Divine Service?: Judaism and Israel's Armed Forces, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Divine Service?

Judaism and Israel's Armed Forces, 1st Edition

By Stuart A. Cohen


210 pages

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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.


'An introduction that weaves together all three parts of the anthology, as well as an epilogue that addresses the vexing problem of Haredi (non)enlistment in the IDF and its implications for Israeli society, round out the volume, whose rich contents have barely been scratched in this brief review. Suffice it to say here that Cohen’s anthology is a most important contribution to the field of military sociology in respect of the IDF, and, as such, it deserves a very wide audience.'

David Rodman, Israel Affairs

About the Author

Stuart Cohen (D.Phil. Oxford University 1972) is professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, Israel and chair of the department of government and politics at Ashkelon Academic College, Israel. Over the past two decades his research has focused on the overall interface between the military and society in Israel. He has also devoted particular attention to the specifically Jewish dimension of that subject.

About the Series

Religion and International Security

Religion and International Security
In the twenty-first century religion has become an increasingly important factor in international relations and international security. Religion is seen by policy makers and academics as being a major contributor in conflict and its successful resolution. The role of the Ashgate series in Religion and International Security is to provide such policy makers, practitioners, researchers and students with a first port of call in seeking to find the latest and most comprehensive research on religion and security. The series provides established and emerging authors with an opportunity to publish in a series with a reputation for high quality and cutting edge research in this field. The series produces analytical and scholarly works from around the world that demonstrate the relevance of religion in security and international relations. The intention is not to be prescriptive or reductionist in restricting the types of books that would be appropriate for the series and as such encourages a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches. International security is broadly defined to incorporate inter and intra-state conflict, human security, terrorism, genocide, religious freedom, human rights, environmental security, the arms trade, securitisation, gender security, peace keeping, conflict resolution and humanitarian intervention. The distinguishing feature is the religious element in any security or conflict issue.

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