By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Is this Israeli arrogance or are there genuine problems with, not only America’s military but culture as well?  Are both true?  How is being a Jew serving in Israel’s military, more conducive to protecting soldiers from combat stress?  Why are Americans, in combat across the Middle East, fighting securing Israeli interests in the region, subject to much higher rates of Post Traumatic Stress than Israeli’s in action against their own citizens? 

If America brought her military home and forcibly started rounding up Catholics in a 21st century “trail of tears, perhaps resettling them to North Dakota, in league with Canada, walling them in to keep out building materials and twinkies…..or are there other factors that have caused up to 25% of American troops on active duty to require anti-psychotic medications?

Today’s Israeli National News Service quoted a study on PTSD from BaMachaneh, the Israeli version of Stars and Stripes stating that IDF soldiers don’t get PTSD due to combat, making them vastly superior to their American counterparts.  The IDF study cites that up to 30% of American veterans and active duty alike, suffer flashbacks, outbursts of anger and a host of other symptoms which do not plague Jews who are subjected to similar combat circumstances.

No mention of where or when this alleged combat occurred is made, however.  The study alleges that less than five percent of soldiers with stress problem, those Israelis who fought in the “Second Lebanon War” and the attacks on Gaza fare much better under combat stress than their American counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Compared to their counterparts around the globe, IDF soldiers are less likely to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to combat, according to a study published in the most recent edition of official military magazine BaMachaneh.

The study compared research into PTSD in IDF soldiers to similar research done in other countries. Less than five percent of the soldiers who fought in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza showed signs of post-traumatic stress, researchers found.

IDF Israeli Defence ForcesThe “Lebanon War” referred to was a 30 day limited conflict in 2006 in which Israel suffered between 100 and 150 killed in an unsuccessful attempt to smash Hizbollah.  Thousands of Lebanese civilians died from air strikes and artillery fire, one United Nations outpost was destroyed by Israel and as many as 200 Hizbollah fighters died.  Much of Lebanon’s infrastructure was destroyed.  Israel withdrew entirely from Lebanon in on October 1, 2006, leaving a strengthened enemy entirely in control of Lebanon.

One note made in the study involved the quality of officers.  The Israeli study indicated that their officers were more aware of the condition of troops under their command, were less adversarial and elitist than their American counterparts.  Israeli officers got treatment for soldiers much quicker than Americans in similar situations.

The last significant combat Israeli troops had seen was nearly as long ago as the Vietnam War.  Though a case may be made for no useful comparison between combat exposure, even as admitted in the study, Israeli forces inside their own country and Americans, sometimes fighting year after year with tens of thousands of casualties, fighting at the ends of the earth, some issues may be useful, when seen above the smokescreen of hubris and bravado from Tel Aviv.

Israeli forces are a national army, conscripts and professionals mixed, drawing on all walks of life.  Officers may find themselves employees of the men in their command once out of uniform.  Jewish identity may actually be a positive force as indicated but, not from a sense of cultural superiority but as one of social cohension and comradeship.  One criticism of America’s “volunteer army” has been the perception of difference in social strata or “class” between officers and men, particularly with the economic collapse of 2007 pushing many Americans into the military as an alternative to welfare or crime.

One of the key components of the study was religion.  The study stated that highly religious Jews who had become prisoners of war fared much better in captivity than non Jews.  No statistical data was supplied backing this finding.

Both American military and veterans have found Israel’s publishing of this study curious.  One official, when questioned under promise of anonymity, indicated that nothing “out of Israel” is believable, certainly nothing comparing the IDF to the American military.  “The IDF is a good force but inexperienced and unproven in war with no real fight in their history other than 1973 and then they came to the US for assistance, much more assistance than anyone admits to.”

“The real problem is that the IDF operates as an occupying force in their own country.  Troops go home at night, something Americans deployed, sometimes for years, halfway around the world never do.”  On the mission itself, “I some ways their mission is similar, a permanent insurrection but unlike America’s wars, Israeli’s are fighting their own citizens, unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, the enemy is either unarmed or the military operation itself is simply a form of retaliation for civil protest, sometimes violent but often against peaceful protesters.”

Marine Ken O’Keefe, captured by Israeli “commandos” on the Mavi Marmara had this to say about the Israeli forces,

“They weren’t up to0 Marine Corps standards, not by a long shot.  I disarmed one of their commandos who had just murdered a camera man who was filming their attack, shot him in the forehead at point blank range. 

I took his pistol from him, unloaded it and took him into custody.  He had a minor injury, in fact, hadn’t put up much of a fight at all.  We got him medical care but what I noticed most of all was that he just wouldn’t stop crying.  These were not combat vets, they weren’t even disciplined soldiers.” 

