SOAS University of London

Centre for Palestine Studies

An Army like No Other: How the Israel Defence Forces Made the State

IMG - Haim Bresheeth book cover
Professor Haim Bresheeth (SOAS)

Date: 23 September 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 23 September 2020Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Book Launch

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The Israeli army, officially named the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), was established in 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who believed that “the whole nation is the army.” In his mind, the IDF was to be an army like no other. It was the instrument that might transform a diverse population into a new people. Since the foundation of Israel, therefore, the IDF has been the largest, richest and most influential institution in Israel’s Jewish society and is the nursery of its social, economic and political ruling class.

In this fascinating history, Bresheeth-Zabner charts the evolution of the IDF from the Nakba to wars in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the continued assaults upon Gaza, and shows that the state of Israel has been formed out of its wars. He also gives an account of his own experiences as a young conscript during the 1967 war. He argues that the army is embedded in all aspects of daily life and identity. And that we should not merely see it as a fighting force enjoying an international reputation, but as the central ideological, political and financial institution of Israeli society. As a consequence, we have to reconsider our assumptions on what any kind of peace might look like.

About the speakers

Haim Bresheeth is a filmmaker, photographer and a film studies scholar, retired from the University of East London, where he worked since early 2002. He is now a professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). His latest book is An Army Like No Other: How the IDF made the State (Verso, 2020).

Gilbert Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS and is the author of several books, including The Arabs and the Holocaust.

Dina Matar is Chair, Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS.


This event will be live-streamed via Verso’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, as well as being made available to watch after the event has finished. Online Registration

Organiser: Verso Books and the Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS

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