How the mouse got his roar: The shift to an offensive-defensive military strategy in israel in 1953 and its implications

Amiram Oren, Oren Barak*, Assaf Shapira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 1953 Israel abandoned the defensive-offensive military strategy that it had adopted four years earlier, in the wake of the First Arab-Israeli War, in favor of an offensive-defensive military strategy that, to a large extent, persists until this day. This paper, which employs previously untapped Israeli official documents, personal interviews, memoirs, biographies, and secondary sources, casts new light on this critical juncture in the history of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The paper challenges existing works by showing when and how Israel's offensive-defensive military strategy was adopted. More specifically, the authors argue that it was the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), especially its planning bodies-and not the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, David Ben Gurion, or the IDF's Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Dayan-that initiated this change, and that the new strategy met no objection when it was discussed and approved by the Israeli government. The authors also inquire about the possible implications of this change for Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and ask how this case informs general debates regarding the origins of military strategies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)356-376
Number of pages21
JournalInternational History Review
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Arab-Israeli conflict
  • Israel
  • civil-military relations
  • existential threats
  • military strategy

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