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All Able Bodies, To Arms!

All Able Bodies, To Arms!

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European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6, Number 4 (2008


All Able-Bodies, to Arms! – Attitudes of Israeli High School Students Toward Conscription and Combat Service*
Dan Soen Ari'el University Center, Israel; Graduate School Kibbutzim School of Education, Tel-Aviv “All able-bodies, to arms!” From the Palmach1 anthem, by Zrubavel Gil'ad Abstract The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) has been long known as “The People’s Army”. Army service is based on the militia model. All able Jewish persons, as well as the Druze minority group, are required by law to serve a 3-year tour and then continue serving in reserve units until the age of 45. Recently surveys have shown that a mere 60% of each age group conscripted complete their full course of duty. Only 12% of all reservists are actually summoned for reserve duty. The paper analyzes the changes that have taken place in this regard over the years. It also analyzes the attitudes of a convenience sample of Jewish teenagers towards conscription and combat service. The main conclusion of the article based both on official data and on sample findings, is that although conscription rates are rapidly decreasing, motivation has not changed dramatically among those who are not ultra-orthodox. Motivation has been found to be higher among male believers than among non-believers. The reverse was found to be true of females. The highest motivation for combat service is found among teenagers from the kibbutzim (collective settlements) and moshavim (cooperative settlements). Keywords: IDF, People's Army, compulsory draft, combat service, motivation to serve

A. Nation in uniform and the People’s Army
For many years Israel was known as a Nation in Uniform and the IDF was considered the People’s Army (Suleiman & Cohen, 1995). In the Israeli context, the term Nation’s Army was formulated in the ‘40s by Yehoshua Globerman, a Haganah strategist. At that early date this national organ already had two universal goals: recruiting maximum national resources in times of war, and creating social, organizational, and cultural integration (Dromi, 2001, 10). In late 1948 David Ben-Gurion, the founder and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, presented three tenets as the guiding principles of the People’s Army (ibid.): • The nation is defended by the People’s Army; • Conscription must apply to everyone; • The army has social and educational roles and it is a major partner in the nation’s construction. In March 1949, towards the end of the War of Independence, IDF General Headquarters published a document listing the guidelines for reserve forces (ibid.). This model was based among
* I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my two students, Michal Katz-Shalev and Neta Shoval, who participated in a seminar on values, socialization, and the Israeli society under my supervision, and compiled (and also analyzed) a large part of the data supporting the empirical part of this paper. 1 Palmach: The elite force of the Jewish Haganah underground, operating in Palestine during the days of the British rule. The Palmach was established in May, 1941, during the 2nd World War.


