 but thwarted by Syria) would enable the PLO to return to the evacuated




the impact of globalization on Israeli society, excluding Israeli Palestinian citizens from full citizenship, and retaining much of the West Bank—including the holy sites and Jewish settlements (see Shafir and Peled 2002, 87–94). Therefore, balancing strategy #4 was simultaneously and gradually implemented during the 1990s and 2000s; the military burden was shifted from the secular middle class to religious and lower-class groups, and the use of technology was intensified. This strategy ran parallel to strategy #3. This fourth strategy took the form of the social rearchitecturing of the military, implying a fundamental change in the social composition of those performing military missions and in the nature of the armaments that they operated. This restructuring could result in the downsizing of missions assigned to middle-class soldiers, either by allocating them to other groups or by reducing the intensity of the mission and the risk and sacrifice they involved by increasing the use of technology. Rearchitecturing had a number of components. Use of satellite armies: In Lebanon, part of the burden of fighting was transferred to the (mercenary) South Lebanon Army forces (SLA), which replaced IDF troops after the withdrawal in 1985. Their mission was to keep Shiite forces away from Israel’s northern border. The SLA was funded, trained, politically backed, and monitored by the IDF. In certain respects, the Oslo process also involved a kind of subcontracting to the Palestinians via security forces that were deployed under Israeli auspices. This model collapsed with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000. In Martin Shaw’s (2002) terms, this was “risk-transfer militarism”—the assigning of “dirty” missions to local forces. The counterfire doctrine: This doctrine signified the partial transformation of the IDF from a labor-intensive organization to a technology-intensive one, with heavy reliance on aerial assaults, precision weapons, and artillery and reduced use of intrusive ground troops. Standoff precision firepower supplanted the concept of the classic army maneuver. The new doctrine aimed to decide wars not through direct tactical encounters on the battlefield but rather by inflicting various effects. Functional effects are attained by paralyzing the enemy’s system and suppressing its operational effectiveness. Cognitive effects include a sense of helplessness and distress that may drive the enemy to terminate the war immediately (Tira 2007, 9). In its most perfect form, the new doctrine renders land occupation unnecessary, instead favoring measures implemented by remote control (Yaari and Assa 2005). This approach largely emulated similar tactics conducted in other militaries, such as effects-based operations in the U.S. military.




for them to construct their unique warrior identity so as to bring them closer to the main site where the common good is constructed. The status attached to participation in the advancement of the common good was seen as valuable in and of itself. Many of the members of these increasingly deployed groups (mainly the Mizrahim, the national religious groups, and the immigrants from the former Soviet Union) bore ethno-national values. Their network became a part of the informal, ethno-nationalist, rightist coalition that emerged in Israeli politics in the 1980s. The army’s ranks thus gradually came to be dominated by these ethno-nationalist groups. They viewed military duties as a means to fulfilling their ideological values by protecting the borders of the “Greater Land of Israel” or, at least, the demographic dominance of the Jewish community vis-à-vis what they perceived as a hostile Arab world. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union, about seven hundred thousand of whom streamed into Israel at the end of the 1980s and in the early 1990s, began to perceive the Palestinian minority as a threat to the Jewish majority just as these immigrants were crystallizing their identity as part of the majority Jewish group in their new country. According to their emerging group mythology, these immigrants saw themselves as a kind of vanguard unit that would curb what they viewed as the Palestinians’ expansionist agenda (Shumsky 2001). These groups thus forged for themselves a new symbolic resource, and the army started to become a locale for the construction of differentiated identities for servicemen and servicewomen from groups located outside its secular historical core. In many cases, their identities were formed as a unique masculinity, challenging and even demonstrating superiority over the hegemonic military masculinity of their Ashkenazi peers, whom they perceived as childish, spoiled, weak, and even hedonistic (for detailed discussions on the new groups, see Cohen 2004; Levy 2007a; Lomsky-Feder and Ben-Ari 1999; Lomsky-Feder and Rapoport 2003; Sasson-Levy 2006; Shabtay 1999). Furthermore, for these groups, military service was a pathway to the legitimate attainment of social and political rights and privileges. However, they did not seek legitimacy as a way to achieve deep-rooted social dominance, as the secular middle-class groups had historically done. Instead, they primarily sought to legitimize their demands for improvements in their status, though, perhaps, among some of the groups, there were expectations of future dominance. The beginnings of this orientation had already begun to appear in the shape of attitudes among the Mizrahim and, more notably, the religious. Immigrants, Druze, and Bedouins viewed the military as a gateway into society, while women viewed equal service as instrumental in the elimination of cultural-social barriers in the civil sphere and in the achievement




arrangements, the military gradually granted special status to the rabbis. It dialogued with the heads of the yeshivot over the character and terms of their students’ military service and the construction of an appropriate cultural and religious environment for religious soldiers (which also had an impact on secular soldiers) and allowed the rabbis, to whom the students frequently turned for guidance, access to the military camps in which their yeshiva students served. Guidance at first focused on the interface between religious and professional issues but gradually extended to ideologically charged missions, such as evacuation of settlements or military camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As the rabbis had influence over their soldier-students, a “dual hierarchy” was created: the simultaneous subordination among some of the religious enlistees to both their officers and their rabbis (Cohen 2004; Levy 2007c, 394–395). In other words, for the religious recruits, the right to protect was an avenue to political rights—the ability to leverage their military contribution into political impact on military conduct. The recruitment of lower-status and especially religious groups served the military on two levels. On the surface, recruits from these groups were necessary to overcome the manpower deficit caused by the dwindling presence of the secular middle class in the combat ranks, together with the expansion of the conscript military between the 1973 War and the First Lebanon War. On a deeper level, however, the military was able to attract into its ranks what it perceived to be a pool of ideologically motivated soldiers. It especially made political use of the yeshiva students at a time when it was embroiled in politically controversial fighting in Lebanon and, later, in the occupied territories, conflicts that had driven away a considerable proportion of the secular middle class. The army thus attracted soldiers who displayed loyalty to the military organization and to military thought, soldiers who would not mobilize their civilian networks to protest, as their secular predecessors had done (Levy 2007a, 117–145). In consequence, balancing strategy #4 bore the expected fruits. The IDF regained its legitimacy for operating forcefully and enjoyed a high level of autonomy in implementing policies that might otherwise have been politically disputed. While it retreated under protest from Lebanon in 1985 and restricted its belligerency two years later when the first Intifada broke out, it could sustain a prolonged military conflict on the Palestinian scene, as when the second, or Al-Aqsa, Intifada broke out, in 2000. Furthermore, despite its withdrawal from Lebanon in 1985, the IDF was able to regain control over the security zone it occupied in southern Lebanon and to wage guerrilla warfare against Hezbollah militias for another fifteen years. Nonetheless, this balancing strategy was not perfect; holes in its implementation, largely a result of




military’s freedom of operation despite the deployment of balancing strategy #4. This will be done by depicting the bereavement hierarchy, on which the next chapters focus. In the fifth chapter, we will turn to an analysis of the structure of the reformulated death hierarchy, which is the policy outcome of the bereavement hierarchy.

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3 Bereavement-Motivated Collective Actors

As we showed in chapter 2, after the 1970s, motivation for military service lessened among privileged groups. This was reflected, inter alia, in the framing of a subversive bereavement discourse. The fourth balancing strategy, burden distribution, gradually but imperfectly shifted the tone from a subversive to a submissive discourse. Still, sensitivity to casualties remained a cornerstone in bereavement discourse and imposed limitations on the military deployment. To better understand the limitations that the state faced, this chapter analyzes the link between the social composition of the IDF, as reflected in the social map of the casualties, and bereavement-incited collective action. Changing attitudes toward sacrifice created the bereavement hierarchy, through which various groups interpreted the loss of their children’s lives or the potential risk posed by their children’s military service: in general, the lower the position of the group on the social hierarchy, the greater its tolerance for military death. So, while secular upper-middle-class groups showed a high level of sensitivity to losses and translated that sensitivity into >>





founded by four residents of the north, mothers of soldiers who were serving in Lebanon at the time of the helicopter accident. Though the group expanded to include men as well, the majority of its members were middleclass women, many of whom came from the centrist-leftist kibbutz movement, with a strong base in the north of Israel (Lieberfeld 2009). Four Mothers led the campaign to pull the IDF out of Lebanon unilaterally and unconditionally, efforts that before the helicopter accident had been steered ineffectively by leftist activists. It enlisted the support of leading politicians and retired generals. Rachel Ben Dor, the movement’s founder, described her impetus to act: On the night of the helicopter disaster I became forcefully aware of the terrible price we were paying in the Lebanese quagmire . . . . We were now facing profound sorrow and despair, and also a great anxiety about their [our sons’] future. . . . Meanwhile the Hakibutz newspaper had published an article . . . [expressing] amazement at the resignation with which Israeli mothers accept the fact that, at a certain age, their sons become soldiers, dedicating their lives to political or military goals, without even questioning themselves about it. (Four Mothers website)

From the outset, Four Mothers had to overcome more serious barriers than its predecessors that had appeared following the First Lebanon War. The public supported the Israeli presence in Lebanon and believed in its effectiveness (see Kaye 2002–2003, 566–568); the political elites negated the possibility of a unilateral withdrawal (Beilin 2008, 44–45), and the militarized society did not tolerate the questioning of military logic, especially by women (see Robbins and Ben-Eliezer 2000). Mothers against Silence had had limited impact. Even the level of casualty shyness was not high: the antiwar activity that followed the First Lebanon War was unprecedented, but it focused on the justification for the war, rather than its costs, while tolerance for sacrifice for a just cause remained high. However, the politics of war—such as military success, number of casualties, level of threat, and the rightness of the war—aggravated the previously grounded modest sensitivity to losses after the sudden death of the seventythree soldiers in the midair collision and raised questions about the logic of the military deployment in south Lebanon. Largely because of Four Mothers’ activities, the policy debate regarding Israel’s presence in Lebanon became intense and vocal, contrasting two views: The Kochav Yair group, a bipartisan group of parliamentarians and former intelligence chiefs, supported unilateral withdrawal and provided Four




or unilaterally (Maoz 2006, 215). After winning the elections in May 2000, partly because of this promise, Prime Minister Barak ordered a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanese soil, against the advice of the IDF leadership. Four Mothers’ contribution was mainly in lobbying among the elites, attracting media attention, and organizing rallies that kept Lebanon on the agenda for two years and transformed the presence in the security zone into an electoral issue. While it is impossible to attribute exclusive causal significance to Four Mothers, its major role in prompting the decision was generally acknowledged. Indeed, immediately following the pullout, a majority of Israelis (58 percent) believed that the movement had had a significant or a “very strong” influence on the decision to withdraw; only 19 percent thought that it had had only some limited influence, and 16 percent thought that it had no influence at all (Hermann 2009, 166). Even Prime Minister Barak admitted that the movement had played an important role in bringing about the pullout. Its activities, said Barak, dovetailed with the public sentiment that Israel’s ongoing presence in Lebanon did not justify the heavy casualties (Barak 2003, 35). Though Barak explained that the withdrawal stemmed from the understanding that Israel’s presence in Lebanon was not worth the cost, this conclusion was fifteen years in coming and coincided with the appearance of the movement. However, other political factors may have prevented the withdrawal, among which was the fact that Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon was perceived as successful in distancing the threat of Hezbollah from the civilian population in the north. Indeed, there is no evidence that external pressures played any role in the decision (see Matthews 2008; Sela 2007). Four Mothers reshaped the bereavement discourse in Israel, presenting a new perception: soldiers deserved no less security than did civilians along the border (Sela 2007). In other words, in this new discourse, risking the protected population was better tolerated than risking soldiers’ lives. The first signs that soldiers’ lives were being valued over those of citizens were seen in the lead-up to the withdrawal of 1985. Now, however, this became better articulated, as mothers protecting their children stood at the center, rather than reservists and antiwar groups protesting a “war of choice.” The cementing of the reshaped death hierarchy was taking place. Unlike other groups that protested the First Lebanon War, Four Mothers focused on the cost of the war, rather than the political justification for it. For Parents against Silence and Soldiers against Silence, the war costs were not central and were equated with the rightness of the war, which was broadly linked to the overall approach toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. In a different manner, Four Mothers challenged the costs and compared them to the




or flawed war—and to offer a solution. Frames are “action-oriented sets of beliefs and meanings that inspire and legitimate the activities and campaigns of a social movement organization” (Benford and Snow 2000, 614). Frames function as a tool for legitimizing groups’ voices and for favoring one voice over others when meanings are contested (della Porta 1999; Steinberg 1998). Framing the discourse helps build coalitions with powerful allies within institutional arenas, which is often the condition for success when public opinion is not enough to exact a response from the government (Giugni 2004). Framing thus plays a major role in shaping the movement’s strategy and tactics. Here republicanism plays its role. Recruitment by conscription nurtures and is nurtured by republican ideas to a greater extent than recruitment by volunteerism. By linking duties to rights, republicanism encourages the creation of a group identity. The political discourse about recruitment policy, the group’s status within the military, and the expectations of recruits and their social networks during and following service are all constructs that may affect collective identity making and claim making (see, for example, Enloe 1980). In a similar vein, Ronald Krebs (2006) explains (by drawing on the cases of Israel and the United States) that military service can enhance minority groups’ efforts to gain first-class citizenship status by encouraging the recruitment of minority youth and by framing the rhetoric of claim making in a manner that corresponds to the prevailing citizenship discourse. Thus, republicanism may set the cultural context within which frames are likely to be developed as a means to legitimately convert the right to protect into claims to various rights, including the political right to take part in the shaping of military policies. Moreover, the discourse of republicanism may also provide a stronger context for the glorification of wartime sacrifice. Sacrificial rituals of warfare and blood confer a special status on the death of soldiers and help society make sense of individual loss (Marvin and Ingle 1999). Conversely, an absence of clear meaning or the presence of negative meaning may exacerbate the sense of loss (Fierke 2004, 484), which may in turn promote collective action legitimized by the price of the loss. In both cases, however, the discourse of sacrifice legitimates the voice of the sacrificers. Republicanism enlarges the cycle of sacrificers and the state’s duty to them, which in turn can be transformed into successful claim making. This combination of republicanism and glorification particularly affects mothers. Mothers have a strong proclivity to remain faithful to the femininity of militarized motherhood. If women become peace activists, explains Goldstein (2001, 412–413), their actions may feminize peace and thus reinforce masculine militarization. However, if they raise their boys as soldiers,




a significant social category as a mediator between the military and the son. Borrowing from Marx (1996), whereas overt, particularist policies based on a class/ethnic/gender categorization render disadvantaged groups unable to resist repression, they also create, in the long term, a subordinated identity that serves as a potential basis for resistance. In this case, the same social category that had been deployed for marginalizing women was now leveraged for the sake of political mobilization (see Helman 1999). Through its adherence to republican motherhood, and despite the unprecedented tone of protest articulated by the mothers, Four Mothers cleverly utilized the established rules of the game and accepted the constraints and limitations that the discourses of sacrifice and motherhood imposed on collective actors in Israel. It embedded itself in the mainstream of military thought by focusing on the means and the inherent costs, rather than the ends: it targeted the politicians, not the popular IDF; it rejected the idea that soldiers should refuse to serve; and it refrained from emphasizing the harm the war caused to Lebanese civilians (Lebel 2006, 169–170; Lieberfeld 2009, 382–384). Furthermore, although right-wing speakers and former military commanders publicly discredited the movement as an emotional and irrational “maternal voice” that lacked the ability to judge security issues and that was demoralizing the military, it was this very framing of the movement that was instrumental in incorporating it into the consensus. Because of its treatment as a depoliticized group within the acceptable frame of motherhood rather than as a civil, feminist, or peace movement, the movement could gain legitimacy and public attention (Lemish and Barzel 2000). Naïveté bred support. Four Mothers was thereby able to build a large coalition that included politicians and retired generals (such as the Kochav Yair group), thereby winning the powerful institutional allies it needed to achieve its goals. But framing is not enough. Social power: As Vasquez (2005) claimed, democracies with conscript armies are more likely to resolve their conflicts with fewer casualties than are democracies with all-volunteer forces. That is because (1) conscription touches more powerful actors more directly than voluntary service, making collective efforts to restrain democracies that rely on conscription more likely to benefit from actors with both the interests and the political resources to drive politicians to change policies; (2) policymakers’ choices not only respond to collective action and public opinion but also anticipate it, particularly if they fear that casualties will engender opposition from citizens with access to power. Indirect support for this argument is provided by a study that shows that knowing a military casualty personally significantly




death cannot be presented as the result of free choice; it is state-sanctioned death. Thus, the form of mobilization to the military has a differential impact on citizens’ voice, and this difference encourages or discourages the raising of one’s voice. In the Israeli case, voice, in the form of collective action, dominated the discourse developed by Four Mothers. Parents opted to convince decision makers to set alternative policies rather than encouraging their sons to opt out, a choice that was illegal and certainly illegitimate culturally under the Israeli draft regime. Bounded discourse: In a kind of vicious cycle, the more attention people pay to actors related to the military, the greater the probability that the discourse of these actors will be bounded by prevailing attitudes. They will be less likely to venture opinions or ideas that stray from the attitudes of their supporters for fear of losing that very support. Discursive repertoires are often fashioned through ongoing interaction among a challenger, the collective actors, and the holders of power (Steinberg 1999). Conversely, drawing on Tarrow (1994, 120), we see that, as their appeal diminishes, movements undergo an identity transformation that may further alienate potential allies. In turn, the more bounded the discourse, and thus the attention gained, the more it reinforces the other variables— the adherence to republican framing, preservation of power strongholds in the military, and the favoring of voice over exit. This is especially the case because the discourse of sacrifice is a double-edged sword. It not only glorifies the fallen and their social networks and legitimizes the latter’s public voice but may also inhibit this public voice. If society depends on sacrifice as a way of defining national identity and ensuring social cohesion, then questioning the justification for death must be all but taboo. For families bereaved by war, compliance with this taboo is a source of power, just as it is for other families whose sons and daughters serve in the military. By honoring it, they surrounded themselves with an aura of national recognition, honor, and admiration. Naturally, bereaved parents seek the comfort of knowing that the cause for which they are suffering (in reality or potentially) is a good cause. Breaking this taboo is too costly, thus raising the threshold for embarking on protest activities. Theoretically speaking, parents are partly captive within hegemonic genres (see Steinberg 1999). For mothers, the dilemma inherent in this trap is even more acute because of the cultural barriers they encounter when seeking to raise their voices about military affairs. Mothers, therefore, are motivated to adhere to the republican discourse of militarized motherhood.




