Olive green: environment, militarism and the Israel defense forces

2014-09-24T10:33:06Z (GMT) by Uri Gordon
Militaristic societies are ones in which the armed forces enjoy a privileged material and cultural status, and where military priorities and frames of thinking play a key role in policymaking and political culture (Vagts 1981, Evans and Newnham 1988). Militarism is not limited to direct governance by uniformed personnel (“praetorianism”), but may instead coexist with substantive democratic institutions (Ben Eliezer 1997). Thus, contemporary societies described as militaristic are as politically diverse as Switzerland and Burma, North and South Korea, Jordan and Israel. This chapter explores the interface between environmental and military issues in Israel, placing it within the context of the changing fortunes of Israeli militarism. In particular, it is argued that growing public willingness to challenge the military’s environmentally destructive behavior in the last decades was linked to wider transformations in Israeli society. The Oslo Accords and the rise of liberalindividualist outlooks associated with globalization and consumer culture weakened the country’s founding collectivist ideology in favor of material values associated with quality of life. In this context, the military lost its previous immunity to public criticism, and environmental concerns, formerly considered luxuries in comparison with security matters, were able to gain ground in the public sphere alongside other civil agendas. The chapter begins by stating the case for viewing Israel as a militaristic society. It then surveys the military’s environmental activity and the environmental destruction it has wrought, while also noting some early successes in the area of nature conservation. Finally, it discusses how, since the 1990s, the environmental movement and affected residents, as well as the Ministry of Environment and State Comptroller, have pushed the military to clean up its act.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0