This thesis is examining Modern Hebrew conflict and military terminology – the language of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Described by many Israelis as “a language within the language”, it must necessarily possess an identity of its own through special characteristics. On this basis, the major ambition of this thesis has been to identify the special “fingerprint” of the army speak in Israel – both in regard to technical or grammatical aspects, as well as the practical use of the language. The reader also gets an insight in other various aspects of the language within the military establishment and the security and intelligence community. This includes the current status of the professional language in the armed forces, in regard to efforts made to establish a common strategic, operational and tactical language.
The language of the IDF and its predecessors has developed under almost continuous armed conflicts, starting during the first waves of Jewish immigrants over a century ago. The focus on Hebrew education has been strong due to operational factors, but it has also been a central pillar in the civil-military relations for decades. With limited influence from other languages, the language of the IDF has developed characteristics of its own, compared to the daily Hebrew used in the civil society. The major characteristics found are the extensive use of acronyms, a generous use of slang and, to a less degree, the integration of loanwords. Additionally, there are minor factors, like IDF’s traditional use of numbers and naming of military material.
This thesis claims that the IDF experienced problems with the implementation of a common professional language in the post-modern period of RMA, EBO and network-centric warfare. A part of the reason is the IDF officer education, their non-academic approach in general and dislike of learning material not found in Hebrew. An imprecise and unclear language has led to poor performance in the field, as in the Second Lebanon war in 2006. Today, the IDF have initiated efforts to meet the problems identified. In some areas, like the use of a clear language when issuing orders and coordination between different arms, there are indicators of improvement. In other areas, like the establishment of a common professional language within the IDF, it is far too early to make conclusions, as it is likely to require continuous efforts over a long period of time.