endured throughout its existence.) that cooperation between political and military echelons led to a certain blurring of roles. social. 2002. 2004) warns that despite Israeli civil political passivity its defense forces enjoy enormous financial allocations. 1974. The militant heritage of the IDF was formed. and economic. and initial doubts as to its relevance to Israeli reality only began appearing in the ‘90s (see below). and the reserve system. 1987. 1986). social.e. The conception of Israeli society as a “Recruited Nation” or a “Nation in Uniform” is based on this organizational structure (ibid.d. on the other. Moreover. young compulsory service conscripts. as well as businessmen who reap financial benefits from existing threats. This network has increasing influence on policies and social behavior in all fields: cultural. most scholars think that the term “draft state” is not appropriate in this case. Thus reserve duty became an important dimension of belonging to the Israeli collective. 2004). each year it should have been possible to draft more young people for compulsory service. In contrast. 1983). and while the female conscription rate was 67% in 1990 it is expected to reach 58% in 2008 (see table 1) (Dromi. 12). recent years have seen the emergence of various opinions perceiving a possibility of increasing military threat towards the civil system. Lissak. However actual conscription rates of Jewish boys and girls have been gradually declining. This partnership has two foundations: On the one hand. The environmental variable is manifested in Israel’s recurrent violent conflicts with its Arab neighbors. Some think (Suleiman & Cohen. composed of senior IDF officers and other security personnel. Some scholars hold the opinion that such a threat may develop in the future as a result of growing political-civil failure to control the army. in 2008 it is expected to reach 74%. Some even conclude (Ben-Eliezer. 1995) that the status of the IDF as the People’s Army was augmented by two combined variables: the environmental variable and the organizational variable.). Despite the major status of the army within Israeli society. Number 4 (2008) other things on the importance of serving in the defense and military forces as a civic duty. 73 . B. On this issue one of the major Israeli sociologists stated (Lissak. This blur also eventually led to cultural militarism and militarist politics. reinforcing the IDF image as a People’s Army. and economic resources. However society pays a price in the form of pervasive military characteristics. since security issues have a high place on the Israeli public agenda an extensive “security network” has evolved. from the above-mentioned militant nature of the IDF.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. is the “three-tier” structure of its human resources: a core consisting of regular soldiers. Rates of IDF service and the concept of the “People’s Army” Historical data on compulsory IDF service indicate that until 2005 the relevant age groups for conscription had been slowly growing. intimately but also publicly (Levy. the IDF maintains moderation and possibly avoids dissociating from society and becoming a distinct entity. the army will attempt to leave its aggressive signature on the political world both formally and practically. The organizational variable. i. One prominent Israeli political scientist (Shefer. The military and civil systems are interactive. On the one hand. Since it controls many political. 1991) that the Israeli civil-military partnership creates an absurd situation. Few are those who compare Israel to militarist societies (Kimmerling. Lissak. it stems from the lasting dominance of security considerations in Israel’s political culture. This nature serves to obscure official boundaries between the civil and military systems (Horowitz & Kimmerling. it succeeds in awarding clear preference to “security policies and procedures”. n. political. In consequence. While the male conscription rate was 84% in 1990. Most researchers have until recently defined the relationship between Israeli civil and military sectors as a “partnership”.

But this is not the end of the story. even if it is still popular to call the IDF “The People’s Army”. 3.9% in 2002. the proportion of those exempt for reasons of “mental incompatibility” rose only slightly. approximately one third of all male conscripts do not complete the compulsory three-year term of service and are released earlier. In view of the changes in Israeli society.e. Approximately one half of those who served in the reserves did so for only 1-3 days. It reached 12. When these dropout data are added to the nonservice data it seems that only 60% of each age group complete three years of compulsory service as required (Dromi. Examination of justifications for evading the draft indicates (table 2 below) that 11% of those who exempt themselves from service are ultra-Orthodox who do so on the basis of their recognition as “engaged in the study of Torah”. 2007). 2005) 58 Moreover.e. in what is termed “administrative call-ups”. i. In that particular year the number of reservists who actually served was 200. In other words. According to calculations by the Israeli Institute of Democracy. the proportion of those exempt from conscription is consistently rising. and 26% in 2007 (there are slight insignificant differences between these data and those presented in the table above) (Cohen. More than eight thousand men from the class of July 2007 exempted themselves from serving in the IDF through this clause or by leaving the country.000.6% in 1990. secondly. 23.000. as the rate of non-enlisters has consistently risen over the last twenty years. Number 4(2008) Table 1: 18-year-old age groups and conscription rates.000 reservists served four or more days. 12% of all Jewish males aged 21-45 (ibid.1% in 1980. 2002. the reality is completely different. 1990-2008 Age Group in Thousands 70 77 81 83 88 90 88 Proportion of Male Conscription (%) 84 83 82 79 77 76 75 74 Proportion of Female Conscription (%) 67 Draft Year 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2007 (Cohen. In other words.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. in 2000 the number of reserve soldiers was estimated at 425. 14).).). one fifth of all potential conscripts exempt themselves since they do not feel obliged to serve for some reason! Table 2: Justification for evading the draft among males in the class of July (%) Proportion 11 2 5 4 4 26 Reasons for evading the draft Proportion of young men who “engage in the study of Torah” Receivers of medical exemptions Receivers of mentally-based exemptions Those who do not pass “conscription thresholds” or who have criminal records Living abroad Total Source: Barda. The average number of service days per reservist was 16. selected years. C.00032. These comprise approx. In 2007 they constituted almost 5% (Cohen. approx. 2007). In 1980 and in 1990 this category constituted less than 4% of all candidates for the security forces. 2007. 74 . Only approx. Reserve duty is only performed by a small proportion as well. This is a 25% increase. i. less than 50% of the forces. 4% of the relevant population (ibid. Teenager motivation to serve in the IDF Two conclusions may be reached from the above data: First of all. The number of those who served a period of 26 days or more is estimated at about 30. The process dynamics is particularly worrisome. 100. 2007) 2008* * Forecast 58 (Shiklar. 16. Another 9% are young people who are exempted for reasons of “mental health” or living abroad.000.

