New Publication: The Battle over Legitimacy; 2014 Protective Edge and International Law

New Issue of Terror and Democracy (27, January 2016), by the Israel Democracy Institute:

This issue focuses on the analysis of an incident around the investigation of an Israeli soldier in Britain on suspicion of involvement with war crimes during Operation “Protective Edge”. This manifestation of a growing phenomenon, whereby information on IDF soldiers is gathered for the purpose of pressing charges against them in foreign countries. Against the background of this phenomenon, you can read Prof. Amichai Cohen’s article on the employment of the universal jurisdiction principle against Israel, and an article by Dr. Moran Yarchi (IDI and the IDC) on the role of this event in the ongoing battle over the image of Operation “Protective Edge”.

הקרב על הלגיטימציה: מלחמת התדמית הממושכת של מבצע “צוק איתן”

ד”ר מורן ירחי

מבצע “צוק איתן” הסתיים בקיץ 2014, אך הקרב על הלגיטימציה שלו עדיין חי וקיים, כפי שניתן היה ללמוד מחקירתו בבריטניה של קצין מילואים אשר לחם במבצע. מאמר זה בוחן את העמדה לפיה מאבקים צבאיים כיום אינם מוגבלים למלחמה צבאית אלא הם כוללים מאבק על התודעה, ומכאן כל מדינות לנהל את מאבקן גם בזירות הלחימה הנוספות, ובראשן בחזית התדמיתית.

המשפט הפלילי הבינלאומי והעמדה לדין של ישראלים

פרופ’ עמיחי כהן

מאז ראשית המאה הנוכחית אנו עדים לניסיונות שונים להפעיל סמכות שיפוט בינלאומית נגד אזרחים ישראלים, שפעלו במסגרת העימותים בין ישראל לשכנותיה. על רקע חקירתו של חייל ישראל בבריטניה ביחס למבצע “צוק איתן”, סוקר מאמר זה את האופן בו ניתן לעשות שימוש נגד ישראלים במנגנון הסמכות האוניברסלית או בסמכות בית הדין הפלילי הבינלאומי.

New Article: Cohen et al, The Changing Functions and Status of Chaplains in the IDF

Cohen, Stuart, Aaron Kampinsky, and Elisheva Rosman-Stollman. “Swimming against the Tide: The Changing Functions and Status of Chaplains in the Israel Defense Force.” Religion, State and Society (early view; online first).

ְְ 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09637494.2015.1122881

 

Extract

This article describes and analyses the changes that have occurred in the services performed by chaplains in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) – the only military in the world that consists almost entirely of Jews. Essentially, we argue, the shift has been one of focus. For many years, IDF chaplains primarily (albeit never exclusively) concerned themselves with providing religious services to the minority of personnel who observed Orthodox Jewish rituals. ‘Outreach’ programmes, targeted at the secular Jewish majority, were secondary. Recently, however, the IDF rabbinate has undergone a process of ‘role expansion’, emphasising the provision of counselling and guidance to the entire Jewish complement, especially in combat units. In the second part of the article, we analyse the possible reasons for that development: demographic and cultural trends in Israeli society; the prominence of counter-insurgency missions in the IDF’s operational agenda; and the personalities of recent chief chaplains. Finally, we address the possible implications of this shift, asking whether the intra-organisational frictions that it generates, especially with the Education Corps, portends a battle for the soul of the IDF.

 

 

 

New Article: Kachtan, Performance of Ethnicity and the Process of Ethnicization

Kachtan, Dana Grosswirth. “‘Acting Ethnic’—Performance of Ethnicity and the Process of Ethnicization.” Ethnicities (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468796815610353

 

Abstract

This paper examines the process of “acting ethnic”, and demonstrates that, in certain circumstances, people act in keeping with an ethnic identity. Based on a study of two infantry brigades in the Israeli army (the IDF), the paper shows how organizational ethnic culture forms the basis of the process of “acting ethnic”. This paper highlights the tendency in certain situations to suspend nonethnic privileges by adopting an ethnic identity and in addition, to exaggerate ethnic performance. Moreover, it is argued that “acting ethnic” is a collective performance, aimed not only at belonging to the group, but also as a means of maintaining and reproducing ethnic identity and asserting a legitimate alternative to the hegemonic identity.

