Political Indoctrination of Soldiers in the IDF, 1948-1949

in Israel Studies Review
Author: Shay Hazkani
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This article explores themes in the political education and indoctrination of soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1948 War. It argues that the army command attempted to advance the notion that a form of militarism rooted in Judaism was the only way to win the war. Education officers explained to soldiers that 'the Jewish tradition' sanctioned the eradication of the invading armies and indifference to the fate of Palestinians. The article also traces the influence of Abba Kovner's lurid propaganda on the rest of the IDF's education apparatus. Kovner, the education officer of the Givati Brigade, believed that hate propaganda made killing the enemy easier, and his views were shared by many other education officers who saw his work as a road-map for the entire military. Nevertheless, there were some officers who opposed his work out of fear for the consequences that it would have on the future of Israeli society.

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