This volume is a perfect illustration of how far the tenured Left will go to suppress real diversity and balance in academic discourse while misrepresenting one-sided advocacy as scholarship. Militarism and Israeli Society is a collection of articles

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This volume is a perfect illustration of how far the tenured Left will go to suppress real diversity and balance in academic discourse while misrepresenting one-sided advocacy as scholarship. Militarism and Israeli Society is a collection of articles that were presented at a conference sponsored by Israel's semi-Marxist Van Leer Institute and edited by two Hebrew University professors, Sheffer and Barak, noted for their vocal attacks on the Jewish state.

Alongside these ideological biases is a sloppy use of terminology at the heart of the book. For the writers, the terms "militaristic" and "having a large army" are generally used interchangeably. Granted, Israel does have a sizable military, understandable in the face of the multiple threats it continually faces. But the absence of militarism (and the reality of civilian control over the Israeli military) was dramatically illustrated in recent months when Israeli civilian politicians repeatedly considered and then ruled out generals for the position of chief of staff.[1]

Israel's army interacts with other parts of society in interesting ways. Military officers retire and often become politicians. Social networking is often based on one's old army buddies. These would be interesting issues to analyze. But Militarism and Israeli Society has little interest in such things. With only a few exceptions, the writers in the volume simply bash Israel rather than examine it seriously.

Thus a chapter by Kobi Michael opines at length (and with painful polysyllabic inventions like "epistemic authority" or "Type A Discourse Space") that civilian control over the Israeli military is weak without offering any evidence that this is true. Yoram Peri complains that the Israeli media is subservient to and coddles the army but never mentions the ideological Left's hegemony over most news outlets. A shrill chapter denouncing Israel's security barrier by Yuval Feinstein and Uri Ben-Eliezer dismisses the initiative as a "Method of a New War" by Israel against Palestinians; the authors never mention that the fence was built to keep out terrorists or that it was constructed as a civilian project to protect both Jewish and Arab citizens who were being blown up with tragic regularity. There has been debate as to how much the drop in terrorist atrocities in recent years was due to the partial completion of this fence. Perhaps the only chapters in the book not seeking to grind an ideological axe are the ones on Israel's defense budget by Zalman F. Shiffer and one on the role of the religiously observant in the military by Stuart A. Cohen.

The word "analysis" may be the most overused term, showing up on almost every page of the book. Yet, there is virtually none to be found in this collection of rhetoric posing as scholarship.

[1] Asia Times (Hong Kong), Feb. 11, 2011; Reuters, Feb. 13, 2011.