 

 

 

 

New Book: Tabansky and Ben-Israel, Cybersecurity in Israel

Tabansky, Lior, and Isaac Ben Israel. Cybersecurity in Israel. New York: Springer, 2015.

Cybersecurity in Israel

This SpringerBrief gives the reader a detailed account of how cybersecurity in Israel has evolved over the past two decades. The formation of the regions cybersecurity strategy is explored and an in-depth analysis of key developments in cybersecurity policy is provided.
The authors examine cybersecurity from an integrative national perspective and see it as a set of policies and actions with two interconnected goals: to mitigate security risks and increase resilience and leverage opportunities enabled by cyber-space.
Chapters include an insight into the planning and implementation of the National Security Concept strategy which facilitated the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) agreement in 2002, (one of the first of its kind), the foundation of the Israeli Cyber-strategy in 2011, and details of the current steps being taken to establish a National Cyber Security Authority (NCSA).
Cybersecurity in Israel will be essential reading for anybody interested in cyber-security policy, including students, researchers, analysts and policy makers alike.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction
Pages 1-8

Geopolitics and Israeli Strategy
Pages 9-14

The National Innovation Ecosystem of Israel
Pages 15-30

Mid-1990s: The Prequel for National Cybersecurity Policy
Pages 31-34

The Israeli National Cybersecurity Policy Focuses on Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)
Pages 35-41

Seeking Cyberpower: The National Cyber Initiative, 2010
Pages 43-48

The National Cyber-Strategy of Israel and the INCB
Pages 49-54

Towards Comprehensive National Cybersecurity
Pages 55-61

Striking with Bits? The IDF and Cyber-Warfare
Pages 63-69

Conclusion: From Cybersecurity to Cyberpower
Pages 71-73

 

 

New Article: Perez & Sasson-Levy, Avoiding Military Service in a Militaristic Society

Perez, Merav, and Orna Sasson-Levy. “Avoiding Military Service in a Militaristic Society: A Chronicle of Resistance to Hegemonic Masculinity.” Peace & Change 40.4 (2015): 462-88.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/pech.12143

 

Abstract

This article examines the connection between masculine identity and avoidance of military service in a militaristic society. Based on retrospective interviews with Israeli middle-class men who initiated their release from military service on medical–psychological grounds, we argue that this choice embodies resistance to patterns identified with the local hegemonic masculinity and that this resistance gradually intensifies over the life course. The first signs of opposition emerge in early adolescence, when the perception of self diverges from the conventional masculine mold. The emotionally charged encounter with the military deepens this resistance, which is then reinforced by the decision not to serve, and ultimately leads to the construction of the present nonconformist identity. The development of a nonconformist self that is not subject to the dictates of the local hegemonic masculinity demonstrates how in a militaristic society, even a personal decision not to serve becomes an act rife with gendered meanings and political significance.

 

 

 

New Article: Rosman, Toward a Classification of Managing Religious Diversity in the Ranks

Rosman, Elisheva. ” Toward a Classification of Managing Religious Diversity in the Ranks. The Case of the Turkish and Israeli Armed Forces”. Armed Forces & Society (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0095327X15613580

 
Abstract

Military establishments view religious soldiers with mixed feelings and must contend with the specific dilemmas these soldiers present. This article suggests what might influence the managing of religious diversity in the ranks, using the idea of dimensions of isolation. The more removed a military is from society, the more likely it is to utilize internal mechanisms when dealing with religious soldiers. The less removed it is from society, the more likely it will be to turn to external mediating mechanisms in this regard. Using three dimensions of isolation (physical, temporal, and psychological), this article discusses the treatment of religious troops in the Israeli and Turkish cases. After exploring what can be learned from these cases regarding the accommodation of religious soldiers, the article concludes with some suggestions for future research.

