The Government System and the Army
Israel is a republic with a parliamentary model of governance. It does not have a constitution, which is substituted by a number of legislative acts. The Head of the State is the President, whose powers are limited. The executive government is headed by the prime minister. The supreme legislature is a single-house parliament (Knesset). The judicial system is made up of secular and spiritual courts and the Supreme Court. The Prime Minister and the Ministers are elected from among the members of the Parliament. After the Knesset’s approval, the ministers receive a vote of confidence from the “bottom”, the massive support, and from the “top”, i.e. from the parliament.
Israel is an agrarian-industrial country with militarized economy. The industry is developing in the direction of strengthening the military-economic potential, mainly at the expense of foreign capital. In 1970, 40% of the country’s budget was allocated to military spending.At the same time, Israel is a developed democracy.
The founding fathers of the state came to the conclusion that effective democracy must be established in order to become a safe haven for peaceful and progressive development of the Jews living in Zion’s land, as well as the world Jewry. Israel is rightly the only effective democracy in the Greater Middle East.
Israel is in the list of the top 30 most democratic countries in the “Democratic Index – 2016” list of authoritative British magazine “Economist”.
Nominal GDP in 2017 stood at $ 40.76 . According to Transparency International Anti-corruption Organization, the Corruption Perception Index in Israel was 64, and it was ranked 28th out of 176 in 2016 (Corruption Perception Index, CPI is measured by the level of public perception of corruption in one or another country, based on different surveys conducted among businessmen and experts).
The Israeli Defense Army (Hebrew, Tsva-ha- Hagana le-Jisrael, Abbreviated, TSAHAL) was formed two weeks after the establishment of the state during the war for independence. David Ben Gurion, the head of the provisional government of Israel, signed on May 26, 1948, the decree of the Israeli Defense Army. The concept of the use of the army, the doctrine of action, was developed in 1949 under the direction of Colonel Khaim Laskov.
The majority of the population in Israel are conscripted at the age of eighteen. Men serve for three years and women for two. After the service, men go to a reserve and attend the assemblies for a few weeks each year, until the age of 40. There are 168,000 military servicemen and 408,000 reserve staff member in TSAHAL. With these figures, the Israeli army is comparable to the armies of the neighboring countries that have multi-million populations.
In the Armenian society, it is common to compare Armenians and Jews, draw parallels between the two peoples’ past road and experiences, and quite often they speak of the exemplary experience of uniting the efforts of the world’s Jews and putting them to the development of the Jewish state, as an example for imitation. In this context, it is also common to speak of the advantages of the Israeli army concept, the Jewish model of the nation-army.
It is also common to compare the geographical environment of the two states and draw parallels. Usually it is noted that both in Israel and in our case, the armed forces of the country, their high combat readiness are the most important guarantees of state security.
In Israel, it is commonly underlined that small territory and the fact that its cities and villages are situated near the front-line, deprive the country of any strategic significance, especially as the distance from the border to the sea is only 14 km in the narrowest point. It is also accepted in Armenia to state that our country is so small that there is no concept of rear and borderland, because, for example, Nakhijevan is only 40 minutes away from Yerevan. In both cases the priority of the ability to defend the homeland is emphasized.
This is how parallels between the two countries are conducted by the Chief of the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the RA Ministry of Defense, major-general Hayk Kotanjyan. “These two ancient participants of civilization systems in the Western Asia and the Middle East are, in spite of their originality, similar in terms of the political
lessons derived from their national disasters, which they had lived through in the two world wars of the twentieth century, the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire and the Jewish Genocide of Europe. After the end of World War II, these two nations responded to national disasters by the revival of their ancient millennial statehood and the creation of independent states. Another important feature of the two similar nationalized states is that both the Republic of Armenia in 1918 and the State of Israel in 1948, were proclaimed as parliamentary republics.”
Similarities are, of course, obvious. Both Israel and Armenia lag behind their enemies in terms of population and the two countries can not hope for the victory through elimination of the enemy, so the real purpose is to strike the enemy’s armed force in such a way that it can become unoperational for as long as possible. Both countries face existential threats, and a military defeat can mean the destruction of the state. The two nations have passed through severe trials, having suffered terrible losses. In the end, issues related to the conditions of physical security and development have become dominated by the agendas of the two states and have an indispensable place in the people’s’ minds.
All this has led to the fact that the two nations have set out to build a mass army or nation-army. There are fundamental differences in the Jewish and Armenian models of the mass army or nation-army. Let’s look at the important ones.
The Army and the Economy
The simplest and most fundamental difference is that in Israel, the security of the country and the people, the strengthening of the army or the military security component are not viewed as an isolated issue. The security of the country and its people is observed there in a multi-layered military, political, geopolitical, legal, economic, and educational-cultural context, in which each layer serves a single goal and is individually important and indispensable. In parallel with the strengthening of the army in Israel, or even a step forward, the strategy aimed at engaging in free and creative work in its own country and servicing this work as a source of welfare and equality. The army’s empowerment was carried out under conditions of social justice.
