Holocaust, Militarism and Machiavelli's Advice: How Fear Took Over Israel

Israel may be the best-defended state in the world, but its people's existence is based on an ethos of constant fear

Soldiers, near Kibbutz Be’eri, working to extinguish fires set off by incendiary balloons sent from Gaza last summer.
Soldiers, near Kibbutz Be’eri, working to extinguish fires set off by incendiary balloons sent from Gaza last summer.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Eva Illouz
Eva Illouz
Eva Illouz
Eva Illouz

In his famous handbook for rulers, dedicated to Lorenzo di Medici, Niccolò Machiavelli advised his eponymous prince to learn how to elicit both love and fear in his subjects. Being loved and feared at the same time was the best way to exercise power, but if you have to choose between them, Macchiaveli admonished, better to be feared, for fear of the prince will protect him and maintain social order (on condition that the prince is not cruel). Fear (instilled in others) is undoubtedly the emotion most relished by tyrants, with most, if not all, using it to build up their regimes.