 

 

 

Conference: AJS Program Book now online (Boston, Dec 13-15, 2015)

The 47th Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies will take place in Boston, December 13-15, 2015.

The full program is now available on the AJS website: http://www.ajsnet.org/conference-menu.htm

You may also download the program here: PDF

 

 

New Book: Rodgers, Headlines from the Holy Land

Rodgers, James. Headlines from the Holy Land: Reporting the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

 

Rodgers

 

Tied by history, politics, and faith to all corners of the globe, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fascinates and infuriates people across the world. Based on new archive research and original interviews with leading correspondents and diplomats, Headlines from the Holy Land explains why this fiercely contested region exerts such a pull over reporters: those who bring the story to the world. Despite decades of diplomacy, a just and lasting end to the conflict remains as difficult as ever to achieve. Inspired by the author’s own experience as the BBC’s correspondent in Gaza from 2002-2004, and subsequent research, this book draws on the insight of those who have spent years observing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Starting from a historical perspective, it identifies the challenges the conflict presents for contemporary journalism and diplomacy, and suggests new ways of approaching them.

 

Table of Contents

    • Foreword by Rosemary Hollis
    • Acknowledgements
    • Introduction
    • 1 Reporting from the Ruins: The End of the British Mandate and the Creation of the State of Israel
    • 2 Six Days and Seventy-Three
    • 3 Any Journalist Worth Their Salt
    • 4 The Roadmap, Reporting, and Religion
    • 5 Going Back Two Thousand Years All the Time
    • 6 The Ambassador’s Eyes and Ears
    • 7 Social Media: A Real Battleground
    • 8 Holy Land
    • Notes
    • Bibliography
    • Index

     

     

Dissertation: Wooten, Gender Integration into the Military

Wooten, Jeff. Gender Integration into the Military: A Meta-Analysis of Norway, Canada, Israel, and the United States, EdD Dissertation, University of New England, 2015.
 
URL: http://dune.une.edu/theses/33/
 
Abstract

Over the past 15 years, the Global War on Terrorism has necessitated an examination of the military’s practices and the way that they meet the complexities of new and different types of war and tactics. Vital to this examination are policies related to the inclusion and deployment of women in combat. Burba stated war is not a setting for social testing, but the American Military must embrace the social subtleties of gender differences in an effort to meet the Armed Services requirement for an ever-changing asymmetrical battlefield. This study compares and contrasts the American current policy divergent to three other countries’ policies that have successfully integrated women into combat: Norway, Canada, and Israel. Through this examination, an opportunity to recognize gaps in training and procedural information that are most important to the successful implementation in the United States is revealed. The scientific data, although supporting the fact that physiological differences exist between men and women, were not supported in the argument that all women should be excluded from combat units. In all case studies, it was found that women who volunteered for combat assignments performed equally as well as their male counterparts without degradation of operational readiness or a lower unity of cohesion. However, I was not surprised that the leaders of the three counties observed that the successful integration of women into combat units is not about changing a culture. It is simply a leadership issue.

 

 

New Article: Ben-Moshe, Disability and Anti-Occupation Activism in Israel

Ben-Moshe, Liat. “Movements at War? Disability and Anti-Occupation Activism in Israel.” In Occupying Disability. Critical Approaches to Community, Justice, and Decolonizing Disability (ed. Pamela Block et al.; Dordrecht and New York: Springer, 2016): 47-61.

 

9789401799836

 

Abstract

At the time of the first major disability protest in Israel in 1999 and then in 2000-2001, there were already many anti-occupation and peace organizations at play in Israel/Palestine. While participating in this budding disability movement, I began reflecting on my experiences of simultaneously being an Israeli anti-occupation activist and disabled activist publically fighting for the first time for disability rights. In the summer of 2006 I conducted research in Israel, trying to assess any changes that occurred since 2000 in the connections between the movements and within the disability movement itself. And then the war on Lebanon began. My intention in writing this chapter is to highlight the connections between disability activism and anti-war and anti-occupation activism, which seems to be at war with one another but in fact intersect in important ways. I hope this narrative and analysis will be useful for material resistance as well as a reflection on our current states of exclusion in activism and scholarship.

