The Historama
Alex Ben-Arieh
P.O.Box 32128
Tel Aviv, Israel 61321

The Israel Military Resources Page


Foundations of the IDF

Leaders & Personalities

IDF Militaria Primer

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Within the community of military history enthusiasts and militaria collectors there is a proliferation of hobbyists and websites with a keen interest on all aspects of German militaria. The degree of interest is so great that it is not unusual to encounter enthusiasts who can name (or record) many of the 7,318 Knight's Cross winners, or all of the 142+ firms who manufactured Iron Crosses during the war; many sites are also dedicated to in depth research of key German military personalities (though oftentimes of dubious military or historical significance).

With the balance of interest tipped so greatly in the Reich's favor, however, few in our community can name even a few Israeli Chiefs of Staff, personalities, military units, or recount their history or insignias. With no negative prejudice intended, this page is designed to promote further awareness of an army and society that has influenced world history for over 60 years, and to give it some more publicity in place of a different army which troubled Europe for just over 9 years.

A Gallery of the Israel Defence Forces

On these pages I want to present you a contemporary army with deep roots, with a rich history of personalities, development and experience; an army of heros, whose glory is in inverse proportion to its modesty and lack of ceremony (and perhaps too the reason why most people are not familiar with it). This is an army of everyday heros, where most soldiers are ordinary citizens filling out their compulsory reserve duty against a backdrop of over a century of uninterrupted tension. This is a force with relatively little extraneous regalia because it's never had the luxury of pausing in between wars and regarding them as one-time displays of victory. For instance, in the current 'Intifada' which began in September 2000, the security forces have dealt with over 19,000 attacks of all kinds, plus an untold number of prevented attacks - if each event involved just one soldier there would be at least 30,000 such people who had displayed a degree of bravery of one kind or another. And most of these people are ordinary, everyday people fulfilling their compulsory service. They are the product of society; the army they belong to reflects the society - and exhibits some of its social norms, like the military music tradition, and the army discharges these soldiers back into civilian society. The purpose of these pages is not set to a political tone or revel in former glories but rather to celebrate an institution with a public identity; these pages reflect the civilian presence of Israeli culture in a military setting.

Army Speak

The IDF - "Tzahal"
To introduce the outsider to the Israeli army - indeed to Israeli society in general - we have to first explain the concept of shorthand words and phrases (what is called in Hebrew "Rashei Tevot" - 'heads of letters'):

The Hebrew language is read from right to left and is composed of 22 letters - all consonants (and two silent letters). In order to form vowels special symbol notations are added to the individual letters. The individual Hebrew letter therefore has a sound phrased (or spelled) as a 1-letter word. Inversely what this means is that Hebrew letters, when joined together, can form any pronounceable word. Put differently, abbreviations can be turned into words, and this is an ideal situation in a military setting where speed and directness is a preferred manner of doing things. A lot of the names and words associated with things Israeli are in fact abbreviations which have been coined into words.

The formation we called the "IDF" (Israel Defense Forces) is such an abbreviated word: in Hebrew, the full name of the military is "Tzva Ha'Hagana Le'Israel" (defense army of Israel); when the first letters of each Hebrew word are put together - TzHL - the result (with vowel sounds added) is "Tzahal". "Tzahal" is the Hebrew 'word' for the letters we call "IDF".

And so it goes in the army: the 'Chief of the General Staff' is called the "Rosh Ha'Mateh Ha'Clali"; to form an abbreviation in Hebrew the first 2 letters of the abbreviated word may be used, and so the abbreviated word for the "CinC" in Hebrew is RaMaTCal - "Ramatcal".