At the climax of the terrorist attacks, the IDF conducted Operation Defensive Shield (March–April 2002), during which it reoccupied major Palestinians cities on the West Bank in an attempt to stop the attacks on Israel. In practice, hostilities de-escalated in 2004, especially with the implementation of the Disengagement Plan of 2005, Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of three settlements in the northern West Bank. Unlike the events leading to the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, in the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the peace movement was almost completely silent, and no visible organization of soldiers or their parents had any significant influence in the political arena. Similarly, the tone of the bereavement discourse seemed to be tolerant of the loss of Israeli soldiers. An analysis of the social composition of the fallen testifies to the extent to which the social makeup of those bearing the brunt of the military burden had changed as part of the fourth balancing strategy. From the eruption of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 and until August 2005 (Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza), 233 IDF soldiers were killed in combat. In order to examine changes over time, I compared the casualties of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the 231 fatalities from the first week of the First Lebanon War (June 6–11, 1982). I chose the first week of the First Lebanon War for several reasons. First, most of the military forces, both regular soldiers and reservists, were active that week. Second, this was the first war since 1973, and the social composition of the fighting force was similar to that in the 1973 War, when secular middle-class soldiers were at the core of the fighting. After the first week, however, the composition of the forces altered, not only because of the changing character of the combat from full-blown military clashes to guerrilla warfare but also because the expansion of the war prompted the first signs of the drop in motivation, which hastened the entry of other groups into combat. Thus, comparisons beyond the first week of fighting are complicated by the differences between the cases. Third, the first week aroused the most significant protest Israel had seen until that time. Table 3.1 presents the comparison (for complementary details, see Levy 2007a, 117–128). The comparison reveals a clear drop in the proportion of casualties from secular middle-class groups, composed of secular Ashkenazim, the Mizrahi middle class, and the veteran Ashkenazi agriculture sector, from about 68.5 percent to about 45.5 percent from the First Lebanon War to the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Countering their decline in the casualty rolls is the conspicuous entry of immigrants to Israel in the 1990s, mainly from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia




conclusion that the attenuated motivation of the leading groups resulted in their replacement in the ranks by members of lower-status groups. It is possible, however, that the change in the battlefield between the First Lebanon War and the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which was characterized by a transition from combat between offensive forces and militias to the policing of combat against a civilian population, partly accounts for the change in casualties. However, as a comparison between the First and the Second Lebanon Wars (two campaigns more similar in their types of combat) reveals a similar change in the casualty map, the nature of the battlefield is not the key (presented later in Table 3.2). To a large extent, the bereavement discourse mirrored this social change and reflected ethno-class distinctions, with notable variances between the public voice of the Ashkenazi upper middle class and that of the religious and more peripheral groups. For some of the religious and peripheral groups, their fallen gradually became part of a new ethos of national sacrifice that filled the vacuum left by the traditional elite groups, enabling bereaved parents to find significance and purpose in their loss. This reaction was compatible with their highly motivated approach to military service, as well as their hawkish, nationalist orientation, typical of Israeli religious and lower-status groups. Accordingly, casualties from these groups did not ignite public protest. Families tended to accept their sacrifice submissively, with reconciliation, forgiveness, and even pride. For example, in May 2004, six Israeli soldiers were killed on what was known as the Philadelphi Corridor (the line that separated the Gaza Strip from Egypt) when their vehicle was blown up. This event aroused debates about the cost of the IDF’s deployment in Gaza and provided an opportunity to identify variances in bereaved parents’ reactions. Edna Hakani, a bereaved Mizrahi mother from the immigrant city of Ashdod, said at her son’s funeral, “Don’t share my sorrow, I have no sorrow. I feel proud, share my pride.” Another bereaved Mizrahi mother from the town of Eilat, Amalia Amar, said, “All his friends who were there did not feel pain or fear; nobody threatened them with a gun; they simply exploded and went up to heaven. In Jewish tradition, Elijah the Prophet did that. So now we have six more Elijahs.” Sara Newman, a religious mother who emigrated from Australia to Jerusalem, said about her son Eitan, “We raised our children to volunteer, and this is the price I’ve had to pay. . . . We believe in the army. They decided Eitan should serve in Gaza, and I was very proud of him. I knew he was there and cannot say that what he did was a mistake.” Finally, Zippi Jerbi, from the agricultural Mizrahi immigrant community Moshav Ben Zakai, said




loss to enlist public support for the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. At a rally held in October 2004 by the Israeli peace camp, she discussed her son’s mission, destroying a gun-smuggling tunnel from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, saying: This is playing with fire, it is Russian roulette, it must stop! We are tired of burying our dead, tired of this ancient conflict. We must do our utmost to open dialogue and further peace. Not because the Americans or anybody else is pressuring us, but out of ourselves, for our own sake, for the future of our country. . . . Disengagement is indeed saying goodbye to a place, to a piece of land, but it also gives a chance to create a new life. (Alternative News Network website)

Vishinsky echoed Four Mothers’ tone; she embraced the military but focused on its pointless presence on Gazan soil, which was not part of what some perceived as the holy Land of Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon himself had already addressed this question with his plan for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Against this background, Vishinsky’s support was instrumental in legitimizing the existing agenda by delegitimizing the presence of Israeli soldiers on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Concurrently and under the same impact of the Philadelphi event, the group Shuvi: Women for Withdrawal from Gaza, was established to support the idea of withdrawal. Composed of soldiers’ mothers and other women (and some men), mainly from the upper strata of the secular middle class, Shuvi sought to follow in the footsteps of Four Mothers. It collected sixty thousand signatures on a letter demanding that the government implement the Disengagement Plan and organized other activities. Like Vishinsky, Shuvi’s activists viewed the presence in Gaza as worthless and costly in terms of soldiers’ lives (Svirsky 2004). “We have no blood to spare,” argued Bilha Ayalon, one of the group’s founders (Heruti-Sover 2005). Another bereaved mother, Robi Damelin, an immigrant from South Africa and a public relations consultant, whose son, David, was killed by a Palestinian sniper at a checkpoint near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank in March 2002, said in an interview: The sniper didn’t kill David because he was David; he killed David because he was a symbol of an occupying army. . . . We all feel that no agreement will happen unless there’s a reconciliation process built in. . . . The whole world should understand that for the benefit of both the Israelis and the Palestinians there will have to be a homeland for the Palestinians, Israel




protest, as in the case of the families of the soldiers who fell in Jenin, they criticized the politicians for not providing the IDF with adequate freedom of action, rather than challenging military thought as such. It is clear that the left-wing protest failed to prod the country into political action during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Although the level of casualty sensitivity was at a medium-high level with the withdrawal from Lebanon, this sensitivity was balanced out by the work of recruitment-related variables. The same variables that accounted for Four Mothers’ success accounted for the failure of the protesters in the Al-Aqsa Intifada to rally a critical mass of supporters. First, the social composition of the conscripted military made a difference. Because of the relatively small proportion of fallen soldiers from the uppermiddle-class groups and reservists in the field units, the Al-Aqsa Intifada did not generate a critical mass for effective opposition. Voices like those of Vishinsky, Damelin, Masad, and other parents remained few. Religious and peripheral families set the dominant tone of the bereavement discourse. So, with the decreasing presence of privileged groups in the field units engaged in combat against the Palestinians, the capacity to rely on dense social networks was more limited than that of Four Mothers, which had relied on a broader social base. It is worth emphasizing that although the Intifada broke out only a few months after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon and that the overall composition of the field units did not actually change between the two events, about 65 percent of the casualties in the helicopter accident came from the secular middle class, as noted earlier. Air transport was used mainly for elite units, which were still dominated by soldiers from the upper middle class. In other words, because of these special circumstances, the composition of the fallen in the helicopter collision was almost identical to that of the casualties of the First Lebanon War fifteen years earlier, in which about 68 percent of the casualties were from the secular middle class. A coincidental situation therefore generated protests that probably would have been less likely to appear had regular field units, largely staffed by lower classes, been involved in the accident. Second, “exit” is not an option in a conscript army, and thus parents opted for convincing decision makers to set alternative policies rather than encouraging their sons to opt out. Yet, the distinction between exit and voice is a matter of degree. With more upper-middle-class youngsters opting for service in noncombat units, the option of semi-exit emerged and discouraged voice. Furthermore, unlike the situation in Lebanon, the battle on the Palestinian scene encouraged another exit pattern in the form of disobedience. The group Courage to Refuse (Ometz Lesarev) is an example.




It was only in 2004, four years after the Intifada broke out, that the Breaking the Silence movement (Shovrim Shtika) entered the scene. Made up of discharged soldiers, mostly from the secular middle class, Breaking the Silence exposed the soldiers’ barbaric behavior toward the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This movement prompted the IDF’s high command to rein in troops’ aggressiveness and to clamp down on violations of military codes (Breaking the Silence website). Still, the late appearance of this group—which owed much to the narrowing social base of potential objectors to the military’s conduct within the ranks—testifies to the reduced potential for sensitive soldiers to stir up public opinion (for a detailed analysis, see Levy 2008). All in all, exit and semi-exit inhibit collective action. Third, framing also makes a difference. Vishinsky echoed Four Mothers’ tone, embracing the military while focusing on the pointless presence on Gazan soil, a theme that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon himself had already addressed with his Disengagement Plan, rather than challenging the occupation. Thanks to this tone, Vishinsky became a symbol of the shrinking peace camp. She was invited to address the annual Rabin memorial ceremony, the relatively consensual event of the Israeli center-left. In short, her conservativism helped her to be accepted but also meant that, like Shuvi, she left only a minor imprint. Both Shuvi and Vishinsky legitimized an existing agenda (unlike Four Mothers, which took part in shaping a new agenda), especially after Sharon’s Disengagement Plan helped to paralyze the protest. Damelin and Tzemach, on the other hand, deviated from the mainstream militarism-dominated republican discourse. Although to some extent they adopted the construct of republican motherhood, they strayed from its consensual boundaries. Damelin offered a subversive vision that equated the losses of both sides, while Tzemach sought to protect the sons by calling for an end to the occupation, against existing public opinion at that time. Both thus failed to garner mass support, and their sense of belonging to the minority of leftist parents lessened the restrictions they placed on their discourse, which otherwise could have brought them to adopt more consensual rhetoric. Remarkably, changes in the social makeup of the military matter, even within the confines of the draft system. What the Israeli case suggests, in line with Kriner and Shen’s (2010) argument about changes in the social location of conscripts, is that no less crucial than the issue of the scope of military participation (as Vasquez highlighted) is the question of the social location of those who are touched by war, even within a conscript military. Hence, the




composition, the combat forces exhibited much greater enthusiasm than they had in the past for aggressive missions as this behavior gained more legitimacy. They conspicuously refrained from arousing public opinion through their social networks and their overmotivation for aggressive conduct, both in contrast to their predecessors in the first Intifada (Levy 2008). The drive to act came even from the field units and influenced decision making at higher levels (Druker and Shelah 2005, 195–197). This change can be traced to the unique situation in which the religious and lower-status groups found themselves. In addition to holding imported hawkish values, they functioned in a competitive arena in which they struggled over their military status and their ability to translate the military status into valuable assets in the social sphere. Furthermore, the struggle over social recognition of their military accomplishments was undertaken within their civilian social networks, which were sometimes skeptical regarding military service. In general, the lower the social status of the group, the more competitive it is within the army because it has fewer opportunities in the civilian sphere; thus, the army is an important site in determining one’s social status (see Liebes and Blum-Kulka 1994). Competitiveness encourages high levels of motivation to fight and prove one’s military ability in a way that can be easily translated into aggressiveness. In other words, the right to protect is seen as translatable into other rights and thus also motivates the soldiers. Unlike these groups, their Ashkenazi predecessors (from the 1950s to the 1980s) came from social networks that were imbued with the republican ethos. The high convertibility rates of the right to protect into valuable social assets available for this dominant group weakened competitiveness within the social networks themselves. Furthermore, military service was less of a determinant because it was utilized to consolidate preexisting social dominance (and later lost even this function), not to acquire an entry ticket to society, as some of the other groups strove to do after the 1980s. So, this group displayed less aggressiveness; sensitive soldiers often worked to curb aggressiveness among their peers, and others at least agonized about the brutalizing impacts of the war (exemplified in testimonies of soldiers from the kibbutz movement that were documented after the 1967 war; see Cohen 2008, 141–142). Because of the realignment of the IDF’s social composition, the socially imbalanced field units of the Al-Aqsa Intifada did not generate a critical mass for launching effective resistance to aggressive conduct, whether perceived as a pattern encouraged by the high command or as deviant behavior. Sensitive soldiers—mainly those from the higher social strata—found themselves




form of political voice. However, such a conversion was leveraged mainly by religious and lower-status groups by publically reacting to their loss in a submissive way, while body sacrificers among secular middle-class parents and reservists remained in the minority. As the most influential groups reduced the degree to which they were affected by military activity, they could afford to be more apathetic regarding military conduct, rather than engage in antiwar protest. Costs and the political monitoring of the armed forces are strongly entwined (Lake 1992). It follows that, as the structural change in the military distanced the middle-class groups from the risk of military sacrifice and thereby decreased their war costs, their inclination to critically evaluate the level of external threat and the risks and costs entailed in retaining an intense profile of violence in the West Bank and Gaza diminished, as well. Second, the fact that the Intifada sparked protests based in the middle class, though late in their appearance and with limited critical mass, attests to the ability to challenge military policies despite the impact of external threat and its reflection in public discourse. Both the timing and the impact of these protests can be traced to the social alteration of the army. In sum, the same recruitment-related variables that accounted for the Four Mothers’ success accounted for the lack of effective protest in the AlAqsa Intifada. Balancing strategy #4 (burden redistribution) thus gradually supplanted strategy #3, which focused on overall burden reduction that could reduce the level of protection. With balancing strategy #4 deployed, the level of overall burden remained high, but the relatively subversive middle class moved toward bearing an increasingly smaller part in it. Under these conditions, balancing strategy #1, an increased demand for security, saw a revival with the renewal of the threat posed by the Palestinian hostilities. This balancing strategy is effective in curbing demands for rights other than the right of protection. Indeed, apart from enabling the IDF to recover from the traumatic withdrawal from Lebanon and restoring part of its autonomy, the fighting was also instrumental in mitigating social tensions. It was the Al-Aqsa Intifada that enabled Ariel Sharon’s government to legitimize its neoliberal policies—with the retrenchment of the welfare state at their center—by using its new belligerent agenda to politically mobilize the Mizrahi-based, hawkish working class by creating a partnership with the Mizrahi Shas party. At the same time, tax reductions, which resulted in shrinking the welfare state, ensured that the government could mobilize the middle class, the former backbone of the dovish camp, to accept the resumed state of war (Peled 2004).




2006). Grossman thus echoed a theme similar to that of the subversive calls during the second Intifada, focusing on the futility of war and highlighting the political alternatives. He justified his request as a bereaved father by noting the government’s commitment to those whom it would ask to sacrifice life as much as by using his loss as an impetus for “sobriety and lucidity.” Yet, he did not target the military or call for subversive action such as disobedience. Hawkish tones, however, dominated the postwar discourse. Here, again, the analysis of casualties matters. Table 3.2 compares the casualties in the two Lebanon wars by ethnic and class groups. Figures for two events are presented. The first figures are for the first week of the First Lebanon War, in June 1982, when the effort to occupy south Lebanon took place. During this period, most of the military forces, both regular soldiers and reservists, were active. The second group is for the Second Lebanon War of 2006. Each of these events was a short, concentrated campaign, making them comparable. Even though these wars featured nonidentical types of combat, my interest is in comparing political aspects: who was sacrificed and what the political ramifications of the different social composition of the casualties were. Table 3.2 shows a clear drop in the proportion of casualties from urban, secular, middle-class groups between the two Lebanon wars, from about 56 percent to about 35 percent, similar to the drop from about 56 percent in the First Lebanon War to about 38 percent in the Al-Aqsa Intifada (as retrieved from the data for Table 3.1). Unlike in Table 3.1, the share of the Ashkenazi Table 3.2. Comparison between IDF Casualties in the Two Lebanon Wars (by percentage)

First Lebanon War: week 1 (N = 231) 56 12.5

Second Lebanon War (N = 119) Difference 35 - 21 18.5 +6

Proportional Change* - 30 + 125




+ 30

Soldiers’ social class Urban secular middle class Ashkenazi agricultural sector Mizrahim—lower middle class (including settlers) Religious Ashkenazim, nonsettlers Religious Ashkenazi settlers Immigrants (including settlers) Druze, Bedouin Women (all backgrounds)

9 0.5

4 6

-5 + 5.5

- 55 + 325

2.5 0.5 0

17 1.5 1

+ 14.5 +1 +1

+ 120 + 250 new group in combat




* Change in the proportional share of casualties for each group between the wars Source: Private and public Internet sites.




criticized the government for preventing the army from winning the war, as well as for the IDF’s ill-preparedness and poor performance. The bereaved religious father who was among the leading figures, Moshe Muskal, said, “[My son] went out to fight for his country and after falling, while the Prime Minister was making promises, we supported him because we thought it was right, because there were goals set. . . . But now that the goals haven’t been achieved . . . we want answers, and we want to know the source of the authority” (Zino 2006). In other words, the gap between the goals of the war and its ultimate achievements stood at the center of the protest, while the very necessity of the war was not itself questioned. Another religious protest leader, David Einhorn, also a bereaved father, vowed, “There were many failures during the war . . . both the political and the military echelons . . . have to take responsibility . . . [my son] was fighting for his country so that we’d have the kind of country he wanted to live in. . . . I have two younger sons, aged 15 and 12 . . . both of them will go into the army. . . . We will continue to serve the state” (cited in Silver 2008). Einhorn articulated the position typical of members of the nationalist religious group: unconditional motivation to serve the country, along with a clear demand that the political leadership take responsibility for the failures of the war. Beyond addressing specific tactical flaws, the speaker aired the desire for fresh leadership. Implicit in the rhetoric was the recognition that the army should be strengthened in order to provide a better military solution to Israel’s regional problems and to do away with political or even international barriers to combat. With better leadership, it was felt, Israel could have won the war. Adopting a tone similar to the dominant discourse during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a bereaved mother, Hagit Rein, who lived in a religious settlement on the West Bank, went even further, claiming that “This war was a milchemet mitzvah [a war by decree from above, which has greater value than a just war or a war of no choice] and I am therefore very troubled by the fact that this war was inquired into endlessly” (Shragai 2007). This was the first time that parents of religious soldiers joined the outcry. Up until then, religious groups had voiced their opinions in public mainly through their rabbis, army generals, and political figures. However, two factors increased the group’s motivation to enter the scene. First, the IDF’s deep dependence on the religious groups since the 2000s had become apparent, a dependence that was critical in light of the shortfalls in human resources for combat units, itself a result of the drop in motivation among the secular middle class.




For the religious group, the justification of the operation was augmented by the high professional performance of the IDF—clear war goals, expanded professional autonomy, and a fire policy that did not sacrifice the soldiers to shield enemy civilians. Even the death of four soldiers by friendly fire did not change this attitude. The incident was viewed as the result of the soldiers’ flaws, rather than a mistake of the high command or the political echelon. A clear expression of this sentiment can be found in a speech by Rabbi Amos Netan’el of Kedumim in the West Bank, whose son Yoni was one of those who fell due to friendly fire. Over the grave of his son, he said, “This is not a time for weeping and sadness. We are at the height of the battle and must continue with all our strength, fortitude and faith to fight on . . . we must be prepared to make sacrifices, and I went to sleep with the feeling that I was ready for that.” Later, he sent a letter to the tank crew whose fire killed his son, saying that he forgave them. He added that it was better that it was they who hit him “and not the impure hand of an enemy” (cited in Ben-Haim 2009). Significant as well in the bereavement discourse of the Second Lebanon War was the growing presence of the Ashkenazi agricultural sector, mainly kibbutz members. This group increased its share of the fallen, from 12.5 percent in the First Lebanon War to 18.5 percent in the Second Lebanon War, a trend that is even more significant given the proportional demographic decline of this group. But, unlike in former wars, this group did not join the public protest. In the 1980s and 1990s, the presence of this sector declined in the army. Beginning in the 2000s, religious youngsters were depicted as gradually taking the place of youngsters from the kibbutzim, becoming the IDF’s new “service elite.” The kibbutz movement found itself marginalized. The growing strength of the rightist religious presence was even portrayed as a political-military danger, especially on the eve of the disengagement, amid fears that the right wing would thwart the move with the help of its allies in the military. This danger was seen by many as practically facilitated by the leftist kibbutz movement’s abandonment of its role in the military. Nevertheless, the increased presence of this group among the casualties reflected not only renewed motivation but also the order of the introduction of troops into Lebanon from top to bottom. At first only the Air Force and the Navy were involved; later, regular elite infantry units entered the fighting. Following them, regular infantry and armored brigades and, finally, reservists were sent in, though here, too, the elite units, mainly the reconnaissance companies, were introduced first. Elite groups, within which the middle class, including kibbutz members, was overrepresented, were the first to suffer casualties, and at a relatively high rate.




halfheartedly approved and launched during the final sixty hours of the war became one of the focal points of criticism. It was an operation that the government approved only on the eve of the ceasefire in an attempt to take control of Katyusha launch sites almost as far north as the Litani River. After the operation failed, with thirty-four soldiers losing their lives, its justification was called into question. The former CGS, Moshe Yaalon, played a pivotal role in fuelling criticism by publicly claiming that the operation had been nothing more than “spin” to “supply the missing victory picture” (Lis, Ashkenazi, and Shavit 2006). Yet, never before had a military operation been judged in terms of casualties by a repeated invocation of the exact numbers of the fallen. Attachment of price tags typifies market-oriented discourse in a market society. And if “success matters” (Gelpi et al. 2009) and the public is more concerned about the prospects of victory than about casualties, it is clear that a costly pointless operation would spark protest against a waste of lives. Prominent among the parents who spoke out about this operation was Haim Zemach, a reserve lieutenant and the father of a staff sergeant who was killed during the operation. “My son died a hero, but his death could have been avoided,” he said (Hasson 2006b). Invoking this theme, Zemach set the general tone of distinguishing between what he saw as a just war on one hand and a blundered operation on the other, saying that his son “was killed because of tactical and strategic negligence in a just war” (Hasson 2006a). In other words, even when the families cast doubts on the necessity of the final operation, they refrained from challenging the justification for the war. With an army staffed by growing numbers of peripheral and religious groups, the earlier antiwar tone was now replaced by a supportive tone that limited itself to criticism of specific tactical moves, rather than of the entire strategic format. It is in this context that we should understand the unprecedented decision of a number of bereaved parents to compile an alternative report to that of the Winograd Committee on the flawed performance of the military. Their report was based upon a series of inquiries carried out by the parents themselves in order to discover precisely why their sons had lost their lives. Issues such as force deployment, the tactical translation of the General Staff ’s decisions, and the evacuation of the wounded were highlighted. To illustrate the depth of the inquiry, the parents asked, “Who gave the order and why to enter into [the Lebanese village of] Marun al-Ras with two reconnaissance companies of the parachute brigade accompanied by four tanks without a target and suitable preparations?” (How the Courageous Fell 2008, 62). In their summary, the parents accused the prime minister of




and the defense minister and imposing the appointment of the Winograd Committee of Inquiry. This was even more effective than the protest initiated by the middle-class parents during the second Intifada. To begin, collective actors, mainly reservists and bereaved parents, framed their protest in republican terms of voice claimed in the name of sacrifice, with some revival of the republican discourse around the casualties map. Widely perceived as legitimate speakers and attracting some attention, the groups could adhere to the consensual tone without refashioning their original repertoires following failed interaction with other challengers. The protest focused on less disputable demands such as inquiry and transparency, without committing itself to specific policies. Hence, the demands were more attainable, and the appointment of the Winograd Committee largely punctured the balloon of protest. Furthermore, in terms of social power, the reservists’ sacrifice was overwhelming. In the First Lebanon War, the weight of reservists among the casualties stood at 35 percent; this figure declined to 19 percent in the first Intifada, reflecting the military’s inclination to reduce the exposure of reservists to risk. This move formed part of the rearchitecturing of the IDF within the boundaries of balancing strategy #4 (redistribution of the military burden). In the Second Lebanon War, however, the special circumstances brought about the deployment of reserve units, with the result that about 44 percent of the casualties were reservists. So, the military moved away from the balancing strategy, and the result was the potential political empowerment of reservists. Indeed, the reservists protested the sacrifice they made, a sacrifice that could have been reduced. Yet, although both reservists and bereaved parents clung to voice rather than exit, their protest was largely affected by the exit opted for by others. With the military ranks changing to reflect a large presence of lower-status groups, a critical mass of upper-middle-class soldiers could not be formed. And, despite the large number of reservists, about 45 percent of the casualties among the reservists came from lower-status and religious groups, compared to about a third in the First Lebanon War. It follows that the social makeup of the reserve forces gradually mirrored the changing composition of the compulsory army. As surveys conducted in the years 2000 and 2002 suggest, the less educated among the reservists were more motivated to serve in wartime than the better educated (Ben-Dor et al. 2008), so the potential for antiwar protest among reservists declined, as well. All in all, recruitmentrelated variables increased the likelihood of success of collective actors but also reduced the scope of collective action and narrowed its goals.




would have real impact on the national level, mainly by replacing the country’s leadership. The next level down (level 2) is passivity, which typified marginal groups, such as immigrants, that lacked access to power resources. More significant is the level below that (level 1), which embodies the complete and willful support of war activities regardless of the cost. Comments by nationalist parents bereaved during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and of Hagit Rein and Amos Netan’el, both religious settlers, typify this group. By and large, the Israeli experience reveals a mid-level attitude toward war casualties (levels 3-4) that lies somewhere between the antiwar or costcentered approach that prompted the Western “aversion syndrome” and the passivity that accepts military sacrifice, either for ideological reasons or due to lack of access to power resources. On these middle levels, sacrifice is acceptable but conditioned on effective operational management or acceptable political goals. As Table 3.3 shows, the lower the position of the group in the social hierarchy, the greater its tolerance for military death. So, while secular uppermiddle-class groups showed a high level of sensitivity to losses and translated that sensitivity into subversive bereavement discourse, religious and lower-status groups with a hawkish agenda were more tolerant of their losses. This correlation between social position and tolerance of casualties reflects the status of the right to protect: the more it is valued as (or perceived to be) a “right of rights,” the higher the tolerance for military sacrifice. Thus, with the change in the military’s makeup in the 1990s, from reliance on the secular middle class to an increasing reliance on religious and lowerstatus groups with a nationalist agenda, the dominant ethos of bereavement discourse changed from antiwar protest to acceptance of sacrifice and the need for the use of force, with limited criticism of the military’s performance. Consequently, the state regained part of its autonomy. Yet, the distribution of the burden was not sufficient. Installation of the fourth balancing strategy in the form of burden distribution gradually but imperfectly shifted the tone back from subversive to submissive discourse. However, it takes time for its impacts to mature, as is evident in the social composition of the ranks affected by the helicopter accident. Furthermore, even with the new version of relatively submissive bereavement discourse, there were limitations on the readiness to sacrifice. This was manifested by bereaved religious parents in the Second Lebanon War, when sensitivity to casualties still remained a central cornerstone in bereavement discourse and set a relatively high threshold for future military deployments.







did leave a mark on Democratic Party politics, causing Barack Obama, as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, to stress his initial opposition to the war, Gold Star had vanished from the scene before this occurred. Gold Star’s failure can be traced to the impact of the same recruitmentrelated variables that accounted for Four Mothers’ success. The first is republicanism. Gold Star endeavored to enter into a republican-style dialogue with the administration and initially framed its discourse around republican motherhood. Nonetheless, its effectiveness in a war fought by a commodified military such as the U.S. Army was limited. In a commodified military, the right to protect does not exist as a “right to other rights,” aside from the basic right of employment. There, the exchange between the state and social groups shifts to the level of employer (military) and employees (recruits). The ability of enlistees to support their families is at stake, not their ideological grievances. Soldiers’ support for military missions is thus “purchased,” rather than politically mobilized. Marketing military service means relying on monetary attractions, more than reinforcing the political legitimation of war and war preparation among potential enlistees and their social networks. Material rewards regulate the level of military staffing. Against this backdrop, the liberalization on which the transition to voluntary service is premised underpinned the culture of rights and devalued republican-informed performance of civic duty. Therefore, veterans’ and parents’ capacity for claim making was undercut (Krebs 2006) and, in this case, inhibited the mobilization of support beyond the cycle of Gold Star. Alternately, very generous financial bonuses in a market typified by a declining economy and rising unemployment played a key role in enabling the army to meet its recruitment quotas after 2006, making it possible to implement the Bush’s administration’s decisions to send more troops to Iraq (Korb and Duggan 2007). In such a situation, bargaining over policy and ideological expectations on the group level are limited. Social power also played its role here. Insofar as the republican concept of politics is based on the exchange of military obligations for multiple rights, declining levels of military participation resulting from falling rates of conscription and diminished participation in warfare, imply a reduction of the bargaining power that can be expressed by political participation (Silver 2004). This tells us something about the complexity of the right to protect: its convertibility into other rights is largely determined by the scope of its access. The wider this scope, the larger its convertibility, inasmuch as a critical mass can be formed and used to enhance the bargaining power of those claiming such a conversion of rights.




[W]hen it came to invading Iraq, President Bush paid little attention to what voters of the First District of Massachusetts or the 50th District of California thought. The people had long since forfeited any ownership of the army. Even today, although a clear majority of Americans want the Iraq war shut down, their opposition counts for next to nothing: the will of the commander-in-chief prevails. . . . If “they”—the soldiers we contract to defend us—get in trouble, “we” feel little or no obligation to bail them out.

As is typical of a vocational army, the dominance of exit over voice and the insignificance of categorical bargaining affected the methods used by the antiwar groups. An illustration of this point is the “Opt Out Campaign,” which challenged the recruitment efforts of the Bush administration in high schools following 9/11 by disputing the material aspects of the standard sales pitch the administration offered as a reward of service (Tannock 2005). This exit-oriented strategy further distanced parents from the scene of protest. Viewed from another perspective, vocationalization of the military may also pull the carpet out from under the theme of “dying for nothing,” through which collective actors politically leverage their son’s death to garner support, as Sheehan did. Under vocationalization, military death can be presented as the result of apparently free choice, thereby delegitimizing antiwar criticism as a sign of disrespect for the son’s choice to sacrifice; indeed, Sheehan was criticized on these grounds (Franklin and Lyons 2008, 243). In a conscripted army, such criticism cannot gain legitimacy, as military death cannot be presented as a result of free choice. The merit of the right to protect as translatable into political voice is developed from the relation of exchange between the state and the citizenry, through which the state imposes military duty in exchange for rights. When the state does not impose military service, as in a vocational military, rights are largely replaced by monetary rewards. These recruitment-related variables also account for Gold Star’s failure to frame a discourse that accorded with the American consensus. The discourses of sacrifice and motherhood undoubtedly imposed constraints and limitations on collective actors, especially because of the patriotic climate that governed after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The attacks on 9/11 were a catalyst for intensifying the use of the language of sacrifice and instilling it into the war culture (Denton-Borhaug 2010). Initially, Gold Star internalized these limits by endeavoring to build upon the identity of motherhood embedded in the discourse of sacrifice. However, Sheehan herself strayed from the mainstream and departed from the original frame. She began calling for disobedience, chastising the Democratic Party, expressing a pacifist message that equated the deaths of Americans with




favor voice over exit, and perfect the framing of republican motherhood and adhere to it in a manner that was instrumental in mobilizing support. An initial social base supportive of this protest constrained the movement to retain its relatively mainstream tone, thanks to which it became very effective, and kept it from undergoing the radicalization and marginalization that became the fate of Gold Star. It is these variables that explain why collective antiwar action was more effective in a country under threat from Hezbollah in its backyard than in a country fighting overseas in Iraq. In sum, this comparison further validates the conceptual framework built upon the role of recruitment-related variables, which also explain the effectiveness of other bereavement-motivated collective actors. To complete the analysis, arguments offered by IR/PS students should be retested. Most important are variables clustered under the “politics of war” and, to some extent, variables relating to the opportunity structure. 4.2 Alternative Explanations To complete our analysis, it is necessary to test four variables related to the politics of war: the level of threat, military success, the number of casualties, and the level of consensus (the rightness of the war is less relevant in a militarized society like Israel). While IR/PS students argue that these factors affect casualty sensitivity and strengthen antiwar protest, an analysis of these variables in the cases discussed here shows a more complicated picture. Level of threat: The level of the external threat plays an important role in determining sensitivity to war losses, but it is not the only factor. The dovish Four Mothers group favored reducing the risk that Israel’s presence in Lebanon posed to their children at the cost of raising the risk that unilateral withdrawal posed to them as residents living near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Clearly, withdrawal from Lebanon was publicly depicted as posing a greater risk to Israel’s national security than withdrawal from Iraq, and as such it was highly debated. Against this background, only the fringe elements in Israel questioned the rightness of the war. In contrast, Gold Star was dismantled following its failure to convince the American public to withdraw from Iraq, a country thousands of miles from America, despite the army’s lackluster performance there and Americans’ traditional willingness to question military thought. Even if the 9/11 attacks had militarized public opinion, these sentiments were still far less deep-rooted than the “nation-under-siege” mentality in Israeli culture. Similarly, the eradication of the mini-Palestinian state in south Lebanon in 1982 was perceived by the dovish camp and its social networks within




Hezbollah, which had established a mini-state in south Lebanon after—and apparently thanks to—Israel’s withdrawal. Military success: Although “success matters”—in other words, the likelihood of victory reduces sensitivity to losses (an assertion developed during the war in Iraq by Gelpi et al. 2009)—success is also subject to political interpretation. For example, as the Beaufort Family showed, a successful battle could be interpreted as an unnecessary sacrifice. Also, while the majority initially believed that Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon was successful in distancing Hezbollah from its northern civilian population and that, on the eve of the withdrawal, the IDF had improved its methods of antiguerrilla warfare, Four Mothers convinced Israelis that it was a pointless war. In contrast to Americans’ declining optimism about the likelihood of success in Iraq at the time of Gold Star’s protest, which nevertheless failed to attract large numbers, the Israeli army was not criticized for its performance. The war’s cost, rather than its rightness or the army’s performance, was the bone of contention. At the same time, Gold Star was able to take advantage of the political opportunity to further divide the Democratic Party on the Iraq issue at a time when the war was being portrayed as an experiment in imposing democracy and thus as representing a transformation in U.S. foreign policy from one of restraint to one of occupation and “nation building.” In addition, as the number of casualties rose, the group leveraged growing concerns that the war’s original goals were unattainable, a sentiment that brought about a legitimacy crisis and increased sensitivity to casualties, the post-Vietnam heritage (see Eichenberg 2005; Gelpi, Feaver, and Reifler 2005–2006). Still, unlike in the Israeli example, skepticism was not sufficient to breed a mass antiwar movement. In addition, while success for Israelis was a quiet northern border, for the Americans, the debate was also about how to measure success in Iraq (Gelpi et al., 2005–2006). Similarly, the crisis of faith in the nation’s political and military leadership following the Second Lebanon War diminished the impact of any strategic achievements claimed by the government (Makovsky and White 2006), this time in a war-prone atmosphere. Lake (1992) suggests that increasing war costs encourage the sacrificers to monitor military policies and assess them in terms of costs, success, and more. Thus while assessment of success affects sensitiviy to costs, it is also affected by this sensitivity. In an atmosphere that is increasingly critical of the military, its ability to deliver success that will be widely accepted is limited. Cost-oriented monitoring of the military increases the threshold of success. Success is contextualized politically. The number of casualties: In the cases of both Four Mothers and Gold Star, though support for the respective wars eroded when casualties mounted,




a sensible weighing of costs and benefits. What matters most for influencing public opinion is the level of consensus among political leaders regarding this balance. According to Larson, the public gauges consensus or dissent among leaders to inform its own opinions. As the cases studied here show, an important mediating mechanism between the public and the elite is the work of collective actors in dividing the elites. While the Labor Party initially supported the First Lebanon War and later accepted the IDF’s prolonged presence on Lebanese soil, antiwar groups were effective in creating dissent by informing the parties of the perceived public will. Yet, it is safe to assume that, without the ability to enlist the support of Labor, a larger center-right consensus could have stifled the protest movement and therefore increased the public’s casualty tolerance. Consensus and dissensus and casualty tolerance and intolerance are thus mutually reinforcing. Similarly, both Four Mothers and Gold Star emerged when a relatively hawkish party (the Republicans in the United States, Likud in Israel) ruled. The movements sought to mobilize the support of and to divide the dovish minority or opposition party in each case (the Democratic Party in the United States, Labor in Israel). In both cases, these opposition parties initially supported the war, though the Democrats were more divided even at the beginning (Heaney and Rojas 2007, 454–455). Yet, the impact of recruitment on access to power helped Four Mothers, more than Gold Star, to divide the elites and to mobilize allies. Thus, it is collective actors that divide the elites, activate the media, and keep the war on the agenda (Larson 1996, 75–97; Zaller 1992). In turn, divided elites impact the role played by the media in transmitting countervailing elite evaluations that may ignite public debate (Brody 1992, 66). Changing perceptions among legislators about the public’s preferences is one way that movements and interest groups try to affect public policy when public opinion appears to be wavering (Burstein 1999, 10–17). That is why an exclusive focus on the elites, public opinion, and the media—without factoring in the role of collective actors in affecting policies—cannot provide a complete analysis. In this study, the impact of recruitment-related variables on collective action was factored in. Any test of the impact of politics of war is incomplete unless the opportunity structure through which groups can leverage the politics of war to challenge the government is factored in and analyzed to identify additional impediments to mobilization. The first aspect of the opportunity structure relates to groups’ access to the public sphere and decision makers and the responsiveness they can




As Kitschelt, who analyzed the role of opportunity structure in furthering or restraining mobilization, argued, “if movements can appeal to widely shared norms, collect adequate information about the nature of the grievance against which they protest and raise the money to disseminate their ideas and information, the chances of a broad mobilization increase” (1986, 61). Recruitment-related variables can help or hinder collective actors as they try to transform the politics of war into policy outcomes by appealing to shared norms and mobilizing resources. This is in addition to the impact of recruitment on access to and influence on decision makers, as Vasquez (2005) predicted. In sum, the politics of war cannot stand alone. The perceived level of external threat, the success of the operation, the number of casualties, and the level of consensus all matter, mainly in their merging with the identity of those who extract meaning from the threat, from the military’s performance, and from the costs involved and who have the motivation and power to translate these meanings into collective action. The reflection of this cluster of variables in the public sphere is transformed by collective actors. Table 4.1 sums up the empirical discussion by comparing the bereavement-motivated actors analyzed in this section. 4.3 Theoretical Conclusions Broader theoretical conclusions can be drawn from the case of Israel and its comparison to the case of Gold Star Families for Peace in the United States. Recruitment-related variables determined the level of effectiveness of the collective actors examined, while alternative explanations, guided mainly by variables related to the politics of war, have less explanatory power. Figure 4.1 sums up the argument. Drawing on Meyer and Minkoff (2004), we may conclude that politics of war creates signals that may be read by savvy activist entrepreneurs as an invitation to mobilize, in this case in response to military losses, costs, and failures. The opportunity structure furthers or restrains actors’ capacity to mobilize. Both politics of war and recruitment-related variables affect the opportunity structure: the politics of war changes coalitions and causes shifts in the political environment, while recruitment-related variables largely influence the structure of power in society. Recruitment-related variables have a twofold transformative role: (1) they transform the politics of war from objective occurrences into discursive patterns, with the identity of sacrificers affecting the way the politics of war is reflected in the public sphere; (2) they transform, by means of collective

Table 4.1: A Comparison of Bereavement-Motivated Collective Actors

Challenger/ Variable Given level of casualty sensitivity Politics of war Military-related variables Republicanism Social power

Favoring of voice Bounded discourse The impact

First Lebanon War protestors Four Mothers Low Medium

Second Intifada parents Medium-high

Second Lebanon War protestors High

Gold Star High

Debates on rightness and threat

Debates on threat and costs

Debates on costs and rightness

Debates on success and costs

Debate on success

Adherence to republican discourse Large in a middle-classbased, conscripted army

Adherence to republican motherhood Large in middle-class-based elite units

Adherence to republican motherhood Limited because of the social realignment of the IDF

Initial use of republican motherhood Limited because of AVF and its social composition

Adherence to voice

Adherence to voice

Adherence to republican parenthood Limited because of the realignment, but larger among religious networks Adherence to voice but weakened by semi-exit Adherence to instrumental issues Short-term endurance; appointment of inquiry committee and ousting of political and military figures

Adherence to voice but weakened by semi-exit Republicanism fitting the Coalition building translated Straying from a consensual middle-class political culture into conformity tone Withdrawal and instilling the Withdrawal and long-term Backed the existing agenda theme of “war of choice” impact on casualty sensitivity of disengagement

Exit-style opting out Straying from republican motherhood Dismantled without attaining its goals

Bereavement-Motivated Collective Actors: A Comparison



Figure 4.1. War-Incited Collective Action

action, the politics of war into policy outcomes largely because of the power of the recruitment-related variables with regard to discourse framing, social power, and the strategic choice between voice and exit. Collective actors may, to some degree, balance out the impact of the politics of war and the opportunity structure. Against this background, an analysis of the right to protect is key to understanding changes of attitudes toward military sacrifice on the group level. Devaluation of this right for the secular, mainly upper-middle-class groups and its valuation for lower-status groups explain much of the change in attitudes, while the power possessed by the holders of these rights determines the translatability of attitudes into collective action. Here this study goes one step further than that of Vasquez (2005), who factored in collective action in research on casualty aversion. To recall, he argued that democracies with conscript armies are more likely to generate collective action that may restrain the use of force because conscription touches more powerful actors more directly than voluntary service. Empirical support for this conclusion is provided by Kriner and Shen (2010), who found that those citizens who have experienced the costs of war most intimately are more likely to reduce their support for war but because, after the




mode of recruitment. Again, we avoid a binary distinction between conscription and voluntary forces. Defining and measuring a movement’s success poses both a theoretical and a methodological challenge, especially when it comes to outcomes measured in changes in policy. A direct causal relationship between collective action and results cannot always be demonstrated, as it is difficult to attribute exclusive causal significance to social movements when other variables also explain governmental decisions regarding war (see Giugni 2004, 29–35). This is especially the case in the military realm, as the international arena may also circumscribe state action, so that policy outcomes are also subject to exogenous factors. When it comes to collective action encouraged by casualty sensitivity, the picture is further obscured by doubt as to whether casualty sensitivity actually exists and has a direct influence on popular support for military action. Thus, when the public shows the first signs of intolerance to casualties, decision makers may hastily translate this restiveness into policies that limit soldiers’ risk, without waiting for the potential mobilization of collective actors. Furthermore, actors’ initial defeat can be only a step in a long-term victory that may entail unintended results and long-term consequences (Amenta and Young 1999; Marullo and Meyer 2004, 662) and that may extend to gaining the right to participate in the policy process and winning the government’s recognition of the group (Rochon and Mazmanian 1993). To further complicate the issue, we can assume that there is a linkage between the conditions that promote mobilization and those that promote political influence, making the possibility of having influence depend on the movement’s survival (Amenta et al. 2010, 295–296). Alternately, this linkage may lead to erroneous conclusions (Meyer and Minkoff 2004). For instance, in the case of the anti-Vietnam War protest, which reflected an impressive level of mobilization, the antiwar movement exerted a powerful agenda-setting force on the government and society, but its impact was limited as extreme forms of public protest led to contradictory effects on the direction of congressional voting, and certain forms of protest decreased the likelihood of pro-peace outcomes (McAdam and Su 2002). However, the analysis of collective actors on the Israeli scene and the comparison of Israeli protestors to the Gold Star activists reveal variations in the degree of mobilization, even before we deal with the empirical problem of the linkage between mobilization and results. It is clear that a movement’s inability to survive and remain active until it has achieved its declared goals indicates its failure (e.g., Gold Star and the protestors after the Second









The space of the group’s choice

citizens from privileged groups

secular middle-class conscripts

conscripts from religious and lower-status groups

citizens from peripheral areas

enemy civilians Low

The political cost of the group’s choice


Figure 5.1. The Death Hierarchy

and aversion of needless risk) for most of the groups participating (potentially or in practice) in combat, the military (and its political supervisors) is more inclined to internalize the restrictions imposed on risking soldiers, whether related to the political logic of the war or to the manner in which it is conducted. Exposing lower-status and nationalist groups, those on the lowest levels of the bereavement hierarchy, to greater risk is one option. Another option is valuing the lives of soldiers over the lives of citizens and therefore providing citizens with less security. If these options are not viable, another option is to risk the lives of enemy civilians, as we describe in chapter 6. The different groups’ positions on the hierarchy are presented in the sections that follow. 5.2 The Structure of the Death Hierarchy Reservists Reservists are positioned as the most protected group in the death hierarchy. Reservists are more likely than conscripts to engage in political protest for two reasons. First, reservists are “mobilized civilians” or “civilianized soldiers” who bring their civil values with them to reserve duty and thereby bargain with the army over the nature and conditions of their service. Upon




Likewise, trade union–style associations of reserve soldiers demanded easier conditions or redistribution of the burden of service, as well as appropriate financial compensation for their members’ service. They were accommodated, as part of the second balancing strategy (see chapter 2). Such ad hoc organizations raise the threat—overt or latent—that the recruits’ motivation to serve varies according to the army’s responsiveness to their demands (Levy 2003, 253–255). A clear illustration of this new bargaining spirit was revealed in May 2002, when, with the end of Operation Defensive Shield, the IDF used emergency call-ups to enlist more than five thousand reservists to expand the operation to the Gaza Strip. Eventually, Israel refrained from an incursion into Gaza but did not release the soldiers and instead sent them to perform routine, auxiliary missions such as guarding settlements and military bases. Such abuse of the emergency situation sparked unprecedented protest among reserve units, and eventually the minister of defense canceled the emergency call-ups and released the soldiers (O’Sullivan and Gilbert 2002). In light of this spirit, in 2002–2003, the government established two new posts—Chief Reserves Officer and a ministerial Committee on Reserve Duty— that would determine the service conditions of reservists. In addition, in 2008, the Knesset passed the Reserve Service Law, which reduced the load on army reserve soldiers by deploying reserves only in emergencies, shortening and limiting the annual period of service, providing tax benefits (which made the reserve system semivocational), and releasing thousands of soldiers from service. It follows that, with the growing selectivity, reservists were provided with a broad space to choose whether to endanger themselves. A decision to avoid danger, a growing possibility in light of the drop in motivation, would undermine the state’s ability to perpetuate the reserve system and even hamper its capacity to manage its military policy. Politically, after 1973, the middle-class reservists were the key to the growing political protest and forms of refusal that limited military policies, an indication of their capacity for political organization and hence also of the political price reservists could extract for what they perceived as unjustified or overly costly missions. Against this background, as part of balancing strategy #4, the military distanced reservists from sensitive, risky missions and focused on redistributing the burden of service. With growing selectivity and the potential for collective action, it created more checks on the deployment of reservists in risky and especially in politically disputed missions. Furthermore, with the reserve divisions less readily deployed, the military could more easily divert budgetary resources from the training and equipping of reserve combatants to other needs. Low




to bargain over their own and, in many cases, their parents’ preferences, mainly through the parents’ access to powerful social networks, as detailed earlier. Still, they rank lower on the hierarchy than the reservists, because the mechanism for enlisting and allocating positions in the conscript army is more coercive than the mechanism that regulates the positions assigned to reservists. As conscripts, they have less room for choice than civilians. Moreover, the emergence of protest organizations relies on the efforts of their parents, rather than of the soldiers themselves, which is not the case for the reservists. However, any move to challenge the enforcement of conscription would challenge political stability no less than organized protests by citizens who take issue with the state’s failure to remove a danger to their security. The increasing bargaining power of reservists and middle-class conscripts since the 1990s has driven the military to adopt casualty-averse practices. By and large, casualty aversion means that the state upgrades the value of soldiers’ life and thereby affects the death hierarchy. This can be achieved by adopting a capital- and firepower-intensive military doctrine at the expense of labor-intensive strategies. Yet, such a doctrine is poorly suited for combating insurgencies that typify modern small wars, so the likelihood of winning the war decreases (Caverley 2009–2010). It follows that, through such a doctrine, the state relaxes its commitment to protect its citizens, provided that that is the intent behind the use of force, and adds more value to its soldiers’ lives. This tendency is elevated when casualty aversion leads to avoidance of risky missions at the cost of not achieving the goals of the war; this criticism was leveled against the IDF after the Second Lebanon War. All are reflections of balancing strategy #3, the provision of a lower level of security as a means to reduce the burden. In the United States, the military mission, though fought abroad, is designed to protect the security and values of its citizens, protect American ideals and the American way of life (Caniglia 2001, 79–80). In contrast, part of the IDF’s mission is to protect specific regional communities, generally those located near the borders, against immediate physical threats, such as terror attacks and rocket shelling, which makes the meaning of the new hierarchy tangible. Four Mothers was the first to highlight the dilemma that the new hierarchy presents. To recall, it raised questions not about the rightness of the war but about its human cost, in light of the high casualty toll that the helicopter accident exacted. In this way, the movement presented a new perception that soldiers deserved no less security than civilians along the border (Sela 2007). It perfected the concept, already established with the 1985 withdrawal from Lebanon, that a risk to the northern communities was tolerable if necessary to protect the soldiers.




commanders demanded assistance, and the fighting focused on evacuating casualties from the battlefield (Ben-Yishai 2007). Force protection was placed above mission success (Inbar 2007). The increasing level of casualty sensitivity was confirmed by the IDF itself in a survey conducted in 2009 by the IDF Behavioral Sciences Center (2010). Field commanders on both the tactical and the strategic levels acknowledged that Israeli society tolerates causalities less than in the past and that this sensitivity affects military deployments in combat, as well as military planning and training. In this spirit, the declining motivation to sacrifice was reflected in the public debates between 2007 and 2011 around prisoner exchanges with Hezbollah and Hamas, which had both abducted Israeli soldiers. In 2008, Israel agreed to the release of five Hezbollah prisoners, among them the terrorist Samir Kuntar, in exchange for the remains of the two soldiers whose capture had set off the Second Lebanon War. A similar prisoner swap, through which Israel brought home the soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011, captured by Hamas in 2006, also entailed a debate over costs, in this case the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including terrorists. This was a debate about the price that Israel was ready to pay, releasing Palestinian prisoners in a manner that would create a point of equilibrium between two potential risks. One risk was the harm that could allegedly be caused in terms of the deaths of Israeli citizens if some of those released returned to terror, as well as the extra boost this move would give future terrorists. The other risk was the damage that would be caused if, in the wake of the failure to secure the release of abducted Israeli soldiers, many young Israelis would no longer want to endanger themselves on the battlefield knowing that, if they were captured, the state might not free them. A drop in motivation to fight could also be expressed in the resulting Israeli fatalities. In the past, arguments about the price to be paid for the return of prisoners compared that price to the moral debt the state owes its soldiers. Since the 2000s, the price has been compared to the contractual debt of the state to its soldiers, particularly its future soldiers. If the state does not uphold its side of the contract, young people will hold back from endangering themselves; as General Shaul Mofaz put it, “A country that forgets its soldiers is doomed to be forgotten by its soldiers” (Kipnis 2009). If the number of Palestinians to be exchanged was reduced, so, too, would be the chances for return of Israeli captives. Public discourse revolved around locating the point of equilibrium between these two dangers. To some extent, the equilibrium point is located between fulfilling the two sets of rights: the devaluation of the right




service to negotiate the political terms of their military contribution. To a large extent, this group renewed, as well as revised, the republican pattern of exchange of military sacrifice for rights, in this case, political rights in the form of legitimized political voice in military affairs. Several examples are relevant. First, as noted in chapter 3, bereaved families that criticized both the government for preventing the army from winning the war and the IDF’s lack of preparedness and poor performance were conspicuous in the protest movement that emerged after the Second Lebanon War. Such criticism was a clear signal that future sacrifice would be contingent on ensuring that the loss would have a real impact on the national level, and thus lower the threshold for protest, even if this protest did not involve the typical rhetoric of risk avoidance. Second, with the progress of the Oslo process during the mid-1990s, rabbis, some of whom headed yeshivot hesder, issued religious decisions (piskei halacha) banning religious conscripts from participating in the dismantling of settlements or even military bases in the occupied territories. Some of them explicitly encouraged their students’ disobedience, especially on the eve of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, in 2005. Students sought their rabbis’ opinions not only on religious matters but also about ideologically charged missions (Levy 2007c). Later, some religious soldiers refused or threatened to refuse to carry out orders to evacuate settlers in the West Bank. Third, in response to Prime Minister Olmert’s declaration during the Second Lebanon War that victory in Lebanon would create “new momentum” for Israel’s plan to separate from the Palestinians by withdrawing from much of the West Bank (namely expanding the disengagement from Gaza to the West Bank), rabbis, heads of pre-military Torah colleges, and religious reserve soldiers threatened not to join the war. Olmert withdrew his statement (Marciano 2007). It follows that, while the state faced a lower threshold in risking the lives of religious soldiers than in deploying their secular peers, it nonetheless faced limitations. Peripheral Citizens Occupying one of the lowest rungs in the hierarchy are the people living in peripheral regions of the state. Take, for example, the residents of the communities around the Gaza Strip, who were targeted by the firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza. Their location along the borders is not necessarily the result of free choice, particularly for residents of Sderot, a small town in the




by Palestinian refugees, the former residents of the territory controlled by Israel after the 1948 War. Infiltrators were initially drawn to the frontier settlements, built upon their destroyed homes, in which many of the Mizrahi immigrants were settled. Unlike the situation in the 2000s, Ashkenazi soldiers risked their lives to protect Mizrahi immigrants, who were lower than they were in the social hierarchy, by means of reprisal raids, culminating in the Sinai Campaign in 1956. However, as part of the quid pro quo, these Ashkenazi soldiers, and especially the social group from which they came, received social rewards, as detailed in chapter 2. Rights were balanced, and the death hierarchy conformed to the original Hobbesian hierarchy. Faced with the almost total cultural dictate that rendered military sacrifice unquestionable, privileged groups lacked any substantive freedom of choice and were not really eager to choose any option other than sacrificing themselves. And, to the degree they had had such freedom, the state rebalanced the rights in a way that valued the right to protect as borne by the Ashkenazi groups. Indeed, the capacity of the political and military elites to mobilize the human resources needed for the military to combat the infiltrations and prepare for war was initially questioned in the early 1950s because of the tendency of high school graduates drawn from the Ashkenazi upper middle class to serve in the rear and not in combat units. In addition, members of the veteran cooperative farming communities (the kibbutzim and moshavim) were inclined to retain their control over many of the draftees and to keep them away from the combatant core of the military in favor of alternative forms of service. Small wonder, then, that the first reprisal raids revealed the low standard of the combat units, which was attributed by their commanders to the high percentage of unskilled Mizrahi inductees among those who gradually populated the military units in place of the undermotivated Ashkenazim (Dayan 1976, 111; Rabin 1979, 88). Bringing the skilled Ashkenazim back into the ranks was the IDF’s challenge. The turning point came in 1953, when Major General Moshe Dayan decided to establish the elite unit 101 to execute cross-border reprisals. Operations carried out by the unit under the command of (then) Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Sharon (Israel’s prime minister from 2001 to 2006), beginning with the raid against the village of Qibya in Jordan in 1953, enhanced the IDF’s prestige enormously. Following the launching of 101, young people, particularly from the agricultural sector, began to be attracted to it and to other combat units and came to view service in these units as a challenge (Benziman 1985, 61–62). In a circular fashion, the escalation of the raids, then, restored the army’s status as a magnet for Ashkenazi youngsters, as it




Similarly, on the Lebanese scene, the tendency to decrease risk drove the army’s priorities. Major General Elazar Stern, the head of the Human Resources Directorate, wondered why it had been decided to refrain from launching a ground operation to take control of Hezbollah’s well-equipped system of bunkers, from which Katyusha rockets were being fired at the large city of Haifa, only to avoid casualties (Harel and Issacharoff 2008a, 468). In other words, the army had chosen to risk the lives of civilians rather than risk those of soldiers. “A child who lives in fear in bombarded Sderot or a civilian killed by a rocket in Haifa are worth less than a ‘child’ in uniform, whose death or capture in battle become a national disaster,” wrote the journalist Ron Ben-Yishai (2007). Similarly, as former CGS Halutz argued in a newspaper interview long after his retirement: In the history of the IDF, units who performed a task went the whole hog. They did everything to reduce the number of casualties, but the mission was at the top of their priorities. Today, in the State of Israel it became less legitimate that a soldier dies and more legitimate that a citizen dies. For us, a soldier at the age of 20 is “our child,” while the citizen heaven forbid killed in Sderot or Kiryat Shmona [a border town near the Lebanese border] is not “our child.” This sense of belonging and identification with the soldiers blurred the boundaries. The role of the army is to protect the citizens. (Lam 2010, 31)

In its conclusions, the Winograd Committee made this point clearly: “The IDF conducted itself during the war as if its concern about casualties among its soldiers was a central element in its planning process and operational considerations. . . . We note that a fundamental component of Israel’s security approach is that the army’s role is to protect civilians and ensure they live their routine lives” (Winograd Committee 2008, 252). To some extent, the Jewish settlers in the West Bank fall into the category of peripheral citizens. Although they are a politically powerful group, with enormous influence on the IDF, in the end their right to protection often clashes with soldiers’ right to life. As long as the state can temper this tension, IDF troops remain deployed in the occupied territories. Yet, unresolved tensions have bred redeployments that have aggravated the risk posed to the settlers, such as those following the Oslo Accords. Pressures to redeploy often came from the delegitimation of the IDF’s deployment, especially allegations that the aim of the combat was to protect the settlers, rather than the country (for example, the voices heard at Tamir Masad’s funeral, documented in




of casualties. The public can be described as being defeat-phobic, rather than casualty-phobic. Still, casualties are the central force behind the potential opposition to war, and defeat phobia makes people less tolerant of casualties (Gelpi et al. 2009). Furthermore, casualty sensitivity may be real or a matter of perception reinforced by the media, collective actors and politicians; in reality, the public may be more tolerant of casualties than the policymakers and senior military officers (see, for example, Feaver and Gelpi 2003; Mandel 2004; Record 2000b). However, what matters most for policymakers is the elites’ belief about the public’s sensitivity, whether real or not, and the way that belief limits the use of force or at least constrains the methods used and the risks involved. As Aldrich et al. (2006) note, the public acts as a constraint on elites that would otherwise be more willing to use force. On the military side, as Feaver and Kohn (2001, 476) recognized, the casualty-aversion approach is not merely an expression of military leaders’ interest in self-preservation. It may well be grounded in their lack of confidence in the political leadership—the concern that politicians might prevent the military from accomplishing its tasks and the belief that casualties will be interpreted as mission failure. Politicians and commanders internalize these sentiments and adjust the military to function in accordance with these attitudes in a way that may increase the threshold for the use of force. Sensitivity to casualties can even provide politicians and generals with an excuse for avoiding risky missions (Record 2000a, 10–12). The Israeli government confronted a genuine dilemma only when the range of rockets fire increased to include the Ashkelon area, injuring members of kibbutzim around Gaza, citizens of a geographically peripheral area who were, for all intents and purposes, nonetheless part of the social elites. The decision taken—to institute a cease-fire—reveals much about the ways of solving tensions stemming from the hierarchic structure outlined in this chapter. In the short term, the groups of soldiers atop the hierarchy (reservists and conscripts from privileged groups) enjoy greater preference, that is, protection by the state, than do citizens. It is preferable to avoid endangering soldiers, especially those from high-status groups, than to protect civilians, some of whom temporarily decamp to safer areas. This was how the Israeli government acted in the Second Lebanon War, even when Hezbollah hit the major city of Haifa. In the case of fighting on the Gaza border, it was preferable to avoid danger to soldiers, including potential losses resulting from the inevitable call-up of reservists, in a ground operation with multiple casualties, as long as the civilian casualties were in Sderot. However, if there are continuing fatalities among privileged citizens, as when Hezbollah continued to hit Haifa and expanded the range of its targets




Table 5.1. Groups’ Position and Response to Risk

Group Reservists

Position Broad space of choice of potentially organized and partly poorly motivated groups in a semiselective recruitment system that may challenge the recruitment system and the state’s capacity to manage its military policy Citizens from Broad space of choice through temporary relocation that privileged groups may shake political stability Middle-class conscripts

Conscripts from religious and lower-status groups Peripheral citizens Enemy civilians

Mid-level space of choice of a partly poorly motivated group, relying partly on parents’ power, in a semiselective recruitment system that may challenge the recruitment system Restricted room for choice due to strong motivation for combat and lack of access to power resources

