Israel’s Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy
2012 Winner of the Shapiro Award for the Best Book in Israel Studies, presented by the Association for Israel Studies Whose life is worth more? That is the question that states inevitably face during wartime. Which troops are thrown to the first lines of battle and which ones remain relatively intact? How can various categories of civilian populations be protected? And when front and rear are porous, whose life should receive priority, those of soldiers or those of civilians? In Israel’s Death Hierarchy, Yagil Levy uses Israel as a compelling case study to explore the global dynamics and security implications of casualty sensitivity. Israel, Levy argues, originally chose to risk soldiers mobilized from privileged classes, more than civilians and other soldiers. However, with the mounting of casualty sensitivity, the state gradually restructured what Levy calls its “death hierarchy” to favor privileged soldiers over soldiers drawn from lower classes and civilians, and later to place enemy civilians at the bottom of the hierarchy by the use of heavy firepower. The state thus shifted risk from soldiers to civilians. As the Gaza offensive of 2009 demonstrates, this new death hierarchy has opened Israel to global criticism.
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2 Unbalancing and Balancing the Rights
3 BereavementMotivated Collective Actors
5 The Death Hierarchy
6 Casualty Sensitivity Breeds High Lethality
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actors Al-Aqsa Intifada antiwar armed forces army army’s Ashkenazi balancing strategy bargaining beneﬁts bereaved parents bereavement discourse casualty aversion casualty sensitivity citizens citizenship collective action Committee 2008 conﬂict conscription costs counterﬁre cultural Dan Halutz death hierarchy decision declining Defense Minister democracies deployed devaluation doctrine elite enemy civilians ﬁghting ﬁre ﬁrst Intifada Four Mothers Gaza Strip Gelpi goals Gold Star ground operation Hamas Hebrew Hezbollah IDF’s Iewish impact increased inﬂuence Iraq Israel Israeli Israeli soldiers justiﬁcation kibbutz legitimacy to sacriﬁce legitimate limited lives mainly middle-class groups military burden military policies military sacriﬁce military service military’s Mizrahim motivation movement ofthe Oslo Accords Palestinian Palestinian Authority peace percent political politicians privileged groups Qassam rockets recruitment reduce reﬂected religious republican republican motherhood reservists right to protect risk role Sderot Second Lebanon Second Lebanon War secular middle class signiﬁcant south Lebanon state’s threat tion voice West Bank Winograd Committee