Certain key words mentioned elsewhere on the site are also abbreviated words:
  • "Etzel" - also known as the 'Irgun' is made up of the letters of the organization's name in Hebrew: "Irgun Zva'i Leumi" (National Military Organization).
  • "Posh" - the 'field companies' of the Hagana, is made up of the letters by its Hebrew name "Plugot Sadeh"
  • "Palmach" - the irregular 'strike' or 'shock' companies of the 'Hagana', is made up of the letters by its Hebrew name "Plugot Makhatz"
Other frequently used 'words' are "Khet-Khet" from the phrase "Khizuk Khiuvi", which means "well done" or "good improvement"; "Kasteakh" which comes from the phrase "Kisui Takhat", literally meaning "rear-end cover" or "cover story" or "excuse" with which to protect one's rear-end from assured punishment; a creative 'word' is "Kadar" from the phrase "Klita Derekh Ha'Raglayim", meaning "absorption by the legs" from the notion that whatever is not grasped by the brain will be clearly understood through strenuous physical exercise (punishment).

"Rashei Tevot" in the army is an organic and sub-cultural entity yielding necessary glossaries and thesaurasus. This site, though in Hebrew, gives good additional examples of 'dialects' both for the military and also for other communities:

The Hebrew language is even more intricate than it seems: each letter of the language has a numerical value. For instance, the Hebrew equivalent of "A" is worth 1, "B" is worth 2, and so on. Numerology is used in certain religious areas of Judaism to convey ideas and riddles.

In the military, numbered objects can be reverse-engineered into words. One well-known instance (though disputed, depending on the version of the story) is the name given to the Israeli variant of the American "Patton" M48 tank: the numbers "40" and "8" represent the letters "M" and "Kh" in Hebrew; when the Israeli spec-ed M48 tank came out in the mid-1960's, it was designated the M48A3 - the "3" represents the letter "G", and when all three letters were put together they formed the abbreviation "MaGaKh" (one complication to numerology is that the placing of the letters does not have to be in relation to the position of the number they represent). "Magakh" became the name of the basic Israeli version of the tank and as each new version came out - the A5, A6, A7 - the Hebrew name for the tank changed from "magakh-3" to "magakh-5" to "magakh-6".

Another version of this story is that the letters "MaGaKh" are the abbrevations for "carriage of the corp's heros", but nevertheless numerology also serves in the army.

photo: I.F.Stone, 'This Is Israel', Boni & Gaer, 1948; p. 12

IDF rooftop outpost, 1948
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) came into being with a proclamation by the Provisional Government of Israel, on 28 May 1948, in which it established the creation of land, air and sea forces. The proclamation was published on 31 May, and general officers were sworn into the IDF on 28 June.

The establishment of the IDF occurred about 7 months after the beginning of the War of Independence (unofficially begun with the United Nations resolution to partition Palestine, on 29 November 1947). The formation of a unified armed force for Israel brought together the four main armed Jewish formations of that time: the "Haganah" ('Defense' movement) - the unofficial army of the Provisional Government; the "Etzel" (or "Irgun" - National Military Organization, of Menachem Begin) Revisionist-Zionist underground force; the more right-wing "Lechi" ('Freedom Fighters for Israel') underground formation; and the "Palmach" (the 'Shock Companies' formed from the Haganah to help the British during the Second World War) soldier-farmer formation aligned with the Kibbutz movement. It took about 6 more months, until the 7th of November (with the dissolution of the independent Palmach units), for the IDF to be a truly integrated military force.

The first commanders of the IDF were Chief of Staff Ya'akov Dori (former commander of the 'Haganah'); Yigal Yadin, the Chief of Operations; Aharon Remez, Commander of the Airforce; Gershon Zack, Commander of the Navy; Yosef Avidar, Ordnance Commander; Moshe Zadok, Manpower Commander; Eliyahu Ben-Horin, Commander of Training; Isser Be'eri, Intelligence Commander; Shmuel Admon, Artillery Commander; Emmanuel Shakham, Commander of the Engineers; Yitzhak Almog, Signals Commander.

Although Israel has never enjoyed a "state of peace" and military tensions have existed since before and after 1948, the IDF has officially been engaged in 6 campaigns: the 1948 War of Independence; the 1956 Sinai campaign; the 1967 "6-Day War"; the 1968-70 War of Attrition; the 1973 "Yom Kippur War" and the 1982 Lebanon War.