Very limited room for choice prompted by lack of options in the marketplace No room for choice

Response Source of protest against sacrifice

Potential protest in the face of prolonged disruption of lives Parents’ protest and declining motivation to join combat units Acceptance of sacrifice or protest that rejects sacrifice denied of national significance Passivity or powerless resistance Passivity

committed to peripheral citizens, while Labor/Kadima-based2 governments are committed to the more privileged groups—it is the logic of the state that guides the conduct of state agencies, rather than partisan obligations. This chapter has presented evidence of a systematic trend, beginning with the First Lebanon War, that has transcended political differences. 5.3 Conclusions The modern state manages its citizen’s lives and, therefore, their deaths, as well. In the case of Israel, managing death implies managing the degree of exposure to risks that might result in death. However, not all individuals are treated equally in this regard. There is a hierarchy that governs the degree of exposure to risk of the different groups. This hierarchy is shaped by the bargaining power of the various social groups, taking into account their motivation-generated inclinations and the political implications of this power. This hierarchy has been dynamically modified over the years. When the rights to protect and to protection were balanced, the state risked the lives of soldiers drawn from privileged groups more than those of soldiers from the lower classes by employing exclusionary practices in the military. Furthermore, as the case of the 1950s shows, privileged Ashkenazi soldiers risked their lives to protect lower-status Mizrahi border residents through reprisal







civilian population. No other Western army is in this situation; for example, the United States has twice fought wars in Iraq, but the goals of the two wars were completely different. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that Israel has consistently improved the accuracy of its weapons, so the rise in enemy casualties cannot be traced to changes in weapons systems. Changes in other variables, however, are reflected in the interplay between the two sets of legitimacies, as explained later. Second, data on Israeli soldiers and civilians were collected from B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) and from the internet sites of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Defense. “Casualties” refers to Israeli soldiers, and “fatalities” refers to enemy noncombatants. B’Tselem and other human rights organizations and the IDF disagreed on the numbers of noncombatant fatalities in Operation Cast Lead. I have chosen here to use B’Tselem’s number, which lies between the IDF’s figures and those published by Palestinian organizations (see also United Nations 2009, 106–109), especially as B’Tselem is less biased than the IDF or the Palestinian bodies. Yet, even reliance on the IDF’s relatively lower numbers (about 450 noncombatants) would temper but not change the overall direction presented here.1 In this chapter, I first offer the theoretical framework of FCT, followed by a detailed analysis of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip at four major junctions between 1987 and 2009.2 6.1 The Essence of the Force-Casualty Tradeoff Sensitivity to military losses has increased in democratic societies since the 1970s and today plays a key role in limiting the state’s freedom to deploy its armed forces in military missions. This pattern has gradually diffused into Israeli society. Inasmuch as casualty shyness reflects the underlying imbalance between rights, Western democracies, as part of their balancing effort, have redistributed the military burden (balancing strategy #4), aiming to balance the propensity to use military force to protect what is deemed the national interest vis-à-vis the domestic limitations imposed by the low level of legitimacy to sacrifice. Sacrifice reduction has been put into practice by several measures, central to which is the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA responded to the need for waging swift campaigns with minimal casualties by reducing the risk to soldiers, largely by expanding the use of advanced technology, mainly precision weapons (Erdmann 2002, 49–54;




requires more from their armed forces, and on the other it requires less. This is a conundrum that is difficult to resolve.

At the very least, justifying deviation from the proscribed liberal norm is crucial. The FCT reflects the interplay between the social legitimacy to sacrifice and the political legitimacy to use force. Legitimacy is not a circumstantial view but reflects deeper values. It encompasses normative, legal, and cultural values that determine society’s acceptance of regimes and institutions, as Weber (1947) suggested long ago. Political legitimacy is indicated by the support or opposition shown by the public and the elite regarding the necessity of deploying the armed forces, the choice of targets, and the costs of the action. The level of this legitimacy can be determined by monitoring public opinion and political debates. Public and elite opinion and rhetoric can be more deeply analyzed as a multilayered structure, which reflects deeper cultural constructs that are less easily detectable, such as the profile of militarism in society. For the sake of the empirical analysis in this chapter, political legitimacy to use force relates to the use of force that prevents casualties among one’s own military forces at the expense of civilian fatalities, and not to the use of force in general. To operationalize the profile of this legitimacy, we must consider six factors. The first is the impact of global restraints, including international law, that protect civilians from intentional attack unless and for such a time as they take a direct part in hostilities,3 as directed in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 (Watkin 2004, 16). The second is the domestic political structure and its reflection in public opinion, elite opinion, and political action, with special focus on the respect for global restraints and enemy civilians’ immunity. Third is the level of resolve to protect one’s own soldiers that can justify the use of overwhelming force. Clearly, the legitimacy to use force that prevents one’s own military casualties at the expense of civilian fatalities is part of the broader political legitimacy to use force in general. The fourth factor is the state’s level of commitment to the hostile population, or the manner in which it portrays this commitment by, for example, transferring “dirty” missions to local allies (Shaw 2002) or to privatized units (Avant 2005) or by claiming that the enemy uses noncombatants as human shields.4 As this chapter shows, Israel’s modification of its mode of control over the Gazan population in a manner that ostensibly relaxed Israel’s responsibility for this population is most significant. Fifth is the military’s social composition and the reflection of that in the soldiers’ political stances, which may affect their attitudes toward politically loaded military missions, as presented in earlier chapters. The sixth and final factor is the




B Sustainable, prolonged war effort

D Aggressive, short effort (the FCT)


High Profile of legitimacy to use force

Figure 6.1. The State’s Space of Military Action

to sacrifice paired with low legitimacy to use force produces a defensive approach vis-à-vis a threatening foe (Point A). I address the mutual impacts of these variables in the concluding section of this chapter. 6.2 Israel’s Wars against Gaza: A General Outline Israel captured the Palestinian-populated Gaza Strip from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. The population and its leadership cooperated with the military administration imposed on Gaza during the first twenty years of occupation. Only in 1987 did the population, in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, rebel against Israeli rule, in what is historically known as the first Intifada (1987– 1993). Since 1987, Israel has endeavored to maintain the population under various types of control, mainly to keep the hostility of the Gazan population from harming the Israeli civilian population, including the Jewish settlements that Israel established in the Gaza Strip. In 1994, Israeli forces withdrew from most of the Gaza Strip as part of the Oslo Accords but left the settlements in place. In 2000, the second or Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out and included clashes in the Gaza Strip. In 2005, Israeli forces withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip and evacuated the settlements in a unilateral act known as the Disengagement Plan. Nonetheless, the firing of rockets from Gaza to Israel caused the IDF to bomb Gaza and often to conduct ground incursions into the Strip, culminating with Operation Cast Lead, in December 2008.




High First Intifada

Legitimacy to sacrifice

Al-Aqsa Intifada

Withdrawal (2005)

After withdrawal

Ceasefire (2008)


Legitimacy to use force

Cast Lead


Figure 6.3. The Interplay of Legitimacies

expansion of Jewish settlement into the Palestinian-populated territories. To recall, both the Intifada and the First Lebanon War (1982–1985) distanced Israel from Point B on Figure 6.1, which historically typified the highly militarized society. As presented in chapter 2, the army was populated by soldiers from both the political left and the right, especially in the reserve units that were largely deployed to quell the Intifada. CGS Lieutenant General Dan Shomron, concerned about the possibility of an internal split in the army, declared that the Intifada could be resolved only by political means. Accordingly, he asked that the government temper the kind of missions it ordered the army to carry out in putting down the uprising. As the unarmed Intifada did not pose an existential threat to Israel’s population, the pressure to react more aggressively was relatively minor, especially with a broad Likud-Labor coalition leading the country in this period. In practice, the army implemented a policy of relatively restrained use of force. Beyond the logic of maintaining the IDF’s unity and status, the state was guided by the principle that it was dealing with an unarmed civilian uprising by a population officially under occupation, with the occupying army as its target. Israel thus responded with a policy of violently repressing that civilian population, though with certain limitations (including legal ones). The use of rubber bullets against unarmed Palestinian insurgents was




organizations, which Israel had failed to do, largely because of domestic legitimation problems. Rabin believed that the Palestinians would do it better than Israel, as he famously said, “without the High Court of Justice and without B’Tselem,” the entities that had hitherto undermined the legitimacy to use brute force. In other words, the new mode of control might increase the legitimacy to use force if the Palestinians failed to live up to Israel’s expectations. In 1994, authority over the urban areas of Gaza was transferred to the newly established Palestinian Authority, while the settlements that Israel had established throughout the Strip remained in place under the protection of the IDF. The Al-Aqsa Intifada The Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in September 2000, following the failure to arrive at a final agreement between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as outlined in the Oslo Accords. The opening moves of the second Intifada mainly involved Palestinian attacks, not all through the use of firearms, on symbols of the occupation, such as military units and settlements. In response, the IDF adopted a policy of heavy gunfire aimed at Palestinian Authority institutions, which were held responsible for the uprising. This response resulted in a large number of fatalities on the Palestinian side, with only a few casualties to Israel. Subsequently, attacks on Israel escalated from firing on roads and settlements to terror attacks against civilians inside Israel that mostly originated on the West Bank, not on the relatively isolated Gaza Strip, separated by a fence from Israeli territory. After October 2000, the army began its use of combat helicopters against Palestinian city-center headquarters; later, fighter planes would also be deployed. At the same time, targeted assassinations from the air were employed against those suspected of planning terror attacks (Morris 2001, 664–669; Peri 2006, 91–108). In short, RMA-informed methods appeared on the scene for the first time. Now the legitimacy to use force was more solid. It built on the view that the Palestinian Authority had initiated the clashes in spite of the fact that Israel had offered generous compromises in the peace talks (“we gave everything”). Legitimacy also resulted from the spiral process of escalation: the IDF weakened the Palestinian Authority, weakening the latter’s ability to control its armed forces and giving space to more terror attacks, while Israel’s use of high-end technologies aroused the Palestinians’ war spirit (Maoz 2006, 295). The terror attacks then became more frequent, which legitimized the next escalation in the army’s attacks on the Palestinian Authority, and so on. At the height of this process, the Palestinian Authority ceased to function as an effective military force (see Bar-Siman-Tov, Lavie, Michael, and Bar-Tal




demonstration of this than in the distinction drawn by the Military Advocate General between the first Intifada, during which the army had carried out policing missions, and the second, in which the army was involved in a battle,6 from which rules of engagement and the policy of punishing soldiers who had harmed Palestinians derived. Here the conceptual distinction between “ghetto” and “frontier,” as proposed by James Ron (2003), helps to understand this approach. During the first Intifada, cities and villages in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were part of a ghetto, in that they were under the full control of the Israeli state, which also had legal responsibility for the welfare of their inhabitants. Accordingly, when the uprising broke out, Israel policed forcefully but did not use firearms. In the second Intifada, after the Oslo process, the occupied territories were part of Israel’s frontier region, that is, a geographic zone demarcated by explicit boundaries of some sort and not tightly integrated into the adjacent core state. This distinction is further reinforced by Gordon (2008), who claimed that, during the decades of occupation, Israel’s forms of control were informed by disciplinary and bio modes of power as it sought to craft an economically useful Palestinian society (which became the main reservoir of cheap labor and a captive market for Israel). The mode of handling the first Intifada stemmed from this concept. When the military occupation ended, Israel could liberate itself from much of its obligation to the population. Restrictions on the use of force were therefore eased. Political legitimizing mechanisms came together with the army’s new social architecture. With the ranks increasingly filled by religious and lowerstatus groups, the bereavement discourse became more conservative, and the combat forces could act more aggressively without raising internal objections or external protest. Furthermore, the increased use of technology, mainly by the Air Force, helped remove the fighter from his victim, which served to reduce the potential of soldiers to be struck by pangs of conscience. This alienation was clearly illustrated in a statement made by Major General Dan Halutz when he served as commander of the Air Force. In August 2002, the army assassinated the leader of the Hamas military wing, Salah Shahada, by dropping a bomb from a fighter plane on a residential neighborhood in Gaza, killing Shahada but also killing fifteen civilians, mostly children. When asked about how a pilot feels when he drops a bomb, Halutz answered, “I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb’s release. A second later it’s gone, and that’s all. That is what I feel” (Levy-Barzilai 2002). At the same time, the new social architecture of the combat units also assigned most of the fighting to conscripts, not to reservists, as part of the fourth balancing




forced them to protect the soldiers by doing dangerous tasks that put their lives at risk by, for example, ordering other Palestinians to leave their homes to be arrested, to check and remove suspicious objects from roads or houses, and even to function as living shields against gunfire or attacks by Palestinian militias. Following human rights organizations’ petitioning to the Israeli High Court of Justice in 2002, the IDF limited its use of this practice to what was called an “early warning” procedure, in which Israeli soldiers wishing to arrest a Palestinian suspected of terrorist activity could be aided by a local Palestinian resident, who would give the suspect prior warning of possible injury to himself or to those with him during the arrest. Beyond minimizing the danger of wounding innocent civilians and the wanted persons themselves, this procedure was intended to prevent injury to the military forces. However, in 2005, the High Court of Justice banned it entirely.7 In sum, the level of legitimacy to use force increased from the first Intifada to the Al-Aqsa Intifada, while the legitimacy to sacrifice decreased. This interim situation was reflected in the ratio of fatalities, which rose slightly, from one to six in the first Intifada to one to nine in the second Intifada (95 Israeli casualties to 833 Palestinian fatalities). Cracks in the wall of silent sacrifice appeared after six soldiers were killed in May 2004 when their vehicle was blown up in the Philadelphi Corridor. The Vishinsky family and, later, the Shuvi group leveraged this loss to enlist public support for the idea of withdrawal from Gaza. At the same time, the willingness to use relatively high lethality to minimize risk was showing signs of erosion. In 2003, a number of senior reserve pilots declared their support for a selective refusal to bomb civilian areas. They were inspired by a statement by the commander of the Air Force, Major General Dan Halutz, following the assassination of the Hamas leader Salah Shahada in which fifteen civilians were killed. When asked how he felt about this, Halutz replied that he “sleeps well at night” despite the human price (Livneh 2007). On the eve of Halutz’s appointment as Deputy CGS, in June 2004, a group of left-wing activists and intellectuals filed a petition with the Israeli Court of Justice to prevent the appointment.8 Although the court ultimately rejected the petition, it ordered Halutz to clarify his stand on the issue, and Halutz retreated from his earlier statement to some extent. Aside from the pilots, soldiers from elite units joined the protest, and the rates of “grey” refusal increased as well (Dloomy 2005, 706–708). In this spirit, the journalist Molly Moore (2003) portrayed the situation in a comprehensive article for the Washington Post: “With the Israel Defense Forces in the fourth year of battle with the Palestinians, the most dominant institution in Israeli society is also embroiled in a struggle over its own character.”




Use of force was further justified when, in January 2007, Hamas, which refused to formally acknowledge the Oslo Accords or to recognize the State of Israel, gained a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament and defeated the ruling Fatah party, Israel’s Oslo partner. In June 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip after factional fighting with Fatah. Boycotted by the international community, the resulting Hamas mini-state, politically separated from the Fatah-ruled West Bank, was more forcefully targeted by the IDF. At the same time, the legitimacy to sacrifice further declined. With the memory of the losses in the Philadelphi Corridor still fresh, the IDF was constrained by Gaza phobia from reentering the Strip to forcefully deal with the Qassam shelling; as former defense minister, Moshe Arens (2009) explained, a collection of myths had been propagated since the withdrawal to justify military restraint, primarily the myth that a ground operation would result in the loss of the lives of hundreds of Israeli soldiers. “A forecast like that is enough to make any Israeli shy away from such an operation,” he concluded. To this phobia was added the cost-based bereavement discourse that emerged from the Second Lebanon War of 2006. While the state encountered a lower threshold in risking soldiers drawn from religious and lowerstatus groups, it still faced limitations. At this point, it became clear that even bereaved parents who held hawkish positions and who had not questioned the rightness of the Second Lebanon War would not tolerate sacrifice that, due to military and political incompetence, did not have a real impact on national security. Though this was not typical risk-aversion discourse, it raised the political threshold for sacrificing life. In tolerating casualties, success matters (Gelpi et al. 2009). Yet, as explained earlier, success is interpreted politically, and hawkish groups have more rigid criteria for success than others. A suitable indication of the extent to which the social legitimacy to sacrifice declined can be seen in the Israeli Democracy Index, which monitors public opinion annually. It conducted its 2007 survey just a few months after the Second Lebanon War ended (Arian, Atmor, and Hadar 2007, 12, 57–58, 90–93, 114–117). At that time, security issues were at the forefront of public attention. Central to these concerns was the generally accepted acknowledgment of the need to rehabilitate the IDF and to prepare it to deal with the threatening environment in the Middle East (Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah). Expressions of regret for apparently neglecting the IDF’s armaments and training during the years prior to the war with Hezbollah were loudly voiced by critics of the war. Public opinion, as represented in the Index, however, presented a different picture. Only 27 percent (23 percent among upper-middle-class respondents) thought that the interests of the country were more important than the




through effective intelligence and the use of sophisticated precision air and land weapons. Hence, it became unnecessary to actually occupy the land (Yaari and Assa 2005). New methods alongside the increased use of old ones were now implemented, such as the imposition of an aerial curfew, carpet bombing, sterile zones (along the borders), and intensification of targeted killings. In parallel, in an attempt to exhaust the advantages of counterfire in reducing soldiers’ exposure to risk, the military learned the lessons of Lebanon. The Dahiyah Doctrine (named after the South Beirut neighborhood of Dahiyah, which was heavily bombarded by Israel during the war) was adopted after the war. This doctrine referred to the use of disproportionate power against every village in Lebanon from which rockets were fired on Israel, with the aim of causing immense damage and destruction, rather than hunting down individual missile launchers, which the IDF had failed to do during the war (Shalom 2008). The doctrine eliminated the need for clearing out the launchers through a costly ground attack. With increasing legitimacy to use force and decreasing legitimacy to sacrifice, the IDF’s ethical code of conduct in the fight against terror was modified. Drafted by philosopher Asa Kasher and Major General Amos Yadlin (2005) in 2003, the document redefined the state’s priorities. Protecting soldiers’ lives was given higher priority than the obligation to avoid injury to enemy civilians who were not involved in terror when these civilians were not under the effective control of the state. In other words, by abandoning its control over the Gazan population, the state reduced its duty toward this population from an ethical, not only a political, perspective. Hence, the leap in the ratio of fatalities from one to nine in the Al-Aqsa Intifada to one to thirty-three (16 Israelis to 524 Palestinians), with a slide toward point D on Figure 6.1. In Operation Summer Rains alone, conducted in summer and fall 2006 in an attempt to suppress the firing of Qassam rockets, more than two hundred Palestinian civilians were killed. In the West Bank as well, the ratio increased from one to five during the Al-Aqsa Intifada to one to nineteen after the disengagement (until Operation Cast Lead). This further validates the conclusion that casualty sensitivity played a key role in guiding Israel’s fire policy. Although there was no new mode of control there (Israel evacuated three settlements but did not transfer control of the territory to the Palestinian Authority) and although the legitimacy to use force lessened with the declining number of terror attacks coming from the West Bank and the renewed political dialogue with the Palestinian Authority led by President Abu-Mazen, Israel still sought ways to reduce casualties. Hence, the increasing fatalities ratio.