 

 

New Article: Tiargan-Orr & Eran-Jona, Israeli Public’s Perception of the IDF Stability and Change

Tiargan-Orr, Roni, and Meytal Eran-Jona. “The Israeli Public’s Perception of the IDF Stability and Change.” Armed Forces & Society (early view; online first)

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0095327X15592214

 

Abstract
This article attempts to shed light on Israel’s civil–military relations by employing the public’s trust in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a key parameter. The study is based on a series of public opinion polls conducted between 2001 and 2010, during periods of military confrontation as well as periods of relative quiet. The findings show that despite increased criticism toward the IDF and claims by researchers, the Jewish-Israeli public’s trust in the IDF generally remains very high and stable and strengthens significantly when the cannons start to roar. We also found a fixed pattern of change in public opinion during low-intensity conflicts. In a comparative perspective, the findings suggest that the “rally ’round the flag” effect is relevant in the Israeli case both in conventional war and in limited conflicts. Moreover, the findings indicate that the public’s trust in the army is not a uniform perception but a complex one that may have different and sometimes conflicting facets.

 

New Article: Cohen, Implicit Dehumanization and Anti-Arab Prejudice in Israeli Soldiers’ Narratives

Cohen, Shuki J. “Breakable and Unbreakable Silences: Implicit Dehumanization and Anti-Arab Prejudice in Israeli Soldiers’ Narratives Concerning Palestinian Women.” International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 12.3 (2015): 245-77.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aps.1461

 

Abstract

This paper illustrates an empirical paradigm for a minimally-biased characterization of the internal representations of female enemy members by male soldiers in the context of a military occupation. Using a combination of psycholinguistic and psychoanalytic tools, the study examined the associative structure of the language that was used by Israeli ex-soldiers in a large corpus of verbatim testimonies detailing their service in the Palestinian occupied territories. Since explicit dehumanization is rare in Israeli official discourse and in media- and political correctness-savvy occupying forces worldwide, this study examined implicit dehumanization through the non-conscious use of spontaneous linguistic choices. Using both computerized and quantitative linguistic analyses, this study tracked a particular pattern or word choice, presumed to capture implicit dehumanization based on a trans-disciplinary definition of the construct. Furthermore, to mitigate the potential confound between fear of the enemy and its dehumanization, this study focused on anecdotes concerning Palestinian women, as they pose less realistic threat to Israeli soldiers. Consistent with this study’s formulation of implicit dehumanization, Israeli soldiers tended to describe Palestinian women’s mental state in situational and behavioral terms (e.g. scream, make a mess, piss her pants, had a heart attack, etc.). In contrast, empathic inference – whereby the narrator extends their emotional understanding of themselves and other humans to the person whose emotional state they attempt to describe or understand – was often reserved in the testimonials only to the narrator and his fellow comrades. This evidence for implicit dehumanization is then discussed as a borderline-level defense mechanism within the larger context of both individual- and national-level anti-Arab prejudice in Israel.

 

 

New Book: Kuntsman and Stein, Digital Militarism

Kuntsman, Adi, and Rebecca L. Stein. Digital Militarism. Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age, Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015.

 

pid_23022

 

Israel’s occupation has been transformed in the social media age. Over the last decade, military rule in the Palestinian territories grew more bloody and entrenched. In the same period, Israelis became some of the world’s most active social media users. In Israel today, violent politics are interwoven with global networking practices, protocols, and aesthetics. Israeli soldiers carry smartphones into the field of military operations, sharing mobile uploads in real-time. Official Israeli military spokesmen announce wars on Twitter. And civilians encounter state violence first on their newsfeeds and mobile screens.

