& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


Reading Fortress Israel made me realise that the normal word for the Israeli parliament – the Knesset – is an abbreviation. Its full name should be Knesset of Vipers.  Even by the standards of the political class, its level of internecine warfare is both high and constant.


 It soon becomes apparent in Tyler’s dense book that the Israeli Army is much more embedded in national life than in most other countries - to the extent, usually, of dominating it. The narrative starts with the battle for independence against the British, and continues to 2009. The theme noted in those early days that the “most militant commanders in the army [many of whom were trained at Sandhurst and Camberley] believed that the Arabs only understood force”, remains a depressing part of the national continuum. Given the endless political turmoil and backstabbing, the military establishment provides the only thread of national continuity, and hence has an unhealthily strong powerbase.  Indeed the book does not make for a happy read.


We learn that no nation is safe from one or other aspect of the Israeli government/ military machine.  Even in 1955, the US and the UK, ostensible allies, were the target of covert operations. It is as though these alpha males (and occasionally an equally terrifying alpha female), seeking to extend the bounds of their quite large cage, are engaged in an international chess game, but for very high stakes, and never quite figuring out second effect consequences, or what their next but one move might be.  Hence a guerrilla attack on Egypt pushed that country towards Russia as an arms supplier.                                                         continued.........

Fortress Israel

Patrick Tayler -  Portobello Books, 2012

ISBN: 9781846272745

israeli tank