The Sword or the Scroll? Dilemmas of Religion and Military Service in Israel

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The Sword or the Scroll? Dilemmas of Religion and Military Service in Israel

By Stuart A. Cohen
Harwood Academic Publishers, 1997
148 pp. $22.00
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A slender work that may go unnoticed, which would be a pity. In remarkably brief compass, Cohen details the ways in which Israel's religious community has dealt with the Israel Defense Forces. In so doing, he renders concise and lucid accounts of Jewish just war theory (which distinguishes between "obligatory" and "optional" conflicts), the changing composition of the IDF (in which religious youth now provide a disproportionate percentage of soldiers in elite units), and the ways in which religious sensibilities can shape civil-military relations (as, for example, when a group of rabbis urged military disobedience in the face of orders to evacuate West Bank Jewish settlements). A book of considerable interest to students not only of Israel but of military sociology generally.