Across the globe, the ordinary tools of social networking have become indispensable instruments of warfare and violent conflict. This book traces the rise of Israeli digital militarism in this global context—both the reach of social media into Israeli military theaters and the occupation’s impact on everyday Israeli social media culture. Today, social media functions as a crucial theater in which the Israeli military occupation is supported and sustained.

 

Table of Contents

Preface

1 When Instagram Went to War: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age
2 “Another War Zone”: The Development of Digital Militarism
3 Anatomy of a Facebook Scandal: Social Media as Alibi
4 Palestinians Who Never Die: The Politics of Digital Suspicion
5 Selfie Militarism: The Normalization of Digital Militarism

Afterword: #Revenge

Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Adi Kuntsman is Lecturer in Information and Communications at Manchester Metropolitan University, and author of Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Migranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond (2009).

Rebecca L. Stein is the Nicholas J. & Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Anthropology at Duke University, and author of Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism (2008).

 

 

New Article: Kohn, Instagram as a Naturalized Propaganda Tool

Kohn, Ayelet. “Instagram as a Naturalized Propaganda Tool. The Israel Defense Forces Web Site and the Phenomenon of Shared Values.” Convergence (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1354856515592505

 

Abstract

This article examines the methods through which the formal and emotional components, embedded in the photo sharing and social networking application Instagram, are utilized as a propaganda tool to cultivate solidarity with promoted agendas. The test case is Instagram photos posted on the official Web site of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The article juxtaposes two conceptual systems, the one shared by the members of Instagram and a system based on presuppositions regarding the ideologies, values, and emotional attitudes shared by Israeli Instagram users toward the IDF. This juxtaposition is made possible, thanks to the resemblance found between the aesthetic and emotional aspects of Instagram and the ideological and emotional aspects emphasized by IDF. Three main interrelated motifs demonstrate the article’s argument: soldiers as civilians/photographers in momentary disguise, army and nature, and admiration for appearances of weapons.

 

 

New Article: Rosman-Stollman, Religious Accommodation as a Civil-Military Looking Glass

Rosman-Stollman, Elisheva. “Religious Accommodation as a Civil-Military Looking Glass: The Case of the Indian and Israeli Armed Forces.” Journal of Church and State (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jcs/csv001

 

Excerpt
Military establishments view religious soldiers with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they can be seen as a fifth column: Will such soldiers follow orders should these orders clash with religious obligations? Aside from considering these soldiers ideologically, militaries must deal with them on a practical level (accommodating—or not—religious commandments, such as wearing clothing conforming to religious requirements, observing dietary laws). They must also consider how relevant religious observance is to the role of being a soldier: Is it conducive? Detrimental? Perhaps it has no impact? These problems become more acute particularly in military systems that have no official religious affiliation but conscript religious soldiers.

There are many ways to deal with these soldiers. Is there a way of predicting which kind of military will utilize what kind of treatment mode toward its religious members? This article suggests a possible theoretical construct regarding what might influence the managing of religious diversity in the ranks. The more removed a military is from society, the more likely it is to utilize internal mechanisms when dealing with religious soldiers. The less removed it is from society, the more likely it will be to turn to external—even civilian—mediating mechanisms in this regard.

 

 

New Article: Koren et al, Disability during Military Service in Israel

Koren, Ela, Yoav S. Bergman, and Michael Katz. “Disability during Military Service in  Israel: Raising Awareness of Gender Differences.” Journal of Gender Studies 24.1 (2015): 117-28.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2013.820132

 

Abstract

Women in Israel are required by law to serve in the national army. While disabled women veterans constitute about 6% of the total disabled veteran population, their injuries during service are similar to those of men, and include injuries sustained during combat, in training, or in traffic accidents. To date, no attempt has been made to study this unique population. The current research employs the social model of disability and examines gender differences among Israeli Defense Forces veterans who became disabled during their military service, in the areas of mental and physical health, perceived stigma, and social support. Findings show that disabled women veterans report significantly lower social support, lower monthly salaries, and experience more discrimination than their male counterparts. No differences were found in other variables. This research is an important step toward raising the awareness of gender differences, and its findings stress the need for additional studies which will provide further information regarding this distinctive population.