2007). such as readiness to enlist. 75 . the religious orientation and the ultra-orthodox orientation.4). The spirit of the age is notably influenced by security events. 1994). Analysis of the various findings shows that they are not consistent over time. A subsequent survey held by the IDF Department of Behavioral Sciences a short time after the Second Lebanon War in 2006 in order to investigate the views of candidates for military service. which started in the occupied areas on the 8th of December 1987 and came to an end in 1993 when the Oslo accord was signed. An important mediating variable affecting teenagers’ view of conscription is of course the spirit of the age (Zeitgist in sociological terms). Since 1949 there are three school orientations: The regular (secular) orientation. which occurred in 1991. 1990).5 48 70 68 Vocational 48 45 54 64 Kibbutz 83 59 73 89 Moshav 65 45 78 79 School Orientation3 1988 – state secular school 1994 – state secular school 1988 – state religious school 1994 – state religious school Table 4: Views of military service among seniors in state religious schools. and the desire to reach the officer rank. The Gulf War. some say that it isn’t the rise in the proportion of those avoiding military service that is amazing.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. For example. a study held among teenagers in the months of March-May 1988. A summary of the findings of studies and surveys performed by the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Research and Information Center (Shpiegel. Number 4 (2008) expanding rifts between left and right. indicated a large drop in motivation to serve between 1998-2000. rather that evasion is not much more prevalent (Cohen. provides additional support of the effect of time-related circumstances. The situation among religious youth is more ambiguous (table 3). held at the behest of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel (Degani & Degani. 2000). readiness to volunteer for special units. the IDF Department of Behavioral Sciences as well as external research organs have been investigating teenage motivation to serve in the army in recent years. readiness to serve in combat units. In their opinion the public debate surrounding IDF withdrawal from Lebanon at the time of the survey influenced adolescents’ views on this issue. In any case. The survey showed that 2 3 The 1st Intifada: The Palestinian uprising. Here too researchers believe that time-related circumstances were influential. This existential anxiety seems to have had a positive effect on the views of adolescents regarding military service. Table 3: Desire of secular and religious youth to serve in IDF combat units. Motivation to serve is usually examined by a number of measures. about six months after the beginning of the first Intifada2 (Meisels & Gal. the secular regular orientation. and between new immigrants and veteran Israelis. struck large population centers for the first time (this happened again in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War) and raised the anxiety curve among the Israeli public to unprecedented heights. 2001) seems to indicate a drop in the level of motivation to serve in the IDF among secular youth during 1986-2000 (tables 3.. the religious orientation and the ultra-orthodox orientation. About 87% said that a successful military service holds significance for them (Israelashvili. and the serious conflicts regarding peace talks and the national consensus in recent years. 1986-2000 (%) 1986 93 82 48 31 16 1990 89 79 42 32 12 1995 76 68 34 22 5 2000 72 72 31 Parameter examined Intention to enlist in the IDF after high school Intention to serve the full 3 years in the IDF Intention to serve in combat units Intention to serve as combat officers Intention to serve as officer in the regular army Another survey. 1988 and 1994 (%) Academic 62. indicated that a high degree of readiness to serve in the IDF in general and in combat units in particular. School orientation: Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel there four school orientations in the Jewish community in Palestine – the Labour orientation. between religious and secular. due to the major significance of security issues.