The highest ranking officer in the IDF holds the rank of Lieutenant General ('Rav Aluf'), and is the only serving (i.e. non-reservist) officer to hold this rank; corps commanders (including the Airforce and Navy) and area commanders (North, Central and South) hold the rank of Major General ('Aluf'). Although the Border Guard ("Mishmar Ha'Gvul") fulfills a vital military and anti-terror role, it is part of the Israeli Police force and commanded by the police. The IDF is not a wholly-Jewish military force: although Christian and Muslim Arabs are exempted from obligatory service, Druze, Circassian and Bedouin citizens are drafted.

Today the military is comprised of three arms - land, air and sea; four area/district commands - North, Center, South and Rear; seven directorates - the General Staff, operations, planning, intelligence, manpower, logistics and medical, and computers (the General Staff includes also the Judge Advocate General, the Chief Military Rabbinate, the Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff, and the Chief of Staff's advisor on Womens' Issues); nine corps - infantry, armor, artillery, engineers, ordnance, communications, logistics, medical, and education and youth.

photo: Comay, 51

Prayers before battle, 1956
A soldier prays before the opening of the battle for the Mitla Pass, 1956. The IDF services religious soldiers by serving only Kosher food. Note the ration boxes behind the soldier.
The Reserves (Miluim)

Call-up orders: envelope & orders
The IDF is built on a three-tiered system based on the Swiss model, consisting of a permanent standing force of career soldiers augmented by universal conscription and backed by a large pool of trained reservists (former conscripts who are called annually for reserve duty). The reserve 'service' is called in Hebrew "Miluim" (loosely translated it means 'fillers'; "reserve" in Hebrew is actually the word 'Atuda'), and the reservists themselves are called "miluimnik"s.

Army service is a core element in the average citizen's life: compulsory service (called "sherut khova" in Hebrew) generally begins at age 18 and lasts for 3 years for males (in the 1950's it was 5 years, these days it's being reduced to 2 and a half years), 2 years for females, and a minimum of 4 years for officers. Those who subsequently choose to become members of the permanent standing army become "permanent" (or "keva"- in Hebrew) soldiers. For the rest however, after release from compulsory service there remain years of reserve ('miluim') service - originally from age 21 to 55; now to 45 (if at all).

For generations (until recently, given changes in the middle east military balance), the reserve service was a fixed component in the lives of most citizens: to keep the military's backbone honed for potential need eligible citizens were called back to reserve service annually to undergo training and field assignments, the period of which could last up to 30, even 60 or more days a year. Citizens would receive special letters by mail informing them of their upcoming service, duration and assembly location. Indeed the mobilization system itself was designed to be speedy, relying on radio, newspapers, notices, posters, letters and telegrams to disseminate the information and enabling full mobilization within 48 to 72 hours. Until the '70s the army could even requisition private vehicles to assist with mobilization and transportation.

The 1956 Sinai Campaign was the nation's first wartime call-up of reservists, but the miluim were the real cornerstone of the army's struggles in the wars of 1973, 1982 and now in recent years with the current - second - Intifada. During the current Intifada the employment of "emergency call-ups (known as "order 8"s or 'Tzav Shmoneh") became everyday phrases and concepts in Israeli life.

Given the omnipresent nature of military service in the Israeli's life, the army and service within it became an opportunity to integrate new immigrants into daily Israeli life; military service here has often been called the "university of life" for this reason - people from all socio-economic strata and backgrounds serve together both in initial compulsory duty and then later in annual reserve service.

The average citizen views the miluim both with nostalgia and disdain: it's a chance to see "the boys", get out of the routine of the office, take a break from the wife and kids (or as an army flier put it a few years back, to see the attractive females serving in the welfare services of the army); others worry for lost income, life and limb - and their wives and children.

Either way military service is an all-pervasive element in Israeli society: it's both a national- and a sub-culture; the object of books and movies, jokes and parodies, and songs. In time of tension or conflict half the pedestrian traffic on our streets in outfitted in olive green, light khaki or blue uniforms. Sample the music in the "Army Band" section below for a sense of how Israeli society embraces army life and miluim duty.

