19 July 2014

Fighting in Your Own Backyard


With the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas unfolding this month, it’s worth looking at the differences between the American and Israeli militaries. America’s relationship with Israel has been a staple of its foreign policy in the Middle East. The two forces have similar goals, allies, and enemies, but there are also many differences.

Israel and the United States have been long-time allies in a region where both powers have engaged in quite a bit of conflict. Israel has faced multiple wars against surrounding Arab nations that rallied together to push Israel into the Mediterranean to reclaim land they argue was unfairly granted to Israel in 1948. 

Israel has propelled itself into the highest ranks of international war fighting with the help of huge amounts of American subsidies. Recently, a resurgence of violence between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel has shifted attention back to Israel’s military. That attention begs an interesting comparison between the American and Israeli armed forces.  

America has the most powerful military in the world, yet many Americans do not see its work or size on a day to day basis. There is no mandatory service and the focus of the military for the last decade has been on foreign lands a world away. After the initial months of Iraq and Afghanistan, media coverage dimmed and the relevance of both conflicts to the American public seemed to wane.  

On the other hand, Israel requires men and women to enlist and serve. What is more, it is surrounded by nations that have attacked them at one point in the last 60 years, sometimes multiple at once. Israel is also in constant conflict with Gaza and the West Bank, as overpopulation and food shortages drive Palestinians and Israeli settlers into contested territory.  

Israel faces a reality Americans rarely have. Rockets can literally land anywhere in Israel without the protection of the Iron Dome missile system, and that reality would be causing many more casualties. As an American Soldier or Veteran, could you imagine fighting in your own backyard the way the Israeli soldiers do?

What do you think of Israel’s political and military history, Hamas’ non-compliance with the cease-fire, and America’s role in the region? 

Weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.

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