Some aspects of the relationship between the military and polity in Israel 1947-1977
The protracted war and the centrality of security in Israel raises the Lasswellian question, can parliamentary democracy and political pluralism prevail under such conditions, without turning Israel into a Garrison State? The prevailing understanding of political-military relations in Israel is that the IDF is an instrumentalist army, that it serves as the executive tool of the legitimate political authorities and is not involved with state politics. Furthermore, it is accepted that the greatest achievement of David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister and Defence Minister, and the architect of the defence establishment, was the de-politicization of the IDF and its disconnection from party politics. Both assumptions are challenged in this study. New evidence, and an analysis of existing material reveals the existence of a nominal control pattern, which has the formal appearance of an instrumentalist model, whereas the reality is otherwise. The IDF was not subordinate only to a state channel of political control, like other instrumentalist armies. In Israel there existed a unique pattern of political-military relations, a dual-control pattern. The political authorities exerted control through two channels, not only the state but also the party channel, that is of the dominant Labour Party. The state control was in fact weak and there was a lack of effective mediatory mechanisms between the military on the one hand and the Cabinet, Parliament and Defence Ministry on the other. As a result a pattern of civil-military partnership emerged in place of civil control. The boundaries between the military and the Labour Party were permeable. This allowed the rivalry between that party's two "sub-elites" to affect the military which enhanced the partnership between the military and political elites. The emergence of the military as one of the main mobility channels to the national leadership, evidenced by the increased influence of the generals-turned-politicians, has resulted in a developmental construct of Military Democracy.