Unusual Hero

photo: Lossin, p. 48

Joseph Trumpeldor (1880-1920)
A dental student who volunteered for the Russian army and lost his left arm in the battle of Port Arthur, in 1904. Awarded a medal for his gallantry, he became the first Jewish officer in the Czarist army in 1906. He immigrated to Palestine in 1912 and quickly became a key figure of the Jewish self-defense movement. Expelled from Palestine by the Turks with the outbreak of the First World War, together with Ze'ev Jabotinsky he was instrumental in founding the Zion Mule Corps, which fought in Gallipoli in 1915, where he was shot in the shoulder. After the war he established the 'He Khalutz' movement, aimed at preparing young Zionists for settlement in Eretz Israel. He was involved in the defense of the settlement 'Tel Hai' in the Galilee, where he was killed during an Arab attack in 1920, and his final words were, "Never mind, it is good to die for our country". The Revisionist Zionist movement 'Betar', founded by Jabotinsky in 1923, is named after him - 'Brit Trumpeldor' ('Brotherhood of Trumpeldor').

photo: Lossin, p. 374

Mordechai Anielewicz (1919-1943)
A member of the Revisionist 'Betar' movement and later of the socialist 'HaShomer Ha'Tzair' ('Young Guard') movement, Anielewicz was a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which lasted from April 19, 1943 (Passover eve) to May 16; which pitted 750 Jews armed with a handful of pistols, 17 rifles and Molotov cocktails against 2,000 armed German forces. Anielewicz had earlier stopped German deportations of Jews in January in an attack that halted their operation. Sporadic resistance continued for another 3 months after the official end of the uprising. Officially the Germans listed 16 men killed in action and 85 wounded; unofficially as many as 300 may have been killed. In 1944, the Polish Government posthumously awarded Anielewicz the Virtuti Militari medal, the country's highest military decoration for valor. In Israel, kibbutz Yad Mordechai is named after him.
"...things have surpassed our boldest dreams. The Germans ran away from the ghetto twice... my life's dream has been fulfilled. I lived to see Jewish defense of the ghetto in all its greatness and glory."
Unvarnished Bravery

photo: 'End of the Era of Giants' by Ruvik Rozenthal, photo by 'Ba'Machane'; Independence Day Supplement 2002, Maariv, p. 30

Captain Motti Ashkenazi
Thirty-two year-old reserve officer, a deputy company commander, whose unit was called up for reserve duty on Rosh Hashana eve, 1973. His unit was assigned to an outpost along the "Bar Lev" line of fortifications on the Suez canal code-named 'Budapest'. Finding the outpost to not be in satisfactory condition, he refused to sign the standard form which would release the outgoing unit home; his battalion commander was forced to sign the form instead. In the week before the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ashkenazi tried to bolster his outpost's defenses and prepartions. During the war he refused aerial support for his outpost, seeing that the air force was flying directly into Egyptian anti-air missiles in his area. In the event, his outpost was the only one not overrun during the war, and after his release in 1974 he led a one-man protest against the government, for its poor preparations for the war, which evtually led to its resignation that year. Ashkenazi represented the informal professionalism of the ordinary person - the antithesis of the self-satisfaction and indulengence which pervaded both the civilian and military spheres after the 1967 War victory.

Informal Professionalism

The IDF is closely identified with spirit of informality which derives from several, though related sources. Fundamentally Tzahal is a citizen-army, which means that a civilian mentality is present within the army - after basic training officers are usually called by their men by their first names, and there is almost no distance between the soldiers and the officer class; the IDF is founded from armed predecessors who operated underground in an informal setting; the Zionist ideal which the military seeks to protect champions the notion of egalitarianism; and above all the IDF is a military facing unconventional conflicts with unconventional ideas - and a force whose (allegedly) small budget necessitates improvization and wits. It's been said here of the IDF that "everything is possible in the army" - both in the sphere of the innovative and in the realm of the absurd.

