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Raising boys to maintain armies

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 09 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:694
  1. Rela Mazali

    Jewish Israeli boys are made aware of their future role as warriors from early childhood. Their entire development is oriented towards it. Older men promise and threat simultaneously, “Wait and see, when you get to the army.…” After scraping their knees little boys are told, “It'll pass before the army,” while girls are told, “It'll pass before the wedding.”

    Such messages and the ritual aspect of military service are reinforced by the secrecy surrounding military matters. This establishes a privileged inner circle, to be joined only via army service.

    As women's military duty is fundamentally different from that of men in Israel, they are among those excluded from the privileged core. Men's service defines masculinity as lethal strength. The boy soldier is given a gun, literally the power to kill. One man interviewed for a film that I worked on was bemused to sense a joy of the hunt during service. Another, whose son …

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