This study examines the attitudes and policies on all sides of the majority/minority divide in Israel during the state’s formative decade, and how the social, political, and strategic decisions made vis-à-vis the non-Jewish populations then continue to impact this unique Middle Eastern state today. While land, labor, and settlement policies, or the educational, legal, or political systems, could have been used to explore majority-minority relations in Israel between 1948-1958, this study does so through the prism of the army – in theory, the state’s most unifying social institution.The central questions investigated in this study are; how did the leadership of the Jewish majority balance its declared commitment to the state’s democratic ideals and the principle of equality on the one hand, and its commitment to creating a Jewish state and ensuring its security on the other? Was the army – charged with instilling Zionist patriotism in Jewish youth – prepared to absorb and integrate Arabs, who constituted the overwhelming majority of the non-Jewish minorities? Would the state’s minority groups be viewed as trustworthy and loyal enough to serve in the army? Furthermore, how would (potential) Arab military service impact the educational mission, and particularly the simultaneously transformative and integrative effort the army was charged with carrying out among Jews?While a specialized work in the fields of Israel and Middle Eastern Studies, this book should appeal to all students interested in majority/minority relations and the state-building process in newly-emerging democratic societies.
This book conveys a unique perspective on the IDF to the English reader, showing the interplay of political and military concerns with democratic values and social behavior in the early stages of statehood. It sheds important light on the complicated relationship of Israel with its minorities, which is still very relevant today.