photo: Pearlman, p. 8

Setting an example, 1948
Lieut-Gen. Ya'akov Dori, the first Chief of the General Staff in characteristic IDF appearance: the military guidelines for uniforms require that the top button of a tunic be left open, and that sleeves may be rolled up but only if beyond the elbow - and there is a procedure for how to roll up the sleeves!

photo: 'Huge Shadow' by Ofer Shelach, photo by Yossi Rot; Saturday Supplement magazine, Yediot Achronot, 6 Jan. 2006, p. 25

Maj-Gen. ('Aluf') Ariel Sharon, 1973
A common sight for Sharon during the 1973 Yom Kippur War - squatting on the desert sand and planning movements, even sleeping outside on the sand along with other generals of the IDF.

photo: Comay, p. 71

Planning manouvers in 1956
A company commander sketches out a planned assault during the Suez Campaign (October 1956) to his officers.

photo: Herzog, p.112

Unit 101: the strength is in the smile
'Arik' Sharon flanked by men of "Unit 101" and Moshe Dayan, then Chief of Operations on the General Staff. "Unit 101" was made up of volunteers, not necessarily 'the best' soldiers in the army, but motivated men trained for parachute, commando and anti-terror operations. It existed between 1953-56, numbered about 50 men and earned a tough reputation.

photo: Allon, p.226

Raising the flag at Umm Rash Rash
Men of the 'Negev' brigade raise a handmade ink flag at the shores of what would soon become the city of Eilat (1949), and secure Israel's southern region. Captain Avraham ('Bren') Adan, a future divisional commander in the 1973 war, climbs up the pole to raise the flag.

photo: Comay, p. 113

Victory in the Suez Campaign, 1956
A raw show of delight: simply kitted troops raise bottles of 'Nesher' (Eagle) beer, devour apples, and one wildly flashes a flare gun.

photo: Ziv and Gelber, p. 263

The President with General Staff, 1967
Taken following the Israeli victory in the 1967 6-Day war: President Zalman Shazar and the General Staff. Several other similar poses of the military command have been captured in other military events. Three Commanders in Chief (Yitzhak Rabin, next to Shazar; Chaim Bar Lev, sitting third from left; David Elazar, standing third from Shazar's right), two future Prime Ministers (Rabin and Ariel Sharon, standing fourth from right), and two future Presidents (Chaim Herzog, standing second from left; and Ezer Weitzman, standing second from Shazar's right) are seen in this picture.
On Display

photo: Pearlman, p. 84

On parade, 1949

photo: Pearlman, p. 158

Inspection, 1948
Colonel Chaim Laskov, Director of Training (and the future Chief of Staff) inspects recruits.

photo: Pearlman, p. 218

First Airforce fly-past, 1949

The Army Bands

photo: Comay, p. 111

With an army as informal and as simply outfitted as ours, one could say that our real area of investment and focus - the army's real bequeathment - is in our military bands and variety ensembles (not to be confused with the actual IDF Military Orchestra). Whereas other armed forces and their enamourers closely inspect and analyze their regalia, with Tzahal, both the troupes and their military and civilian listeners pay close attention to the quality and execution of the pieces. The great dedication given to our bands is probably due to the nation-building role they represented, in producing music to entertain the soldiers which in turn also influenced the country's culture.

The origins of the IDF's military bands begin with the troupe called "Mi Ein Ze" ('From Where is That'), which entertained the Jewish soldiers of the Jewish Brigade during the Second World War. That band was succeeded by the "Chizbatron" troupe of the Palmach, which existed during the period of the War of Independence.