embracing an area of about 90 km. tools. The IDF is not attentive enough towards its soldiers Here too the researchers believed that the war reinforced motivation to serve. The second questionnaire was found to have a consistency coefficient of α=0. 2007). The research employed two separate questionnaires. It was comprised of several parts. one secular and the other religious. Research setting.96. Consistency of the content world of questions in both questionnaires was examined by alphaCronbach coefficients. IDF: Professional and skilled army 5. Views of a group of high school students towards IDF service on the eve of the Second Lebanon War D. in the spring of 2006.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. and the fourth was religious. The study was based on two convenience samples in four high schools. Desire to excel 3. Readiness to enlist 2. The questionnaire was based on a research survey from 1995 (Helinger) and was intended to examine the significance attributed by teenagers to their impending conscription as well as their motivation to serve in the IDF in general and in combat units in particular. Both were found to have high internal consistency. distributed among 152 male and female students in two secular schools. From this respect the findings confirm a list of previous findings which indicated a rise in readiness to serve in times of security hardships. One form. after receiving the consent of the management and the teachers. The IDF is much appreciated by society 6. Readiness to become officers 4. approximately two months before the eruption of the Second Lebanon War. an attempt was made to examine the views of eleventh and twelfth grade students in Dan Metropolitan4 area schools towards IDF service. 76 .1. 59 of respondents were male. The second questionnaire was distributed among 118 eleventh and twelfth grade students in two academic high schools. The findings. 60 were female. The geographical area around Tel-Aviv.82. The survey also indicated that candidates for military service expressed a very high desire to excel in their military duties and readiness to volunteer for officer duty. 51% of respondents were religious by their own declaration and 49% were secular. Table 5: Views of candidates for military service towards the IDF – state of affairs in November 2001 and in November 2006 (%) 2001 – males 74 85 64 92 81 39 2001 – females 81 89 54 91 79 32 2006 – males 79 89 71 85 75 42 2006 – females 80 89 60 90 73 39 Statement examined 1. Three of the institutions were secular. from West to East. In contrast. from South to North and 20 km. 4 Dan Metropolitan Area: Greater Tel-Aviv. D. The questionnaires were distributed to the students in class. The first questionnaire was found to have a consistency coefficient of α=0. Number 4(2008) readiness to serve in the army was 5% higher than in a survey held by the army in November 2001. there was a conspicuous drop in their degree of trust in the army (Azulay & Kashti. and method Based on all the above. which will be discussed below arise from analysis of the chapter dealing with participants’ views on IDF service. was based on a questionnaire composed in 1989 (Luski).

