In This Review

Civil-Military Relations in Israel
Civil-Military Relations in Israel
By Yehuda Ben Meir
235 pp, Columbia University Press, 1995

An experienced politician turned academic has produced an enlightening study of civil-military relations in Israel. His information comes in part from numerous interviews with high-level Israeli officials, and he generally arrives at reassuring conclusions about civilian control. But he also demonstrates that the military often has great influence over civilian decisions. For example, he attributes Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's decision to refrain from responding to Iraqi Scud attacks largely to the pressure of the Israeli Defense Forces, which wanted the war to go on long enough for the Americans to destroy Saddam's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Ben Meir also worries that the polarization of Israeli society and the malfunctioning of its divided political system could open the way for a greater, and unwelcome, role for the military in the future. Finally, he notes that the Israeli army is increasingly professional and less a reflection of the civilian army of the early years of the state. He concludes with policy recommendations to ensure that civilians keep the upper hand.