The first IDF band was that of the Nachal infantry brigade - "Lahakat ha'Nachal" - established in 1951. It achieved success quickly by introducing a younger and fresher approach to traditional Israeli folk music up to that time, and it's influence spread broadly as former members subsequently formed commercial bands which pursued music in a similar style to that of the Nachal Band. Given the centrality and Zionist symbolism of the army in the years following the victory of 1948, many of Israel's finest songwriters and producers contributed material to the IDF bands, such as Nomi Shemer, Chaim Hefer and Yossi Banai. The first decades of the military bands, particularly the Nachal Band, produced a generation of future music stars, including Yehoram Gaon, Arik Einstein, Shalom Hanoch and others. The apex of the bands' creativity and influence was probably the period between the victory of the 1967 Six Day War and the period of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

With the changing tastes in Israeli music and the sobering aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, the influence and vitality of the military bands waned. In 1983 the Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, disbanded the troupes saying that they were no longer reaching out to the ordinary soldier. Two years later the bands were resurrected, although after a brief time their presence again waned. Military bands still exist today, although in more modest sizes (called "Spirit Teams" - "Tzevet Hovi", in Hebrew), and instead of creating original music they mostly present covers of existing Israeli songs.

Different bands which have existed (each one is called a "Lahaka" - band - in Hebrew):
The Nachal Band
The Northern Command Variety Ensemble
The Central Command Variety Ensemble
The Southern Command Variety Ensemble
The Navy Variety Ensemble
The Air Force Variety Ensemble
The Artillery Corps Band
The Education Corps Band
The Field Corps Band
The Armoured Female Recruits Band
The Border Guard Band
The Golani Spirit Team
The Nachal Spirit Team
The Combat Engineer Spirit Team
The Parachute Brigade Spirit Team

Click here to hear a sampling of army band hits. The content perhaps suprisingly to foreign ears is typical of the IDF: it lacks bravado and concentrates instead on the individual soldier's lot, the land, memories of comrades and yearning for home and peace, not infrequently mixing humor with the grit of the everyday service.
The Outsider

photo: Allon, p. 212

Gen. David 'Mickey' Marcus (1902-1948)
David Daniel Mickey Marcus attended West Point in the early 1920's, and started his career as a Federal attorney in New York City, and for his role in bringing the gangster 'Lucky Luciano' to justice, the city Mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, appointed Marcus the City's Commissioner of Corrections. Sensing the immenence of war, Marcus returned to uniform in 1940. In 1942 he became the commandant of the Army's "Ranger" school, which developed innovative tactics for jungle warfare, and was promoted to Colonel in 1943. Marcus parachuted into Normandy with the 101st Division on D-Day and also helped draw up the surrender terms for Italy and Germany. Returning to civilian life in 1947, he was approached by David Ben Gurion to provide military advice and in this capacity (under the alias "Michael Stone") Marcus created a command structure for the nascent Israeli Army, he prepared its professional training regimen and also assisted with its field command in the War of Independence. He was accidentally killed by an Israel sentry on June 10th 1948. Calling him "the best man we had", Ben Gurion's promotion of Marcus to the rank of Major-General ('Aluf'), made him the first Israeli general in 2,000 years.

cover, 16 June 1949

A year after his death, 1949
Marcus remembered, in the IDF weekly paper "Ba'machane" ('In the Camp').
Domestic Produce

photo: 'Shapes Us', Haaretz Supplement magazine, 28 April 2006; p. 12

Uzi Gal & the Submachine Gun, 1953
The drafters of the Israel Military Industry's (IMI) announcement to the papers, in May 1953, tried to form a close connection between the creator of the submachine gun, Uzi Gal, and the object which became synonymous with Israeli chutzpah. "Uzi", they wrote in quotation marks, is blessed with certain unique qualities that raise its value especially in harsh conditions: it withstands sand, dryness and humidity, it's easy to clean, dissemble and re-assemble, and with a proportionate weight making it easy to fire. Just like Uzi, this time without quotation marks, "The name of an Israeli guy, nice brown smiling eyes, broad shouldered. Walking tall, a guy who invented the tool which bears its creator's name".

It's doubtful if there ever was a weapon of war which was presented to its user with such heartwarming terms. The blurring of the lines of human engineering, between the product and its developer, helped turn the Uzi to the best friend of generals of bloody armies, professional assassins and nuts who simply enjoy shooting highschool students.

