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Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations published its new book release “Religious Fundamentalism in the Israeli Army: Factors and Impact on the Democracy in Israel 1995–2014,” by Qutaiba Waleed Ghanim. The 160-page book was originally a thesis that earned its author a master’s degree in Israeli studies from the University of Jerusalem in 2015.

>> Free Download: Chapter 5: The Religious Fundamentalism Infiltration of the Israeli Army (25 pages, 1.1 MB) (Arabic)

Publication Information

– Title: Al-Usuliyyah al-Diniyyah fi al-Jaish al-Israeli: al-Asbab wa al-Tada‘iyat ‘Ala “al-Dimuqratiyyah fi Israel” 1995-2014 (Religious Fundamentalism in the Israeli Army: Factors and Impact on the Democracy in Israel 1995-2014)
– Author: Qutaiba Waleed Ghanim
– Published in: 2018 (1st Edition)
– Hardcover: 160 pages
– ISBN: 978-9953-572-68-0
– Price: $6


The religious Jews have penetrated and are spreading throughout the Israeli army and reaching senior positions. So what is the extent of their impact on decision-making in Israel? What are the reasons behind the heightening presence of this expanding religious fundamentalism inside the army and its institutions? What percentage do they represent in various divisions and weapons? Who is their authority and arbiter? And do they obey the decisions of their rabbis or those of their government? Al-Zaytouna Centre answers these and other questions in its new release, “Religious Fundamentalism in the Israeli Army.”

The importance of this book stems from the fact that its author covered the gaps of previous studies on religious Jews in Israeli society, which failed to examine the impact of the expanding religious fundamentalism in the army on Israeli decision-making and on “Israel’s democracy.” Those studies also did tackle the change in the army’s ideology and combat doctrine, as well as its impact on the Arab–Israeli conflict.

The book is divided into six chapters. The first deals with the background and objectives of the study, the problems it faced, and the methodology of the author.

The second chapter presents the terms used concerning the army, religion and democracy, their meanings and interrelationship.

The third chapter sheds light on the emergence of the Israeli army, its structure and development, clarifying its setup and how it is divided into three main formations: the General Staff divisions, regional military commands, and military arms. It also describes the rank ladder and promotional procedure in it. It talks in detail about the army’s elite units, and how they are treated with complete confidentiality. The author cites the prominent personalities who led these units and graduated from them, among them prime ministers, party leaders and army commanders. He gave as examples: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and Moshe Ya‘alon …

The fourth chapter deals with the Israeli religious movements, which are based on religious Zionism. It describes their view of the army and service in it, the loyalty of their authorities to the state, and the way they participate in the state’s institutions. The writer also tackled the ultra-Orthodox movements that oppose Zionism, their various sects, the parties they formed, and the splits between them; both at the level of the parties and in terms of cooperating with the state or separating from it. In this regard, the author discussed the emergence of each sect and party, their religious foundations, the religious reasons for their opposition to Zionism, and their belief that in the Torah there is a link between the state and the will of the Lord, or that there is opposition to this link in it, on which some of them base their boycott of state institutions, even the educational ones.

In this chapter, a special section analyzes the rise of religious movement and the decline of secular Zionism’s power. The author cites Israeli historians who spoke about “the retreat of the political, cultural, and secular Israeli domination” in face of the emergence of several societies and identities, semi-independent and separate the one from the other. He also shes light on the weights of the religious parties in various Knesset sessions, and the blackmail methods they used against government coalitions, so that they can force the passing of some laws. He ends this chapter by discussing the tension between religious and secular Jews, and the effect this has on the general working of the government, in addition to the religious group’s reliance on violence to impose their convictions on the secular group.

The fifth chapter discusses the manifestations of religious infiltration of the Israeli army, laying out to the reader an explication of the danger of Jewish fundamentalism as a radical fanatical thought, stemming from the myths and legends that they attribute to the Torah, pointing out that the greatest danger lies in the intrusions of extremist movements in the military establishment.

The history of the conflict over military service between the religious and the secular groups is also explained, where there is a decline in the incentive to serve among secular youth, thus decreasing from 60% to 48%. And while this incentive reached in the national religious youth group 68%, it declined among the Kibbutz dwellers youth to 29%. In the early 1980s, followers of the religious movement constituted only 2% of combat unit officers. They now constitute 35–40% of the officers in the elite brigades and combat units; furthermore, they have monopoly over the service in the elite brigades, constituting 60% of the commanders and members of the Givati brigade, as an example. The tables in the book provide the percentage of graduates among religious fighters, which clearly show the rise of the religious tide within the army, and in various fields. The army has changed during the 20 years following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, in light of the high rise in the ratio of trainees in the army’s religious academies during the same period to about 250%.

This chapter also gives an explanation of the reasons for the enrollment of religious Jews in the army, who are their authorities, and to what extent they comply with political decisions; about the recruitment of Haredim, and about the religious academies and the rise in their enrollment.

In the sixth and final chapter, the author discusses the effects of religious fundamentalism on the future of “democracy” in Israel, the outcome of increased military involvement in the decision-making process, in addition to the increase in racist and non-democratic legislation proposed in the Knesset. How all of this will affect internal stability and the unity of the army itself. He concludes that as the religious tide grows and gains more control of the army, it will have greater impact on the future of wars with the Palestinians and the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict; as the military elite units play an important role in political decision-making.

At the end of the book, the writer makes several recommendations, the most important of which is that the Palestinian decision-maker must recognize the changes in Israel’s policy (state and army) towards all aspects of the conflict. Therefore, peaceful solutions must be abandoned because they are futile. He recommends that the Palestinian leadership takes decisive resolutions in case of any Israeli military action. The author also recommends that Palestinian research and studies centers make available Hebrew and foreign references and research, and have them translated.


>> Free Download: Chapter 5: The Religious Fundamentalism Infiltration of the Israeli Army (25 pages, 1.1 MB) (Arabic)

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 19/2/2018