Jews and the Military: A History

Jews and the Military: A History

by Derek J. Penslar

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Jews and the Military is the first comprehensive and comparative look at Jews' involvement in the military and their attitudes toward war from the 1600s until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Derek Penslar shows that although Jews have often been described as people who shun the army, in fact they have frequently been willing, even eager, to do military service, and only a minuscule minority have been pacifists. Penslar demonstrates that Israel's military ethos did not emerge from a vacuum and that long before the state's establishment, Jews had a vested interest in military affairs.

Spanning Europe, North America, and the Middle East, Penslar discusses the myths and realities of Jewish draft dodging, how Jews reacted to facing their coreligionists in battle, the careers of Jewish officers and their reception in the Jewish community, the effects of World War I on Jewish veterans, and Jewish participation in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Penslar culminates with a study of Israel's War of Independence as a Jewish world war, which drew on the military expertise and financial support of a mobilized, global Jewish community. He considers how military service was a central issue in debates about Jewish emancipation and a primary indicator of the position of Jews in any given society.

Deconstructing old stereotypes, Jews and the Military radically transforms our understanding of Jews' historic relationship to war and military power.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400848577
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/06/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 376
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Derek J. Penslar is the Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History at the University of Toronto and the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Oxford. His many books include Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe, Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective, and The Origins of Israel, 1882-1948: A Documentary History.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Chapter One - The Jewish Soldier between Memory and Reality 17
  • War in Premodern Judaism 19
  • Premodern Jews in War 22
  • Jews in the Tsar's Army: Conscription as National Tragedy? 27

Chapter Two - Fighting for Rights: Conscription and Jewish Emancipation 35
  • New Thinking about Jews as Soldiers in the Eighteenth Century 38
  • Absolute Conscription: Jews and the Draft in the Habsburg Empire 41
  • Willing Bodies: Jewish Soldiers in Western Europe 47
  • The Jew as Rebel 56
  • Integration and Accommodation of Jewish Soldiers 61
  • Celebrating the Jewish Fighter 68
  • Jewish Fighters at the Fin de Siècle: Proletarian Rebels and Shock Troops of Empire 74

Chapter Three - The Military as a Jewish Occupation 83
  • Jewish Military Officers as Social Barometers 84
  • The Armed Juif d'État 94
  • Lives Reconstructed: French-Jewish Officers at Home and Abroad 103

Chapter Four - When May We Kill Our Brethren? Jews at War 121
  • Civil Wars within Civil Wars 122
  • Jews and War Finance: Between Patriotism and Internationalism 145
  • World War I: The End or Pinnacle of Jewish Transnationalism? 152
  • Jewish Veterans as a Transnational Community 160

Chapter Five - The Jewish Soldier of World War I: From Participant to Victim 166
Chapter Six - The World Wars as Jewish Wars 195
  • The Jewish Legion and Palestine: The First Global Jewish War? 196
  • Mobilized Jewish Internationalism: The Spanish Civil War 200
  • The Second World War: Fighting Amalek 207

Chapter Seven - 1948 as a Jewish World War 225
  • The Global Battle for a Jewish State 226
  • 1948: The View from America 248

Epilogue 254
Notes 263
Bibliography 317
Index 337

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