Masks and Soldiering: The Israeli Army and the Palestinian Uprising

Essay Excerpt

What I am proposing, in other words, is the need to view service in Israel's army reserves from what is perhaps a novel perspective: that is, as an activity through which different meaning systems are produced and reproduced. More specifically, I will attempt in this analysis to situate some of the more individual-centered mechanisms and small-group dynamics by which reservists cope with their tours of duty during the uprising, within three wider processes: the construction of (male) identities through military service, the transition between civilian and army lives, and the workings of the interpretive schemes that underlie military activities.

Before moving on to the analysis I should, perhaps, trace out the limits of the present argument. What follows is based on the impressions and observations of a deeply troubled participant. While I am by profession an anthropologist I did not carry out a piece of systematic fieldwork while in Hebron, nor did I envisage a systematic analysis of the situation while there. Along these lines, my discussion is based foremostly on my own experience during that early stage of the uprising, on a small number of interviews I conducted with some of the battalion's officers, and on a review of many articles from popular journals and newspapers that have been devoted to the subject. (373-374) 


About the Author

Dr. Eyal Ben-Ari is a Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research interests include Japanese society and culture, the Israeli Army, the Armed Forces of the industrial democracies, sociology of anthropology, and anthropology of organizations. 

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