New Article: Barzilai et al, Characteristics of Trauma Casualties in the Gaza Strip and Other Combat Regions

Barzilai, L., M. Harats, I. Wiser, O. Weissman, N. Domniz, E. Glassberg, D. Stavrou, I. Zilinsky, E. Winkler, J. Hiak. “Characteristics of Improvised Explosive Device Trauma Casualties in the Gaza Strip and Other Combat Regions: The Israeli Experience.” Wounds 27.8 (2015): 209-14.

 
URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26284374

 
Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Low-intensity conflict is characterized in asymmetrical conventional and nonconventional warfare. The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has evolved over the past few decades to include the addition of diesel, biological agents, shrapnel, and nitroglycerin to the explosive content. Due to its nature and mechanism, an IED injury might present as a multidimensional injury, impairing numerous systems and organs.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The authors present a case series of 5 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers wounded by an IED presenting a typical and similar pattern of burns to their faces, trunks, and limbs, in addition to ocular, ear/nose/throat, and orthopedic injuries. An analysis of the experience in treating the aforementioned injuries is included.

RESULTS: Improvement in casualties’ burns and traumatic tattoos was observed following debridement, aggressive scrubbing with or without dermabrasion, and conservative local dressing treatment protocol. The authors found a positive correlation between improvement degree and treatment timing. Injury pattern was correlative to the protective gear worn by the soldiers. Wearing protective eye gear and wearing ceramic vests can diminish the extent of IED injuries, while creating typical patterns of injuries to be treated.

CONCLUSION: Based on these experiences, such injuries should be brought to a trauma center as soon as possible. Treating multidimensional trauma should be done in a facility with abilities to treat head injuries, eye injuries, penetrating injuries, blast injuries, and burns. Such specialized disciplines and facilities that have past experience with IEDs and war injuries are able to assess and treat these injuries in a more dedicated manner, resulting in better long-term rehabilitation.
.

 

 

New Article: Nets-Zehngut et al, Self-Censorship in Conflicts: Israel and the 1948 Palestinian Exodus

Nets-Zehngut, Rafi, Ruthie Pliskin, and Daniel Bar-Tal. “Self-Censorship in Conflicts: Israel and the 1948 Palestinian Exodus.” Peace and Conflict 21.3 (2015): 479-99.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pac0000094

 

Abstract
The typical collective memories of societies involved in intractable conflicts play a major role in the eruption and continuation of the conflicts, whereas the positive transformation of these memories to being less self-serving promotes peacemaking. A major factor that inhibits such transformation is self-censorship. Self-censorship, practiced by members of a society’s formal institutions, inhibits the dissemination of alternative, more accurate narratives of the conflict that may change dominating biased conflict-supporting memories. Despite the importance of formal self-censorship in maintaining collective memories of conflicts, little empirical and theoretical research has examined this phenomenon. The present study addresses this omission. It examines the self-censorship practiced from 1949 to 2004 in 3 formal Israeli institutions (the National Information Center, the IDF/army, and the Ministry of Education) regarding the main historical event of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus. This is done by analyzing all of these institutions’ publications produced throughout the 56-year research period and interviewing their key position holders. The results show that the institution gatekeepers practiced self-censorship for 5 reasons: garnering international support, mobilizing citizens, the impact of Zionist ideology, institutional norms, and fear of sanctions. The empirical findings are used to elicit theoretical insights, such as a definition for formal self-censorship, the difference between self-censorship practiced by gatekeepers (from formal and informal institutions) and that practiced by ordinary individuals, the 5 reasons for such self-censorship (distinguishing between 2 categories—intrinsic and extrinsic reasons), and the reasons that led the gatekeepers to admit that they had self-censored.

