“Brothers and Others in Arms”–Homosexuality in the Israel Defense Forces

Kaplan, Danny. “Brothers and Others in Arms: The Making of Love and War in Israeli Combat Units”, Harrington Park Press, 2003.

Homosexuality in the Israel Defense Forces

Amos Lassen

The military is an integral part of Israeli society and many of us do not realize that there indeed exists a level of homoeroticism in the Israel Defense Forces. Danny Kaplan takes an in-depth look and thereby makes a valuable addition to the ongoing issue of gays in the military as well as to a better understanding of homosexuality in general.

The first part of the book is made up of interviews with Israeli soldiers about their experiences in the army and they give us a picture of another world. We see relationships of men that go beyond just pure sexual lust. We hear of deep feelings and we learn that the men need some kind of sexual outlet while on active duty.

We get quite a thought provoking fusion of love and war. Kaplan analyzes the interviews with qualitative analyses of individual experiences based on erotic and social relationships in an environment that is made up of only men. He finds that a sexual fling is a symptomatic expression of much deeper feelings but above all his finding shows that sexual needs must have an outlet in a semi-confined place where there are mostly men.

`The book then explores male eroticism and masculinity in the culture of the military and how it affects those involved. It is considered general knowledge that same-sex male relationships go beyond platonic friendships and these have always occurred. Commanders even use these relationships as a resource for military accomplishments.

Danny Kaplan shows a very thin line between brothers in arms and brothers in bed and maintains that the military life is all about male eroticism. Israelis grow up in a culture that is steeped in the military and this book is essential to the understanding of gay and bisexual life in Israel.

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