As Israeli military analysts say, the Israeli defense army is probably the most interested in raising the level of professionalism and cohesion of the country’s population, and the combat readiness of the army is directly related to the country’s economic miracle, and it is not accidental that Israel is called “Startup State.”
Yes, in Israel, they started with the economic factor. In this regard, the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s response to his Ukrainian counterparts is quite symbolic. When the latter asked him if the Israeli army experience would help Ukraine, he replied, “Ukraine has started not from where it should begin. You should start not from the army, but from the economy.“
However, the economic well-being of the country is only one aspect of the issue. It is noteworthy that conscripts often come from economically safe communities. Experts believe that the service in the Israeli army also develops the skills necessary for entrepreneurship. In the Israeli army, creative and intellectual work is highly appreciated. Most of the startups are created by former soldiers. The army also enables soldiers to establish connections that further help them to engage in business.
Moreover, in Israel, the army is one of the most important drivers of economic development. The army, as experts say, is something like Harvard, where troops have the opportunity to create social capital and later use it to start a business or simply to find their place in life.
In other words, it is not that first they proclaimed the concept of nation-army and took everybody to the army, but they prepared everything in order for the army to become a life-school for soldiers, in order not to violate the right of young people to continue their education, so that young people do not fall back from the normal course of their development, but use their years of service for their professional growth.
In Israel, they attach great importance to the army becoming an environment where soldiers can learn new skills and use these skills in civilian life. It is noted that Shvat Shaiked, who served in the Israeli army’s anti-terrorism department and learned how to find terrorists in the online domain, created an effective system for fighting fraud in the world- leading PayPal and electronic identity theft.
According to experts, this example shows that it is not only necessary to make changes in the army, but also in the structure of the economy. That is to say, the economy should become competitive and create demand for good specialists.
The army is one of the largest consumers of resources, which is a huge burden for any country, especially the countries with serious security problems. However, in Israel, the army from “a financial burden” has become an engine for eco- nomic motivation, since the supplies for the army are carried out in the most transparent way, and particularly small and medium businesses are encouraged to take part in that process.
There is also another case of instructive expe- rience in the Israeli army. Nahal is a special subdivision of the Israeli army in which military service is combined with agricultural work in new settlements. Nahal’s bases are at the border and in the kibbutzes. When the settlement built by the poor is economically fortified, the army transmits it to the civilian authorities. After the end of the service, the soldiers of Nahal can stay in this place and live in the village created by themselves. The fighters of the Nahal divisions have created dozens of new settlements in the suburbs of the country.
So, the issues of strengthening the army are com- pounded by the problems of the country’s economic development.
Army and Education/Self-Development
In the Israeli army (TSAHAL), there are a number of programs, including the Yeshivot haha- seder, a special type of emergency service during which the service combines with education in
Yeshiva. This service is for secondary school- yeshuv students who are enrolled in TSAHAL. The duration of such service is four years, including a 16-month military service, and the remaining time goes to study in Yeshiva. In 2005, the number of Soldiers and Officers in the program reached 6,000, 88% of them in combat battalions.
Back in 1952, Israel created its so-called “8200 Subdivision,” a part of its Defense Army that deals with science, technology, information, propaganda and other similar issues. At the same time, several thousand young people with high mental abilities serve, most of them for a term, whose choice begins at school. This subdivision has not only become one of the most powerful triumphs of the Israeli defense army, but is in fact a powerful university in the country, whose graduates are in the most important positions of the country’s technological development, so the service is the most prestigious here.
Referring to this circumstance, Mediamax informs. “We need to have a similar solution, enabling young people with a scientific potential to serve in the Armenian intelligence, technological, information, psychological and other units, by ensuring their country’s security, while maintaining their own scientific and professional development. If we want to win in this war, we have to appreciate the capabilities of each person to use them in the best possible way in the army, not to use all of us as infantry. This should be fixed by law, and the state should send a clear message to the public that we do not make a choice between security and science development.”
Meanwhile, parallels between Armenia and Israel are almost non-existent in this area. The science threshold of funding in Armenia reaches 1.8%, and Israel invests 4.1% of GDP annually for the development of science by striving to provide all its citizens with quality education.
There are other remarkable programs in the Israeli army.
The «Psagot» battalion, 5114 Division, is dealing with an electronic response and its mission is to neutralize enemy communication systems.
TIBAM (Tikhnut be-Ezrat Makhshev) is a computer programmer unit and is actually a subdivision of computer hackers. It “breaks” hostile computer systems, defends its own, Israeli defense systems, creates three-dimensional simulations of military operations.
BAAD-15 is a radio-electronics, radio-technical and computer intelligence school, it decodes, interprets and analyzes information available on cyber-racing.