occupied an important place in a survey held a dozen years ago as well (Meisels.6 23. Thus. 74% said that it is important and even very important to contribute to the army while serving.4 68. Approx. Unsurprisingly. Findings of the second questionnaire The second sample included.001) between high readiness to serve in the army and high readiness to volunteer for combat units among males. 71% of respondents declared that they are proud or very proud to be nearing IDF service.4 5.4 34. Finally. students of a secular high school and students of a religious high school.4 10.9 26. there was a high correlation of 0.815 (p<0. respondents were asked to what degree they define themselves as Israeli.3 79 55.3 44. For example.2 5. the more the respondents perceived themselves as Israeli the more positive their attitude towards military and combat service.691 (p<0.7 39.3 18. Aside from altruistic and voluntary considerations they were realistically cognizant of their personal benefits. Number 4 (2008) D. On the other hand. approx.7 7. of which some were mutually supportive and confirming. 59% stated specifically that if they are medically fit they’d like to volunteer for an IDF voluntary unit.3 65.8 71.5 26. from this respect nothing has changed despite the changes within Israeli society. 60% wrote that if they find out that they are to be sent to a combat unit they will not attempt to change this. 73% perceived military service as a sacrifice for the country. which found that the value of self-realization occupies an important place in this transition ritual. Approx. preparation for life. Approx. Here they were asked to rate themselves on an 8-point scale. Finally. Obviously.7 Greater Chance without Military Service 18. In this group an attempt was made to examine whether religiousness and gender have any 77 .7 39.5 23.001).4 5.5 23.9 Parameter Examined To acquire prestige in society (140) To prove your skills (152) To contribute to the country (152) To acquire experience as a manager/leader (152) To assume responsibility (152) To prove to yourself your personal abilities (152) To contribute to your personal advancement in life (152) To acquire significant friends (152) To experience new situations (152) To acquire new skills and capabilities (152) To direct your personal life as you understand (152) To influence the character of the country (152) To acquire mental maturity (152) The state of affairs reflected in the table above confirms Prof. 63% declared that it is very important and even extremely important for them to succeed in their military service. A high positive correlation of 0.2 18.5 15. Gal & Fishoff. teenagers also tended to recognize the personal benefits of their military service.001) was found also between positive views of the IDF and high motivation to serve. Findings of the first questionnaire The first questionnaire produced a list of findings. so conspicuous in the table above. Approx.3 47.8 26. not necessarily negatively (table 6). that in this random sample a deep feeling of Israeli identity was found among the teenagers. 79% rated themselves as belonging to the two highest grades of Israeli identity. Table 6: Considerations of personal benefit during military service and without military service as perceived by teenagers (%) Greater Chance during Military Service 57. 79% stated that their personal view of enlistment is positive or very positive.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. Ziv’s (1984) statement that Israeli teenagers perceive military service as tantamount to a “transition ritual” to maturity.3. Approx.3 13.7 63.1 47. approx.7 31.723 (p<0.8 10.8 36.2. D.4 Similar Chance 23. as stated.5 36. 1989). The positive correlation found was high as well – 0.2 71 23. This point has been examined and confirmed in an important study on teenage views of the army (Meisels.7 39. The instrumental considerations of personal development.3 23. 1995). It must be stated.7 23. and experiencing new experiences or situations.

77) among secular teenagers. and 2.89. for motivation for “meritorious service”. This is true of all three spheres. SD=1.98) among religious and 2. Even when the differences are not statistically different their direction is clear. respectively. The differences were found to be significant.29) and the female score was 2.88 versus 2.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. Regarding the effect of gender on motivation to serve.82 (SD=. exposed an interesting distinction: Among males the mean score of religious teenagers is higher that that of secular teenagers for all types of motivation (4.90. on motivation for “meritorious service”.33 (SD=.91).02 versus 2. the t-test for independent samples indicated that this difference was insignificant. The average score on general motivation to serve in the IDF was 3. • Motivation for the dimension defined as “meritorious service”. respectively.89).84 (SD-. The following questions were among the statements examining the “meritorious service” sphere: • “Do you find it important to contribute to your maximal abilities during your military service?” • “Are you interested in a military position which will demand participation in many courses?” • “Will you try to reach officers’ course?” • “Are you interested in performing your military duties beyond the requirements?” • “Are you interested in volunteering for assignments that are not compulsory during your military service?” The mean score of religious teenagers (both male and female) (3. The mean male score on motivation for combat service was 3.63 (SD=1. for motivation for combat service). respectively. T-tests for independent samples were held for all these findings. The mean male score on general motivation to serve in the IDF was 3. The motivation of religious teenagers (both male and female) was greater than that of secular teenagers.78.92). once again a clear state of affairs was revealed: Male motivation is significantly higher than female motivation. the female score was 2. • Motivation for combat service.48 (SD=1.42) was higher than that of secular teenagers (2.87 (SD=.89. The mean score on motivation for service defined “meritorious” was 3. This is true of all spheres (2. due to standard deviations. among females the mean score for motivation is higher among secular teenagers than among religious teenagers. clear and statistically significant state of affairs was evident in the two first spheres. the motivation of religious males is higher than that of secular males.33 (on a scale of 1-5.80 versus 2.78) among secular teenagers. SD=1.30 (SD=.80. respectively. 4.92). 2. Regarding religious effects on motivation. The questionnaire distributed among students of the two institutions examined three spheres: • General motivation to serve in the IDF.01) among the religious but only 2. respectively.11). In contrast.84. SD=1. However. Number 4(2008) effect on motivation to serve in the IDF and motivation for combat service. the motivation of secular females is higher than that of religious females.97 versus 2.45 versus 2.47 for combat service).32. The mean male score on motivation for “meritorious service” was 3.81 (SD=. for motivation to serve. a sharp. 78 .32 (SD=. The findings indicate that both religiousness and gender have an effect on motivation to serve. motivation for “meritorious service” and motivation for combat service – in regard to both religiousness and gender. 3. on motivation to serve.89 versus 2.05) in the field of motivation for combat service as well. The female score was 2. In this context it is interesting to mention the different state of affairs found on the joint basis of gender and religiousness in the two sectors: An ANOVA of the three spheres – general motivation to serve.

