No Soldier Left Behind? Breaking the Silence on Military Service, Values and Identity in Israel
Date of Submission
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Dr. Volker Franke
Dr. Maia Hallward
Dr. Michael Ashkenazi
This dissertation explores the relationship between observed incidents and perceptions of value violation or confirmation among Israeli soldiers. Through content analysis of 900 testimonies, the work explores the intersection of social identity, military ethics and nonviolent movements. The data show that many soldiers do not see their tasks as supporting the overall mission of keeping their country and nation safe, leading to a decline in motivation and sense of purpose. Further, deeper reflections on whether actions on the ground are in line with proposed national values result in incidents of role conflict, individual cognitive dissonance and vicarious dissonance.
Findings from this research project increase the understanding of witnessing and confession as a form of nonviolent dissent. They also confirm claims from previous studies and highlight the need for military leaders to intentionally create cohesion in peacetime, for example through simulations and exercises. Further, this study illustrates how soldiers’ sense of representation, also known as sense of mission, is undermined when troops see themselves confronted with tasks that are inconsistent with their own moral values.
The data also points to an increase in incidence of moral dilemmas and identity tension when soldiers interact with civilians. Interactions with civilians caused testifiers significant stress and led them to reflect on their national identity and sense of mission. Several studies point to the significant differences between training soldiers for engagement with civilians and for engagement in traditional military-on-military missions. This dissertation confirms the presence of this gap between soldiers' tactical training and operational experiences.
Military and Veterans Studies Commons, Near and Middle Eastern Studies Commons, Peace and Conflict Studies Commons