death hierarchy, such as privileged reservists and privileged citizens—as the range of rocket fire increased and injured members of the elitist kibbutzim around Gaza. Against this background, the offensive could be launched only when it became legitimate to use the weapons arsenal more liberally (back to Point D). This opportunity revealed itself in December 2008: Hamas violated the six-month ceasefire, or at least this was the general impression, and refused to renew the truce agreement under the original conditions. Meanwhile, it intensified its rocketing of Israel’s civilian population and expanded the range of its rockets to about forty kilometers, until almost 750,000 Israelis were under threat. The value of the stakes shifted: from protecting a narrow strip of border communities to securing more than 10 percent of Israel’s population, including citizens of a geographically peripheral area who were part of the social elites, such as the kibbutzim. Against this background, Israel could claim legitimacy, from both the international community and its own citizenry, for a massive attack that might overthrow Hamas and equalize the suffering of the Palestinians with that of Israelis but that might also expose Israeli soldiers to less risk. To a large extent, Israel’s lack of response to Hamas’s shelling triggered bottomup pressures to act that could not be resisted only a few weeks before the general elections, with a centrist (Kadima-Labor) coalition government. A New York Times journalist in Israel reported that, at an internal Labor party meeting held a few days before the operation, Defense Minister Barak (the Labor leader) was berated for his lack of response to the rockets by one of his colleagues, who said, “I’m embarrassed to walk in the street and hear people talk about you as a big nothing” (Bronner 2009). And to this can be added the modified ethical code of conduct in the fight against terror, an alternative to the code that risked combatants to reduce the risk to enemy civilians. Without the modified code, politicians and officers might have opposed a higher threshold for launching the operation, in light of the projection that it might lead to a higher number of casualties. With the combination of a highly legitimized war and low legitimacy for sacrifice, the fatalities ratio jumped once again—from one Israeli military casualty for every thirty-three civilian Palestinian casualties after the withdrawal from Gaza to one to eighty-four (9:759). Casualty-aversion practices passed the politicians’ test when the military command presented the plans, echoing the themes of “the lives of our soldiers take precedence” and “the civilians in Gaza won’t have many places to escape to” (Harel 2009d). Initially, Israel launched a week-long airstrike against Hamas’s security installations and personnel. Since the strike did not cause Hamas to seek




with the least possible casualties for the army, without its even asking itself what the price would be for the other side. This was the thrust of things that we heard from more than one officer” (Breaking the Silence 2009, 27). It is therefore not surprising that most of the civilian fatalities among women and children occurred during the ground offensive or as a result of it, by means of aerial bombing that provided covering fire to the ground units (B’Tselem 2009, 4). Israel implemented the Dahiyah Doctrine in Gaza. Troops were accompanied and guided by the legal opinion of the Office of the Military Advocate General, in itself justified by the ethical code as presented earlier (Harel 2009b). Another legitimating mechanism for the use of force was the social realignment of the IDF. This realignment progressed during the postwithdrawal period, and religious-nationalist soldiers, among them a significant proportion of settlers, increased their stronghold in the ranks, especially in the four regular infantry brigades that shouldered the main burden of the ground thrust in Gaza. The transformation of the role of the army chaplain is also an indication of the changes that took place. Whereas, in the past, army chaplains had focused on the institutionalization of religious arrangements, now they gradually were assigned a new, more general role. IDF Chief Rabbi Avi Ronsky declared that secular Zionism was in crisis and therefore: Part of my job as the chief military rabbi, perhaps the central part, is to reconnect the soldiers with the values of Judaism . . . . This translates into military power because we cannot import the French Legion to fight for us. Soldiers need to understand why they are here. If all they care about is living the good life, why should they be here of all places? (cited in RingelHoffman 2006)

In other words, Rabbi Ronsky believed that religion gives meaning to the military mission, and therefore he also brought military rabbis closer to the soldiers. The rabbis were assigned the role of spiritual guides for the soldiers, with a special focus on secular soldiers (Yosef 2007). Clearly, the power of military rabbis had grown following the disengagement. Because the disengagement caused a crisis of confidence when religious soldiers took part in evacuating settlements, the IDF endeavored to restore confidence in order to ensure the flow of religious youngsters into the ranks. This enhanced the religious groups’ bargaining power vis-à-vis the military command, which extended to the empowerment of military chaplains.




6.4 Conclusions and Theoretical Implications Through the context of the Gaza wars, this chapter has addressed the issue of the force-casualty tradeoff. It has recognized variations in the state’s space of operation, with the FCT working where casualty shyness is legitimately compensated for by high lethality. FCT is the path the state opts for to cope with situations that arise when it fails to mitigate the tensions inherent between its duties toward groups on the highest rungs of the death hierarchy, such as middle-class reserve soldiers who may be called upon to protect middle-class citizens. Under these conditions, it cannot place civilians under a prolonged threat and is constrained to use force unless it has more peaceful solutions at its disposal. At the same time, the state is limited in its ability to risk soldiers, especially privileged ones. Therefore, the state will reduce soldiers’ exposure to risk by using excessive lethality that claims more civilian casualties from its enemy, the group located at the bottom of the death hierarchy. Here the FCT works. This tradeoff is illustrated in the interplay of two sets of legitimacy, whose interaction served as independent variables determining the state’s space of operation: legitimacy to sacrifice and legitimacy to use force. This interplay yields four possible results, as Figure 6.1 shows, only one of which embodies the FCT. The analysis of a series of events in the same arena showed other situations that resulted from the interplay of legitimacies. As the analysis exemplified, legitimacy to use force increased in tandem with decreased legitimacy to sacrifice, resulting in a growing ratio of civilian fatalities to military casualties. As Israel changed its mode of warfare to better protect its soldiers, not only did the fatalities ratio rise but the actual number of civilian deaths (per year) increased, as well, from 18 fatalities during the first Intifada, to 170 in the Al-Aqsa Intifada, and to 157 after the withdrawal, reaching a peak of 759 in 2009. This is not to say that changes in the profile of legitimacies were linear across the period studied. The declining legitimacy to sacrifice reflected a social process, as outlined earlier, while the legitimacy to use force increased only in specific situations in response to hostilities and helped to compensate for the drop in the legitimacy to sacrifice. This overall conclusion can be countered by mainstream wisdom, according to which the use of Israeli firepower was not correlated with the level of motivation for sacrifice but was a response to Palestinian escalation—from nonlethal demonstrations in the first Intifada, to suicide bombings in the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the firing of Qassam rockets following the 2005 withdrawal. Here a few notes are relevant.




by the Oslo agreements, changed the form of the Palestinian resistance from an uprising by an occupied population to warfare by armed squads produced by a mini-state. This “statization” of the mode of warfare produced miniartillery shelling when Israel withdrew from Gaza and in effect transferred rule of the Strip to a sovereign-like government. So, Israel created conditions that may have nurtured Palestinian aggressiveness, given that the conditions for the two-state dispute remained in force. A counterreaction to the use of force escalated the reaction of the other side, and so on, in a vicious circle. As the Mitchell Report on the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada stated, “Amid rising anger, fear, and mistrust, each side assumed the worst about the other and acted accordingly” (Mitchell et al. 2001). Later, Israel’s use of high-end technologies backfired in that it aroused the Palestinians’ war spirit (Maoz 2006, 295). In this spirit, the prediction that RMA would increase the exploitation of civilians as human shields was partly supported by evidence from the operation and even earlier. Israel invoked this argument to justify the high number of wounded civilians. Rather than being a result of civilian exploitation, however, the casualty rate among civilians may reflect the reality that it is almost impossible to separate combatants from noncombatants in a congested urban terrain. Many civilians were killed during aerial assassinations of Hamas commanders or because of the proximity of Hamas compounds to police stations and other government installations located in civilian neighborhoods. Furthermore, Hamas mined the populated areas to defend them against Israeli invasion. A significant conclusion that emerges is that the IDF’s risk-free policy may have undermined its ability to achieve the goals of war. With the increasing mechanization of Western militaries since World War I, the interaction of military units with local populations has decreased and hence curtailed the military’s ability to collect local information and win the population’s trust, affecting the military’s ability to defeat weaker insurgent organizations (Lyall and Wilson 2009). Walzer’s (2004) dictum that “you can’t kill unless you are prepared to die” reveals another aspect of this failure. Beyond the moral perspective of this requisite—as RMA made the warfare similar to its representation in video war games, which encourage players to view the enemy as a faceless electronic target rather than as a human being—the lesson of the NATO-led Kosovo campaign of 1999 offers another point of view. Refraining from ground operations saved soldiers’ lives but also resulted in a failure to




In other cases, declining legitimacy to sacrifice without an increase in legitimacy to use force may have driven Israel to pursue more moderate policies, rather than to increase its aggressiveness (Point C on Figure 6.1), as the Oslo track, the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and the 2008 ceasefire arrangement with Hamas suggest. In cases like these, low legitimacy for sacrifice encourages critical thinking about the use of force, mainly in terms of its logic and effectiveness, thus lowering the legitimacy to use excessive force. That was the course when casualties in the Philadelphi Corridor amplified calls to retreat from Gaza; balancing strategy #3 was at work. Conversely, high legitimacy to use force, as when there is a perceived existential threat, may increase tolerance for casualties (Jentleson 1992), in line with strategy #1, as the Al-Aqsa Intifada exemplifies. In turn, high legitimacy for sacrifice, typical of a highly militarized society, mutes the sort of critical thinking mentioned earlier. Similarly, high casualty shyness can itself be used as a legitimation mechanism to justify high lethality, as the case of the 2009 offensive revealed. It follows that if the legitimacy to sacrifice had remained high, as in the past, Israel could have adhered to its traditional code of purity of arms that in the past often favored risking soldiers over enemy civilians and was a source of pride. This code is sustainable only on Point B in Figure 6.1: both legitimacies are high, so the country can fight without sensitivity to casualties. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer’s rhetoric after the battle of Jenin reflected this tradition by explaining that the high number of casualties in Jenin was the result of a decision not to use massive firepower because to do so would have caused the deaths of many civilians (Bart 2009, 21). Here the interplay between legitimacies is related to the balance of rights. As said previously, the legitimacy to sacrifice results from the status of the right to protect. The more this right is devalued for powerful groups as an avenue to other rights, the more the legitimacy for military sacrifice in society declines and thus affects the right to protection of others. When rights are unbalanced, it is the role of the balancing strategies to increase the legitimacy to sacrifice, either by motivating the sacrificers by means of rights allocation and other forms of compensation (#2) or by increasing the demand for protection (#1). Alternately, if the level of this legitimacy remains low, the burden will have to be redistributed, either by risking the more motivated groups or by restructuring the mode of warfare (#4). Failure to motivate a willingness to sacrifice in combination with failure to increase the legitimacy to use force results in either less security or the tendency to pursue less belligerent modes of action (#3). The ability to increase the legitimacy to use force is an important mediating mechanism. Increasing the demand for protection militarizes the




the fourth balancing strategy to bridge the gap, leveraging the legitimacy to use force as a mechanism of burden redistribution. A gap between the legitimacies encourages aggressiveness; while a high level of legitimacy to use force encourages bellicosity, the attenuated legitimacy for sacrifice permits only low-cost military buildups, both in economic and in human terms, thus encouraging the use of overwhelming force. Deviations from this approach may recreate legitimacy problems. Consequently, both values—to use force and to sacrifice—lead to belligerency. Strong support for the use of force, for example, pushed Israel into taking offensive action, while the low level of social legitimacy for sacrifice led to the readjustment of military doctrine in favor of the ability to achieve a swift and relatively low-cost conclusion to war by the use of overwhelming force. This gap between legitimacies offers another insight to what is known as the Lippmann Gap that characterizes American foreign policy. This is an imbalance between the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power (Huntington 1988). A comfortable surplus of power, in Lippmann’s terms, also means a high level of legitimacy to use the internal resources that entail sacrifice, beyond the material dimension of power. Most liberal democracies underwent a transition from the situation in which both legitimacies were high during and after the world wars to a situation where both sets of legitimacies declined. Most EU countries, as well as Canada and Australia, moved to a point somewhere between A and C on Figure 6.1; they adopted a nonbelligerent approach. This reflects a low level of legitimacy to use force and to sacrifice for it, except in cases of direct missions in defense of the country’s territory. Minor involvement in interventionist missions (such as Iraq, which, of course, is minor relative to the strength of U.S. forces) and a focus on peacekeeping missions (e.g., East Timor, Lebanon, and Kosovo, where the peacekeepers are exposed to relatively minor risk) both attest to the acceptance of belligerency on only a limited scale. In the United States, as in Israel, point D, mirroring the FCT, reflects the dominant pattern. Public opinion in the United States with regard to the use of force following the collapse of the Soviet Union (even before 9/11) has been stable: between 70 percent and 90 percent of those polled support the use of force, and between 10 percent and 30 percent oppose virtually any use of force. Among the hawks, 30 percent to 35 percent are considered “solid hawks,” who appear to be remarkably indifferent to the stakes, costs, or prospects for victory. About half of the public— between 40 percent and 45 percent—is casualty phobic or defeat phobic, in the sense that they support military missions provided that they are low cost or successful (Feaver and Gelpi 2003, 145–146). From a political-cultural perspective, Bacevich




We can validate the FCT only if avoiding casualties is legitimately compensated for by the use of force aimed to reduce casualties. This is different from other situations where the tradeoff is not at work and thus the mode of warfare is different. Democracies often value the lives of their own citizens over those of enemy civilians, but we should distinguish between a deliberate tradeoff of casualties for force on the tactical level, as this chapter shows, and other situations in which democracies simply protect their citizens and soldiers. A longitudinal calculation of the ratio between military and civilian fatalities is necessary in order to understand how the tradeoff works, the conditions under which it does not work, and the intermediate positions between them. After all, it is not a yes-or-no situation but rather a matter of degree. Therefore, study of the Gazan arena suggests a framework that may fill this gap by representing the values involved through two sets of legitimacies and by analyzing their dynamic interplay. In closing, one more theoretical point of comparison. Scholars have debated the impact of RMA on limiting the number of civilian fatalities. Proponents of RMA justify the investment involved by claiming that the use of precision weapons and improved target selection can minimize noncombatant fatalities (Lambeth 2000, 29, 176, 303). Other approaches argue that the erosion of the distinction between soldiers and civilians legitimizes collateral damage (Smith 2002) and that RMA encourages the use of civilians as human shields (Calhoun 2004, 9; Dunlap 1998). A more critical approach, such as that presented by the geographer Stephen Graham (2004), provides a different interpretation for the same facts. Graham suggests that, in Iraq, the RMA-informed military doctrine was adjusted to urban warfare to attain political goals. Urbanization of terrain does not necessarily inhibit the use of military offensives, with the civilian fatalities these entail. It thus can be assumed that the ability to use precision weapons increases the confidence of the military with regard to its ability to operate in urban areas without inflicting overly heavy losses on the opponent’s civilian population. Without guided weapons, the number of casualties in Iraq might have been greater, placing legitimacy restrictions on the use of force in urban areas. RMA allowed for attacking in closer proximity to civilian enclaves. Aggressiveness was thus legitimized by not aggravating existing legitimacy problems. The number of civilian fatalities might have decreased in absolute terms, but even these could have been prevented had military capabilities been limited. Indeed, when noncombatant fatalities do not pose a problem at home, the temptation to use force is greater. As Alice Hills contends, following the bloody battle in the city of Falluja in Iraq, “a thrusting political and military







prestate Jewish institutions. These funded the paramilitary organizations and recruited the human resources (volunteers) needed, thereby establishing the material dependency of the organizations on the political institutions. Central to this process of state building was the middle-class-based Labor Party (and its previous forms), which established itself in the prestate period as the dominant party; it held this position for about fifty years, showing impressive institution-building ability (Shapiro 1984). Within the framework of this structure, the young state could realize its monopolist control of the means of violence in 1948 by establishing the IDF while smoothly dismantling prestate underground organizations. In spite of this, however, friction between politicians and generals did develop in the state’s first years, when the IDF carried out reprisal raids against neighboring Arab countries and often acted independently and in defiance of Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon and Prime Minister Moshe Sharett (both successors to the first prime minister and defense minister, David Ben-Gurion). In some cases, the IDF virtually imposed a series of operations or exceeded what the politicians approved or did not even report its cross-border activity to the prime minister (for examples, see Dayan 1976, 150–152; Morris 1993, 300–303; Sharett 1978, 34–41, 446–447, 514–526, 670– 680). The most notorious case was the telling “mishap” in 1954 that involved intelligence activity in Egypt, including planting bombs in several facilities, without clear or at least formal approval from the political level (Eshed 1979). Subsequently, because of the military’s dependence on state institutions, the politicians effectively resolidified their supremacy. To some extent, exchange relations were in force: the army accepted politicians’ unquestioned authority in exchange for huge material and human resources that allowed it to maintain a massive, long-term buildup, beyond the direct needs of the early 1950s. At the same time, politicians internalized the military way to deal with the perceived Arab threat (Ben-Eliezer 1997; Levy 1997a). In practical terms, the civilian leadership upgraded political supervision over the army by formalizing a procedure for approval of military operations. At the same time, the IDF formed relations of partnership, rather than instrumental obedience, with politicians. These relationships resulted in attenuated motivation among the generals for overt intervention in politics (Peri 1983). In 1967, this partnership was called into question. Following the mass entrance of Egyptian troops into the Sinai Peninsula on Israel’s border and Egypt’s closing of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping in May 1967, senior IDF officers exerted pressure on Prime Minister and Defense Minister Levi Eshkol to launch a preemptive war against Egypt. Eshkol attempted to exhaust diplomatic means to resolve the crisis, but the generals perceived




new political space opened to collective actors from left and right alike, challenging previously agreed-upon military policies (see Lebel 2007). Later, more extra-institutional actors entered the scene, among them parents and reservists who targeted the human price of war, from the Beaufort Family to the bereaved parents of the Second Lebanon War, as detailed in previous chapters. As Stuart Cohen (2006) argued, a syndrome of “over-subordination” of the military to the civilian echelon gradually evolved, signified by the erosion of the military’s professional autonomy as a result of conflicts between military and civilian groups. As this study shows, among the forms this phenomenon took was the restraining impact of casualty sensitivity by initially empowering civilians, in this case mainly antiwar groups. 7.2 Casualty Sensitivity Reinforces the Military Casualty aversion was the policy choice that arose in response to casualty shyness. At first, casualty aversion took the form of balancing strategy #3: redeployment of the military, especially on the bloody Lebanese scene and on the Palestinian scene (with the Oslo Accords). As expected, this strategy fueled tensions between officers and policymakers and other civilian circles, in particular prior to the Lebanon pullout of 2000, creating a sense of civilmilitary crisis (Peri 1999). In tandem, casualty aversion largely took the form of the counterfire doctrine, based on standoff precision firepower, starting with Operation Accountability (1993) in south Lebanon. Nonetheless, social sensitivity to casualties remained at higher levels than in the past and served as a major cornerstone of Israel’s military policies, as the withdrawal from Lebanon, spurred by the Four Mothers protest, showed. Now, for the first time, sensitivity to losses played a practical role in shaping fire policies designed to balance out this sensitivity, mainly by means of balancing strategy #4, burden redistribution. With the deployment of this strategy and other impacts of casualty aversion, four effects were created that re-empowered the military vis-à-vis civilians and partly balanced out the initial restraints: rapid decision making, contingency plans, cost-centered discourse, and the setting of ambitious war goals. Rapid Decision Making RMA-informed counterfire reduces the scope and intensity of military sacrifice. Technologized warfare minimizes casualties by reducing soldiers’ exposure to risk, shortens the duration of war by using “shock and awe” methods,