 

 

New Article: Garyn-Tal & Shahrabani, Type of Army Service and Risky Behavior among Young People in Israel

Garyn-Tal, Sharon and Shosh Shahrabani. “Type of Army Service and Decision to Engage in Risky Behavior among Young People in Israel.” Judgment and Decision Making 10.4 (2015): 342-54.

 

URL: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~baron/journal/15/15320a/jdm15320a.pdf [pdf]

 

Abstract

Previous studies have examined the impact of military service on the decision to engage in risky behavior. Yet most of these studies focused on voluntary recruits, did not distinguish between legal and illegal risky activities and did not compare combat and non-combat soldiers during and after service according to gender. The current study is unique because of the nature of Israeli compulsory army service. It examines the relationship between type of army service and five legal and illegal risky behaviors for three groups: non-combat, combat without fighting experience, and combat with fighting experience. We also examine differences in the propensity for risky behavior between men, most of whom are assigned to combat units due to the army’s needs, and women, who serve in combat units on a voluntary basis only. A questionnaire survey was randomly distributed at train stations and central bus stations in Israel among 413 soldiers and ex-soldiers between the ages of 18-30. The predictor variables include type of service or battle experience, the Evaluation of Risks scale and sociodemographic characteristics. In general, we found that high percentages of young people engage in risky behavior, especially illegal behavior. The results indicate that fighting experience is significantly and positively correlated with the consumption of illegal substances for currently serving men soldiers (but not for women) and this effect is mitigated after discharge from the army. Importantly, the use of illegal substances is not a result of the individual’s preferences for engaging in various risky behaviors. Thus, our results suggest that the effect of the increased propensity toward risky behavior following the experience of fighting overrides the combat unit’s discipline for men when it comes to the consumption of illegal substances. In addition, our findings indicate that serving in a combat unit as opposed to a non-combat unit affects the tendency of women ex-combat soldiers to travel to risky destinations, though this is probably related to their original higher risk attitude, since women must volunteer for combat units.

New Article: Shelef et al, Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts among IDF Soldiers

Shelef, Leah, Dan Kaminsky, Meytal Carmon, Ron Kedem, Omer Bonne, J. John Mann, and Eyal Fruchter. “Risk Factors for Suicide Attempt among Israeli Defense Forces Soldiers: A Retrospective Case-Control Study.” Journal of Affective Disorders 186 (2015): 232-40.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2015.07.016

 

Abstract

Background

A major risk factor for suicide is suicide attempts. The aim of the present study was to assess risk factors for nonfatal suicide attempts.

Methods

The study’s cohort consisted of 246,814 soldiers who were divided into two groups: soldiers who made a suicide attempt (n=2310; 0.9%) and a control group of soldiers who did not (n=244,504; 99.1%). Socio-demographic and personal characteristics as well as psychiatric diagnoses were compared.

Results

The strongest risk factors for suicide attempt were serving less than 12 months (RR=7.09) and a history of unauthorized absence from service (RR=5.68). Moderate risk factors were low socioeconomic status (RR=2.17), psychiatric diagnoses at induction (RR=1.94), non-Jewish religion (RR=1.92), low intellectual rating score (RR=1.84), serving in non-combat unit (RR=1.72) and being born in the former Soviet Union (RR=1.61). A weak association was found between male gender and suicide attempt (RR=1.36). Soldiers who met more frequently with a primary care physician (PCP) had a higher risk for suicide attempt, as opposed to a mental health professional (MHCP), where frequent meetings were found to be a protective factor (P<0.0001). The psychiatric diagnoses associated with a suicide attempt were a cluster B personality disorder (RR=3.00), eating disorders (RR=2.78), mood disorders (RR=2.71) and adjustment disorders (RR=2.26).

Limitations

Mild suicidal behavior constitutes a much larger proportion than among civilians and may have secondary gain thus distorting the suicidal behavior data.

Conclusions

Training primary care physicians as gatekeepers and improved monitoring, may reduce the rate of suicide attempts.