It seems that in the religious kibbutzim a high proportion of both boys and girls choose to serve in combat units. at the bottom of the list one finds Jerusalem (sic!) with a 44% enlistment rate and another town with a 16% (!) enlistment rate (ibid). On the one hand the leading five towns have high combat volunteer rates: 42%-59%. National conscription data published in September 2006 – a short time after the Second Lebanon War – depicts an interesting state of affairs (The Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden. and the growing trend towards individualism (Oren. differences of opinion on the issue of Jewish settlements in the territories. indignation over sweeping exemptions from military service for yeshiva students. towns.European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. volunteer units. 60% of each age group conscripted complete their full military service. in the moshavim 91% (!) of each age group was conscripted. 2005).3%. Gal & Fishoff.). Other studies (Meisels & Gal. Discussion and Summary This paper was written in response to the gradual erosion of the IDF “People’s Army” image over the past generation. 1990.2% (ibid. This discrepancy in readiness to enlist in general and combat service in particular is also manifested in the distinction between the religious and secular sectors. History has left its mark and the social transformations that have occurred since the First Lebanon War have impaired the willingness of many Israelis to serve in the IDF. Be that as it may. This is particularly conspicuous in the case of kibbutz youth.). Both moshav and kibbutz residents are characterized by high conscription rates and high rates of volunteering for combat service. and command and regular roles (ibid. of these 54% for combat service. Perusal of conscription data for various Israeli cities indicates large differences. 79 . 2003): “I see an army with no ideological obligations. in sharp contrast to their prevalent public image. 2007). The factors that contributed to this erosion include the deep dispute over the war in Lebanon. On the other hand. while in kibbutzim 86% of each age group was conscripted. 1999). Number 4 (2008) E. and schools.1%-85. only approx. aimed at changing the image of the IDF and shifting from a People’s Army militarist format to that of a professional army of full-time soldiers. 2003). At the top one finds the "leading twin" – one town with 90% enlistment rate and another one with an 88% enlistment rate. Meisels. Forty percent of the Jewish population no longer see themselves as an inseparable part of the model envisioned by David Ben-Gurion in 1948. The five institutions with the highest rates of volunteering for combat service are all Regional Council schools. This is true both of conscription in general and of combat service. since the ‘90s many ideas have been voiced. disadvantaged high school students in the religious sector were marked by their tendency to choose command roles and serve in the IDF regular services. deep and wide cultural transformations. The five schools with a particularly low rate of conscription are all urban schools wit h volunteering rates of 46%-34.” Examination of conscription data indicates a large discrepancy between sectors. The five top schools have volunteering rates of 87.e. As stated above. an organization that receives money and manpower and produces a certain type of security. rural areas schools. I want it to resemble the National Firemen’s Association more than it does today. One of the proponents of this idea said (Klein.). i. As early as the ‘90s (Levin. They show that in the cities 74% of each age group was in fact conscripted. Here too there is a large diversity between high schools. this is also true of the educational system. In contrast the five towns at the bottom have very low rates of 26%-29% (ibid. not based on ideology or on the “Auschwitz mentality” (Shelah. Amona is a Jewish settlement established in the West Bank against government wishes and evacuated by force in February 2006 after fierce clashes between the police and thousands of Jewish right-wing demonstrators. This was augmented by the wrath of right-wing youth of the “orange shirts” as a result of the evacuation of the Qatif Bloc and Amona5. of these 65% (!) for combat service. 1989) have also 5 Qatif block and Amona: Qatif block embraced 16 Jewish settlements established in the Gaza strip since 1968 and evacuated in August 2005. of these 40% volunteered for combat service. Obviously.