would have prompted questions about the possible price to be paid by the civilian population in light of the strong likelihood of rocket attacks emanating from Lebanon on civilian Israeli targets. Additional questions might have related to the war’s impact on Israel’s credit rating and on the level of trust of global markets in the stability of Israel’s economy, the potential damage to the flourishing tourist industry in northern Israel, and the possible need to finance the war at the expense of tax cuts and welfare budgets, two consensual targets on the eve of the war. The government even avoided declaring a state of emergency during the war to avoid having to compensate residents and businesses for damage caused by the war, which may have harmed Israel’s credit rating in global financial markets.1 Such considerations, moreover, had been taken into account in the past. For example, it was the New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman (1995) who claimed that, despite the killing of nine Israelis by Hezbollah in October 1995, the Israeli government had chosen not to retaliate so as not to disrupt the flourishing tourist season in northern Israel. Since then, Israel had become more materialistic, and greater economic interests were at stake. Above all, the IDF’s potential ground involvement in Lebanon was linked to historical memories of being bogged down in the Lebanese “mud” with its accompanying high casualties, from which Israel had extricated itself in 2000 under public pressure. Any discussion about Lebanon was conducted under this cloud of Lebanon phobia (Merom 2008, 17–24; Winograd Committee 2008, 106, 527). The inclination to opt for the ready-made contingency plan was augmented by the readiness of the Air Force. After the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the Air Force extended its responsibility and was presented as the ideal answer to the Qassam rocket fire (Harel and Issacharoff 2008a, 281). Hence, confidence in an aerial attack as an effective response increased. Broadly viewed, the relative slowness of decision making is a virtue in liberal democracies. Decisions should be made through argumentation, in which everyone’s opinion is in principle equally fallible in the court of public opinion, deliberation takes time, and positions can always be questioned again. After a dramatic event, however, such as 9/11, security responses often emphasize the need for swift and decisive countermeasures that challenge the institutionalized guarantees of equal fallibility of truths and suppress dissent (Huysmans 2004). Speedy decision making is instrumental in overcoming internal opposition and thus is more likely to be employed when leaders expect effective opposition, in this case opposition that grew out of the culture’s skeptical attitude toward sacrifice. Indeed, the Winograd Committee concluded,




dovish platform, combined with a social agenda calling for cutbacks in the defense budget. Indeed, Olmert’s decision to choose a civilian rather than a former general as defense minister was portrayed as an opportunity to look at the issue of security through fresh eyes. After his appointment, Peretz confirmed some of his critics’ fears by pushing to reopen a long-closed commercial crossing point into Gaza, advocating talks with the Palestinian Authority, and blocking some of the IDF’s initiatives involving the bombing of Gaza (Zabriskie 2006). As Feaver and Gelpi (2003) showed, militarily inexperienced leaders in the United States tend to expand the use of force to deal with interstate conflicts that do not present a substantial threat to national security. However, unlike leaders who do have a military background, once they have deployed the military, these inexperienced leaders tend to place limitations on the use of force. In other words, “civilian” politicians may feel that their lack of military experience undermines their credibility, so they are more likely to deploy force to derail possible criticism about their resolve. However, at the same time, these civilian politicians are more sensitive to public pressures when the costs of war climb. Similarly, in Israel, it appears that the decision to deploy the military is treated more flexibly by a “civilian” leadership than by one with a strong military background. Indeed, such an approach characterized the actions of Prime Minister Moshe Sharett (the reprisal raids of the 1950s), Prime Minister Levi Eshkol (the escalation that led to the 1967 War), and Shimon Peres (Operation Grapes of Wrath against Lebanon in 1996). However, a political leadership drawn from the military or a civilian leadership with a hawkish agenda is better equipped to rein in the army in crisis situations. This was true of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (in the first Gulf War, in which Israel refrained from retaliating against Iraq’s scud missile attacks) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (the Western Wall Tunnel crisis that generated clashes with Palestinian militias in 1996). Likewise, Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, both hawks, were known for their ability to restrain the IDF. The most significant example of this ability was Ben-Gurion’s forcing the IDF to withdraw from Sinai Peninsula after the victory in the Sinai Campaign (1956), ignoring the forceful objections from the army. Whereas a government composed of two retired generals, Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz, had contained the military responses in Lebanon in 2001–2006 despite Hezbollah’s provocations, in the case of the Second Lebanon War, Olmert and Peretz gave the IDF unprecedented freedom to attack. Given the hawkish atmosphere and the active political participation that typified Israeli political culture since the 1980s, it became harder for a civilian




legitimacy to sacrifice is low but there is also an externally legitimized pretext for a massive strike. It follows that counterfire sets the boundaries of the encounter between generals and politicians. Decisions can be made and implemented swiftly, unencumbered by the prospect of public protest by actual and potential sacrificers. Counterfire is a preemptive act against the political articulation of casualty shyness. Whereas officers and politicians alike benefit from it, the former gain the upper hand. With less counterbalancing in the form of public intervention coming from dovish circles and others skeptical about sacrificing for war, the military exerts a greater influence on decision making in the dyadic dialogue between generals and policymakers. Moreover, with the strengthening of the ethno-national front, the IDF was able to leverage politicians’ hesitancy to undermine the government’s legitimacy if disagreements between the sides became public. Contingency Plans Not only does the counterfire doctrine allow rapid decision making; it also underpins the main contingency plan available to decision makers. Policymakers and officers were constrained by casualty shyness to formulate policies predicated on risk-aversion doctrines that narrowed the repertoire of options among which officers and policymakers could choose. Given the skeptical attitude toward sacrifice, “shock and awe” was not only politically feasible but, to a large extent, the only politically feasible option. Budgetary shortfalls, moreover, provided further support for the counterfire doctrine. Real defense expenditures dropped by 17 percent between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s (Shiffer 2008, 220–221). One major result of this reduction was lack of preparedness of the ground forces, primarily reserve units, for a large-scale assault (Eiland 2008), while the Air Force expanded its capabilities in ground warfare. That lack of preparedness, together with casualty sensitivity and the desire to reduce military sacrifice and to shorten the duration of the war, all reinforced the aerial-based counterfire doctrine (see Shelah and Limor 2007, 127–140). In turn, the adoption of this doctrine and its integration into contingency plans cemented the budgetary cuts for ground forces; in light of the new aerial alternative, an investment in ground forces was now less justifiable. An aerial attack thus became the main contingency plan on which policymakers would rely in the Lebanese and, later, in the Gazan arenas. In times of crisis, contingency plans proposed by the military naturally dominate the decision-making process, as the military provides ready-made




To further validate this argument, the process described here should be distinguished from that used during the First Lebanon War. Then, with less sensitivity to losses, the original contingency plan, namely the capture of south Lebanon, was modified and extended to encompass a costly effort to impose a new political order in Lebanon, culminating in the siege on Beirut. It is true that organizational routines and standardized scenarios not only constrain and rigidify organizational behavior but also enable choice and action by creating tools for information gathering and create procedures for action rather than requiring that all procedures be invented on the spot (Bendor and Hammond 1992). Yet, contingency plans shape high-level bargaining in several ways, among them by directing decision makers to rely on invoking existing plans rather than on personal commands in cases where justifying a policy matters. The more the directives are framed in terms of implementation of existing policy, the less subordinates can resist (McKeown 2001). In this case, the contingency plan, informed by casualty aversion, determined the bargaining power of both officers and civilian policymakers. The IDF could impose its plan upon the politicians, but, later on, adherence to the plan tied both officers’ and politicians’ hands. However, the politicians were particularly limited in their capacity to utilize the military in a flexible manner. Lack of such flexibility thwarts the principle of civilian supremacy over the armed forces. Of course, any military contingency plan has a similar impact, but a plan informed by casualty shyness has a further restraining impact because of the critical costs involved in deviating from the original plan, costs incurred mainly by politicians. Under these conditions, justifying a policy matters more and also reinforces the military’s ability to stick to the original script. Even had there existed a different civil-military relationship, heightened sensitivity to casualties would have had the same impact because of the political costs involved. Relations based on stronger control may breed tightened control over the implementation of plans. For example, in the early stages of the 1999 air campaign in Kosovo, President Bill Clinton, fearing that the number of NATO casualties might inflame domestic opinion against the war, prompted his staff to require final presidential approval of every fixed target for coalition bombing. However, as the airstrikes failed, the military gradually expanded its sphere of autonomy, and the president’s monitoring receded as a means to impose more professional responsibility on the military and to distance the politicians from the military realm (Coletta and Feaver 2006). In other words, even if the plan (in this case, even not a contingency plan) is scrupulously monitored, the costs involved in its failure may re-empower the




2007). A similar picture can be seen in the case of the early Kosovo airstrikes, as mentioned earlier. In other words, while the military may enjoy greater power of negotiation on the decision to go to war, it may also lose some of its autonomy in managing the war. Still, the more politicians immerse themselves on the tactical level, the more they neglect their duty to think strategically and therefore become more reliant on military thought; it is precisely the sensitivity to losses that may once again increase the military’s sphere of autonomy when the political plan fails, as the case of Kosovo showed. To recall, at the height of the war in Lebanon, Prime Minister Olmert explained why the military was not embarking on a ground operation by arguing that “thousands will take to the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to demonstrate against the government. Kaplinsky and Shamni [two generals, the former Deputy CGS] tell me that such an operation might claim the lives of 400 soldiers” (Harel and Issacharoff 2008a, 342). This statement shows how, as long as they believed that the ground operation was unnecessary, the generals controlled the information about costs and could therefore terrify the politicians. Israeli generals usually control the military information (Michael 2007), but, in this case, they also claimed a monopolistic authority to interpret that information. The lesson of Lebanon was learned twice in an attempt to exhaust the advantages of counterfire in reducing the soldiers’ exposure to risk. The Dahiyah Doctrine produced a strategy of using disproportionate power against every village in Lebanon from which rockets could be fired on Israel if and when another round of hostilities flared. Again, risk aversion revalidated the relevance of counterfire and crafted a new contingency plan that could generate momentum of its own and tie politicians’ hands once again. In practice, the implementation of this doctrine was seen in Operation Cast Lead. Here again, the cost-centered discourse reempowered the officers vis-à-vis their civilian supervisors: Initially, inspired by the local version of the Powell Doctrine, the IDF invoked the figure of two hundred to three hundred casualties to be expected from a military offensive in Gaza to delay the operation and exhaust other options before launching a large-scale invasion (Harel and Issacharoff 2008b). As former defense minister Moshe Arens (2009) testified, “Considering the great sensitivity we rightly have for the welfare of our soldiers, when such warnings [that an operation using IDF ground troops would result in the loss of the lives of hundreds of Israeli soldiers] are uttered by men with long military experience, almost any alternative seems preferable to the use of ground troops.” Later, when the military command presented the plans for this invasion, it emphasized that “the lives of our soldiers take precedence” and that “the




justifying the entailed costs. Effective implementation of other balancing strategies often allows the state to restore its status as supplier of protection and to redeploy the first strategy. Yet, this capacity is not limitless. Inasmuch as war policies are still deployed in a skeptical social environment, especially regarding war costs, the state is required to keep balancing the underlining rights by revaluing the right to protection. Manipulating goals is part of this process. Furthermore, this manipulation and the related manipulation of the threat can increase the legitimacy to use force. As the previous chapter showed, this may allow for the effective operation of balancing strategy #4 by means of an aggressive fire policy, which compensates for low legitimacy to sacrifice. Going one step further, setting ambitious goals not only serves political mobilization for war but also limits the government’s ability to exit the war. As Bueno de Mesquita, Morrow, Siverson, and Smith (2004) contend, democratic leaders (more than autocratic ones) are inclined to produce public goods from war that they can allocate to the domestic war coalition in return for its sacrifice. Therefore, although democratic leaders display greater selectivity in the decision to wage war, they are more likely to make an extra effort to win the war by increasing the resources devoted to the war effort. A victory that produces public goods is crucial. Democracies, however, are torn between concerns about casualties and concerns about losing, as the desire to limit casualties may shorten the war, while the desire to avoid losing may encourage a leader to fight on (Filson and Werner 2007). Impediment of an exit plan may give military commanders greater influence on decision making. As the Powell Doctrine suggests, the political leadership must have a sound exit strategy for bringing the troops home. However, this doctrine tends to constrain how and why political leaders employ military force in a way that “leaves the grammar of war to dictate its logic” (Echevarria 2004, 6). This is especially so when the generals’ opinion on how to rescue the politicians from a potential failure becomes crucial. As the Petraeus Doctrine attested, it was the military that provided professional advice regarding the mission in Iraq and set the conditions under which the mission could be accomplished and exit possible. In the case of Lebanon, the government was largely criticized for a lack of correspondence between the goals of the war and the force deployment. At the outset, the IDF aimed to weaken Hezbollah and to deter it from carrying out attacks against Israel in the future, in part by demanding that the Lebanese government take responsibility. General Halutz explained to the cabinet from the beginning: “Don’t expect victory or knockouts. I think that what we should do is to react harshly enough to cause the international community




than thirty Israeli soldiers. This operation was launched about sixty hours before the UN-brokered ceasefire was enforced and was explained by politicians as a means to speed up the diplomatic achievement or to improve it (Winograd Committee 2008) or to “supply the missing victory picture,” as former CGS Yaalon claimed. Yaalon’s criticism reflects the problematic war exits experienced by democratic governments. Defense Minister Perez himself partly concurred with Yaalon’s logic when he talked about the ground operation in terms of a “sense of change in the atmosphere” (Winograd Committee 2008, 177). As predicted, the generals’ level of influence on decision making increases when the terms of exit from what is perceived as a flawed operation are questionable. When the government reluctantly agreed to approve a ground thrust to end the war, two plans were presented. One plan was that of Minister of Transportation Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and CGS, who proposed a swift, limited operation to capture the Litani River. Nonetheless, the cabinet approved the IDF’s plan to take over the entire area south of the Litani, an operation that might last a few weeks, although most of the ministers preferred the Mofaz option (Winograd Committee 2008, 180–184). At the decisive cabinet meeting, CGS Dan Halutz told the ministers: “There are no middle ways here, in which we do half, we do a quarter or third to satisfy part of our desires. No, it doesn’t work this way, it’s all or nothing” (Winograd Committee 2008, 180, emphasis added). In other words, the military widened its space of influence over the terms of exit. A similar scenario repeated itself in Operation Cast Lead. When the operation began, Prime Minister Olmert set a very vague goal: “creating better security conditions.” This vague formulation (Eiland 2009, 13) was accompanied by Olmert’s vow to “restore normal life and quiet to residents of the south.”2 Here again, an ambitious goal—stopping Hamas’s firing of Qassam rockets—was set; yet this goal was less ambitious than that in the Second Lebanon War, as the government refrained from committing itself to the goal of dismantling the Hamas government in Gaza. With the legitimacy to use force built bottom up, the government could settle for more modest goals. However, the syndrome of “trying harder” reasserted itself when Olmert resisted Defense Minister Barak’s and CGS Ashkenazi’s pressures to stop the attacks after a few days of airstrikes without resorting to a ground operation that would prolong the war by two weeks (Margalit 2009, 221–222). Only after two weeks of fighting did the government define the main goal in terms of a long-term truce that would restore Israel’s deterrence. In the end, however, it accepted a unilateral ceasefire. To the extent that the goals of war




Figure 7.1. The Impact of Casualty Aversion on Political-Military Relations

its rigid implementation in a manner that thwarted the politicians’ flexibility; (3) by controlling the discussions over costs, thus curbing politicians’ influence when conditions for risking soldiers were less favorable from the military’s point of view or by driving politicians to allow a more liberal fire policy that reduced soldiers’ risk; (4) by leveraging the impediments to exiting from the war, which the setting of expansive war goals created, to gain more influence on the way the exit moves would be implemented. Casualty sensitivity thus not only works to restrain the military but can also be leveraged by the military to improve its bargaining position vis-à-vis politicians, irrespective of the balancing strategy in force. As the cases of both Lebanon and Gaza showed, the repertoire of options from which the officers and policymakers could choose was limited. Casualty sensitivity determined the space of the encounter between the civilians and the generals. Little was left to autonomous interactions that could have created a space for the interplay of other variables, such as personality, personal values, professional biases, political agendas, organizational interests, and other variables on which students of civilian control stake so much. My argument encompasses four means by which casualty sensitivity reempowers the military. Nonetheless, this is not an exclusive package, and there




of civilian control. Rather than refuting the existing literature of civilian control, this chapter demonstrated how the casualty-aversion syndrome provides a better understanding of the encounter between the parties and its impact on civilian control. It offered an integrative analysis of the culturebound encounter between generals and politicians, in which the cultural format is set by casualty shyness (for elaboration of scholarly gaps, see Levy 2011).

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8 Conclusions

Inspired by the overwhelming casualty sensitivity that appeared in Israeli society in the first decade of the 2000s, this book has tackled the fundamental issue of how the state manages its citizens’ lives and deaths by prompting individuals to be willing to sacrifice their lives for their country. Adequate answers were not found in the existing literature on casualty aversion. In summing up the literature, what we found lacking was an integrative approach that links casualty sensitivity to its social origins, its reflection in bereavement discourse and bereavement-motivated collective antiwar protests, the manner by which the state adopts its course of action to this articulated sensitivity, and its impact on civil-military relations. Each of these components has been dealt with separately by sociological and IR/PS studies, but they have not been adequately integrated. As shown in the introductory chapter, this lack of integration created deficiencies in our understanding of the issues. It was with this challenge that this book dealt by relying on the Israeli experience. >>





enjoyed by the middle class. In practice, as occurred in the 1950s, privileged Ashkenazi soldiers risked their lives to protect mainly the lower-class Mizrahi border residents by means of reprisal raids but were rewarded accordingly. Rights were balanced, and hence the death hierarchy conformed to the original Hobbesian hierarchy. With the almost-total cultural dictate that made military sacrifice unquestionable, privileged groups were denied substantive freedom of choice. And, to the degree they had had such freedom, the state rebalanced the rights in a way that valued the right to protect as borne by the Ashkenazi groups and hence tied them back to the security project. Rights became imbalanced after the 1970s and more so following the First Lebanon War, with the decline of the external threat, the ascendancy of a market society that devalued military sacrifice, and the decoupling of soldiering from citizenship together with an increase in security costs. A drop in motivation among the secular middle class, who had benefited most from the right to protect, was the result. It elicited individual and collective forms of resistance to sacrifice, resulting in imposition of limitations on the way the IDF could utilize its manpower resources, and thereby affected the community’s right to protection, at least as seen through the lens of the traditional military paradigm. When the rights are out of balance, the state enacts multiple balancing strategies. In this case, the state initially opted for the first balancing strategy, the most favorable one: increasing the demand for protection. This may increase support for the military burden and revalue military sacrifice as a means of both reducing pressures to provide any rights other than security and rewarding the bearers of the security burden. However, during the First Lebanon War and on the Palestinian scene, the state failed in its attempt to increase the demand for protection; on the contrary, the increasing burden caused by warfare worsened the previous imbalance. No more promising was the second strategy, increasing compensation for sacrifice. The state has limited options to offer a dominant serving group; likewise, monetary rewards directly allocated to servicepersons are limited under the draft regime. Since the fourth strategy (burden redistribution) entails a long-term structural change in the armed forces, failure in deploying the first balancing strategy made the third balancing strategy, burden reduction by means of reduced military protection, a readily available solution. The withdrawal from Lebanon in 1985 under the pressure of protest activity and the military restraint in the first Intifada that paved the road to Oslo represented this form. To reduce military protection, the government opted for moderate moves over more bellicose ones and made compromises it had been




risk no longer were only peripheral citizens, and it had to risk privileged soldiers again and could not rely solely on peripheral soldiers, it turned to the use of excessive force. By so doing, it reduced the risk to which soldiers are exposed at the expense of enemy civilians, the group on the lowest rung of the death hierarchy. Exhaustion of the fourth strategy was at work, as exemplified by Operation Cast Lead. Apparently, this once again rebalanced the rights. Military policies are thus demarcated by the interplay between the two sets of rights. Difficulties in promoting the right to protect affect the level of the right to protection. Within this space, the mode of balance between rights determines the profile of the legitimacy to sacrifice and the profile of the protection the state provides its citizens and soldiers, mediated by the legitimacy to use force. Yet, these rights are not equally applied. The practice of both rights is governed, as well as determined, by the social hierarchies embodied in the death hierarchy. The state needs to devise the means through which it maneuvers and adjusts the level of risk to which different groups are subjected, either as protectors or as protectees. Here lies the conceptual advantage of the interplay of rights. Focusing on rights takes us a one step further from the macro discussion on the origins of casualty sensitivity (which typifies sociological writing) and the variables clustered under the politics of war that typify IR/PS writing. While sociologists provide a general explanation for the declining tolerance for casualties, IR/PS studies offer political variables that may temper or aggravate the previously instilled sensitivity. My aim was to test these explanations and put forward a conceptual framework that could advance existing scholarship by focused on rights, enhance the dialogue between different studies, and fill the existing gaps. Several advantages are worth mentioning. First, the exchange between unequal military burden and unequal access to rights may fill the gaps recognized in Margaret Levi’s (1997) “contingent consent,” itself an effort to tackle the tensions implicit in the Hobbesian argument, in several ways: (1) The focus on the rewards for sacrifice by bringing in the right to protect helps identify the mechanisms that create a sense of fairness. It is true that perceptions of the fairness of inequitable burdens and rewards are subjective, but rewards add a more tangible sense of fairness. Furthermore, access to that right to protect is often circumscribed by the creation of social hierarchies built around the scale of military contribution. Ironically, it is this inequality that is the key to providing protection by compensating those who shoulder the majority of the military burden. An unequal burden is translated into and compensated for by a privileged social position. Contingent consent can thus be maintained despite unequal