It wasn't by chance that the IDF preferred it over the more conservative development of Major Chaim Kara, who, with the crowning of the Uzi as an Israeli icon, tried soothe his injured feelings with a suit in the 'Maariv' newspaper last year. The combination of elegance and functionality proved itself in scores of armies around the world and brought in a billion dollars to the Military Industry.

If the test of good design is expressed in its abilities to create a sub-industry of forgeries, the Uzi submachine gun meets the challenge brilliantly. It earned impersonations from Croatia to China, to toy replicas, to miniature versions, and even a song (by the Israeli comedy trio 'The Pale Scout Trio'). What a pity that it can't be sent to compete in the Eurovision.
translated and edited from the original by Nir Bachar in "Shapes Us" in the Haaretz Supplement magazine, 28 April 2006; p. 12.

Paper and Radio

cover, 24 Feb. 1952

The press publication for the Israeli army is a weekly magazine called "Ba'Makhane" ("In the Camp"). Starting its run in December 1934 as the organ for the 'Haganah', the paper - a 68-page magazine - is now the oldest weekly in Israel.

Now called the 'weekly newspaper of the IDF', after the founding of the State it was called 'the newspaper for the soldiers of Israel'.

cover, 29 June 1950

Entertainer Eddie Cantor, 1950

The IDF also has its own radio service - 2 in fact, staffed by soldiers: "Galei Tzahal" ('Galatz' - "IDF Airwaves" in loose translation; also called simply 'Army Radio') and "Galgalatz" (loosely meaning "The Wheels of the IDF").

'Galatz' is the main radio service for the army, combining music and play requests by soldiers with news/talk radio, university lectures, programs on history and computers - frequently, but not exclusively with a military perspective. The service was established as a successor to the radio service of the pre-State 'Haganah' military force, and came into being in September (24th) 1950. The first program began at 6:30pm with the playing of the national anthem, and was the inaugurated by the Defense Minister (also the Prime Minister), David Ben-Gurion. The service originally focused heavily on soldiers, though after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, it diversified its programs for a broader audience.

'Galgalatz' developed in 1993 from "Army Radio 2", which was formed in 1990. The service is supposed to promote greater road safety (hence its name), and so combines popular Hebrew and English music with traffic reports and driving safety tips.
Airborne Paradox

photo: Cull, p. 323

Ezer Weizman's Spitfire
The former Israeli president (1924-2005) was one of Israel's first fighter pilots, and later also commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF). During the 1948 War of Independence, Weizman piloted several types of planes, among them this Spitfire (2018 of the 101st Squadron). Owing to the legend Weizman achieved for himself, his plane (painted black, with a red flash) was preserved and maintained over the years - and also flew over his tomb for an honorary 'salute' at his funeral.

The Spitfire's presence here is also testimony to the paradoxes that exist in Israeli history. In this case specifically, the foundations of the IAF are built on old World War II foes - the British Spitfire and the German Messerschmidt. In the course of the War of Independence, not only did both types of fighters fly in defense of Israel, they fought both Arab - and even British planes (the latter being the result of accidental entry of RAF Spitfires into Israeli airspace, some of whom in turn were shot down by Israeli Spitfires - Weizman's among them).

photo: Cull, p. 186

IAF Czech-made Messerschmidt, 1948
Pearls of Wisdom

I realize I'm not referencing the most accurate sources; I'll replace them as I locate the original sources.

"Now you'll be able to aim better".
[Jocularly, while visiting a wounded soldier, who lost an eye]
Ezer Weizman, former Airforce commander and State President
Source: Ezer_Weizman

"If Grandma had testicles she'd be Grandpa. I don't know."
[in reply to the question, if he would have been appointed head of the Mossad if not for the Jonathan Pollard scandal]
Rafi Eitan, senior intelligence service man
Source: 'The Operations Man - Rafi Eitan reveals the truth About Pollard', by Ronen Bergman, Haaretz Supplement, 3 March 2006

