In the current New York Review of Books, dated April 29, 2010, Eyal Press analyzes three books and one study about the growing religiosity of Israeli soldiers and the growing militarization of Israeli society. I recommend the article highly, and in fact, recommend that all my readers check out The New York Review of Books. Besides presenting reasoned views, slightly left of center, on the politics and economic issues of the day, it is a great way to keep up with what’s happening in virtually every field of research. The writing is always impeccable.
As Press details, the Israeli military, especially the Special Forces, has become increasingly religious. Maybe a quarter of all soldiers now wear yarmulkes all the time. One fact on which Press lingers really sent shivers through me: That a large number of Israeli soldiers would refuse to obey orders to block right-wing activists or shut down illegal settlements.
I thought immediately of the way that fundamentalist Protestant Christianity has overrun the U.S. Air Force, which has been well-documented in many articles in recent years. Some examples from the last time the Christianization of the Air Force was a major story, a few years back:
- “Cadets for Christ: evangelization at the Air Force Academy” by Amy Frykholm in Christian Century, January 10, 2006
- “Air Force Eases Rules on Religion: New Guidelines Reflect Evangelicals’ Criticism, General Says” by Alan Cooperman in The Washington Post, February 10, 2006.
- “Air Force cracks down on Christian ‘coercion.’ Academy tells cadets not to use Bible quotes, sharing faith may be intolerant” reported on WorldNet Daily on November 21, 2004.
- “Air Force Academy: A Christian Institution” in the Daily Kos, April 19, 2005.
- “Air Force Withdraws Proselytizing Paper for Chaplains” again by Alan Cooperman in The Washington Post, October 11, 2005
Of course, when most of us connect religion and war, I’m guessing that fundamentalist Islam comes to mind.
Now I have no objection to religion or to religious people. But it does bother me to see an increase in religiosity among soldiers.