On this point, the dialogue between sociological and IR/PS studies can be enhanced by showing how social processes that affect the right to protect also affect the politics of war by influencing the variables of the politics of war and their translatability into political action. This study followed from the existing literature, where the causal chain between a cultural climate intolerant of casualties and its reflection in the politics of war can be identified, albeit not explicitly enough. From this point, I have argued that the mode of recruitment largely determines collective actors’ ability to leverage the politics of war to challenge the dominant discourse and influence war policy. Fourth, this interplay allows us to identify changes in the terms of the exchange that impair the right to protect. These changes shape the range of conditions under which societal groups gain bargaining power over military policies and can resist the way the state extracts human resources for war, with the ultimate freedom to send people to their deaths. Hence, the public becomes a prominent actor in shaping military policies, with casualty sensitivity as one of its main patterns. Fifth, this interplay shows how security and citizenship are mutually affected: the citizens’ right to protection stems from the citizens’ readiness to protect the lives of others, and that readiness derives from rights allocation. The citizens’ duty to protect their country is not taken for granted; the focus is on the interstices between security and citizenship as sites where the provision of security to citizens is politically contested as it requires other citizens to sacrifice their lives. The citizens’ right to protection is politically negotiated by determining who the protectors are (by including groups in or excluding groups from the armed forces and shaping their place in the military hierarchy); the intensiveness of protection (in terms of sacrifice and risk); the rights that accrue to the protectors; and even who is protected and denied protection and who has reduced access to protection. In the end, this encounter between security and citizenship formulates the death hierarchy, the hierarchy of risk to which the state exposes its citizens. Abstract terms of security are thus broken into a more detailed analysis showing that security, as a classic example of a public good, is not equally accessed. Relatedly, each of the balancing strategies installed by the state reflects a different mode of relations between rights and thus also between security and citizenship. Securitization and militarization (balancing strategy #1), by placing security beyond politics and setting ambitious war goals, weakens the political right of participation in public debate that shapes security policies. Securitization and militarization thus impair citizens’ rights but does not necessarily provide more security. Crippling the political debate creates




McCoy 2010, 687). “The logic of the market could be extended to challenge the notion that armies should be run by the government,” warned Sandel (2003, 92). At the same time, marketization does not stop at military service. It extends to the increasing marketization of security, impairing the right to protection as well, as citizens’ access to protection is differentiated according to their market position—that is, their capacity to pay for the security services they seek. Gated communities, private police forces, private security packages (such as private bomb shelters), private protective suits against chemical and biological threats—all of these gradually make protection a private, rather than a public, good (Leander 2009; Mandel 2001). However, these forms of privatized protection appeared largely as a result of the destabilization of the role of the military as the monopolistic public service, which opened the door to alternative service suppliers. With the new hierarchies, privileged groups are provided with more security and also face less risk in combat. This brings us back to the Hobbesian contract: it may not work, and the state may fail to maintain political order and security unless its citizens are ready to sacrifice or, more importantly, prevent their rulers from sacrificing others instead. Israel’s likelihood of survival will be determined by how it meets this imperative, but it is also a lesson for the entire democratic world.

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Chapter 1 1. Yet, democracy is not a condition for civilian control. In Nazi Germany, as well

as in the Soviet Union, civilians effectively controlled the armies. The key was the dependence of the armies on strong civilian institutions. Republicanism in these countries was limited to the provision of security and to the expanded symbolic value conferred on security (such as national pride) in exchange for citizens’ sacrifices; the right to control the armed forces through representative institutions was not part of the package.

Chapter 2 1. Testimony to the Winograd Committee, Winograd Committee website, pp. 17–18. 2. Ultra-Orthodox, initially Ashkenazi Jews, who were excused from serving if


4. 5. 6.


they engaged in full-time Torah study at a recognized yeshiva under a political arrangement that was crafted in the first years of the state, with a growing presence of Mizrahim since the 1980s. Whereas explicit refusal to selectively carry out specific missions may demand high personal cost, “grey” refusal is far more widespread and hence more painful to the IDF. In this case, soldiers express their discomfort with sensitive missions that might involve attacks against civilians, negotiate with their commanders, and have themselves removed from the assignment. This negotiation is conducted quietly, often without the knowledge of senior commanders. The analysis is based on data provided to the author by the IDF for the years 2003, 2006, and 2008. Newsletter of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, July 1983 (http:// Interview with Defense Minister Rabin on Israel Television, 17 February 1985 ( nce+1947/1984-1988/). Non-Jewish immigrants may be denied access to a variety of rights.

Chapter 3 1. Ironically, the term “helicopter parents” is used to describe American parents,

mainly of college students, who pay extremely close attention to their children’s experiences and problems, hovering and being ultraprotective.






did not take part in the warfare. Because most of the fatalities resulted from putting down demonstrations and riots, the number of minors reflects the IDF’s lack of cautiousness in its activity. Still, it is reasonable to assume that some of the minors were involved in attacking the IDF units, just as many of the adults who were fired upon had not been involved in the hostilities. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and B’Tselem v. the Military Attorney General, High Court of Justice 9594/03. Adalah and Others v. GOC Central Command, IDF and Others, High Court of Justice 3799/02. Yoav Hass and others v. Deputy Chief-of-Staff Major General Dan Halutz, High Court of Justice 5757/04. Data on the class distribution of the survey were provided by Yael Hadar, Israeli Democracy Institute, private communication, June 2007.

Chapter 7 1. See Minster Rafi Eitan’s testimony in the Winograd Committee, Committee

website, p. 25. 2. Government Secretary Announcements to the Press, December 28, 2008 (www. govmes281208.doc) (Hebrew).

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Alternative News Network: Breaking the Silence: B’Tselem: Courage to Refuse: Four Mothers: IDF reserves portal: Israel Ministry of Defense: Israel Prime Minister’s Office (Israel Under Attack): Communication/IsraelUnderAttack/ Just Vision: The Parents Circle—Families Forum: Winograd Committee:



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1948 War, 38, 41, 42, 84, 139, 182, 183 1973 War, 41, 45–46, 51, 59, 67, 83, 131; criticism of the army, 41–42, 46, 53, 118; and erosion of the legitimacy of military sacrifice, 42, 50, 158, 184; increase of security burden, 43 Abu-Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), 165 Afghanistan war, 31, 174, 178 Al-Aqsa Intifada, second Intifada, 49, 63, 67, 72, 82, 85, 89, 94, 95, 99, 107, 116, 159, 160, 175; in Gaza Strip, 153–154, 157–162, 171; Operation Defensive Shield, 83, 86, 90; and the social composition of the IDF, 83–85, 92–93, 97, 98, 142, 155. See also Bereavement, and Al-Aqsa Intifada; Mitchell Report Amar, Amalia, 85 “An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq,” 104 Antiwar groups, 4, 5, 7, 23, 30, 34, 51–52, 53, 110–111, 113, 121, 125; and mothers/ parents, 77–78, 120; protests 3, 4, 25, 41–42, 81, 110, 120, 125, 152. See also Gold Star Families for Peace; Israel: protest activities and movements; Israel: wars, the use of force criticized; Vietnam war, civil resistance to Arab-Israeli conflict, 43, 45, 46, 60, 75, 158 Arens, Moshe, 55, 138, 163, 195 Ashkenazi, Gabi, 166, 199 Avitan, Zohar, 138 Ayalon, Bilha, 87 Balancing rights, 7, 15, 21, 25, 32, 42, 148,

200, 210. See also Balancing rights, strategies of; Israel: balancing strategies Balancing rights, strategies of, 7, 13, 15, 23, 29, 34, 182, 206; #1 increasing the demand for protection, 24, 26–27, 32, 33, 34, 175, 202, 211; #2 increasing the compensation of sacrifice, 27–28, 32, 33, 113, 175, 196–197, 212; #3 reducing military burden, risking the level of protection, 7, 28–29, 33, 34, 175, 176, 212; #4 redistribution of the burden, 9–10, 24, 30–32, 33, 34, 128, 149, 152, 174, 175, 176–177, 194, 200, 202, 212; force-casualties tradeoff (FCT), 11–12, 31, 147, 149–153, 154, 171, 177, 178–179, 196, 212. See also Israel, balancing strategies; Protection Barak, Ehud, 74, 75, 96, 158, 166, 167, 199 Beaufort Family, 51, 53, 56, 86, 106, 117, 185 Begin, Menachem, 44–45, 49, 52, 53, 54 Belski, Shlomi, 86 Ben Dor, Rachel, 73 Ben-Eliezer, Binyamin, 175 Ben-Gurion, David, 183, 189 Bereavement, 16, and Al-Aqsa Intifada, 83, 85, 99, 104, 136; and collective action, 10, 71, 72, 78, 92, 105, 106, 109–110, 112, 115, 118;, hierarchy of, 10, 11, 69, 71, 72, 106, 124, 128–129, 208; imbuing loss with meaning, 18, 77, 81, 85–86, 88; Israeli hegemonic model of, 41; and Kibbutz members, 98, 101–102; of parents, 41, 51, 52, 53, 81, 83–88, 96–97, 99, 101, 102–103, 104, >>





Draft, 30, 128, 207, 210; legitimacy crisis, 7, 22, 28. See also Conscription vs. vocalization; IDF, conscription, draft system; United States, draft East Timor, 177 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, 46, 59 Einhorn, David, 99, 104 Eitan, Raphael, 52 Eliad, Shraga, 98 Eshkol, Levi, 183–184, 189 Exit from war. See War, exit from Family, size of, 22, 57 Fatah party, 163 Feminism, 18, 78, 79. See also Gender and military service First Intifada, 45–46, 58, 60, 61, 67, 84, 90, 92, 93, 94, 105, 160; and forcecasualties tradeoff, 11, 148, 153, 154–157, 159, 161, 171, 172 Force-casualties tradeoff (FCT). See Balancing rights, strategies of, forcecasualties tradeoff; Israel, balancing strategies, force-casualties tradeoff Four Mothers movement, 10, 72–76, 86, 87, 89, 95, 104, 106, 108, 109, 116, 133, 185, 208; founding of, 72, 124; and republican motherhood, 78, 79, 82, 110; success of, 76–82, 91, 95, 114–115, 117–118, 119, 120, 126 France, enlisting minority groups, 17; levée en masse, 17–18; model of conscription, 19 “Free-rider syndrome,” 6 Frontier, 159, 162. See also Israel, frontier vs. ghetto Gaza Strip, 38, 82, 131, 132, 137, 140, 142, 151, 153–154, 156, 174, 189, 201, 202; after the withdrawal, 162–165, 171, 172; and Al-Aqsa Intifada, 153, 157–162, 165, 172; Jewish settlements, 58, 60, 62, 63,




83, 89, 151, 155; Druze and Bedouins, 40, 64, 66, 84, 138, 170; the fallen, 52, 54, 80, 83–85, 89, 92, 97–98, 101, 102, 105, 124, 142, 170; Haredim, 45, 48, 49, 50, 64, 66, 88, 94, 215n2; immigrants from former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, 9, 64, 65, 83–84, 85–86, 92, 107, 170, 208, 215n7; Kibbutzim, agricultural sector, 45, 52, 93, 101–102, 139, 170; lower status groups, Mizrahim, 8, 9, 18, 38–40, 42, 44–45, 54, 46, 64, 65, 66, 83; 85–86, 93, 94, 124, 129, 136–137, 138, 159, 163, 170, 208; religious Jews, 9, 10, 40, 42, 82, 84, 85, 88, 92, 93, 94, 101, 102, 124, 136–137, 138, 159, 163, 208; the religious young generation, 66–67, 100, 101, 136–137, 169; role in defining Israeli social hierarchy, 44, 45; secular, middle class members (Ashkenazim), 8, 9, 17, 37, 38–40, 42, 49, 52, 54, 67, 80, 83, 89, 93, 97, 120, 124, 127, 130, 132–136, 139–140, 142, 143, 206–207, 208; settlers, 9, 64, 84, 88, 98, 100, 141, 166, 169, 170, 172, 168; social inequalities, 18, 39, 40–41, 130, 131; social realignment, 8, 63, 64–66, 68, 72, 82, 84, 91–92, 93, 94, 95, 99–100, 101, 105, 107, 132, 142, 159, 160, 168, 208; and soldiers’ mothers, 78–79; and soldiers’ parents, 47, 48, 50, 55, 57, 58, 72, 103–104, 133, 140, 210; women, 40. See also Death hierarchy; IDF, reservists; Israel, balancing strategies, burden and military protection reduction; Israel, demands for burden reduction; Israel, ethno-social groups; Social rearchitecturing of the army Individualism, rise of, 2, 22, 44, 49 Internal pacification, 19 International law, 32, 150, 151, 216n3 International strategy, 28–29 Intifada. See Al-Aqsa (second) Intifada; First Intifada




in Lebanon, 72–76; and the media, 56–57; of parents, 53, 57, 58; as partners for political dialogue, 61, 105, 126; and the religious community, 98–101; and republican motherhood, 78–79; and the Second Lebanon War, 96–100, 102–108, 118, 125–126, 127, 132, 137, 185; voice, 56, 78, 99, 120; voice vs. exit, 80–81, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 105, 113, 115, 122. See also Beaufort family; Bereavement, and collective action; Bereavement discourse; Breaking the Silence movement; B’Tselem; Courage to Refuse; Four Mothers movement; IDF, reservists, antiwar protests and peace movements; IDF, social composition of, the fallen; Israel, ethno-social groups, Ashkenazim in protest movements; Israel, ethno-social groups, less privileged, in protest activities; Israel wars, “of choice” and “of no choice”; Kochav Yair group; Mothers (Parents) against Silence; Movement for Quality Government in Israel; Peace Now; Refusal; Soldiers against Silence; Shuvi; There Is a Limit; Women in Black Israel, republicanism and, 8, 39, 55, 76–77, 78, 79, 91, 93, 94, 102, 120, 126, 206; discourse of, a new type, 104–105; renewed and revised, 137. See also Israel, protest activities and movements, and republican motherhood; Kibbutzim; Republican exchange and ethos Israel, wars of, 35; “of choice” and “of no choice,” 52, 56, 75, 98, 99, 116, 156; and the economy, 43, 187, 191; and ethnoclass clashes, 54–55. See also 1948 War; 1973 War; IDF; IDF, reprisal raids; Israel and military sacrifice; Lebanon; Sinai Campaign; Six-Day War; Use of Force, legitimacy and application of, in Israel; War of attrition against Egypt




Military buildups, 15–16, 19–20, 62, 177, 183 Military death, 81; vs. captivity, 136; distinguished from other forms of death, 18, 77; legitimacy/tolerance, of, 10, 25, 71, 113, 128, 210; meaning of, 2, 22, 28, 77, 88. See also Bereavement; Casualty sensitivity Minority groups: marginalized by status of soldiering, 17–18; trust of the state in, 29. See also IDF, social composition of; Israel, ethno-social groups; Social inequality; Social mobility Mission selection, 29, 47, 133, 155, 174, 176, 212 Mitchell Report, 173 Mode of control, 176. See also Israel, mode of control of the territories Mofaz, Shaul, 134, 135, 189, 199 Mortality, and the experience of young people, 22 Moshavim, 139. See also IDF, social composition of, Kibbutzim, agricultural sector Mothers: as protectors of their children, 78; and sacrifice, 18, 77–78, 113, 114. See also Antiwar groups, and mothers/ parents; Four Mothers movement; Militarization, militarized motherhood; Mothers (Parents) against Silence; Republican exchange and ethos, republican motherhood; Shuvi Mothers (Parents) against Silence, 55, 73, 75 Motivation. See IDF: reservists, drop in motivation to sacrifice; Israel and military sacrifice; Sacrifice, motivation for Movement for Quality Government in Israel, 98 Muskal, Moshe, 99, 104 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 21, 28, 32, 173, 193




33–34, 50, 130, 207; rewards of, 16, 17, 25, 27–28, 33, 34, 41, 42, 43, 46, 50, 54, 102, 116, 139, 140, 184, 197, 207, 208, 209–210, 212; rewards, monetary, 23, 28, 30, 61, 66, 111, 113, 127, 130, 207; and securitization, 26; transformation of consent into, 6, 7. See also Balancing rights, strategies of, increasing the compensation of sacrice; Death hierarchy; Israel and military sacrifice; Lebanon, and the legitimacy of military sacrifice in Israel; Military death; Mothers, and sacrifice; Rights, in return for sacrifice Sderot, 2, 137, 138, 141, 143 Securitization, 24, 26–27, 196, 211. See also Citizenship, and security; International strategy; Militarization; Warfare Security, 16, 30, 211–212, 215n1; and citizenship, 6, 211–212; cost of, 21–22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 43; cost of, in competition with the labor market, 28; decrease in the level of, 21, 28–29, 33; marketization of, 212–213; and perceived external threat, 4, 9, 21, 24, 26–27, 32, 37, 115, 116, 197, 210. See also Balancing rights, strategies of, increasing the demand for protection; Protection Settlements. See Gaza Strip, Jewish settlements; West Bank, Jewish settlements Shadah, Salah, 159, 161 Shalit, Gilad, 135 Shamir, Yitzhak, 189 Sharett, Moshe, 183, 189 Sharon, Ariel, 52, 87, 91, 95, 126, 139, 158, 162, 186, 189, 216n2 Sharon, Ofer, 76 Shas Party, 95 Sheehan, Cindy, 108, 110, 113, 114 Shinui Party, 94 Shomron, Dan, 58, 92, 155 Shuvi: Women for Withdrawal from Gaza, 87, 91, 106, 126, 161




Warfare, 175, 179; cost of, 31–32; diffused, 164–165; introduction of artillery and gunpowder, 15–16; “small wars,” 11, 23, 29, 133, 152; wars of attrition, 150. See also IDF, mode of warfare changed in Gaza; International Law; Technology Weber, Max, 5, 151 Weinberger Doctrine, 166, 174, 194 Weissglass, Dov, 162 West bank, 11, 38, 49, 82, 141, 156, 157, 159, 162, 163, 188; evacuation of settlements, 67, 83, 100, 137, 162, 165; Jewish settlements, 58, 60, 62, 63, 66, 158, 184; Operation Defensive Shield, 83, 131, 160, 170; Palestinian fatalities, 165, 170. See also Al-Aqsa (second) Intifada; Breaking the Silence movement; First Intifada; Oslo Accords Winograd Committee of Inquiry, 96, 103, 105, 134, 141, 187, 188, 190, 192, 198–199 Women in Black, 87 Women Strike for Peace, 120 World Wars I and II, legitimacy of sacrifice in, 2, 177 Yaalon, Moshe, 103, 160, 199 Yadlin, Amos, 165 Yeshivot. See Mechinot, hesder yeshivot Yom Kipur war. See 1973 War Zemach, Haim, 103

About the Author

Yagil Levy is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Political Science, and Communication at the Open University of Israel. His current research interests include the theoretical aspects of relations between society and the military and the linkage between Israel’s war/peace policies and the social structure of the military. His recent books include Israel’s Materialist Militarism (2007), Israel since 1980 (coauthored, 2008), and Who Governs the Military? Between Control of the Military and Control of Militarism (2010, in Hebrew).