which indicated that the possibility of serving the country. one type of motivation may diminish while another increases: 1. “to be or not to be”. 2. when personal interests were subjected to communal interests. and in November 2007 it dropped to 67% (ibid. This motivation was characteristic of those who volunteered for the underground movements during the British Mandate. Some say that since 1987 this is the predominant motivation among youth (ibid. which indicate a sharp drop in the rate of female conscripts – from 32. Ideological motivation. ideological. Increasing and expanding changes in Israeli society over the past generation have been accompanied by an increase in the weight given to individualist motivation within the process of deciding whether to enlist in the IDF.6% exemptions in 1991 to 42.). However both the increases and the drops were not dramatic. Thus the empirical findings collected in the field study presented in this paper support the conclusions reached previously by various scholars: Adolescents expressing interest in IDF service perceive the service not only as “giving” (to the homeland. the country) rather also as “receiving” (on the personal level). The findings leave no room for doubt that the foundations of individualistic motivation are very conspicuous. when the mere existence of society is questionable. In this context. wish to assume responsibilities. 1999) which categorized motivation to serve in the IDF as belonging to four different types. wish to acquire mental maturity. This motivation is based on the socially customary and legitimate. Normative motivation. among the religious sector. and to volunteer for combat service in particular. Number 4(2008) indicated a greater level of motivation to serve in general. While in November 2004 the rate of volunteers for combat service was 68. as well as the possibility of mentally developing and maturing – all these contributed to the motivation of teenagers when deciding whether to serve in the IDF. Moreover. This finding is compatible with data received from the IDF. wish to prove skills) and individualist (wish to experience new situations. The findings displayed in table 6 indicate that the three types of motivation – ideological (wish to contribute to the country).European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 6. attention should be paid to an important analysis (Gal.). or religious devotion. Individualist motivation.6% and in November 2006 – 70. the possibility of preparing for life. 80 . characteristic of periods of existential crisis. These data indicate a drop in motivation for combat service after a previous increase. a very deep need among teenagers. the chance of experiencing various adventures. The War of Independence and the Yom Kippur War are examples of such periods. On this point the findings of our study confirmed the general conclusion but indicated an interesting reservation – low motivation of religious versus secular female high school students. Survival motivation. Such motivation is basically emotional and it is accompanied by deep justification of the path chosen and full legitimization of almost all activities performed during military service. 3.9%. etc.) – are expressed in the individual’s considerations before enlisting in the army. It is a mixture of patriotism and personal psychological factors. 4. 2007).8%. This motivation originates with the individual’s need for selfrealization. in November 2005 it was 69. It is necessary to consider changes in the relative weight of each of these types as involved in decisions concerning military service. Conscription data from November 2007 indicate the lowest motivation for combat service in the past four years.3% exemptions in 2005 (The Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden. normative (wish to receive social prestige. based on moral. the findings displayed in table 6 also reconfirm the findings of Meisels (1995).

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