Religion, Politics and the Military in Israel

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Religion, Politics and the Military in Israel

During 2010 the Kinneret Center on Peace, Security and Society in Memory of Dan Shomron conducted a project about the ties of Religion, Politics and the Military in Israel. Two events took place as part of the project:  a round table forum hosted at the Yitzhak Rabin Center on April 2010; and a one day conference, on September 15th 2010, in cooperation between the Kinneret Center and the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, at Bar- Ilan University. Both events, where many leading scholars and practitioners regarding these issues spoke, clearly indicated the existence of unique phenomena requiring the public's attention.


During the April 2010 round table forum at the Yitzhak Rabin Center, the following leading scholars and practitioners spoke:




9:00- 9:30

Gathering and Opening


Symposium Chairman:

Dr. Reuven Gal


Yitzhak Rabin Chairman:

Ms. Dalia Rabin



Prof. Zeev Drory

9:30- 11:00


First Panel: Centers of Tension in Religion- Church Relations

Panel Chairman: Dr. Reuven Gal



Prof. Asa Kasher: The Military Rabbinate Ethics: Principles and Boundaries


Dr. Tamir Libel: Between Professionalization and Spiritualism: Implications for the IDF Force Development


Prof. Asher Cohen: The Dome and the beret: the military service as national- religious in the public discourse

11:00- 11:15



11:15- 12:45

Second Panel: Images, Myth and Reality

Panel Chairman: Prof. Zeev Drory


Prof. Stuart Cohen: "Mountains and Mountains' Shadows": On the Presence of National Religious Soldiers in the IDF


Dr. Elisheva Rosman: The Turning of Secular Soldiers to Religious Elements at Times of War

12:45- 13:30



13:30- 15:00

Third Panel: Spirituality, Gender and Identity Reflections in Church- Military Relations

Prof. Yagil Levy: The Confrontation Between Women and National- Religious in the IDF


Ms. Ranit Budai Hyman: The Female Religious Choice to Serve in the IDF


Ms. Yifat Sela: 'Speaking from the Field'- Service of National Religious Women in the IDF: Status Report


Mr. Lior Tal: The Place of Secular Jewish Identity within the IDF

15:00- 16:00

Public Discussion





Dr. Reuven Gal

The Conference

The conference was a joint project of the Kinneret Center and the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and was dedicated to public discussion on the influences of increasing religious factors within Israeli society, on the IDF and their implications.

Alongside the leading scholars and practitioners, the conference was attended by the Deputy Chief of General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz, the Commander of the IDF Education and Youth Corps, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister and the Former IDF Chief Chaplain, Brig. Gen. (res.) Rabbi Avi Ronsky.


The Conference Program

14:00 The Religious Presence in the IDF

Chair: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA Center

Prof. Stuart Cohen, BESA Center

Col.(res.) Rabbi Moshe Hagar-Lau, Head of the Yatir Army Preparatory College, IDF Deputy Division Commander

Mrs. Yifat Sela, CEO of "Aluma"

Mr. Lior Tal, Head of the Binah Army Preparatory College


15:45 Responses and Implications

Chair: Dr. Reuven Gal, Kinneret Center

Dr. Elisheva Rosman, Bar-Ilan University

Dr. Yehuda Ben Meir, INSS

Prof. Asher Cohen, Bar-Ilan University

Mr. Amos Harel, Haaretz


17:15 Meeting the Challenge

Chair: Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA Center

Prof. Asa Kasher, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Eyal Ben Ari, Hebrew University

Brig. Gen. (res.) Rabbi Avi Ronsky, Former IDF Chief Chaplain

Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, Commander, IDF Education and Youth Corps


18:45 The Army Perspective

Chair: Prof. Zeev Drory, Kinneret Center

Concluding Address: Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff