Since its embryonic days and well into the fifth decade of its existence as an independent state, the Israeli polity has been involved in a protracted, often violent conflict with the Arab world surrounding it.1 Both sides in the conflict have developed a zero-sum definition of the relations between them, thereby investing the army and the effective use of force with maximal weight. Such an emphasis on the military and on the use of force is particularly paradoxical in the case of the Jewish/Israeli side in the conflict, as it is in sharp contrast with the usually docile traditional way of life the Jewish people had followed for almost two thousand years. Their subjugation in the countries of the Diaspora made the idea of physical resistance to existential threats so completely non-realistic that quietism, a passive acceptance of pogroms and other manifestations of physical abuse, became an integral part of the Jewish exilic culture.2 The physical weakness of the Jewish people in exile produced an exceedingly and profoundly civilian national culture that was devoid of any military aspects.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2001 Philip Everts and Pierangelo Isernia for selection and editorial matter; individual chapters, the contributors. All rights reserved.