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Society and the military

[four_fifth spacing=”yes” last=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” class=”” id=””]To this day, Israel has compulsory conscription. Men are called up for three years, and women for eighteen months to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Exempted from this conscription are all Palestinians living within Israel except for the Druze community. A small minority of Bedouins volunteer for the IDF, often as trackers. Jewish Orthodox men who are students at a Yeshiva (religious school) and also Orthodox women are exempted from military service.

The presence of the military in Israel’s daily life is often overwhelming for the first time visitor. Everywhere one can see soldiers with their weapons, walking on the streets, at bus stations, in shopping malls and even in discos. When making new acquaintances, for example, young people often use military service as one of their central points of reference. Where did somebody serve (in what unit or battalion), with whom, and what rank did he or she have? This information helps Israeli youths to categorize a new acquaintance, just as information about family, occupation and place of residence can serve as reference points.

The military service of Jewish Israelis is still perceived as a natural part of life. One ‘gives’ to the nation and receives services and protection in return. Lately there have been some cracks in the support for the military, but it is still central to Israeli life.

Military service and rank during one’s conscription, but especially for professional military personnel, have a great influence on occupational possibilities in civilian life. Men benefit almost exclusively from this. Women are excluded from important positions within the military and this marginality is carried over into civil society, where work possibilities are linked to a person’s military career. Palestinian citizens in Israel are excluded from some state services because they do not serve in the military.[/four_fifth] [one_fifth spacing=”yes” last=”yes” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding=”” class=”” id=””]

Military training in a deserted village in the Negev desert / Photo HH
Military training in a deserted village in the Negev desert / Photo HH
Training in the Golan / Photo HH
Training in the Golan / Photo HH
An IDF operation in Gaza / Photo Shutterstock
An IDF operation in Gaza / Photo Shutterstock
IDF soldiers during a military operation in Bethlehem in 2002 / Photo Shutterstock
IDF soldiers during a military operation in Bethlehem in 2002 / Photo Shutterstock

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