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Military, Civilian, or Both: David Ben-Gurion’s Perception of National Security After the War of Independence

Yoram Fried


Over the years, attempts to define the notion of national security in terms of what it means and what it represents have ranged from a classical, purely military definition, to a broader multidimensional concept encompassing a range of different features. Studies on Israel’s national security concept have tended to emphasize the formative role played by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and defense minister. These works have focused on the military aspects of the national security concept, based on arguments concerning the perceived threat of wartime engagements with Arab armies. This article argues that Ben-Gurion’s national security concept was essentially a civilian perspective with military features that responded to the four types of threats, local, regional, international, and Jewish, facing the State of Israel at the time, most of which were not military.

Keywords: Israel, national security, civil–military relations, Ben-Gurion, international relations, war of Independence, 1948 war

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pp. 125-142