In the Israeli army they not only help the young people to find their place in the army, but also supports them to find their place in civilian life, so they are drafted with that calculation in mind. The soldier gets the first call from the military commissariat at the age of 16-17, passes various tests and medical examinations. After the tests, the soldier is sent a questionnaire, which indicates the positions he / she is most suited to. The crew has the right to mark three of its preferred services. The army does its best to make it into one of these three, taking into account the needs of the army. As a result, around 90 percent of the conscripts appear in their favorite places.
There are also options for continuing education, first of all on the specialties required for the army.
There are joint programs with universities, which prepare future professionals. And pilots’ courses include Bachelor’s degree in some subjects.
Israeli army pays special attention to the sphere of information. Subdivisions called «Dover Tsahal» are working towards the formation of a positive image of the Israeli army, and high-quality professionals are involved in social networking activities, as well as experts and prominent professionals for whom work is also provided after being discharged. In studying the biography of Israeli TV-radio journalists, an interesting fact will come to light: many of them have worked in the Galley-Zahal radio station or in the «Be Mehane» army magazine. Candidates for the media are involved in several interviews, handing out tests and exams, and all these before being drafted. There are also positions of film director and operator in the army.
TSAHAL is the only army in the world in which there are educational units, not only for the military, but also for the schoolchildren.
Along with the army building, Israel is building its own military-industrial complex at an advanced pace, and all technological solutions are implemented by their own efforts.
While speaking about the experience of the Israeli army in Armenia, it is underlined that everyone is serving without an exception, but the reality is somewhat different, there are some privileges for talented youth and other layers of the population.
Analysts studying the Israeli experience state that the Israeli Defense Army is evidently reflecting the situation in the country not only from political and religious point of view but also in terms of the labor market. The opportunity to get a profession in the army, and then apply it in civilian life, becomes a platform for young people in their professional work. It should be noted here that the authorities in Armenia also talked about this, trying to prove the necessity of the nation-army concept, but the problem is that it was declarative, and words did not turn into action. Approximately the same story happened during the transition to educational reform and twelve years of education, when instead of making sufficient preparatory work, those responsible for the sphere made declarative statements that did not go beyond good intentions.
Here’s how complicated and multi-layered is the Israeli model of the nation-army or the mass army. Putting aside all its components and to put the stress only on widespread conscription is a primitive and harmful approach. In Israel, young people are prepared for the army, focusing on every detail. The Israeli army needs not only dedicated and patriotic, but conscious and well-educated servicemen, and in order to achieve that the army is taking serious measures in civilian life.
Armenia is gradually becoming aware of this fact. Recently, the Hetq online publication has touched upon the issue. The newspaper considers that taking into consideration the serious gaps in the education of the conscripted young men and the dangers arising from that, the Ministry of Defense, in order to avoid
accusations, must take on the solution of this issue “It is necessary to create special and high-quality educational, developmental and non-military centers where all recruits will learn, compile, be taught, and communicate with interesting people of different thinking,” Hetq writes. – They can be rock and pop musicians, free-thinking people in science, sportsmen, people who have overcome serious illnesses, doctors and young writers who can change the cave thinking within two years, the instincts of the frightened predator can be replaced with a thoughtful and well- adapted and integrated young man. They can be educated and matured during campaigns, offering exciting and unexpected work on a daily basis, after which a new environment that forces many complex conditions for the mind and spirit of human beings.”
According to the newspaper, it would be great if this proposal became more serious and was supplemented with more intelligent suggestions and “as we can not fill the gap of the educational system in two or three years, creating a serious institution that promotes personal growth, education and widening horizon, would be beneficial, at least for only the conscripts.”
Why should it be the Defense Ministry, asks the periodical and says, “If the gap in the education system remains on the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense, this is a problem, but since the public, without any analysis, accuses the military institution for the deaths of the servicemen, it is understandable because the farmer, or the bricklayer who works in Russia, or the woman, who, with the unprecedented difficulties has raised her son, are not obliged to analyze the social phenomena for the last thirty years and their consequences, she blames the ministry
that has drafted her son and has not returned him to her. “As for the army-society, army-economy relations, it should be noted that there was a positive experience in the Armenian army at the time, as Sargis Sargsyan mentioned in his book History of Armenian Military Art: “It is impossible that Tigran II some time even defeated the world-ridden Rome, “he writes,” if there were no economic conditions created in Armenia for the creation of a powerful army, armament, dressing and supply.“
And most importantly, it is impossible to consider the security of the country and the people, the strengthening of the army or the military component
of security in an isolated way. It should be viewed in the context of the overall development of the country. Referring to Israel-Armenia parallels, political analyst Anush Sedrakyan made interesting remarks. “The myths about Israel’s blooming arenumerous, from pan-Jewish conspiracy to pan-Jewish mutual help. But the concepts of state-building and decentralization are always identical: innovation, elimination of corruption and democracy. Those familiar, ordinary truths are substituting mineral resources, a favorable
geographical location, and massive armies.”
And she adds, “One day the dawn of Israel will come to Armenia”.
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