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Tzahal: a state within a state


Tzahal (acronym for "Israel Defense Forces" [IDF]) is a young army rich with military experiencethat has involved it in seven wars in six decades. It has a history full of contradictory symbols. While initially it was seen as the "little army of a heroic state," today it is viewed as "the most powerful army in the Middle East." Its image as "army of the nation," the melting pot of successive generations of immigrants, is still intact. Civil society and the army are still today closely intertwined since civilians supply the army with virtually all its troops but also depend entirely on it for survival. However, this image no longer reflects the full reality. While the army was an object of consensus for the first two decades after the founding of the state, it has since become an institution like any other, and is not immune to public criticism. This transformation has produced uncertainties and questions: first, the issue of its effectiveness, for, despite its power, during the second Lebanon War the IDF was unable to overcome the far smaller group of Hezbollah combatants; second, the issue of its influence on political power, which some consider "excessive". Hence the fundamental questions: is the IDF still the powerful army that it was during the Six Day War? Is it still Israel's beloved army? Are its generals a threat to Israeli democracy? And finally, is it the state that "has an army" or the army that "has the state"?
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hal-03398525 , version 1 (22-10-2021)



Samy Cohen. Tzahal: a state within a state. Alain Dieckhoff. Routledge handbook of modern Israel, Routledge, pp.37 - 45, 2013, 9780415573924. ⟨hal-03398525⟩
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