Will this soldier, one Ken O’Keefe captured, one of several, be treated for PTSD?  Ken, a Marine combat vet from the first Gulf War, is typical of many Marines and soldiers who fought or who are fighting in the Middle East.  Ken was so angry at American political behavior and, I believe, America’s actions toward its own soldiers that he gave up his citizenship and left the country.  Every day I hear this at least once from an American vet, some days several times.  What does it mean? 

Factors not in the Israeli study, factors not taken into consideration when considering root causes of PTSD is the nature of the conflict itself, particularly the the rationale given troops to encourage their participation.  If, as the Israeli study indicates, troops with a strong religious belief are less inclined to suffer traumatic stress, a significant aspect being guilt, could strong beliefs, be they Zionist, the “Islamophobia” fed American troops in liberal doses during the Rumsfeld era or Taliban extremism, a way of building a “super soldier” or more likely to bring about a total meltdown later? 

Is there a difference between Judaism and Christian Evangelism that impacts mental health in those serving in combat?  Judaism is a faith based on race, ethnicity and nationalism while the evangelical beliefs are based on social class, regionalism and politics.  Should we examine how the two systems differ and why Judaism, as indicated in the IDF report, insulates troops from adjustment problems?

Are many, Jews, Christians, Muslims, those serving in combat or even as terrorists, using religion as an excuse for lack of conscience?  Can devout religion in someone involved in military operations against civilians or in support of corrupt and unjust causes be a way of covering deep seated personality disorders and even psychopathic disease?

Unlike military personnel, insurgents or terrorists from Israel or remote areas of Afghanistan, American soldiers a barrage of conflicting ideas, especially when free of the highly edited “mothering” of Uncle Sam.  While Israel has a tradition of valuing her troops, Americans have had mixed views of those protecting them, quick to  blame troops when wars don’t go well or cost too much, quick to abandon POW’s, “John McCain style” at the end of each war and quick to shun combat vets as “damaged goods” as soon as the fighting is over.

Israel doesn’t do this.

Israeli’s returning from service, though Israel has never fought a protracted conflict, have, not only job guarantees and full socialized medicine but extensive subsidy for education, housing and subsistence for life, even without disability or even wartime service at all.  The United States pays this for Israeli troops but won’t pay this for their own, American soldiers, some of whom have spent 4 or more years deployed.

Is this the difference?

Many American soldiers return from war, not just to prejudice based on race or class distinctions but to systematic persecution by federal bureaucracies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Laws meant to protect soldiers, reservists and members of the National Guard from losing their homes or jobs when called up for deployment were openly ignored when the monied interests behind the Republican party asked the Bush administration to “ease up” on protections for troops.

Similarly, veterans disability payments were delayed, some for decades, medical care for many was denied and needed counseling programs were never implemented when Bush era wartime cutbacks of services to the military and veterans were implemented to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy.

Israel would never do this.

Many around the world with access to private news organizations that are allowed to report Israeli abuses of Christian and Muslim citizens fail to recognize one of Israel’s strengths, other than the ability to obfuscate with the ease of breathing.  Israel does take care of its own, its own Jews at least, including its soldiers.  America takes better care of Israel than it does its own soldiers, certainly better than its own citizens.

The issue comes down to one of having a voice or not.  With Jews in America controlling the press and media and 40% of the money and Israel controlling congress, Israeli interests are paramount to Americans in positions of power.  Without Jews or Israel, the riches would stop flowing.  This buying of influence could be seen as evil but for one thing, at least someone benefits, even though, perhaps less than deserving.

Do we blame Israel for buying American influence?  Do we blame Israel for their derisive   America when Americans do so much to earn that disrespect?  When “Bibi” Netanyahu is caught bragging about how he can make America do anything he wants it to, is it bragging when he is right?  Is he mocking America or stating a fact?

Would American troops be killing themselves, record numbers each month, if the people really supported them?  Israel would never send its troops to Afghanistan.  Israel would never fight except on their own terms, duping America into taking the brunt of casualties, and fighting for self interest, money, oil, land, always something of value, never ideas or dreams.

Is this why they respect their troops when America treats theirs like broken toys?

Today Israel is demanding America invade Iran.  Republicans in congress are pushing through a resolution supporting this.  Not one Israeli soldier will fight in such a war.  Not one Israeli soldier will die.  If America fights, win or lose, America will get nothing, American troops will get nothing, even lose what little they have.

Is Israel corrupt or is it America?  Is this corruption a factor in PTSD?  My guess is yes, a major factor, an unspoken factor and Israel has made the case for us, if only we would listen.


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Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.