"In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."
David Ben-Gurion, 1st prime minister
Source: /15/15.html Simpsons Contemporary Quotations, compiled by James B. Simpson. 1988.
Attribution: CBS TV 5 Oct 56

"Courage is a special kind of knowledge; the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared."
David Ben-Gurion, 1st prime minister
Source: html Quotation #9984 from Poor Man's College

"He would wake up with a hundred ideas. Of them ninety-five were dangerous; three more were bad; the remaining two, however, were brilliant."
Ariel Sharon [on Moshe Dayan]
Source: /Moshe_Dayan

interviewer Sam Donaldson: "But on Friday, you were very pessimistic. You said, 'No good,' when someone asked you how things were going."
PM Ehud Barak: "No, I'm saying even now, if I have to summarize the situation - in one word it's good, in two words, not good."

[an Israeli figure of speech]
Source: Ehud_Barak
Attribution: Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on ABC News, September 10, 2000

"We looked death straight in the face, and it lowered its eyes before us."
Shmuel Gonen ('Gorodish'), commander of the 7th Brigade in the 6-Day War
Source: Shmuel_Gonen
Attribution: speech - "My Glorious Brothers, Deserving of Fame"

"If you can't face death you can run. But remember, if you run, you can't run just a mile. You must run a thousand miles."
Attributed to Haganah officers addressing recruits - from Israel there's nowhere to retreat to
Source: Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre, "Is Jerusalem Burning", Touchstone, 1988; p. 323

Sources Cited in IDF-related Site Pages:

'End of the Era of Giants' by Rubik Rozenthal, photo by 'Ba'Machane'; Independence Day Supplement 2002, Maariv, p. 30
'Huge Shadow' by Ofer Shelach, photo by Yossi Rot; Saturday Supplement magazine, Yediot Achronot, 6 Jan. 2006, p. 25
Alpher, Joseph; 'Encyclopedia of Jewish History'; Massada Publishers, Israel, 1986.
Alon, Yigal; 'Shield of David'; Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1970.
Comay, Joan; 'The Six Days of the Sinai Campaign'; Israel Illustrated Book Publishing Co., Tel Aviv, 1957.
Batty, David; 'Japan at War in Color'; Carlton Books, London, 2004.
Cull, Brian, Shlomo Aloni and David Nicolle; 'Spitfires Over Israel'; Grub Street, London.
Golan, Aviezer; 'The War of Independence'; Ministry of Defence, Tel Aviv, 1974.
Ha'Deni, Ivar; 'A Nation in its Wars'; Joseph Sreberk, Tel Aviv, 1948.
Herzog, Chaim; 'The Arab-Israeli Wars'; Random House, New York, 1982.
Lossin, Yigal; 'Pillar of Fire'; Shikmona Publishing, Jerusalem, 1992.
Markovitzky, Jacob; 'The Etzel Lexicon'; Ministry of Defence, Israel, 2005.
Nordeen, Lon; 'Fighters Over Israel'; Guild Publishing, London, 1991.
Pearlman, Moshe; 'The Army of Israel'; Philosophical Library, New York, 1950.
Ziv, Hani and Yoav Gelber; 'The Bow Bearers'; Ministry of Defence, Israel, 1998. ("Miluim Be'Sababa") (articles on: "", " ''")

Better than any reference books, I used these sites to help identify foreign uniform details (these are credits, not site endorsements):

As I've probably mentioned elsewhere on the site, Israel doesn't stand on ceremony: whether or not it really has the time to record history as it's being made, it's extremely difficult to access accurate, comprehensive information on the country, her history, details of nostalgia or even quotations - whether in Hebrew or in English. Recognizing obvious shortcomings in the comprehensiveness of the materials on these pages I try to maintain and improve the information here in the sprit of this parable:

When the great Rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tov saw misfortune threatening the Jews it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished and the misfortune averted.

Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Magid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And again the miracle would be accomplished.

Still later, Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more, would go into the forest and say: "I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient." It was sufficient and the miracle was accomplished.

Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient.

Source: Prologue to "The Gates of the Forest" by Elie Wiesel