Religion now plays an increasingly prominent role in the discourse on international security. Within that context, attention largely focuses on the impact exerted by teachings rooted in Christianity and Islam. By comparison, the linkages between Judaism and the resort to armed force are invariably overlooked. This book offers a corrective. Comprising a series of essays written over the past two decades by one of Israel's most distinguished military sociologists, its point of departure is that the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, quite apart from revolutionizing Jewish political activity, also triggered a transformation in Jewish military perceptions and conduct. Soldiering, which for almost two millennia was almost entirely foreign to Jewish thought and practice, has by virtue of universal conscription (for women as well as men) become a rite of passage to citizenship in the Jewish state. For practicing orthodox Jews in Israel that change generates dilemmas that are intellectual as well as behavioural, and has necessitated both doctrinal and institutional adaptations. At the same time, the responses thus evoked are forcing Israel's decision-makers to reconsider the traditional role of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) as their country's most evocative symbol of national unity.
’The history, as well as the structure and function, of Israel's Armed Forces, is characterized by many riddles. Not the least of them is the question of how did the ’"people of the Book" turn into a "nation in arms"? This scholarly book sheds light on this and many other paradoxes existing presently in the Israeli military.’ Reuven Gal, Founding Chair of The Israeli Association for Civil-Military Studies ’Stuart A. Cohen is Israel’s leading student of civil-military relations, and he has long written with great insight, and often provocatively, on the ever-changing place of religion in the army of the Jewish state. This wide-ranging and elegantly-written collection shows how unique Cohen is in bringing together deep knowledge of the Israel Defense Forces, mastery of the Jewish tradition, and sensitivity to the contemporary Israeli scene. A must-read for those concerned about the past, present, and future not only of the IDF, but of Israel.’ Ronald R. Krebs, University of Minnesota, USA 'Stuart Cohen, a full professor at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, and who recently became the head of the Politics and Governance department at the Academic College of Ashkelon, is not only one of Israel’s leading civil-military relations scholars, but perhaps the leading academic authority on halachah scholarship on warfare. He has produced a concise, comprehensive, reader-friendly introduction to the Israeli case study... an authoritative and comprehensive work... Overall, it is a magnum opus, since he manages to summarise decades of work and provide an unrivalled introduction to an important topic.' Defense and Security Analysis 'Thorough in its sources, lucid in its presentation, and balanced in its analysis, this text brings together some of Cohen’s most influential publications as well as novel work. ... This responsa literature is Cohen’s greatest area of expertise, and he offers a broad survey and a careful evaluation of prominent texts in that literary